Game 43 Preview: Crunch at Senators

game-43-preview:-crunch-at-senators

CRUNCH BEGIN TWO-GAME SET IN BELLEVILLE

The Crunch hit the road for a quick two-game set against the Belleville Senators at CAA Arena.

The Crunch (19-18-4-1) have won their first two games of this four games in five days stretch after scoring back-to-back wins on home ice.

The Senators (21-19-0-0) have also won two straight games to maintain a slim lead over the Crunch in the North Division standings.

Today is the second Monday matinee between the clubs; Syracuse edged Belleville, 2-1, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Upstate Medical University Arena.

LAST TIME OUT

The Crunch matched a season high with six goals in a 6-3 win over the Rochester Americans Saturday at Upstate Medical University Arena.

Syracuse never trailed and potted two goals in all three periods. Gage Goncalves opened the scoring in the first period and Remi Elie followed up with a slick backhand finish on a 2-on-1 rush to make it 2-0.

Birthday boy Daniel Walcott and Gabe Fortier added two more goals in the second period as the Crunch carried a 4-2 lead into the third period. Charles Hudon and Gabriel Dumont capped the Crunch scoring with their 18th and 20th goals respectively.

Rochester scored three power-play goals, one in each period, but it wasn’t enough as the Crunch earned their fourth win in seven games against the Amerks.

SCOUTING THE CRUNCH

The Crunch earned their fourth win in the last seven games (4-2-1-0) to move back above 0.500 at 19-18-4-1. Their 0.512 points percentage leaves the Crunch in sixth place in the North Division, just a shade behind Belleville.

The Crunch had 12 different players log at least one point either Friday or Saturday. Defenseman Darren Raddysh tied with Gabriel Dumont for the most on the team with four points (1g, 3a). Raddysh matched his career-high with three points Friday and then notched an assist Saturday to highlight a successful return from his stint in Tampa Bay. It was the first time all season the fifth-year pro recorded points in back-to-back games.

Rookie Gage Goncalves, placed on the top line before Friday’s game, responded with his first career multi-point game (1g, 1a) Saturday against Rochester. The 21-year-old has 10 points (7g, 3a) in 36 games this season.

SCOUTING THE SENATORS

The Senators (21-19-0-0) have won back-to-back games and are 6-2-0-0 in their last eight games since starting a two-game set with the Crunch Feb. 2. One of those losses came in the second game of that series to begin the month. They enter following a home-and-home sweep of the Toronto Marlies.

Captain Logan Shaw has keyed their recent success, leading the team in scoring with 10 points (4g, 6a) over the eight games. He notched a three-point game (1g, 2a) against the Crunch in their 4-3 win Feb. 2. Egor Sokolov is right behind him with nine points (5g, 4a) in that same stretch and he has game-winning goals in back-to-back games.

Lassi Thomson rides a five-game point streak with eight points (1g, 7a); he chipped in with five assists in their two wins against Toronto over the weekend.

Mads Sogaard has appeared in all four matches against Syracuse. He is 11-10-0 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage overall, with a 2-2-0/2.50/.915 slash line against the Crunch.

ROLLING FOUR LINES

The Crunch featured six different goal scorers across all four lines in their 6-3 win over the Rochester Americans.

Their top line featuring Gage Goncalves, Gabriel Dumont and Anthony Richard combined for seven points (2g, 5a). Their third line with Gabe Fortier, Simon Ryfors and Remi Elie totaled five points (2g, 3a) with the fourth line of Daniel Walcott, Otto Somppi and P.C. Labrie adding two points (1g, 1a).

The second line of Cole Koepke, Charles Hudon and Alex Barré-Boulet had the quietest night on the stat sheet, with just Hudon’s power-play goal.

BEN GROULX CLOSING IN ON 200

Sixth-year head coach Ben Groulx is one win shy of reaching 200 at the helm of the Crunch. Groulx has posted a 199-118-25-22 record with the Crunch since taking over as head coach ahead of the 2016-17 season.

He is poised to become the second head coach to reach 200 wins with the Crunch, joining Gary Agnew (220 wins). Groulx’s 0.611 points percentage remains the second-best in franchise history behind Jon Cooper’s 0.662 (39-18-3-5).

In his tenure, the Crunch have captured two North Division titles (2016-17 and 2018-19), posted their best single-season record in franchise history (47-21-4-4 in 2018-19) and advanced to their second Calder Cup Finals in 2017.

LIGHTING THE LAMP

The Crunch have found their scoring touch in the last two games, scoring five and six goals in a pair of wins. They were the fourth and fifth times the Crunch scored at least five goals in a game and it was the first time they’ve done it in consecutive games this season.

Their 11 goals in two games is the most in a two-game span this season. Syracuse has only scored at least four goals in a game 12 times, holding a 10-0-1-1 record in those games, including eight straight wins.

With 11 goals on 72 shots—a 15.3% shooting percentage—the Crunch raised their team shooting percentage from 8.9% to 9.3%. Eight different players have scored a goal with Gabriel Dumont, Charles Hudon and Remi Elie the only three with two tallies.

DUMONT’S CAREER YEAR

Gabriel Dumont’s empty-net goal Saturday gives him a career-high tying 20 goals for the Crunch. His only other 20-goal campaign was with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15. He is one of eight players in the AHL to reach 20 goals so far.

At 42 games played, he is the fastest Crunch skater to reach 20 goals since Alex Barré-Boulet (39 games) and Carter Verhaeghe (41 games) in 2018-19. Those two ended tied for the AHL lead with 34 goals by season’s end.

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