Game 25 Preview: Crunch vs. Islanders




The Crunch continue their season-high five-game homestand tonight in a match against the  Bridgeport Islanders at Upstate Medical University Arena.


It’s episode one of a two-game saga between the clubs. Last season, the Islanders were the only team to sweep the Crunch in a head-to-head series (2-0-0-0).




Simon Ryfors broke a 2-2 tie midway through the third period and the Crunch topped the Springfield Thunderbirds, 4-2, last night.


After a scoreless first period, Shawn Element put the Crunch up 1-0 by stuffing in a rebound 7:10 into the second period. The T-Birds countered with a power-play goal by Jake Neighbours at 11:43 to tie the game and then Steven Santini scored with a long-range shot to make it 2-1 at 14:13.


Felix Robert tied the game with a deflection with two minutes remaining in the second to even the game heading into the third frame. Ryfors put the Crunch ahead for good at 10:59 with a goal at 4-on-4. Gemel Smith iced it with an empty-net goal as the Crunch swept the two-game series with the T-Birds.




Syracuse improved to 11-9-2-2 with its win last night. The Crunch are in third place in the North Division with 26 points. Syracuse has a chance to win its third straight game; it is the Crunch’s first game against Bridgeport this year.


Simon Ryfors scored the game-winning goal last night against the T-Birds. It was the first game-winner of the season and the second of his AHL career. The Swede has exceeded his total goals from last season to set a new AHL career high (12) in a single season. Ryfors has tallied 24 points (12g, 12a) in 24 games played after posting 35 points (11g, 24a) in 72 games last year. 


Ryfors is the ninth different Crunch player this season to record a game-winning goal. Only Daniel Walcott (2) has more than one.




Bridgeport enters tonight’s contest off of a 5-2 loss at Utica last night. The Isles (14-7-5-0) sit third in the Atlantic Division with 33 points.


Chris Terry is the leading point-getter with 23 points (6g, 17a) in 21 contests. The forward is scoreless in his last two games, both Bridgeport losses. He totaled two points (1g, 1a) against the Crunch last season, including the game-winning goal in Bridgeport’s 3-1 win at Syracuse Nov. 10, 2021.


Rookie Ruslan Iskhakov is the third-leading producer for Bridgeport with 20 points (8g, 12a) in 25 games. He leads Bridgeport rookies and is second overall among first year pros. Iskhakov was drafted by the New York Islanders in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (2nd round, 43rd overall). The Moscow, Russia native spent the past two seasons in Finland and Germany. 




Tonight is the fourth game of the Crunch’s season-high five-game homestand. It’s their first five-game homestand since Oct. 19-Nov. 2, 2019.


The Crunch have earned back-to-back wins and are in search of their second three-game home winning streak this season. They are 6-4-2-0 at Upstate Medical University Arena this season.




It came down to the wire, but Gemel Smith extended his scoring streak to a career-high 11 games with an empty-net goal last night. Smith has picked up 15 points (6g, 9a) during his 11-game scoring streak, which is the longest active streak in the AHL. He is two games away from the longest in the league this season (Christian Wolanin, 13 games). 


The longest by a Crunch skater during their affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning is 14 games (Boris Katchouk, 2020-21).


The Toronto native is third on the Crunch with 25 points (9g, 16a) this season, and he has registered at least one point in 18 of his 20 games played. He started the season with a seven-game points streak.




Forward Daniel Walcott appeared in his 335th Crunch game last night to set the new franchise record for games played.


Walcott, 28, is playing in his eighth different season with the Crunch after debuting with the team in the 2015-16 season. Walcott, who started his career as a defenseman, has amassed 92 points (32g, 60a). He has 13 points (7g, 6a) in 24 games this season. 




The Crunch peppered the Springfield net with 40 shots on goal last night. It was the sixth game this season that has seen the Crunch finish with at least 40 shots. They are 3-2-1-0 in those six games.


Syracuse ranks third in the AHL with 33.08 shots per game. Bridgeport allows 31.27 shots per game, which ranks 22nd in the AHL.




Former Crunch forward Andy Andreoff is in his second season with the Islanders organization. The veteran produced a career season with the Crunch in 2018-19, finishing with personal bests in goals (26), assists (29), points (55) and penalty minutes (150).


The Pickering, Ontario native ranks second on the Islanders with 21 points (13g, 8a) in 26 games this season. He picked up two points (1g, 1a) against the Crunch last season.



Forward Shawn Element scored the Crunch’s first goal for the second straight game. With goals in back-to-back contests, Element is up to four goals and nine points in 18 games this season.


It was also the second game in a row the Victoriaville, Quebec native record a fight. He had two bouts last Saturday against the Comets and he leads the AHL with seven fighting majors.



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