CRUNCH BEGIN THREE-IN-THREE WEEKEND
The Crunch play the opening leg of their first three-in-three weekend of the season tonight as they host the Rochester Americans.
The Crunch (20-19-4-1) are in the midst of a stretch of seven games in 10 days and they went 3-1-0-0 in the first four games.
The Amerks (24-18-3-2) are mired in a three-game losing streak after getting swept in a three-in-three series last week, including a loss to the Crunch Saturday night.
Tonight marks the eighth game of the regular season series. The Crunch have won four of the last five and are 4-3-0-0 against the Amerks.
LAST TIME OUT
Jake Lucchini potted a hat trick as the Belleville Senators defeated the Crunch, 4-1, at CAA Arena Tuesday night as the teams split a two-game series.
Lucchini scored a power-play goal in the first period and cashed in again in the early stages of the second period to give Belleville a 2-0 lead heading into the third period, despite the Crunch holding a 27-16 shots advantage.
Kevin Mandolese continued to fend off the Crunch, who pulled the goalie with around six minutes to play in the third period, before Cole Reinhardt scored an empty-net goal to make it 3-0. P.C. Labrie pulled the Crunch within two again 30 seconds later, but Lucchini completed the hat trick with another empty-netter to make it a 4-1 final.
SCOUTING THE CRUNCH
The Crunch sit sixth in the North Division with a 20-19-4-1 record. Syracuse finished its most recent stretch of four games in five nights with a 3-1-0-0 record, scoring 18 goals over that span—including three straight games (Feb. 18-21) in which the team notched at least five goals. Syracuse’s four game spurt raised their goals per game average up to 2.86, from 2.70.
Captain Gabriel Dumont and defenseman Darren Raddysh led the way for the Crunch over that four-game stretch. Dumont added six points (4g, 2a) in four games—including a hat trick Monday in Belleville—and Raddysh posted five points (2g, 3a) in four games.
The defenseman lost his three-game point streak on Tuesday night in Belleville; it was the first point streak of the season for the veteran blueliner. Raddysh’s most recent point-streak of at least three-games came last season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, when he added points in seven consecutive games (2g, 9a) from March 25 to April 15.
SCOUTING THE AMERKS
The Americans sit fourth in the North Division with a 24-18-3-2 record. The Amerks are in the midst of their first three-game losing streak this season. They went through a three-game winless (0-0-2-1) streak Jan. 14-19, but this is the first time with three consecutive regulation losses.
Compounding the bad news for the Amerks, the team recently announced that captain and leading goal scorer, Michael Mersch, will miss two to four weeks with a lower body injury. Mersch’s 39 points (19g, 20a) is second-best on the team, one point behind rookie winger JJ Peterka (13g, 27a).
Despite the disappointing stretch for the Amerks, defenseman Ethan Prow continues to rack up points from the back end. The Minnesota native has assists in four straight games and has 12 points (2g, 10a) in his last 15.
GEMEL SMITH READY TO GO
Forward Gemel Smith has returned to Syracuse and is expected to play his first Crunch game this season tonight. The Toronto native signed a new two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning this offseason before getting hurt during training camp.
After starting the season on injured reserve, Smith was claimed off waivers by Detroit; he logged an assist in three games with the Red Wings and one assist in three games for Grand Rapids on a conditioning assignment. The Lightning reclaimed Smith last week off waivers and assigned him to the Crunch.
This season marks the third for Smith in the organization. He has notched 46 points (25g, 21a) in 53 games for the Crunch since the 2019-20 season. He only played eight total games last season—five with Tampa Bay and three with Syracuse—spending most of the season on the Lightning’s taxi squad.
RICHARD SHOWING EARLY RETURNS
Since joining the Crunch from the Milwaukee Admirals in a trade between Tampa Bay and Nashville, Anthony Richard has posted seven points (1g, 6a) in nine games.
Before last Friday’s game against the Rocket, head coach Ben Groulx slotted the newest Crunch winger onto a line with Gabriel Dumont and rookie Gage Goncalves. Since the line’s inception last week, those three players have combined for 14 points (6g, 8a) in four games.
GOALIE TANDEM BACK IN PLACE
In a span of five days, the Crunch bolstered their crease with the return of Max Lagace and Hugo Alnefelt—their expected top two goaltenders at the start of the season—from month-long absences due to injury.
Hugo Alnefelt returned last Friday and he has won a pair of starts. The rookie is 6-1-1 in his last eight decision since Jan. 8 and is 8-4-2 with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage overall this season.
Max Lagace’s start on Tuesday was his first appearance since Jan. 22. The veteran allowed two goals on 20 shots in the team’s loss to Belleville. He has appeared in just four games since Jan. 12 due to injury and illness.
SEMYKIN REASSIGNED TO SYRACUSE
The Tampa Bay Lightning reassigned defenseman Dmitry Semykin to the Crunch from the Orlando Solar Bears today. In 28 games for the Solar Bears, the Russian blue-liner added seven points (2g, 5a). The defenseman has no points in eight games for the Crunch this season.