Game 58 Preview: Crunch vs. Senators

game-58-preview:-crunch-vs.-senators

CRUNCH AND SENATORS CLASH 

The Crunch and Belleville Senators go head to head for the seventh time this season tonight at Upstate Medical University Arena. It’s the final leg of three games in three nights for both teams and the two squads both enter following losses last night.

The Crunch (27-22-6-2) had their six-game point streak ended last night with a 7-4 loss in Bridgeport against the Islanders.

The Senators (28-23-2-0) slipped up, 5-2, on home ice against the Hartford Wolf Pack.

The Crunch and Senators both enter their respective third periods tied before their opponent pulled away with high-scoring final frames.

LAST TIME OUT

The Islanders used a four-goal third period to break a 3-3 tie and surge past the Crunch, 7-4, at Total Mortgage Arena.

Bridgeport opened the scoring in the first minute of the game, but it remained 1-0 into the second period. The teams’ offenses came to life in the second. The Crunch erased a two-goal deficit with back-to-back goals from Simon Ryfors and Anthony Richard. The Islanders responded just over a minute later, but Otto Somppi capped the scoring late in the period to send the game into the third period tied 3-3.

The Islanders scored another early goal to begin the third period. They strung together three consecutive goals and pulled away for the 7-4 win, earning a sweep of the two-game season series.

SCOUTING THE CRUNCH

The Crunch had their season-high six game point streak (5-0-0-1) snapped last night, but they have still earned points in seven of the last 10 games (6-3-0-1). The Crunch slipped back to sixth place in the division at 27-22-6-2 with a 0.544 points percentage.

Few players have been as hot recently as rookie winger, Gage Goncalves. The Mission, B.C. native has goals in three of his last four games (3g), putting him just three back of Cole Koepke, who currently leads the team in rookie goal scoring with 16 tallies.

SCOUTING THE SENATORS

The Senators sit fifth in the North Division, just ahead of the Crunch, with a 28-23-2-0 record. Belleville has played well lately, rattling off a 6-2-2-0 record over their past 10 games—the best stretch over the last 10 for any North Division team.

Scott Sabourin has provided a boost to the offence recently, picking up at least one assist in three straight games (4a). In 21 games this season, the Ottawa native has 12 points in (4g, 8a) in 21 games.

Jake Lucchini has been the Senators strongest offensive player all year, though, as the winger leads the team in points (36) and is tied for the lead in goals (16) and assists (20).

RED-HOT RYFORS

Crunch center Simon Ryfors has exploded offensively over the last three games, recording five points. The Stockholm, Sweden native posted a career-high three points at home versus Hartford on March 16.

Ryfors followed that up last night with a goal and an assist in Syracuse’s 7-4 loss to Bridgeport. The two multi-point performances in the last three games matches his two multi-point games in the previous 50 contests this season.

LAGACE’S LEADING THE WAY

Veteran goaltender Max Lagace continues to receive the lion’s share of action in the Crunch crease while Hugo Alnefelt is out due to injury. Prior to last night, Lagace had played in six straight games—including five straight starts—since March 9. He has won all five of his starts and is 5-0-1 over the six games, posting a 1.83 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in that span.

The 29-year-old leads the Crunch this season with 11 wins. He is 11-7-1 with a 2.89 goals-against average and an .883 save percentage this season.

ONE QUARTER TO GO 

The stretch run is in full force as the Crunch begin the final quarter of their regular season schedule. Syracuse just completed a 10-5-3-1 run during the third quarter of the season; they earned 24 of 38 possible points during the 19-game span, which is good for a 0.632 points percentage.

The Crunch have improved their record each quarter of the season. They went 7-9-2-1 in the first 19 games of the season before posting a 10-8-1-0 mark over the next 19 games to reach the 0.500 mark halfway through the season.

Over the Crunch’s finals 19 games, 11 will be at Upstate Medical University Arena and eight will be on the road. The Crunch close the season with six home games in their final seven scheduled contests.

SOMPPI’S SURGE

Otto Somppi lost his five-game point streak on Friday night against the Penguins, but he bounced back with a multi-point effort last night (1g, 1a) in Bridgeport. In total, the Finnish center has 10 points (2g, 8a) in his past 10 games.

Somppi now sits just six points shy of his career high for points in a season (26), a mark he set last year with the Crunch.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Tonight marks the seventh of eight head-to-head matches between the Crunch and Senators. The teams met four times in February—all at Belleville, where the teams split a pair of two-game sets.

The teams are deadlocked at 3-3-0-0 in the regular season series. Both teams have earned one win in Syracuse; Belleville won the series opener, 3-2, Nov. 24 and the Crunch answered back with a 2-1 triumph Jan. 17.

Alex Barré-Boulet leads all players in scoring with seven points (1g, 6a), including a game-winning goal. Gabriel Dumont netted a hat trick Feb. 21 and he has four goals in the series.

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