CRUNCH OPEN CRUCIAL WEEK
The Crunch open the first of two straight three-in-three weekends tonight against the Utica Comets at the Adirondack Bank Center.
Tonight is the 10th head-to-head match with the teams slated to meet five times in the final four weeks, including tonight. The Crunch are 6-2-1-0 against the Comets this season.
LAST TIME OUT
The Crunch scored on their only two shootout attempts and got by the Rochester Americans, 3-2, Tuesday at Blue Cross Arena.
Syracuse led twice in regulation, starting with Simon Ryfors’ backhand goal at 13:24 of the first period. The Amerks tied the game nearly halfway through the second period on a power-play goal from Jiri Kulich.
Jack Finley broke the 1-1 tie 10:36 into the third period, stashing home a rebound off a Declan Carlile shot to make it 2-1 Crunch. The Amerks tied it again five minutes later on a deflection from Michael Mersch at 15:52, which sent the game to overtime.
Max Lagace stoned six Rochester shots to help the Crunch survive until the shootout. Gage Goncalves and Lucas Edmonds netted shootout goals and the Crunch won the shootout, 2-1, to win the game, 3-2.
SCOUTING THE CRUNCH
The Crunch grabbed their second straight win, and created a little breathing room in the North Division standings with their win over the Americans Tuesday night.
Syracuse is 30-22-5-3 this season. The Crunch are tied with Utica with 68 points, as the teams jostle for home ice advantage in a potential playoff series. Both teams are now five points clear of Rochester for a sought-after top-three position in the division.
Simon Ryfors opened the scoring for the Crunch with his team-leading 21st goal of the season. Ryfors, 25, snapped a seven-game goal drought with the tally. The Swede has nearly doubled his goal output from last season (11), which was his first year in North America. He is approaching his career high of 25 set with RÖgle BK during the 2020-21 season.
GOING THE DISTANCE
The Crunch have played back-to-back overtime games, winning once in the overtime period and once in a shootout. Syracuse is now 5-8 in games decided after regulation this season; the Crunch are 2-5 in the overtime period and 3-3 in shootouts.
Gage Goncalves and Lucas Edmonds scored in the shootout Tuesday night. Goncalves is now 3-for-5 in shootout attempts this season, and he is 5-for-8 (62.5%) in his two-year career. Edmonds is 2-for-2 during the shootout this season, with both goals holding as shootout game-winners. In addition to Tuesday’s winner, Edmonds scored the shootout winner in the seventh round Feb. 1 at Utica.
Tuesday’s win over the Amerks gave the Crunch their 30th win of the season, which came in their 60th game. At 30-22-5-3, the Crunch reached 30 wins one game quicker than they did last season (30-23-6-2).
It’s the 25th time in 29 seasons that the Crunch have won at least 30 games in a season, and it’s the 19th straight season they’ve reached that mark, excluding the shortened 2020-21 campaign.
SCOUTING THE COMETS
The Comets have mirrored the Crunch with a 6-3-1-0 record in the last 10 games. After winning six of seven games (6-0-1-0), the Comets have now lost three of their last four, splitting a two-game set in Laval last weekend.
Utica is tied with Syracuse at 68 points, with the Comets in third having played one more game than the Crunch. The Crunch currently hold the tiebreaker with the Comets, winning 25 games in regulation to the Comets’ 23.
Leading scorer Graeme Clarke has produced 48 points (21g, 27a) in 57 games. After returning from a recall to New Jersey, Clarke has notched four points (1g, 3a) in six games.
With Nico Daws injured, Isaac Poulter has seen action in six of the last eight games. He is 4-1-1 in those games, and he is 5-2-3 this season with a 3.36 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage. Poulter is 1-1-0 in two starts versus the Crunch.
Tonight is the fourth straight head-to-head meeting in Utica, where the Crunch are 3-1-0-0 this season. Following the Comets comeback win over the Crunch on March 5, the Crunch are now 6-2-1-0 in the series; there are still five matches left on the schedule between the clubs.
Alex Barré-Boulet leads all players with 14 points (4g, 10a) in nine games this season. He has logged a point in six of the nine games, posting four multi-point performances. Lucas Edmonds leads all players with six goals; he has scored five in the last two games against Utica.
Graeme Clarke (3g, 5a) and Joe Gambardella (2g, 6a) are tied for the Utica lead in scoring with eight points in eight games against the Crunch.
The Crunch have been scuffling on the power play over the last seven games, scoring just twice in 29 chances (6.9%) in that span. They rank 22nd in the AHL this season with an 18.4% power play, but it has been more successful on the road (20.9% vs. 16.2%).
The Comets are one of two teams with fewer power-play goals (32) than the Crunch (36) have scored this season. Utica is 30th in the AHL at 15.8% on the man advantage this season.
The Crunch have allowed at least one power-play goal in four of the last five games and they rank 17th in the AHL at 80.5%.
Utica has the AHL’s worst home penalty kill (70.1%), which has the Comets overall penalty kill operating at 77.7%.
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