CRUNCH HOPE TO STAY HOT VERSUS AMERKS
The Crunch square off with the Rochester Americans for the fourth and final time in January tonight at Blue Cross Arena.
Syracuse (15-13-3-1) ended a two-game losing streak by defeating the Cleveland Monsters, 3-1, at Upstate Medical University Arena Wednesday night.
The Amerks (20-12-2-1) have not played since Saturday; they split a weekend series in Cleveland and dropped the finale, 7-3.
Tonight is the sixth match in the regular season series. The Crunch have won three straight and are 3-2-0-0 in the series; the last time a team won at least four straight head-to-head meetings was when the Crunch won five in a row Oct. 28, 2017-March 10, 2018.
LAST TIME OUT
The Crunch scored a pair of power-play goals and slipped past the Monsters, 3-1, at Upstate Medical University Arena Wednesday night.
Charles Hudon connected with the team’s first power-play goal of the night by ripping home a one-timer from the right circle at 14:32 of the opening period. He then set up their second man-up goal, dropping a pass to Gabriel Dumont who wired a shot in from the right circle for his team-leading 15th goal of the season at 4:55 of the second period.
The Monsters cut into the deficit with their goalie pulled late in the third period. Brendan Gaunce threw a puck to the net that bounced in off Crunch defenseman Darren Raddysh with 3:28 remaining in the game. Cole Koepke quickly added an empty-net goal and the Crunch prevailed, 3-1.
SCOUTING THE CRUNCH
The Crunch ended their two-game losing streak to maintain fifth place in the North Division with a 15-13-3-1 record. Syracuse improved to 7-3-1-0 in January, securing an above 0.500 record for the second time in a month this season; the Crunch were 4-2-1-0 in October and played 0.500 at 2-2-0-0 in December.
Tonight will mark the Crunch’s sixth and final road game in January. It’s their third game in Rochester this month; overall the Crunch are 2-2-1-0 on the road in January, but they carry a 2-0-0-0 mark at Blue Cross Arena this month. The Crunch are 7-6-3-0 on the road this season, ranking fourth in the North Division with a 0.531 road points percentage.
SCOUTING THE AMERKS
Rochester enters with just one win in its last five games (1-1-2-1) after splitting a weekend series against Cleveland. The Amerks have earned points in seven of their last 10 games (4-3-2-1) and hold second place in the North Division with a 0.614 points percentage (20-12-2-1).
Veteran captain Michael Mersch paces the Amerks offensively with 36 points in 35 games. He is tied with Jack Quinn for the team lead with 18 goals. He ranks seventh and third respectively in the league in both categories. Mersch rides a six-game points streak (2g, 4a) since Jan. 12. Quinn was leading the team in scoring at 35 points prior to his recall last week; after scoring his first career NHL goal, the rookie was then injured and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
The organization has been ravaged with injuries and recalls in the crease. Three goaltenders who have played for the Amerks this season—Aaron Dell, Michael Houser and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen—are with the Sabres. Dell is serving a suspension with Buffalo and Luukkonen is injured. That leaves Mat Robson and Charles Williams to tend the Amerks crease. Robson is 4-1-2 with a 4.25 goals-against average and a .868 save percentage.
HUDON’S HOT HAND
After missing three Crunch games while on recall with the Lightning, forward Charles Hudon returned to the Crunch lineup and picked up where he left off by scoring his team-leading eighth power-play goal Wednesday night.
Hudon has scored six goals in his last six games played, dating back to Jan. 8; he has points in six of the last seven games, with eight points (6g, 2a) in that span. The 27-year-old ranks second on the team with 24 points (12g, 12a).
Captain Gabriel Dumont logged his sixth multi-point game of the season, which is tied for the most on the team with Alex Barré-Boulet and Charles Hudon. He leads the team in scoring with 29 points in 32 games. His goal on Wednesday was his 15th this season, which is tied for the most he’s produced for the Crunch in a single season.
Now in his fourth season in Syracuse, Dumont also recorded his 200th career AHL assist Wednesday night and he has 352 career points (152g, 200a) in 586 AHL games.
MIFTAKHOV MAKES IT HAPPEN
With Hugo Alenfelt and Max Lagace dealing with injuries, the Lightning reassigned rookie goalie Amir Miftakhov to the Crunch from Orlando. In his first AHL action—and only his third game—since Dec. 11, Miftakhov stopped 24 shots to earn his fourth win for the Crunch this season.
In his first year in North America, the Russian-born netminder has a 4-4-2 record for the Crunch. He leads the team with 13 appearances, a 2.50 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.
KOEPKE, RADDYSH RECALLED
Koepke netted an empty-net goal to seal the Crunch’s Wednesday win against Cleveland. He ranks third on the Crunch in scoring with 20 points (9g, 11a) in 28 games this season.
Raddysh returns to the Taxi Squad, where he spent time during the Crunch’s covid pause in late December/early January. He has three points in 24 Crunch games this season and he also made his NHL debut for the Lightning during his last call up to Tampa Bay.