Game 18 Preview: Crunch vs. Monsters

game-18-preview:-crunch-vs.-monsters

CRUNCH RETURN TO ACTION VS. MONSTERS

Following a week of postponements due to AHL Covid-19 protocols affecting their opponents, the Crunch play their first game since Nov. 27 as they host the Cleveland Monsters.

The Monsters open a three-game road trip tonight and enter on a four-game losing streak (0-3-1-0), which comes on the heels of a four-game winning streak. They last played Monday in a 4-1 home loss to Grand Rapids.

LAST TIME OUT

The Crunch and Amerks combined for five power-play goals as Rochester slipped past the Crunch, 4-2, at Upstate Medical University Arena Saturday night.

Rochester’s red-hot power play got things started 11:45 into the first period on a tap in by Michael Mersch, after he got tangled with goaltender Amir Miftakhov. Sean Malone connected on another power-play goal 4:45 into the second period to double the Amerks lead.

A few minutes after the Malone goal, Gabriel Dumont swept in a rebound on the power play to cut the Crunch deficit back to one. Jack Quinn then scored another man-up goal at 13:01 to make it 3-1. Simon Ryfors sniped in a power-play goal early in the third to make it 3-2, but Rochester killed a four-minute Crunch man advantage late in the game before adding an empty-net goal to make it a 4-2 final.

SCOUTING THE CRUNCH

The Crunch’s loss to the Amerks finished off their November schedule that saw the team slump to 2-6-1-1. Overall, the Crunch enter tonight’s game at 6-8-2-1 and they are last in the North Division with a 0.441 points percentage.

Captain Gabriel Dumont leads the Crunch in scoring with 16 points (9g, 7a) in 17 games. Riding a three-game goal scoring streak, Dumont is tied for sixth in the AHL with nine goals this season; his 16 points are tied for 20th in the league. The veteran set a career-high earlier this season when he tallied a goal in four straight games Oct. 30-Nov. 10.

SCOUTING THE MONSTERS

The Monsters kick off a three-game road trip following a fruitless three-game homestand when they lost twice to Milwaukee and once to Grand Rapids. Their current four-game losing streak (0-3-1-0) is their longest this season. After Syracuse, the Monsters travel to Utica and Lehigh Valley to finish the trip.

Cleveland’s recent skid has dropped the Monsters to fourth in the North Division with a 0.575 points percentage. They have been a better road team this season, collecting points in nine of their 10 road games (5-1-2-2).

Defenseman Jake Christiansen leads the Monsters and all active AHL defensemen in scoring with 18 points (5g, 13a) in 20 games. His five goals are tied for the most among league blueliners. Brendan Gaunce (7g, 8a) and Tyler Angle (2g, 13a) are tied for second on the team with 15 points.

With Daniil Tarasov on recall with Columbus, the Monsters have veteran J.F. Berube and rookie Jet Greaves in the crease. Berube is 3-3-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. Greaves-recalled from ECHL-Kalamazoo-is 1-1-0 in three appearances for Cleveland this season.

BARRÉ-BOULET BACK WITH THE CRUNCH

Alex Barré-Boulet has been reassigned to the Crunch from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The fourth-year pro has appeared in 16 NHL games this season-14 for the Lightning and two for the Seattle Kraken.

In 31 NHL games last season and this season, Barré-Boulet has nine points (6g, 3a).

Since starting his pro career with the Crunch in 2018-19, the Quebec native has 136 points (69g, 67a) in 144 AHL games. He ranks 18th in Crunch history in points and 10th all-time in goals, one shy of current Lightning Director of Hockey Operations Mathieu Darche.

Barré-Boulet was an AHL All-Star in 2019-20. He was the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award winner as the AHL’s rookie of the year in 2018-19, when he also shared the Willie Marshall Award as the league’s leading goal scorer with 34 tallies.

ADDITIONAL ROSTER MOVES

The Crunch have been Involved In a flurry of transactions since their most recent game. Defenseman Sean Day returned to the Crunch Dec. 1 following a recall to Tampa Bay. Alex Barré-Boulet was reassigned to the Crunch Monday. The Crunch also signed defenseman Frank Hora to a PTO on Monday. He has skated in two games with Charlotte and eight with ECHL-Greenville this season.

Fredrik Claesson was recalled by Tampa Bay yesterday while goaltender Hugo Alnefelt-on the mend from an injury that has sidelined him since Nov. 5-was reassigned to the Orlando Solar Bears.

Last week the Crunch also signed forwards Patrick Watling and Aaron Luchuk to professional tryout contracts; neither player has played for the Crunch yet this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Crunch’s most recent game featured five combined power-play goals. Syracuse scored two in five chances; it was the third time this season the Crunch scored two power-play goals in a game. They are tied for 18th in the league at 18.6% (13-for-70).

They allowed three power-play goals, which was the second time they allowed multiple man-up goals in a game. That dropped the team from first to seventh on the penalty kill at 84.5%.

Cleveland ranks 28th in the league on the power play (14.8%) and is tied for fifth on the penalty kill (84.6%).

STANLEY STEEMER TIRED TEDDY TOSS

Tonight is the Crunch’s 11th Annual Stanley Steemer Tired Teddy Toss.

When the Crunch score their first goal, fans will toss the puffy pets onto the ice. The cuddly critters will be collected and refurbished by Stanley Steemer before being donated to The Salvation Army.

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