CRUNCH HOPE TO BOUNCE BACK IN CHARLOTTE
The Crunch open up a three-game road trip with the first game of a weekend set against the Charlotte Checkers at Bojangles Coliseum.
The Crunch (6-9-2-1) have lost consecutive games, including a loss at home Wednesday; they’ve only played one game thus far in December due to AHL Covid-19 protocols affecting their opponents last week.
The Checkers (10-9-2-0) won a pair of road games last week and begin a six-game homestand heading into the holiday break.
LAST TIME OUT
The Crunch fell to the Cleveland Monsters, 8-3, at Upstate Medical University Arena Wednesday.
Cleveland opened a 4-0 lead in the first period, tallying two four-on-four goals and a power-play goal, plus one at full strength in a span of just over seven minutes.
The Monsters made it 5-0 early in the second period before the Crunch made a goalie change. Syracuse then ripped off a three-goal run and outshot the Monsters, 17-1, in the period to claw back into the game. The Crunch got two power-play goals from Charles Hudon and one from Antoine Morand in the frame to get within 5-3.
The Crunch’s comeback effort failed to carry over into the third period. The Monsters scored three goals on six shots in the final stanza and won, 8-3, despite a 35-16 shots advantage for the Crunch.
SCOUTING THE CRUNCH
The Crunch have suffered back-to-back losses, separated by 12 days due to a week of Covid-19 postponements. After getting off to a 4-2-1-0 start, the Crunch are mired in a 2-7-1-1 slump as the team hits the quarter mark of the season tonight. The Crunch (6-9-2-1) are last in the North Division with a 0.417 points percentage.
Captain Gabriel Dumont continues to lead the Crunch in scoring with 17 points (9g, 8a) in 18 games. He enters on his second four-game scoring streak this season (also Oct. 30-Nov. 10) and he has six points (3g, 3a) in that span. Dating to that first four-game streak, the veteran has points in 10 of the last 12 games, with 13 points (7g, 6a) over the 12 games.
Alex Barré-Boulet made his Crunch season debut Wednesday and logged a pair of assists in the loss. Since starting his pro career with the Crunch in 2018-19, the Quebec native has 138 points (69g, 69a) in 145 AHL games.
SCOUTING THE CHECKERS
This season, the Checkers are serving as a dual affiliate for the Florida Panthers—their primary affiliate—and the Seattle Kraken before Seattle’s AHL team in Coachella Valley begins operation next season. After opting out of last season’s abbreviated campaign, Charlotte has returned to the ice with a 10-9-2-0 record.
Charlotte has hovered around the 0.500 mark all season, posting one three-game winning streak and one three-game losing streak along the way. The Checkers are 3-3-2-0 at Bojangles Coliseum after recently getting swept in a two-game series against Utica. The Checkers are 0-3-0-0 against the North Division this season with all three losses coming at the hands of the Comets.
Alexander True leads the Checkers in scoring this season with 17 points in 21 games. The 24-year-old is a Kraken prospect after being selected in the Expansion Draft from the San Jose Sharks. True has 145 career AHL points in 224 games and he has added five assists in 19 NHL games, all with the Sharks.
Cole Schwindt, who spent last season in Syracuse, leads the Checkers with eight goals. He netted his first career hat trick Nov. 13 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Last season for the Crunch, Schwindt produced two points in 10 games, including his first pro goal, which also came against the Penguins.
FRIENDS TURNED FOES
Last season, the Crunch served as a dual affiliate, adding the Florida Panthers into the fold as the Checkers opted out of the season. Because of that, Charlotte’s roster currently features 10 players who played for the Crunch last season.
Forwards Scott Wilson, Cole Schwindt, Henry Bowlby, Grigori Denisenko, Aleksi Heponiemi, Ryan Lohin and Serron Noel combined for 23 goals for the Crunch last season. Defensemen John Ludvig and Chase Priskie both were solid contributors when healthy.
Goaltender Christopher Gibson spent the majority of last season on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s taxi squad, but he did win a pair of starts for the Crunch in late March.
For the second straight game, the Crunch and their opponent combined for five power-play goals. Syracuse went 3-for-9 against the Monsters, setting a new season high for power-play goals in a game. The Crunch are 5-for-12 in the last two games, raising their success rate to 20.3% (16-for-79), which ranks tied for 12th in the AHL.
They allowed two power-play goals, which is the seconds time in as many games and the third time this season they’ve allowed more than one in a game. Syracuse dropped to 1-5-0-1 in games when its opponent has scored a power-play goal. The Crunch rank 14th in the league with an 82.3% penalty kill.
The Checkers came through on their final power play of their two-game weekend, scoring a game-winning goal with 2:11 left in the third period Sunday at Bridgeport. They went 1-for-5 over the weekend and are tied for ninth in the AHL at 20.8% (15-for-72).
Charlotte also allowed one power-play goal in its win over the Islanders on Sunday. The Checkers are currently ninth in the league at 83.1% on the penalty kill and they are tied with Lehigh Valley for first with five shorthanded goals. Former Crunch forward Cole Scwhindt paces Charlotte with two shorthanded tallies.