Game 3 Preview: Crunch at Americans

game-3-preview:-crunch-at-americans

CRUNCH RENEW OLDEST RIVALRY 

The Crunch play their third straight road game to begin the season as they travel to Blue Cross Arena to face their arch-rival Rochester Americans. It’s the first of 12 regular season matches between the clubs.

Syracuse split it’s opening weekend series in Cleveland, earning three of four possible points.

The Amerks only took the ice once during opening weekend, losing 6-2 at Utica Sunday afternoon.

LAST TIME OUT

The Crunch overcame a 3-0 deficit to earn a point, but lost in overtime to the Cleveland Monsters, 5-4, Saturday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cleveland opened a 3-0 lead just prior to the midway point of the second period. From there, the Crunch scored four consecutive goals. Jimmy Huntington provided a natural hat trick in the span of 11:22 from the second period into the third period.

Cole Koepke gave the Crunch their first lead with a snipe from the right circle 6:04 into the third. That lead held until late in the third period when the Monsters drew even with 1:12 left in regulation and their net empty.

Liam Foudy scored 1:59 into overtime to deliver the Monsters the win and hand Hugo Alnefelt a defeat in his first AHL start.

SCOUTING THE CRUNCH

The Crunch split their opening weekend in Cleveland and collected three of four possible points. They sit in second place in the North Division with a 0.750 points percentage.

The Crunch produced 10 goals over the two-game weekend and 13 different players notched at least one point. Jimmy Huntington paces the AHL with four goals after scoring in both games.

Gabriel Dumont and Antoine Morand both had three points in two games. Dumont, in his first weekend back with the Crunch following two seasons with the Wild, is slated to appear in his 100th regular season Crunch game tonight. He has 77 points (26g, 51a) in his first 99 Crunch games; he also has 16 points in 29 playoff games for the Crunch.

SCOUTING THE AMERKS

The Amerks played just one game during opening weekend, dropping a 6-2 decision to the Utica Comets Sunday.

Forward Jack Quinn and defenseman Casey Fitzgerald scored the two Rochester goals last week. Quinn, 20, had nine points (2g, 7a) in 15 games for the Amerks last season before suffering an injury and missing the second half of the season. He also won a silver medal at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships.

Fitzgerald enters his third full season with the Amerks. A third round pick by the Sabres in 2016, Fitzgerald has 23 points in 52 career AHL games with Rochester.

Sean Malone, who spent last season with the Nashville organization, returns to Rochester and had a pair of assists. He played the three previous season with the Amerks and had 65 points over the three seasons.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is back for his third season with the Amerks. He went 7-5-3 with a 3.60 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage last season for the Amerks and also was 1-3-0 in four games for Buffalo.

ANOTHER HOME OPENER

The Crunch hit the ice for the third time this season and it is the second and final time they will do so as the opponent for a home opener. Last weekend, the Crunch spoiled Cleveland’s opening night with a 6-4 win on the road.

Tonight marks the seventh time the Crunch have contested in Rochester’s home opener; it’s the third time in the last five seasons dating back to 2017. The Amerks hold a 5-1-0-0 record over the Crunch in their home opening games, although two of their five wins-in 2012 and in 2019-required overtime. The Crunch’s only win in the their previous six home opening games at Blue Cross Arena was Oct. 10, 2008.

JIMMY’S BIG WEEKEND

Jimmy Huntington paced the Crunch during opening weekend with four goals in two games against the Monsters. He netted his first career hat trick-a natural hat trick with three consecutive goals-in the span of 11:22. It’s the third-earliest hat trick by date to begin a season, trailing Nikita Kucherov (Oct. 12, 2013) and Kyle Palmieri (Oct. 15, 2011).

Huntington’s four goals lead the AHL heading into the weekend. He is the first Crunch player with four goals through the team’s first two games since Palmieri in 2011. Plamieri opened that season with a five-game goal streak and deposited eight goals in that span.

For his efforts, Huntington was named AHL Player of the Week. He is the third Crunch player to win the award for the opening week of the season, joining Cory Conacher (2012) and Larry Courville (1996). Just two games into the season, Huntington is just one back from his AHL career high for goals in a season. Last season with the Crunch, the Quebec native finished with five goals and 14 points in 28 games.

ROSTER MOVES

The Tampa Bay Lightning have assigned defenseman Cal Foote to the Syracuse Crunch on a conditioning assignment. Foote, 22, has appeared in 150 games with the Crunch during his career, totaling 64 points. He has skated in 35 games for the Lightning with three points.

The Crunch have signed Jaydon Dureau to an ATO. A fifth round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Dureau played in two games with the Crunch last season. He also saw action in 24 games with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks with 31 points. He was injured in the preseason opener against Utica.

They also signed Tyler Bird, Tristin Langan and Jesse Lees to professional try-outs. Bird appeared in five games with the Crunch during the 2019-20 season; he spent last season with Orlando and he logged 29 points. Langan recorded 63 points in 72 games for the Solar Bears. He has nine games of AHL experience-all with San Jose-in his career. Lees joins the Crunch from ECHL-Wheeling and has yet to appear in an AHL game.

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