Crunch Showing Signs of Life
The Syracuse Crunch played 4 games in 5 days which I, along with many other fans hate but this happens a lot in the AHL. The good thing is they pulled out 2 wins in this stretch and also had back to back wins and their first road win.
This iron man week started off in Albany on Wednesday where things were bleak even before the game as they were going to be without Mathieu Roy and Grant Clitsome due to injuries. With the depleted defense the Crunch fell behind 2-0 early in the first but newly aquired Bates Battaglia netted his first of the season with helpers from Pelletier and Regner.
In the second Albany made it 3-1 but Mayorov gets his 4th of the season with the setup from Picard. The Rats answered back less than five minutes later and that was the end of the scoring for a final of 4-2. Lalande was in net and had a decent game but with an inexperienced defense in front of him it could have been a lot worse.
Friday saw the Houston Aeros come to town and the return of Tom Sestito from Columbus. It also saw the recall of Alexandre Picard to the Jackets. The first period was very sloppy by both teams and the Aeros struck first but Tom Sestito punched in his 6th of the season with the assists from Holden and Roy. Jordan Smotherman netted his second of the season from Frischmon and Liffiton. Smotherman has started to look better in the last few games after a very slow start to the season.
Houston scored the next 2 goals to silence the home crowd but David Liffiton scored his first of the season to get us back in the game. Jared Aulin had the lone assist on Liffiton's goal. No more goals would be scored until the shootout. Lalande was brilliant in the skills competition stoning all four Aeros. Battaglia and Aulin had goals to give the Crunch the 4-3 win. Both of these guys are on tryout contracts only.
Saturday saw a ride down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to face the Penguins. Once again the Crunch find themselves down early but Aulin was able to tie it up with assists from Roy and Mayorov. Syracuse took the lead in the second with Battaglia getting his second of the year from Pelletier and Fritsche. The next two goals were scored by the Penguins but Dan Fritsche tied it at three with his fifth with Battaglia and Pelletier setting it up. Kevin Harvey scored the game winner and Smotherman had the assist. Lalande made the start again as it looks like Dan LaCosta has become the backup goaltender.
Sunday was the sixth meeting so far this year between Syracuse and Rochester. This is one of the biggest and longest rivalries in the AHL. The last few years in has been dominated by the Crunch but this season is a very different story.
It seemed like the game was 4-0 Amerks in the snap of the fingers as Lalande I feel should have had the day off. After he gave up thse 4 goals on 15 shots he was given the rest of the game off. LaCosta coming in seemed to spark the team as Battaglia scored from Pelletier and Sigalet to get things started. Sestito made it 4-2 with Simon Ferguson getting the lone assist.
Going into the third period it seemed the Crunch had the momentum but Rochester shut that door very quickly. Fritsche tried to open it back up with his sixth from Battaglia and Pelletier. Jonathan Sigalet then made it a one goal game with his second of the year, also unassisted. The Amerks stretched the lead again and it looked liked Roy had a clear goal but no light came on and the ref signaled no goal even though all the players were celebrating. There was no talk between the ref and the goal judge or even the linesmen to see if it might have went in.
Rochester got another goal to make the final 7-4 and the rivalry got a shot in the arm with the antics of the Amerks goalie as he was taunting LaCosta by throwing the puck the length of the ice right on Danny after a whistle. LaCosta did not do anything but you could see he was on his way down to fight him but just shot the puck back down. The next game between the two clubs should be an interesting affair.
Lines for the weekend were
Battaglia Fritsche Pelletier
Sestito Aulin Mayorov
Harvey Frischmon Smotherman
Ferguson Lundbohm Mirasty/Miller
Michael Ratchuk has been the odd man out on defense and has not shown much in his limited games. With Roy almost certain to get the recall after Klesla went down against the Blues and Clitsome still out we will see what the team can do. I liked Legein and think the Jackets lost this trade horribly thus far.
Pelletier 5 assists in 4 games
Battaglia 3 goals 2 assists in 5 games
Fritsche 2 goals 1 assist 4 games
Players to watch