Syracuse Crunch Weekly
Wed, March 25 - Crunch at Lehigh Valley - W, 6-1
Fri., March 27 - Crunch vs. Bridgeport - W, 4-3
Sat., March 28 - Crunch vs. Rochester - L, 2-0
Wed., Apr. 1 - Crunch vs. Binghamton - 7 p.m. (TV)
Fri., Apr. 3 - Crunch at Hartford - 7 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 4 - Crunch at Bridgeport - 7 p.m.
NEED TO KNOW - Syracuse owns a seven-point Northeast Division lead (40-19-8-0) and ranks third in the Eastern Conference.
- The Crunch have nine games remaining in the regular season (5 home, 4 away) and can secure a playoff spot Wednesday.
- Syracuse has signed Jared Nightingale to a PTO, and Matthew Peca has signed a amateur try out.
Nightingale and Peca come to Crunch on try outs
The Syracuse Crunch have a familiar defenseman and a highly-touted forward added to their roster. Veteran blueliner Jared Nightingale signed a professional tryout contract with Syracuse Tuesday. Matthew Peca signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Lighting for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, and an amateur try out deal to play the remainder of the 2014-15 season with the Crunch.
Nightingale, 32, played 56 games with the Crunch during the 2012-13 season, registering two goals, seven points and 121 penalty minutes. The ninth-year pro has played for five AHL teams since then, captaining the Rockford Ice Hogs in 2013-14 (67 games), and signing four AHL PTOs this year with the Hartford Wolf Pack (6 games), Norfolk Admirals (20 games), Grand Rapids Griffins (2 games) and Milwaukee Admirals (6 games). Nightingale also has played 24 games with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye this season, recording two goals and four points with 24 penalty minutes. The Michigan State alum has played 559 pro games.
Peca, 21, skated in 39 games this season with Quinnipiac University, recording seven goals and 36 points to go along with 27 penalty minutes. He ranked first on the Bobcats and third in the ECAC with 29 assists. Peca also ranked second on the Bobcats for points and served as captain of the team during his senior year.
Koekkoek, Witkowski recalled by Tampa Bay
The Lightning recalled defensemen Slater Koekkoek and Luke Witkowski from the Crunch this week and both played for the Bolts in Tuesday's loss in Toronto.
Koekkoek, 21, made his NHL debut for the Lightning, garnering 15:31 of ice time and taking two shots on goal. The rookie has skated in 66 games with the Crunch, posting five goals and 24 points to go along with 40 penalty minutes. He leads all Syracuse defensemen for assists (19) and points.
Witkowski, 24, has played in 12 games with the Lightning this season including two games this week after a Monday call-up. He averages 14:47 of ice time and has a plus-2 rating. He made his NHL debut with Tampa Bay on Jan. 20 against Vancouver.
A native of Holland, Michigan, Witkowski has appeared in 47 games with the Crunch this season, posting two goals and eight points to go along with 91 penalty minutes. He had a career best plus-4 March 25 at Lehigh Valley.
Crunch forwards' career years
Five Crunch forwards who have spent at least three seasons in the AHL have posted or are on pace to set career-high numbers this season. Yanni Gourde, Tanner Richard and Dalton Smith have all exceeded their previous bests, while Mike Angelidis and Jonathan Marchessault are on pace for new highs.
Both Tanner Richard and Yanni Gourde have increased their point production by 20 from last season. Gourde ranks fourth in the league in goals with 26 and his 52 points are second best on the Crunch and 17th in the league. Richard is on pace to exceed 40 points; he currently has 37 (12g, 25a) and ranks third on the Crunch in helpers.
Dalton Smith passed his previous season-high from last year when he split time between Springfield and Syracuse and finished with 12 points. He's posted 17 points this season and his 11 goals are more than his previous two seasons combined.
