Game 29 Preview: Crunch vs. Senators




The Crunch play their first game in a week as they host the Belleville Senators at Upstate Medical University Arena.


Syracuse dropped a two-game set in Laval last week, snapping a four-game winning streak, to close out 2022.


Tonight is the fourth game of the six-game season series between the Crunch and Senators. Syracuse claimed the first two wins before Belleville grabbed the most recent match up Dec. 2.




The Crunch surrendered the final five goals and fell, 5-1, to the Laval Rocket last Friday at Place Bell.


The Crunch had a strong first period to take a 1-0 lead over the Rocket. Declan Carlile netted the lone goal of the frame at 10:23. After initially thinking his wrist shot caught the crossbar, an official review revealed it hit the back bar for a good goal. Daniel Walcott picked up the assist on Carlile’s fifth tally of the season.


The Rocket rallied in the second period with a pair of goals. Raphael Harvey-Pinard tied the game 1:06 into the period and Joel Teasdale netted the eventual game-winning goal at 9:51.


Laval scored a pair of 5-on-3 power-play goals and an empty-net goal in the third period to pull away with the 5-1 win.




Following their back-to-back losses to the Rocket, the Crunch have a 13-11-2-2 record. With 30 points, they are in fourth place in the North Division. Syracuse returns home for the first time since Dec. 21; the Crunch have won their last four home games and they are 8-4-2-0 at Upstate Medical University Arena this season.


Declan Carlile was one of two Crunch players to notch a point in both games in Week 12. He set up the Crunch’s first goal in their 6-3 loss to the Rocket last Wednesday and then netted their lone goal in a 5-1 loss two days later.


The Hartland, Michigan native leads the crop of Crunch rookies with 12 points (5g, 7a). He is also tied for the team lead with a plus-13 rating.




The Senators snapped a four-game losing streak (0-3-1-0) with a 5-1 win at Rochester Wednesday night. They have just two wins in the last nine games (2-5-2-0) and are in sixth place in the North Division with 29 points (13-16-3-0). 


Tonight is the final of four straight road games for Belleville. The Senators are 5-9-3-0 on the road this season and three of their five road wins have come at Laval.


Egor Sokolov netted a hat trick for the Senators in their win at Rochester. His second career hat trick gives him 11 goals and a team-leading 32 points in 32 games this season. Only Rourke Chartier—who is currently on recall to Ottawa—has more goals (14) than Sokolov.


Mads Sogaard earned the win with 29 saves to improve to 4-6-1 with a 3.11 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. In his only start against the Crunch this season (Nov. 11), Sogaard left with an injury 13:50 into the first period. 




This weekend is the first three-in-three of the season for the Crunch. Syracuse will play three games in three nights, starting with two home games before finishing in Hershey Sunday.


The team has five scheduled three-in-three weekends, including one more at the end of January.


Last season, the Crunch also played five three-in-three weekends. They won at least two games in four of the five, including a three-game sweep of Belleville, Laval and Hershey in their last one April 22-24.




Gemel Smith’s point streak reached a career-best 14 games before being halted in the final game of Week 12. He extended the streak last Wednesday with an assist, giving the Toronto native 19 points (8g, 11a) in the 14 games. It also tied Smith with Boris Katchouk (2020-21) for the longest streak by a Crunch player during the Lightning affiliation; it is tied for the third-longest streak in franchise history.


The veteran is third on the Crunch in goals (11), assists (18) and points (29). He has registered at least one point in 21 of his 24 games played.




Prior to tonight, the Crunch have played just two games in the past 15 days due to a weather-related postponement (Dec. 23 at Rochester) and the holiday break.


They quickly make up for lost time—tonight kicks off the Crunch’s first three-in-three weekend of the season. A week from tonight begins a stretch of six games in nine days. 


The Crunch are tied with Ontario for the fewest games played (28) in the AHL.




The Crunch and Senators are playing for the fourth time in their six-game season series. The Crunch won the first two meetings; they won, 4-2, in Syracuse Nov. 11 and 5-4 Nov. 19 at Belleville. The Senators grabbed a 6-4 win at CAA Arena Dec. 2.


Trevor Carrick—who has missed the last seven games with a lower body injury—leads all scorers with five points (1g, 4a) in the series. Alex Barré-Boulet is right behind with four assists. Jarid Lukosevicius powered the Senators to their win with a hat trick last month.


Max Lagace and Hugo Alnefelt have both earned wins for the Crunch. Antoine Bibeau has been the goalie of record in all three games for the Senators.




The Crunch went 1-for-6 on the power play over the two games in Laval last week. They rank 24th in the AHL with a 18.3% man advantage this season.


Their penalty kill allowed two 5-on-3 goals, but was a perfect 8-for-8 outside of that. They are 21st in the league at 77.7%.


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