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Crunch Weekly

February 19, 2014 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Syracuse Crunch News Release

Last Week

Fri., Feb. 14 - Crunch at Norfolk - L, 2-0

Sat., Feb. 15 - Crunch at Norfolk - L, 2-1

This Week

Fri., Feb. 21 - Crunch vs. Utica - 7 p.m. (TV)

Sat., Feb. 22 - Crunch at Hershey - 7 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 23 - Crunch vs. Hershey (Wash., D.C.) - 5 p.m.

Need to Know

- Four Lightning-era Crunch players in Sochi are Kristers Gudlevskis, Radkos Gudas, Richard Panik, Ondrej Palat.

- Syracuse hosts the Utica Comets Friday, the first-ever meeting between the franchises at the War Memorial Arena.

- The Crunch play the Hershey Bears in the AHL Showcase 5 p.m. Sunday at the Verizon Centre in Washington, D.C.

Syracuse's winless streak ran to four games with two regulation losses at Norfolk in Week 20. Stuck on 44 points, Syracuse is last in the East Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference at 18-23-3-5.

The Crunch play their second three-in-three of the season in Week 21, staring with a home game vs. Utica, the first visit to the War Memorial for the Comets in their inaugural season. Syracuse has split two games at Utica.

A two-game set with the Bears takes the Crunch to Hershey Saturday and Washington, D.C. Sunday. The Crunch and Bears' take part in the AHL Showcase hosted by the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.

The weekend brings to a close a stretch of 10 of 13 Crunch games played outside of the War Memorial Arena. After this Saturday, Syracuse plays its next seven Saturdays at home before.

Transactions

- 02/12/2014 Cedrick Desjardins (G) ADD Returned on loan from Tampa Bay (NHL)

- 02/12/2014 Kristers Gudlevskis (G) DEL Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay (NHL)

Tracking four Lightning-era Olympians

Crunch forward Richard Panik appeared in four games during the Olympics for Slovakia. The winger recorded one shot on goal and a minus-two ranking in 40:34 of ice time. Slovakia was eliminated after a 4-1 loss to the Czech Republic in the qualification round Tuesday.

Kristers Gudlevskis has appeared in one game for Latvia. The goaltender made his Olympic debut Saturday against Sweden. Gudlevskis made 25 saves on 30 shots in a 5-3 loss. Latvia defeated Switzerland 3-1 in the qualification round and will play Canada Wednesday at noon.

Tampa Bay's Radko Gudas and Ondrej Palat are both representing the Czech Republic in Sochi. Gudas has appeared in two games for the Czech Republic tallying four penalty minutes and two shots on goal. Palat has appeared in all four Czech Republic games recording one shot on goal. The Czech Republic team will face-off with the United States Wednesday at noon in the quarterfinals.

Austria's Brian Lebler leads all players with a Crunch connection in Olympic scoring with two assists in four games. Lebler played 11 games for the Crunch in 2010-11.

Penalty Kill continues to climb charts

Since Jan. 25, the Syracuse penalty kill has climbed from the 22nd in the AHL (80.0%) to 12th (83.3%). In that span, Syracuse has not allowed a power-play goal in 12 of 16 games while stopping 63 of 69 chances against, a 91.3% efficiency.

Playing eight of the last 10 games on the road has bumped the team's road penalty kill to 87.4%, the third-highest mark in the league. At home, the Crunch are next to last at 77.7%. They've allowed five more power play goals at home than on the road despite having played nine more road games than home games.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

Game 48: Admirals blank Crunch, 2-0, in Norfolk

Norfolk won its fifth straight game against Syracuse with a 2-0 shutout Friday at The Scope. Netminder John Gibson improved to 1-2 against Syracuse in collecting his league-best fifth shutout on 17 saves. Cedrick Desjardins stopped 24 of 26 Norfolk shots in defeat, allowing a rebound goal to Rickard Rakell and and a Devante Smith-Pelley drive on a three-on-one rush following a turnover. Smith-Pelley (1g, 1a) and Emerson Etem (2a) both had multiple points.

The game featured four fights, including two from Zach Stortini who collected 22 penalty minutes in the game for a league-high 234 for the year. The two fights give him 26 major penalties, also most in the league. One bout came vs. Phi Paradis and another vs. Eric Neilson, the fourth Neilson-Stortini clash this season. John Kurtz fought J.P. Cote in response to Cote's blue-line hit on Jesse Blacker. Cedric Paquette had a first-period fight with Blacker.

Both sides were 0-for-3 on the power play. Syracuse was held to one shot in the second period, a season low. The Crunch have been shut out four times.

