Game 41 Preview: Crunch at Comets




The Crunch play their third straight road game tonight as they face the Utica Comets at the Adirondack Bank Center.


The teams reach the midway point of their head-to-head series tonight. The Crunch are 4-1-1-0 against the Comets and have won the only previous game in Utica less than two weeks ago.




Hugo Alnefelt made a career-high 51 saves to carry the Crunch to a 4-0 win over the Providence Bruins at the Amica Mutual Pavilion on Sunday.


The Crunch had a quick start to grab an early 2-0 lead just 5:25 into the first period. Gemel Smith opened the scoring with a power move to the goal, where he flicked in a shot from the top of the crease for a 1-0 lead at 2:07. Gabriel Dumont then cashed in on a power-play chance off a pass from Alex Barré-Boulet to make it 2-0. Barré-Boulet then capped the scoring in the first period with a wraparound strike at 16:23. 


The final goal came early in the second period when Phil Myers drilled in a shorthanded goal for a 4-0 Crunch lead. 


Alnefelt made the lead hold with 21 saves in the first period, 18 saves in the second period and 12 more in the final frame for his second shutout of the season. 




The Crunch are 7-1-1-0 in the last nine games to improve to 20-14-3-3 this season. The Crunch are in third place in the North Division with 46 points, four points behind the Comets. 


Syracuse has won its last five road games, and the team went 5-1-0-0 in six road games in January. The Crunch’s last six-game road win streak was March 3-April 7, 2021; the last during a season with a normal schedule was Dec. 22, 2017-Jan. 12, 2018. The Crunch are one of three teams in the North Division (Toronto and Utica) with at least 10 wins both at home and on the road. 


Gabriel Dumont and Alex Barré-Boulet are the only two Crunch players with points in all five games of this road win streak. Barré-Boulet has four multi-point games and leads the team with nine points (3g, 6a). Dumont has scored a goal in the last four road games.




Goaltender Hugo Alnefelt earned AHL Player of the Week honors for his two stellar outings in Week 16. He allowed one goal on 30 shots in a 1-0 loss to the Comets Friday. He then made a career-high 51 saves en route to a 4-0 shutout win over the Bruins. The 51 saves are the most ever made by a Crunch goaltender in a shutout performance, one better than Pascal Leclaire’s 50-save blanking of Manitoba on March 6, 2004.

His 80 saves on 81 shots (.988 save percentage) over the two games resulted in his second shutout of the season. Since Dec. 10, Alnefelt is 7-1-0 with a league-best 1.51 goals-against average and .953 save percentage. 


In 18 appearances this season, the Danderyd, Sweden native is 11-5-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.




The Comets split their two weekend games, beating the Crunch in Syracuse on Friday before losing at home versus Providence Saturday. The Comets are 5-5-0-0 in the last 10 games, but remain in second place in the North Division with 50 points (22-14-5-1). 


After the Crunch snapped the Comets six-game home winning streak on Jan. 20, Utica has lost its last three home games. The Comets are 11-7-2-1 at the Adirondack Bank Center this season.


Graeme Clarke scored the lone goal in Utica’s 1-0 win over the Crunch on Friday. He leads the Comets with 34 points (16g, 18a) this season. 


The Comets feature the tandem of Akira Schmid and Nico Daws in net. Schmid is 9-3-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. Daws is 11-9-1 with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage.




Defenseman Phil Myers posted back-to-back multi-point efforts to end the week. He picked up a goal and an assist Saturday versus Hartford and then repeated that performance the next day in Providence. His goal against the Bruins was his second shorthanded goal of the season. He is the first Crunch defenseman in team history to score at least two shorthanded goals in a single season.


Myers, who turned 26 last week, has 15 points (4g, 11a) in 20 Crunch games this season. He has also skated in 11 games for Tampa Bay, adding three points (1g, 2a). 




The Crunch carry a five-game road winning streak into tonight’s game in Utica. It is their longest road winning streak of the season. It’s tied with Charlotte and Calgary for the longest active road win streak in the league. Syracuse has outscored opponents 21-7 during the streak, which includes wins at Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Utica, Hartford and Providence.


After beginning the season winless in their first six road games (0-4-0-2), the Crunch are 10-4-0-0 in the last 14 road contests to climb above 0.500 (10-8-0-2) away from Syracuse.




Tonight marks the fifth Galaxy Cup match in 17 days since Jan. 16. It is the seventh game this season between the Crunch and Comets; Syracuse (4-1-1-0) won the first four while Utica (2-4-0-0) has grabbed the last two.


Alex Barré-Boulet (2g, 6a) and Darren Raddysh (1g, 7a) lead the series with eight points apiece. Graeme Clarke leads Utica with five points (2g, 3a). 


Hugo Alnefelt has allowed three total goals in three starts (.968 save percentage) with a  2-1-0 record. Nico Daws has lost his two starts against the Crunch, allowing eight combined goals.



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