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Cruncher of the month: Ikonen playing with a chip on his shoulder

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While his numbers aren't staggering, Henri Ikonen has brought his game to a whole new level.

Photo by Scott Thomas

Syracuse Crunch forward Henri Ikonen has been a polarizing figure ever since joining the team fresh off a 70-point season with Kingston of the OHL in 2013-2014. A consistent offensive producer everywhere he has played, the 22-year-old native of Finland has struggled to find his game at the pro level.

In two-and-a-half seasons, Ikonen has found the back of the net just 11 times to go along with 26 assists for a dismal 37 points. In his first couple of seasons in the AHL, the 2013 sixth-round pick of the Lightning has played himself into a plethora of healthy scratches, found himself briefly demoted to the ECHL, and has been one of the whipping boys for disgruntled fans. It seems as if he has lacked the confidence to go out on a nightly basis and take chances with the puck which has limited him to low minutes skating with PTO’s.

We here in Syracuse are glad to announce that all of the aforementioned “knocks” on Ikonen’s play have gradually dissipated over the course of the last month. The speedy winger has been on top of his game earning praise from the fans, his teammates, and head coach Ben Groulx.

In his last ten games he has five points, and while that isn’t necessarily lighting up the scoresheet, the six-foot, 183-pound Cruncher has stepped up tenfold in the absence of guys like Yanni Gourde, Tanner Richard, Michael Bournival, and Cory Conacher. He’s shooting the puck, using his speed to create, throwing his body around, and competing at a level that fans have been patiently waiting to see for almost three years.

Once almost an afterthought with no future within the Bolts organization, Ikonen has opened eyes, even earning himself a solidified spot on the team's second powerplay unit.

It remains to be seen how long Ikonen can play at this level, but for now, it seems like he has found his role on the roster and as long as he keeps doing what he’s doing, we won’t complain.

Congratulations to Ikonen, our Cruncher of the Month!