Game 49: Syracuse sunk at The Scope, 2-1

The Admirals closed out the season series with the Crunch by winning a sixth consecutive match between the teams with a 2-1 victory Saturday evening. Cedrick Desjardins, making consecutive starts for the first time since Nov. 30 and Dec. 6 and on back-to-back nights since Nov. 22 and 23, made 25 saves on 27 shots in the loss. Gibson recorded 28 saves on 29 shots.

Syracuse held the Norfolk offense in check over the final 40 minutes after allowing a short-handed goal and a power-play goal in the first period. The teams combined for 13 power plays on the evening with each team scoring once. It was only the second time in the last eight games that the Crunch power play has been successful.

Dmitry Korobov's second of the year was the lone Syracuse tally on the evening and prevented the Crunch from being shutout for the second straight night. An assist on the goal to Cedric Paquette gives the rookie the Syracuse lead in scoring at 32 points (14g, 18a).

The Crunch finished 1-for-7 one the power play while the Admirals finished 1-for-6.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Crunch vs. Utica-Friday, 7 p.m.

ESPN Radio 97.7 FM & 1200 AM, Syracuse; 100.1 FM & 1440 AM, Oswego - Time Warner Cable Sports Channel (Ch. 19)

The AHL's newest franchise, the Utica Comets, make their first trip to the War Memorial Friday as the two teams face off in the third of four contests between the two this season. Both teams have won once but the Comets have taken three of four points.

Utica (20-23-3-4) sits in fourth in the North Division and 14th in the Western Conference (47 points), one point ahead of last-place Lake Erie. The Comets have won four of their last six including a pair of 2-1 victories over Rochester and Toronto Saturday and Sunday.

Pascal Pelletier leads the Comets with 41 points (10g, 31a) in 43 games this season. He has recorded two points (1g, 1a) in one game against the Crunch this season. Benn Ferriero, who had a nine-game point streak snapped the last time Syracuse and Utica played, is second with 37 points (17g, 20a) in 49 games. Rookie Alexandre Grenier (15g, 17a) is the only other Comets player with more than 20 points coming into the week.

The Comets have used a trio of rookies in net in their inaugural campaign, with Joacim Erikson leading the way with a 2.62 goals-against average in 32 appearances. He's taken both decisions against the Crunch for a season record of 14-15-2 with four shutouts.

Crunch at Hershey-Saturday, 7 p.m. & vs. Hershey-Sunday, 5 p.m. in Washington, D.C.

ESPN Radio 97.7 FM & 1200 AM, Syracuse; 100.1 FM & 1440 AM, Oswego

The Crunch conclude the three-in-three weekend with two games against the Hershey Bears starting 7 p.m. Saturday at Giant Center and concluding 5 p.m. Sunday at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., home of the Bears' parent club, the Washington Capitals.

The East Division foes have met five times already this season, with Hershey winning three and the Crunch two. The Bears' 19 home wins are tied for the most in the AHL, while only two teams in the Eastern Conference have fewer than their 10 road wins.

Riding a five game winning streak, and with wins in eight of ten games, the Bears have surged to second in the East Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference with 64 points. Since the start of 2014, Hershey is 16-4-1-0 in 21 games, and 2-1-0-0 against the Crunch.

Brandon Segal paces the Bears with 38 points (14g, 24a) in 46 games. He's followed by Jeff Taffe's 34 points (14g, 20a) and Ryan Stoa's 29 (10g, 19a). Meanwhile, Dane Byers is on a five-game scoring streak entering the week (3g, 4a) and Michael Latta is on a four-game scoring streak with five points (1g, 4a).

David Leggio has played the majority of the games between the pipes this season, but Philipp Grubauer has played in eight of the last 12 games since being reassigned from the Washington Capitals. Leggio is 15-13-2 in 30 games, along with a 2.70 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. Grubauer is 11-5-1 in 17 games, with a 2.31 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. He's won his last five starts and seven of eight since returning to Hershey.

For the Crunch, Cedric Paquette has five points (1g, 4a) in five games against the Bears, leading the Crunch in the season series.

Practice Schedule (subject to change):

Thursday, Feb. 20 11:00 a.m. practice War Memorial Arena

Friday, Feb. 21 9:30 a.m. morning skate War Memorial Arena

7:00 p.m. game vs @UTI War Memorial Arena

Saturday, Feb. 22 11:15 a.m. morning skate Giant Center

7:00 p.m. game @ HER Giant Center

Sunday, Feb. 23 5:00 p.m. game vs HER Verizon Center


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