Mike Angelidis pulled within one point of his career-high of 38 points when he posted two points Friday against Bridgeport. The captain has nine games to pass his previous best (set with Norfolk in 2010-11) and is on pace to exceed the 40-point mark for the first time in his career.
Jonathan Marchessault is on pace to equal his 2012-13 career high of 67 points set with the Springfield Falcons. He leads the Crunch with 57 points in 60 games and his 21 goals are three off his career-high from his rookie season with the Connecticut Whale in 2011-12.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Game 65: Crunch use shorthanded goals to beat Phantoms, 6-1
The Crunch scored two shorthanded goals on Wednesday to top the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 6-1, in the Crunch's first ever trip to the PPL Center. Kristers Gudlevskis won his fifth consecutive start, stopping 27 shots.
Cody Kunyk set up Joey Mormina's shorthanded goal to launch a run of six consecutive Crunch markers. In the second period, Jonathan Marchessault's first of two unassisted goals gave Syracuse a 2-0 lead. Slater Koekkoek increased the Syracuse lead to three, with Ryan Martindale and Yanni Gourde providing helpers.
As Syracuse killed an extended Phantoms' power play because of a Kunyk boarding major, the lead became 4-0 when Marchessault potted a shorthanded goal, the fifth of his AHL career. Justin Courtnall and Ryan Martindale later recorded goals, becoming the second and third multi-point performers in the game.
A late power-play score from Lehigh Valley's Blair Jones made the final score 6-1 and halted a streak of Crunch penalty kills at 24, Syracuse's best mark since the franchise became affiliated with the Lightning in 2012.
Game 66: Crunch power-play goals tame Sound Tigers, 4-3
Syracuse scored twice on the power play, the third time in four games the Crunch scored multiple goals on the man advantage, to knock off the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 4-3, Friday at the War Memorial.
Syracuse struck first with a Mike Angelidis power-play goal. The captain's 19th goal of the season was cancelled out when Bridgeport's Alan Quine scored the Sound Tigers' first goal of the night with five minutes remaining in the first period. The Crunch regained the lead late in the period when Ryan Martindale flipped home his 12th goal of the season. The tally was also Martindale's fourth with the Crunch in 10 games.
The Crunch netted their second power-play goal in the middle frame when Jake Dotchin's left-circle shot found the back of the net. It was the rookie defenseman's fourth power-play goal of the season; Syracuse finished 2-for-4 on the man advantage, while stopping all five Bridgeport power plays.
Jonathan Marchessault recorded the secondary assist on each of the second-period markers, increasing his team-leading total to 57 points (21g, 36a).
Game 67: Amerks even season series with Syracuse
Kristers Gudlevskis yielded just one goal to Rochester, but Amerks goalie Andrey Makarov made 32 saves to shut out the Crunch, 2-0, Saturday at the War Memorial. Syracuse splits the season series with the Amerks 4-4-0-0.
Allen McPherson had the game-winning goal for the Amerks four minutes into the third, the lone goal Gudlevskis gave up in a 24-save effort. The second-year pro pitched a 2.12 goals-against-average and .927 save percentage in March. He has won six of his last seven starts. Dan Catenacci had an empty-net goal with eight seconds left in the game. The Crunch's penalty kill was 3-for-3 against Rochester, the seventh time the last eight games the unit has been perfect.
Brayden Point made his professional debut for the Crunch after arriving in Syracuse Friday. He played on a line with Yanni Gourde and Carter Ashton with Tanner Richard missing his second-straight game.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Crunch vs. Binghamton- Wednesday, 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 Syracuse Crunch wrap up a three-game home stand looking to clinch a playoff berth against the Binghamton Senators. The Crunch (40-19-8-0) need a win and an Albany loss to qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Binghamton is 13th in the Eastern Conference with 64 points and has lost to Syracuse in four of seven matchups this season.
A Crunch win Wednesday secures the season series for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign. Fourth in the East Division, the Senators are on a three-game losing streak, scoring one goal in each of the three losses.
