On Wednesday November 22nd, the Syracuse Crunch played host to the Rochester Americans in a back and forth contest that really highlighted the potential of the Crunch for the first time this season. After the contest, I turned to my friend beside me and told him that the 6-to-5 win we had just witnessed would be the turning point in the season.
While it remains to be seen whether or not the team can maintain their current level of play, to this point my bold prediction has been spot on.
Another week has passed and the Crunch’s win streak now stands at six straight, an impressive feat for a team that couldn’t get out of their own way just a few weeks ago. Things are looking bright in the ‘Cuse.
Wednesday November 29th
Crunch - 3
Marlies - 1
Friday December 1st
Crunch - 2
Rocket - 1
Saturday December 2nd
Crunch - 5
Senators - 4
- What worked?
A lot of things went right for the Crunch this week. It was all a direct result of simply working hard. Every player on the ice knew their role and played it to near perfection for the majority of the three contests they played.
Crunch goaltender Louis Domingue and the Syracuse defense stymied the league leading Toronto Marlies on Wednesday by surrendering just one goal on a third period power play chance. Things then didn’t get much easier for the Crunch on Friday night when the Laval Rocket visited the War Memorial, but Domingue and the Syracuse blue liners proved stingy for the second straight game by giving up just one goal to one of the best offenses in the league. The boys in blue were able to complete the sweep of the week with an impressive third period rally Saturday against Belleville that would eventually end in a shootout victory for the home team.
What makes this past week even more impressive is the fact that head coach Ben Groulx and his team were able to adjust to a flurry of injuries and call-ups and still look like the better team all three nights. Syracuse lost versatile utility man Daniel Walcott on Wednesday after suffering a harsh looking leg injury; leading scorer Cory Conacher was recalled to Tampa along with red-hot defenseman Jamie McBain; and rookie forward Dennis Yan was taken to the hospital Friday night to have his elbow x-rayed. The Crunch also lost forward Chris Didomenico on a rare waivers reclaim when Ottawa snatched him back.
With their backs against the wall, Ty Loney, Mathieu Brodeur, and Matt Spencer made the trip from Adirondack to Syracuse and immediately made an impact. As has been the theme since Ben Groulx stepped behind the bench last year, “resilient” is the character trait that best describes the Crunch. They proved it again this week.
First game with the @SyracuseCrunch + game-winning shootout goal = a great debut for Ty Loney. #BELvsSYR pic.twitter.com/DYH1EARamz— AHL (@TheAHL) December 3, 2017
- What needs work going forward?
Broken record alert: the Crunch need to stop making things harder on themselves by taking penalties. Syracuse gave the Marlies four man-advantages on Wednesday, followed by handing over six power play’s to Laval on Friday, and then they gave five to Belleville on Saturday.
Nothing kills the momentum of a game quite like taking a penalty at the end of a period. On Saturday, the Senators started the second and third period up a man and converted both times just seconds into the frame. Syracuse sits at fifth in the entire league with 376 penalty minutes.
The Crunch’s lack of discipline in key situations was the one blip in an otherwise perfect week on the ice.
First star of the week:
Louis Domingue : 2W, 1.00GAA, 96.2 SV%
Since the beginning of the season to about mid-November, the Crunch had been patiently waiting for either Michael Leighton or Connor Ingram to solidify themselves as the clear-cut number one goaltender on the team. It just didn’t work out. As a result, the Tampa Bay Lightning shipped Leighton and power forward Tye McGinn to the Arizona Coyotes for 27-year-old netminder Louis Domingue.
Now there is no question who owns the Syracuse goal crease.
Domingue, a proven NHL talent, has been spectacular for the Crunch. He’s won four out of his six starts with Syracuse, posting a 2.17 goals against average along with a 0.923 save percentage.
The Quebec native has been a huge piece of the current six game winning streak, and will continue to carry a heavy workload throughout the season. This past weekend, against two of the top offenses in the AHL, Domingue allowed just two goals.
The Lightning always seem hit the nail right on the head when it comes to mid-season AHL goalie trades - Dustin Tokarski for Cedrick Desjardins and Adam Wilcox for Mike McKenna were both extreamly successful trades for the Crunch - and it seems they may have struck gold again in the form of Louis Domingue.
Adam Erne - 2 G
Ty Loney - Shootout game winner on 12/2 vs Belleville
Wednesday December 6th @ Utica
Friday December 8th @ Binghamton
Saturday December 9th @ Belleville