Sorry that it has been a couple weeks since my last report but things got a little crazy leading up to and through the holidays, but I will update the last five games the Crunch have played.
I would like to start off with the signing of to an AHL only deal. This is long overdue and I will not argue with the move much except it should have been a two way but I won't complain because he did get signed after all.
The Crunch visited the Houston Aeros on Monday December 28th. Brent Regner opened up the scoring on the power play with his 3rd from MacKenzie and Clitsome. Houston tied it up shortly after but tallied his 5th from Aulin and Clitsome. The Aeros scored the next two, but Bell scored again from MacKenzie and Regner. Newly found sniper in the Pelletier trade Tomas Kana notched his 4th from Clitsome and Sigalet, But the boys could not hold the lead and went to OT tied at 4. Houston won it 52 seconds into OT but the Crunch put on a good show and got a valuable point.
Tuesday they saw action in Texas against the Stars and this became the Jared Aulin show. Jared scored his 7th from Kana and Battaglia and seconds later his 8th unassisted. The Stars tied it up in the second when Kana (5th) from Battaglia and MacKenzie put the Crunch up again but for the second game in two nights went to OT again. This time the Crunch were able to make it to the shoot out where Jared Aulin and Brendan Bell potted goals to give the Crunch the win.
Wednesday was a visit to the San Antonio Rampage where we took an early lead from MacKenzie with his 5th from Battaglia. Mike Radja scored his first from Ferguson and Frischmon. The Rampage scored the next three to send the Crunch home with a 1-1-1 road trip.
The new year started with a bang as the Crunch hosted Albany on January 2nd and this was a very fun game plus it featured the return of Mike Blunden. Kana open the scoring with his 6th from Battaglia and Mackenzie and Radja scored his second from Sigalet and Frischmon. The Rats tied it up in the first with two of their own but then Blunden took over.Clitsome recorded his 2nd from Blunden and Kana and less than a minute later Radja (3rd) from SIgalet and Smotherman to re take the lead. Albany got one more but Blunden scored his 1st unassisted and then his 2nd (empty net) from Kana and Aulin.
Sunday was a visit to the Hartford Wolf Pack and Jared Aulin's scoring continued with his 9th from Fritsche but the Pack tied it in the third to send it to OT and then the shoot out. This time the Crunch could not get a goal to get that second point.
All in all the Crunch has started playing much better but lets hope it is not too late as mid season is upon us and we still sit in last place in the division. They did gain some ground during this stretch but with the play over the last five games and against the competition they faced this was a very good sign.
The lines from this stretch were as follows,
Battaglia MacKenzie Fritsche/Kana
PIcard/Blunden Aulin Fritsche/Kana
Smotherman Frischmon Radja
Mirasty Kronschnabel Feguson/Harvey
Lalande has seemed to claim the #1 spot but LaCosta in his last couple games has played very well to keep the competition in goal going strong.
The who's hot is very simple this time
Tomas Kana 6 goals 3 assists +4 in 12 games
Jared Aulin 3 goals 2 assists and a shoot out goal in his last 5 games.
Mike Radja 3 goals 2 assist in five games.
Grant Clitsome 1 goal and 3 assists in 5 games
The players who have not been hot have been Fritsche and Battaglia. They haven't been bad, just not as good as I have come to expect. Smotherman continues to disappoint and Mayorov has been out with an minor injury but made his return against Hartford.
My overall summary is that the Crunch are moving in the right direction with recent signings and the call ups and send downs. Even with Roy, Picard and MacKenzie in Columbus right now the current roster can make a potential run at the playoffs.
I will be writing a post on the affiliation between Syracuse and Columbus this weekend and also I will take a look at the moves made to make the Crunch a better team. Should be a fun couple weeks here in snowy Syracuse leading up to the outdoor game. There is a good chance the outdoor game will be on TV as it takes place during the Olympic break The NHL network is very interested from what I hear. It will be on Time Warner sports in Syracuse so maybe a feed will be available as well through the internet.