Shane Prince tops the Senators with 54 points (23g, 31a). The forward hasn't posted a point his last three games after totaling eight points the previous four games. Chris Wideman leads AHL defensemen in points (51) and assists (35) and is third in the league in goals (16). The third-year pro is one point away from setting a new career high in points.
Since Andrew Hammond was called up to Ottawa in February, two goalies have split time in the Binghamton net. Scott Greenham has totaled a 2.63 goals-against-average and a .919 save percentage in 25 games this year. He has given up at least three goals in six of his last eight starts. Peter Mannino has given up 21 goals in his last four starts, surrendering seven goals in two outings. He has posted a 3.84 goals-against-average and a .893 save percentage in 22 games.
Crunch at Hartford- Friday, 7 p.m.
ESPN Radio 97.7 FM & 1200 AM, Syracuse; 100.1 FM & 1440 AM, Oswego
Division rivals Syracuse and Hartford square off for the final time in the regular season on Friday. The Crunch have won five of seven meetings so far this season, including two of three meetings in Hartford. Six of the seven meetings between the two clubs have been decided by one goal.
The Wolf Pack are seven points back of the Crunch for first in the division standings. Hartford won both of its games last weekend.
Chris Bourque leads the Wolf Pack in points with 54 (25g, 29a). The All-Star and eight-year veteran has five goals in nine games this month, one short of his season-high total for a month. Oscar Lindberg is second with 47 points (22g, 25a).
Mackenzie Skapski and Yann Danis currently co-occupy a Hartford net that has seen five different goalies protect it this year. Skapski won both games last weekend, allowing just two goals on 54 shots faced. For the season, the 20-year-old has posted a 2.26 goals-against-average and a .918 save percentage in 26 games. The rookie has started and won two games for the New York Rangers this year, allowing just one goal on 44 shots. Skapski has lost three times against Syracuse this season and was pulled from a fourth game when he allowed three goals on seven shots. Danis has totaled a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in 29 games this year. The eight-year pro is 1-2-0 against the Crunch this season. Danis took the loss in Syracuse on Feb. 4, making 42 saves.
Crunch at Bridgeport- Saturday, 7 p.m.
ESPN Radio 97.7 FM & 1200 AM, Syracuse; 100.1 FM & 1440 AM, Oswego
The Crunch face off against the Sound Tigers for the second time in eight days Saturday at Webster Bank Arena. Syracuse won last Friday's matchup at the War Memorial, 4-3, buoyed by power-play goals from Mike Angelidis and Jake Dotchin. The Crunch have won three of the five meetings against the Sound Tigers so far this season. The teams will face off twice more this season after Saturday night.
Bridgeport comes into the week with 57 points, last in the Northeast Division and second to last in the Eastern Conference. The Sound Tigers have won just one of their last ten home games dating back to Feb. 8. Bridgeport has scored 19 goals in their previous ten home games.
Dustin Jeffrey leads the Sound Tigers with 55 points (22g, 33a). Fourteen of those points have come since being traded to Bridgeport March 2 (5g, 9a). Alan Quine is second with 52 points (20g, 32a). Both players scored in Syracuse's victory Friday. Quine has seven points (4g, 3a) in his last four games. Ryan Pulock has 23 points (15g, 8a) in 45 games this season. The rookie defenseman has 12 goals on the power play, tied for first among AHL defensemen and tied for second among all skaters.
Since David Leggio was traded away on March 2, Kevin Poulin has assumed starting goaltending duties. In eight starts since then, the Montreal native has posted a 2-5-1 record. The fifth-year pro took the loss against Syracuse Friday, stopping 35 of 39 shots. For the season, Poulin has earned a 2.84 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in 34 games. C.J. Motte picked up the win in his first career AHL start on Saturday, stopping 29 of 30 Binghamton shots. Motte totaled a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .922 save percentage with Ferris State this season. The St. Clair, Michigan native was signed to an AHL contract on March 25.
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