The newest members of the Syracuse Crunch this season have certainly had an interesting introduction to life in the AHL. Forget just being a part of the youngest team in the AHL, these guys have seen enough in their first few months in the league to last most players a lifetime. So much has happened in the past week alone: goaltender musical chairs was played, ECHL additions through both call ups within the organization and through professional tryout contracts (PTOs) were added to the team, and these guys found themselves suddenly on a team that had more rookies than non-rookies.
It’s no wonder that the Crunch put up some varied performances this past week.
Syracuse Crunch results for the week of 1/22/18
|Wednsday, January 24th||Laval: 2||Syracuse: 3||https://theahl.com/stats/game-summary/1017745||N/A|
|Friday, January 26th||Syracuse: 5||Belleville: 2||https://theahl.com/stats/game-summary/1017758||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyvBYEMtTF0|
|Saturday, January 27th||Syracuse: 2||Toronto: 4||https://theahl.com/stats/game-summary/1017773||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_eSlEACuIQ&t=106s|
Goaltender musical chairs
Current Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Louis Domingue made another temporary swap with Connor Ingram this past weekend. The Lightning were, of course, on their All-Star break, and so the powers that be decided to give Domingue some minutes with Syracuse. His arrival seemed opportune, especially considering Saturday night’s opponent: the Toronto Marlies. Toronto is first place in the Crunch’s North Division, first place in the Eastern Conference, and is also first place in the league by points, so they’re kind of a big deal.
Unfortunately for Domingue, the game didn’t go as he probably planned. Although he had a strong first period, making 14 saves on 15 shots, his second period was marred by a miscue that one hopes he won’t beat himself up too badly about in the coming days:
Domingue is known as a rather active goalie, and he’s gone on these sojourns away from the net before in Syracuse. However, he hadn’t yet had one go that badly.
Sadly for Domingue and Syracuse, that goal was the beginning of the end of the Crunch’s game. It eroded the young team’s confidence and gave the Marlies momentum that Syracuse never really got back. It was a tough loss to take right before the AHL’s own All-Star Classic, a break that won’t see Syracuse play again until this Friday.
ECHL additions (and subtractions)
The Crunch has run into a bit of injury trouble as of late. Forwards Adam Erne and Kevin Lynch are still out, and forward Carter Verhaeghe joined the list of the injured this past week. Michael Bounival and Matthew Peca are still up with the Lightning (as is Cory Conacher, of course). With Alex Gallant sitting out two games thanks to a suspension, Syracuse was in dire need of some help.
Ironically enough, two of the players they normally would have called on from the Adirondack Thunder - Ty Loney and Troy Burke - were also out with injuries. Shane Conacher was already up with the Crunch, so filling roster holes necessitated a bit of searching. Syracuse signed center Stephen MacAulay and winger Olivier Archambault to PTOs and they joined the team. Both played this past week. Loney returned to health late in the week and was also recalled for the weekend.
Archambault netted a goal and an assist in three games with Syracuse, which might be why he’s still on roster at the moment. MacAulay registered no points and was a -1. He has been returned to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. Conacher and Loney have also been returned to the Thunder, although it’s possible the Crunch get them back before their home-and-home series with Utica this weekend.
Rookies, rookies, everywhere
The Crunch has been the youngest team in the AHL all season, but this past week things got even more youthful.
Wednesday night, the Crunch’s average age was that of an adult barely old enough to drink in the United States:
#SyrCrunch lineup had an average age of 21.5 years. Plus two guys making their Crunch debut. And yet they keep winning. #backNblue https://t.co/DTMFiLIW9C— Lukas Favale (@LukasFavale) January 25, 2018
The Crunch dressed 10 rookies that night, a season high for Syracuse. These younger players are certainly being tested this season. However, as head coach Ben Groulx put it, it’s a good situation to be in for hungry players who want ice time and are willing to work:
"They ask for a chance, they ask for more ice time. Well here you go, it's tonight," - #SyrCrunch Head Coach Ben Groulx https://t.co/NQSXlsuyhI— Lukas Favale (@LukasFavale) January 25, 2018