Syracuse Crunch GM Julien Brisebois sat down with SyracuseCrunch.com to discuss the 2016- 2017 season thus far and the new affiliation with the Kalamazoo Wings.
Quick note: For the sake of clarity and fluency, I have omitted extraneous uses of the phrases “uh” and “and.”
We’re a quarter of the way into the season, and all-in-all, we’re pretty happy with how the Crunch have been playing. I love our compete level. I love the pace that we are trying to play with. On most nights we’ve been pretty successful playing with more pace this year. I know the coaches have the players practicing really hard, doing a lot of extra work at the rink - on the ice, off the ice. We believe all that extra work is going to pay dividends for the Crunch team itself as we go on here this year and for these players as they go on with their careers.
I know our special teams have been pretty good, all in all. Again our effort, the pace at which we play, we seem to dictate play most of the time which is a good thing. We have a few players who have been on hot streaks - Matt Taormina in particular has been really hot of late. Joel Vermin who we just recalled had been on a hot streak. Tanner Richard has been producing. Yanni Gourde’s had a really good start to his season. Actually, a number of players have had good starts to their season. So there’s a lot of good things going on there and it’s been translating in wins.
We recalled Joel Vermin and Michael Bournival, both of whom had a really good start to their season. They’re really good competitors, responsible players. They play a good 200-foot game. You can put ‘em in all situations at the AHL level. They’re on the power play, they’re on the penalty kill. They generate offense for us. They neutralize some of the other team’s best players. They generate momentum by being really good puck-handlers, getting to pucks, finishing checks, being able to move the puck and play with pace. They’re both really good skaters. They’re the types of players that we want to see here when we have opportunities to call up guys.
Yeah, this year we have a new ECHL partner, the Kalamazoo Wings. We’ve been working with Nick Bootland who is the general manager and head coach there. Things have been going really well. At this present time, because of a number of injuries, we don’t have many players there. I think we’re just down to the one goalie right now, Nick Riopel, who has had a good start to his season. But the relationship is going well. Brian Hart’s played some games there. Adam Comrie’s played some games there. When we needed those players to come up and help us in Syracuse, they were ready to do so.
We have a number of our amateur prospects that have just been named to Hockey Canada’s world junior camp. That’s a fabulous experience for them. Hopefully some of them make the team. It’d be nice if all of them make the team. We have six players invited. Even if they don’t get invited, it’s a great experience. Some of them will be eligible again next year - Brett Howden, for example, can be invited again. Taylor Raddysh can be invited again. Just competing against the best players of their age group is a great experience. It gives them confidence as well. They know they can compete against the best. They are part of the best. Hopefully that confidence and that experience translates into success at the professional ranks later on.