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Tampa Bay Lightning AHL affiliate update: Syracuse Crunch look to stop their skid

The Syracuse Crunch are on a three-game losing streak and have been weakened by recalls. They hope to get back to winning this week.

Scott Thomas Photography

Since the last time we checked in with the Syracuse Crunch, things have gone downhill a bit. Not enough to worry about too much, but enough to give many some pause.

Last week, the Crunch were riding high on a nine-game winning streak, a group of victories that closely followed their last streak. That first streak, lasting from November 22nd to December 16, was a collection of 10 games that single-handedly turned the team’s season around. Both sets of games propelled Syracuse from the basement to third place in the AHL’s North Division.

However, as the Crunch’s roster has shifted and as recalls and injuries have struck, Syracuse’s momentum has stumbled.

Crunch scores for the week of January 15th

Day Home Away Boxscore Highlights
Day Home Away Boxscore Highlights
1/15/18 Syracuse: 3 Binghamton: 0
1/17/18 Belleville: 2 Syracuse: 1 N/A
1/19/18 Syracuse: 1 Toronto: 4
1/20/18 Utica: 4 Syracuse: 2 N/A

The Crunch have managed to hold it together so far while facing several challenges, most notably one of age. Syracuse has been the youngest team in the league all season, and the recent departures of Matthew Peca and Michael Bournival certainly only widened the disparity in ages between the Crunch and other teams in the league. The Crunch are also missing other key pieces at forward, with Kevin Lynch out for an extended period of time and Adam Erne still at “day-to-day” status.

News also came down Monday that veteran forward Alex Gallant has been suspended for two games after he was assessed an instigator penalty within the final five minutes of the third period of the Crunch’s game at Utica this past Saturday. That infraction carries an automatic one-game suspension. Gallant got hit with a second day because this game misconduct was his third so far this season, a total that also results in an automatic one-game suspension.

This leaves the Crunch at 9 forwards and 8 defensemen. The hope is that Erne will return this week, putting Syracuse at 10 and 8. Although not ideal, the known flexibility of Daniel Walcott, who has shifted back and forth between defense and forward for the past two seasons, should help the Crunch a little.

Syracuse also brought in some help Monday in the form of ECHL forward Stephen MacAulay. MacAulay has been with the Florida Everblades for the majority of the past two seasons, amassing 30 goals and 29 assist over 59 games. He also played 39 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds last season, netting 2 goals and 6 points. Those with eyes on the ECHL were complimentary of MacAulay’s play with the Florida Everblades, and noted that his PIM’s were low - just 25 in 39 games so far this season.

The Crunch will need every bit of whatever assistance they can get this week, and will have to rely heavily on the tenacity that they’ve built up under head coach Ben Groulx this past two seasons. The Crunch has a busy schedule, visiting Laval on Wednesday before hosting Belleville Friday and Toronto Saturday.