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Syracuse Crunch rolling with division's best

The Lightning's AHL affiliate improved to 10-5 to pull to second in the North Division.

by Press Release / Syracuse Crunch

Syracuse won the last two of its three Week 7 games, improving to 10-5-0-1 (.656), second in the North Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Sixteen games is the fastest to 10 wins for Syracuse since the 2012-13 season. (2012-13, 14; 2013-14, 19; 2014-15, 18; 2015-16, 19; 2016-17; 16).

Despite falling to 1-2 against the Comets this year with Wednesday's 2-1 loss at The Aud, Syracuse improved to 9-2-0-0 against North Division opponents thanks to wins Friday vs. Toronto, 5-4 in overtime, and Saturday in Binghamton, 4-2. The Crunch own the best divisional record in the AHL (.818).

Three of the next four games pin the Crunch against North Division foes, including two with St. John's. The lone game of Week 8 is Saturday vs. Rochester.

Top Performers

Defenseman Dylan Blujus recorded his first career game-winning goal Friday vs. Toronto, an overtime score to give Syracuse a 5-4 win. Syracuse is 1-0 in games decided in overtime this year; they were 2-11 last season. The club's last overtime win was Nov. 21, 2015, at St. John's. Blujus, who has five points (1g, 4a) in nine games this year, had 19 points (6g, 13a) in 61 games last year.

Yanni Gourde is the new Crunch scoring leader. His assist Saturday in Binghamton bumped his total to 13 points, breaking a tie with Cory Conacher who has missed the last three games with an injury. Gourde and Conacher are tied for the team lead in assists (9).

Tanner Richard extended his scoring streak to five games with a goal Wednesday in Utica, his team-leading sixth. Richard had registered goals in consecutive games twice in his career before potting six goals in a four-game span. His point streak was halted Friday vs. Toronto, but an assist Saturday in Binghamton made him the fifth Crunch player to reach double-digit points (6g, 4a). 

Michael Bournival posted multi-point games Friday (1g, 1a) and Saturday (2a). After one assist in his previous eight games, Bournival climbed to fourth on the Crunch with a total of 11 points (5g, 6a). He was plus-4 for the week, improving his season rating to a team-high plus-9, tied for 10th in the AHL. 

Since his seven-game scoring streak was snapped Wednesday, Matt Taormina has posted consecutive multi-point games with two points Saturday (1g, 1a) and Sunday (1g, 1a). His 12 points (4g, 8a) are second most on the Crunch and tied for seventh in the AHL among defensemen. He leads Syracuse in power-play points (5).

Two players recorded firsts in Week 7: Jeremy Morin tallied his first goal with the Crunch Friday and Adam Comrie registered his first two Crunch assists, one Friday and one Saturday. Morin has 98 goals in 279 career AHL games (11 games with Syracuse). Comrie has 74 points (20g, 54a) in 202 career AHL games (six with Syracuse).

Team Notes

Syracuse has points in five consecutive homes games (4-0-0-1) for an overall home mark of 6-1-0-1. Their .813 home points percentage is tied for third best in the league behind Albany (.889) and Toronto (.875). The Crunch are one of eight teams with one home regulation loss. . . . Syracuse is 4-4-0-0 on the road, tied for 14th in the AHL. . . . Syracuse has scored first in seven of its 16 games and is 7-0 in those games. Bridgeport is the only other team perfect when scoring first (9-0-0-0). Teams who score first have a .755 points percentage this season. . . . The Crunch have recorded 25 of their 51 goals during the second period, compared to 11 in the first, 14 in the third and one in overtime. No team has scored more second period goals than Syracuse (Providence also has 25). The only team to score more goals in any period is Lehigh Valley with 28 goals in the third. The Crunch are plus-11 in the second period, the fourth largest advantage for any team in any period this year. 

Upcoming: St. John's, Rochester, Hershey

Syracuse plays four games in Week 8, beginning with two in St. John's, Newfoundland, Tuesday and Wednesday. The teams' first of eight meetings mark the return of Gabriel Dumont and Michael Bournival to The Rock. Both had been prospects in the Canadiens organization the last few years.

The IceCaps are fourth in the North at 10-9-1-0. They won a shootout over Providence Saturday, 4-3, but three of their top five scorers have been recalled by Montreal including former Crunch defenseman Mark Barberio (3g, 11a). David Broll has 39 penalty minutes. 

The Crunch return home to play Rochester Saturday. The Amerks, who visit Utica Wednesday and host Toronto Friday, are sixth in the North, winless in six games, and 0-4-0-0 vs. Syracuse. Cal O'Reilly has 18 points.

Sunday takes Syracuse to Hershey where the Crunch lost 5-1 Nov. 18. The Bears, led by 2016 AHL MVP Chris Bourque's 17 points, are 11-4-3-1, fourth in the conference. It will be Hershey's third game in three days.

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