Game 58 Preview: Crunch at Islanders




The Crunch finish off their two-game trip to New England in a match against the Bridgeport Islanders tonight at Total Mortgage Arena.


It’s the second of two head-to-head matches this season, following the Crunch’s 4-3 win in Syracuse on Dec. 17.




The Crunch allowed three first period goals and came up short against the Providence Bruins, 4-2, at Amica Mutual Pavilion Wednesday night.


The Bruins grabbed a quick lead on a goal from Joona Koppanen just 3:24 into the first period. The Crunch quickly tied the game when Rudolfs Balcers tapped in a pass from Alex Barré-Boulet 1:02 later, making it a 1-1 game.


The Bruins seized control with a pair of power-play goals midway through the period. Georgii Merkulov scored them both to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead just over 13 minutes into the game. 


After a scoreless second period, Trevor Carrick’s blast off a faceoff win for the Crunch 53 seconds into the third made it 3-2. He had another close call later in the period, hitting a pair of posts on one shot; the play could not be reviewed due to replay review issues in the building. The Bruins pulled away late on a transition goal from Fabian Lysell to make it 4-2.


Max Lagace started and allowed three goals on 11 shots in the first period. Hugo Alnefelt took over in net to start the second period, making 13 saves on 14 shots the rest of the way.




The Crunch opened the week with their loss in Providence Wednesday night. Despite that, the Crunch have gone 7-2-1-0 in the last 10 games. They are 28-21-5-3 this season, which puts them in third place in the North Division with 64 points. The Crunch are two points behind the Comets for second place, and they have played two fewer games than Utica.


Alex Barré-Boulet took a game-high eight shots Wednesday in Providence, and although he didn’t score he did set up the team’s first goal. Barré-Boulet has now moved into a tie for the AHL scoring lead with 68 points (19g, 49a) in 54 games. He is all square with Tucson’s Michael Carcone (51 games) and Ontario’s T.J. Tynan (58 games). He is now tied for his career-high for points, a mark he set as a rookie in 74 games during the 2018-19 season.


Barré-Boulet’s assist extended his road scoring streak to 13 straight games. He has picked up 21 points (6g, 15a) in that time, and he is now tied for the longest road streak in the AHL this season. He has earned a point in 23 of 27 road games played this season.




The Islanders are in a tight battle for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with in-state rival Hartford. The Islanders dropped a 7-5 decision on Wednesday against the Wolf Pack which pulled Hartford within one point of Bridgeport for the final playoff spot. They are 27-24-7-1 and have 62 points this season.


The Islanders have 13 games remaining this season, with seven at home and six on the road. They have struggled at home this season, posting a 13-15-1-0 mark which makes them one of two teams in the Eastern Conference below 0.500 on home ice.


A pair of veterans pace the Islanders in scoring. Chris Terry leads the way with 57 points (18g, 39a) in 54 games. The 33-year-old is now at 670 points in 741 career AHL games. Former Crunch forward Andy Andreoff is two goals off the league lead. The veteran has 26 goals and 47 points this season in 56 games. His 26 goals are tied for his career high set with the Crunch in 2018-19.


The crease has been shared by Cory Schneider and Jakub Skarek. Schneider is 17-8-3 with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. Skarek is 10-13-3 with a 3.34 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage.




Forward Rudy Balcers capitalized with his second goal in as many games two nights ago in Providence. It’s the first time this season the veteran has netted goals in consecutive games.


A two-time AHL All-Star, Balcers has 12 points (5g, 12a) in 22 games for the Crunch this season. He has played to a plus-4 rating in the last two games.




Defenseman Trevor Carrick ripped home a goal for the second straight game Wednesday at Providence. After reaching double figures in goals for the fourth time in his career with a tally over the weekend, the veteran has now matched his career high with 11 goals (2017-18). 


Carrick, 28, ranks sixth on the team, and second among defensemen, with 33 points. He has four goals in the last six games, including markers in back-to-back games for the first time this season.




The Crunch defeated the Islanders, 4-3, in their previous meeting on Dec. 17 in Syracuse.


Gabriel Dumont led the Crunch with a pair of goals. He scored the only tally in the first period before starting a high-scoring second period with another; both teams netted three goals in the second period. Phil Myers and Gemel Smith also had goals for the Crunch; it was Myers’ first goal for the Crunch.


Andy Andreoff, Kyle MacLean and William Dufour scored the Islanders goals.


Hugo Alnefelt (36/39) bested Jakub Skarek (27/31) for the win.




The Crunch power play has fallen back in a rut, going 0-for-16 in the last four games after scoring at least once in six of the previous seven games. Their penalty kill has also been burned twice in each of the last two games.


Out of the 12 combined goals in Bridgeport’s last game, only one was scored on the power play. Andy Andreoff scored it for his team-leading 11th power-play goal as the Islanders have the second-ranked power play in the AHL (23.2%). Their penalty kill was perfect, and has killed 81.0% of power plays.



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