Game 14 Preview: Crunch at Monsters



The Crunch and Monsters wrap up their two-game set tonight at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in the fifth game of the regular season series. It’s the final of four visits to Cleveland this season for the Crunch.

Syracuse (5-5-2-1) is winless in four straight games (0-2-1-1) and is off to a 1-3-1-1 start to November. It’s the team’s first winless spell of four or more games since a five-game skid (0-4-1-0) Feb. 10-27, 2021.

The Monsters (6-3-1-3) have collected points in eight of their last 10 games (4-2-1-3) following their overtime win against the Crunch Wednesday night.


The Crunch scored early and collected a standings point, but lost to the Cleveland Monsters, 2-1, in overtime Wednesday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Syracuse raced out of the gates in the first period to snatch a 1-0 lead. Gabe Fortier slid a pass to Shawn Element who ripped home his first professional goal from the left circle just 1:09 into the game. The lead was short-lived, however, as Cleveland responded just 1:07 later to even the game at one. Thomas Schemitsch blasted in a right circle shot at 2:16 of the game for a 1-1 tie.

The remainder of regulation was scoreless, bringing overtime for the third time in four meetings between the clubs. Tyler Angle ended the game with his first goal of the season at 1:08 of overtime on a puck that bounced in off a Crunch skater. Goaltender Amir Miftakhov made 34 saves in the loss.


The Crunch have gone winless in four straight games for the first time this season; it’s their longest winless spell since Feb. 10-27, 2021 (0-4-1-0). During this skid, the Crunch have been held to one goal three times and they have been outscored 13-7.

Shawn Element was responsible for the lone Crunch goal in Wednesday’s loss. It was the rookie forward’s first professional goal in his 11th game. He has three points (1g, 2a) this season and they have all come in Cleveland; the Victoriaville, Quebec native recorded two assists in the season opener against the Monsters Oct. 15.

Gabriel Dumont logged an assist on Element’s goal, giving the veteran forward at least one point in nine of his 13 games this season. He moved back into a tie for first on the team in scoring with 11 points (6g, 5a) in 13 games, matching Charles Hudon (4g, 7a).

In net, Amir Miftakhov has started five consecutive games for the Crunch. Despite a 1-2-2 record in those games, Miftakhov has played to a .922 save percentage. Overall, the rookie is 3-2-2 with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. The last Crunch goalie to start five consecutive games was Scott Wedgewood Nov. 16-29, 2019; the last to start at least six straight was Eddie Pasquale Feb. 20-March 2, 2019.

Syracuse has released goalie Alex Dubeau from his PTO, indicating that Max Lagace is healthy and ready to rejoin the team.


Despite their recent slump, the Crunch have been in virtually every game this season. They have been tied at some point in the third period in all four games during the winless streak; they have been tied 1-1 entering the third period in three of those four games and rallied from 4-2 down in the other. Through 13 games this season, the Crunch have been tied at one stage in the third period eight times; they are 3-2-2-1 in those games.

The Crunch have played six overtime games this season, which is tied for the second-most in the league behind Cleveland (7). Six overtime games (3-0-2-1) is tied for the most ever by the Crunch in their first 13 games played; the Crunch also played six overtime games in their first 13 games in the 2004-05 season (2-0-1-3). The Crunch’s franchise record for overtime games played in a single season is 24 in 2001-02.


The Monsters (6-3-1-3) have collected points in 10 of 13 games this season. Seven games—including three against the Crunch—have gone to overtime and that has helped the Monsters move to third in the North Division with a 0.615 points percentage.

Rookie Tyler Angle scored the overtime game-winning goal Wednesday for his first goal of the season. He is tied for the team lead with 11 points (1g, 10a) this season and he leads the squad with three power-play assists.

Jake Christiansen collected helpers on both Monsters goals the other night and jumped into a tie with Angle atop the team scoring chart with 11 points (3g, 8a).

J-F Berube and Daniil Tarasov have shared the Cleveland net this season. The veteran Berube is 3-1-2 in six games, posting a 2.09 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. Tarasov, an AHL rookie, is 2-2-2 to go with a 3.28 goals-against average and a .884 save percentage. The two have alternated starts since the beginning of November; if that trend continues Berube would be in line for the start tonight.


The Crunch enter tonight’s fifth head-to-head match with the Monsters riding an 12-game point streak against Cleveland (8-0-3-1) dating to the 2018-19 season. Syracuse has collected six of eight possible points this season, going 2-0-2-0 in three games. This is their final trip to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, where the Crunch are 1-0-2-0 this season.

The teams have reached overtime in three of the first goal games of this season’s series; Cleveland’s two wins have come in overtime while the Crunch won the lone meeting that went into a shootout.

Jake Christiansen leads the series with six points (1g, 5a) in four games, notching at least one point in every game. Crunch forward Jimmy Huntington, who turned 23 yesterday, is tops in the series with four goals and his five points lead the Crunch.


The teams combined to go 0-for-9 on the power play in their Wednesday match. That dropped the Crunch to 20th in the league on the man advantage at 17.9% (10-for-56). The Monsters fell to 28th at 12.5% (7-for-56).

In contrast to their struggling power plays, both teams feature top penalty killing units. The Crunch are tied with Manitoba for first in the league with an 88.9% penalty kill. Syracuse has allowed just one power-play goal on the road—a 5-on-3 goal by the Monsters Oct. 15. The Crunch are 16-for-16 in their last six road games. The Monsters are third overall at 88.2%.

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