Game 53 Preview: Crunch vs. Phantoms




The Crunch aim for a third straight win as they host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tonight at Upstate Medical University Arena.


It’s Lehigh Valley’s only trip to Syracuse this season. The Crunch won the first head-to-head meeting, 5-2, Jan. 14 at the PPL Center in Allentown.




The Crunch fended off the Cleveland Monsters in a high-scoring affair, 6-5, Wednesday at Upstate Medical University Arena.


The Crunch grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period. Alex Barré-Boulet potted a rebound at 4:14 for his 18th goal of the season. Trevor Carrick doubled the lead with a rip from the left circle at 14:35.


The teams traded goals the rest of the game, starting with Trey Fix-Wolansky’s breakaway strike 8:34 into the second period. That was answered a minute later by Lucas Edmonds, who scored from the right circle for a 3-1 lead.


They combined for seven goals in the third period. Edmonds, Simon Ryfors and Gabriel Dumont picked up goals for the Crunch, who earned their second straight win.




Syracuse is on a roll having won five of its past six games. The Crunch haven’t lost to the Phantoms since Jan. 15, 2020 (L, 5-4) with Syracuse claiming four consecutive victories. The Crunch enter at 26-19-4-3, good for 59 points and second place in the North Division.


Rookie forward Lucas Edmonds helped pace the Crunch to their win Wednesday against Cleveland. His three point outing (2g, 1a) included contributions on three important answers to Cleveland goals; the Monsters outscored the Crunch 4-3 in the third period, but Syracuse never gave up the lead in the game. 


Edmonds comes off his second career three-point performance totaling 16 points (9g, 7a) in 33 games; he leads Crunch rookies with nine goals. He has eight points (6g, 2a) in the last six games.




Simon Ryfors netted a goal in Wednesday’s win against the Monsters. It was his 20th goal of the season, making Ryfors the first Crunch player to reach the 20-goal mark this season. It’s the second time the 25-year-old has reached 20 goals in his pro career; he tallied 25 goals in 2020-21 for Rögle BK in his final season in Sweden before transitioning to the AHL last season.


Ryfors grabbed 35 points (11g, 24a) in 72 games last season for the Crunch. He has already established new AHL highs in goals (20) and points (43) in just 52 games this season. He is the only Crunch player to play in each game this season. 




The Phantoms are playing their first game of the week tonight. They ended a three-game winless streak last Sunday at Bridgeport, but they have just two wins in the last seven games (2-4-0-1).


The Phantoms (26-21-3-3) currently sit in fifth place in the tight Atlantic Division with 58 points. They have not qualified for the playoffs since their Eastern Conference Finals run in 2017-18.


Rookie Elliot Desnoyers leads the Phantoms with 37 points (19g, 18a) in 49 games. The 21-year-old, who was just named AHL Rookie of the Month for February, made his NHL debut for the Flyers Feb. 25 at New Jersey. Desnoyers racked up five multi-point outings in eight February games, totaling 14 points (5g, 9a).




The Crunch and Phantoms wrap up their two-game season series tonight. The Crunch earned a 5-2 win at the PPL Center on Jan. 14 during what turned into a five-game winning streak for the Crunch.


Five different goal scorers-Darren Raddysh, Simon Ryfors, Jack Finley, Gage Goncalves and Cole Koepke-powered the Crunch to their win. Alex Barré-Boulet grabbed a pair of assists, while Hugo Alnefelt made 25 saves for the win.


The Phantoms picked up goals from Kevin Connauton and Elliot Desnoyers in the loss. Goaltender Felix Sandstrom was on a conditioning assignment with Lehigh Valley and made 20 saves on 24 shots.


The Crunch are 13-3-0-1 against the Phantoms since they move to Lehigh Valley.




The Crunch and Phantoms went a combined 0-for-5 on the power play during their January match. 


The Crunch cashed in on their lone power-play chance Wednesday night, and improved to 9-0-1-0 in the last 10 when scoring a power-play goal, dating to Jan. 13. Their penalty kill allowed a pair of goals and is now at 80.1% for the season.


The Phantoms power play ranks eighth in the AHL with a 22.5% conversion rate. Their penalty kill, however, is last in the AHL at 73.5%




The Crunch wear their reverse retro jerseys for the final time this season (also Feb. 24). The Crunch’s reverse retro jersey brings together their current colors with their ‘Al the Ice Gorilla’ logo, which the team used starting in 2000 and continuing until 2012, spanning their affiliations with Columbus and Anaheim.


The Crunch switched to their current logo and color scheme when they affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2012-13 season.


The Crunch are 3-0 when wearing these jerseys over the last two seasons, winning by a combined 12-3 score.




The Crunch recalled Tyson Feist from ECHL-Orlando, while Jaydon Dureau was reassigned to the Crunch from Orlando. Feist has skated in five games for the Crunch this season, most recently Nov. 19. Since then, the 22-year-old has picked up 12 points in 25 games for the Solar Bears. 


Dureau, 22, has played 12 games with the Crunch this season, and another 29 games with Orlando.



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