Game 44 Preview: Crunch at Rocket




The Crunch open the post All-Star Break second half of the season tonight at Place Bell in Laval in a match with the Rocket.


It’s the fifth game of the eight-game regular season series. The teams have split the first four, with both teams holding serve in two home games apiece.




The Crunch gave up three goals in the third period and lost to the Charlotte Checkers, 5-3, at Upstate Medical University Arena Saturday.


Alex Barré-Boulet scored directly off a faceoff just 2:05 into the first period to give the Crunch a 1-0 lead. The Checkers responded with two tallies back-to-back midway through the period to snag a 2-1 lead.


The Crunch tied the game in the second period when Simon Ryfors corralled a loose puck in front of the goal and roofed his 17th goal of the season at 2:51. The game remained tied into the third period.


Charlotte scored three consecutive goals in the third period. The tie was broken on a shorthanded goal at 5:42 and the Checkers added another 39 seconds later to open a 4-2 advantage. After an empty-net goal for the Checkers, Jack Thompson scored for the Crunch to make it a 5-3 final. 




The Crunch lost a pair of games against the Charlotte Checkers before the AHL All-Star Break. In spite of that, the Crunch are 8-2-2-0 in the last 12 games, a run which began with a win against Laval. With a 21-15-4-3 record, the Crunch are in third place in the North Division with 49 points; they are two points behind Utica and have two games in hand on the Comets. 


Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Crunch continue to be the Eastern Conference’s top scoring team, with an average of 3.65 goals per game. They have similar numbers both at home and on the road, but they currently have more road wins (11) than home wins (10). The Crunch have only finished a season with more road wins twice in team history, most recently in 2012-13.




Crunch leading scorer Alex Barré-Boulet once again powered the team in Week 17. The two-time AHL All-Star netted six points, including a goal in all three games last week. He also factored on all four goals of the Crunch’s 5-4 overtime loss against the Checkers on Friday.


Barré-Boulet has matched his career high with a goal in five straight games (also March 26-April 10, 2021). The longest streak by an AHL player this season is six games by Calgary’s Jakob Pelletier in November.


His goal Saturday was the 100th in his AHL/Crunch career, becoming the third player with 100 goals in a Crunch sweater; the record is Mark Hartigan’s 107. Barré-Boulet is third overall in scoring this season with 54 points (15g, 39a) in 41 games.




The Rocket reached the All-Star Break with points in eight of the previous 10 games (5-2-2-1), including a win over division-leading Toronto in the last game before the stoppage. They currently reside in the final North Division playoff position with 44 points in 45 games. At 18-19-6-2, the Rocket have a chance to reach 0.500 for the first time since they were 1-1-1-0.


In 11 games since returning from a recall with Montreal, leading scorer Anthony Richard has piled up 11 points (4g, 7a). One of Laval’s two All-Star representatives, Richard paces the Rocket with 42 points (22g, 20a) in 38 games. Captain Alex Belzile also represented the Rocket at All-Star; he notched seven goals and 10 points in his last six games before the break.


Cayden Primeau started all five games before the break for the Rocket, posting a 2-1-2 record. Overall he is 6-7-5 with a 3.45 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage this season. He started all but one game during Laval’s run to Game 7 of the Conference Finals last season.




The AHL All-Star Break marks the second major break in the AHL’s schedule. The Crunch entered the first break-the league’s holiday break-riding a four-game winning streak. The emerged from that time off with back-to-back losses at Laval en route to going winless in five straight (0-4-0-1) out of the break.


This respite for the AHL All-Star Classic came as the Crunch had lost back-to-back games.


Under head coach Ben Groulx, the Crunch are 4-5-0-1 in the first game after either the holiday break (3-2-0-1) or the All-Star Break (1-3-0-0).




The Crunch carry a six-game road winning streak into tonight’s game at Laval. It is their longest road winning streak of the season; they had one four-game road win streak last year (March 2-18). Syracuse has outscored opponents 17-7 during their four-game streak, which includes wins at Lehigh Valley, at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, at Utica (twice), at Hartford and at Providence.


After beginning the season winless in their first six road games (0-4-0-2), the Crunch are 11-4-0-0 in the last 15 road contests to climb above 0.500 (11-8-0-2) away from Syracuse.


Syracuse’s longest road winning streak in franchise history is nine games (Oct. 19-Nov. 25, 2012). 


To extend the streak, the Crunch will need to snap a different one. They have lost eight straight regular season games at Laval, going 0-6-2-0 since their last regular season win at Place Bell (March 13, 2019).




The Crunch’s three AHL All-Star representatives—Alex Barré-Boulet, Gabriel Dumont and Darren Raddysh—performed admirably at the AHL All-Star Classic in Laval Sunday and Monday.


The trio helped the Eastern Conference win the 2023 Rona AHL All-Star Skills Competition Sunday night. Alex Barré-Boulet won a 1-on-1 battle with T.J. Tynan in the Puck Control Relay. Darren Raddysh took home the hardest shot with a 102.0 miles per hour blast. 


The moment of the night, however, was when Dumont’s son, Mateo, took his dad’s place in the Breakaway Relay and scored on San Diego’s Lukas Dostal to earn a point.


In the All-Star Challenge last night, which featured a round robin tournament of 3-on-3 competition, Darren Raddysh tied for the North Division lead with two goals.



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