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Syracuse Crunch Roster Preview: Goaltending

Unlike last year, Syracuse looks to keep things simple.

Scott Thomas Photography

Stability. That’s what the Syracuse Crunch are looking for in net in the upcoming season. Following a turbulent year in the goal crease that featured seven different goaltenders (Nic Riopel, Louis Domingue, Eddie Pasquale, Connor Ingram, Peter Budaj, Olivier Mantha, and Michal Leighton) the Crunch would be happy to fill in just two of those names on the starting roster for the upcoming season.

Who’s Out:

Peter Budaj

Olivier Mantha

The Lightning cleared up their goaltender log-jam early in the summer by shipping Peter Budaj back to Los Angeles for fourth-line, future Crunch forward Andre Andreoff. That allowed them to keep Louis Domingue in Tampa and not have to worry about carrying three goaltenders in Tampa or in Syracuse.

Mantha, who was signed to an AHL deal in February but spent most of his season in Adirondack, announced his retirement from professional hockey this summer.

Who’s Back:

Connor Ingram

Crunch 18-19: Ingram

Age 2017-18 Team 2017-18 Regular Season Stats 2017-18 Playoff Stats Contract Status
Age 2017-18 Team 2017-18 Regular Season Stats 2017-18 Playoff Stats Contract Status
21 Syracuse Crunch 35 GP, 20 Wins, 2.33 GAA, .914 SV% 4 GP 3.07 GAA .904 SV% ELC with two years remaining
18-19 Crunch: Ingram

Connor Ingram is the top Lightning goaltending prospect. He is also the only goaltending prospect currently playing professional hockey. Entering his second professional season, Ingram will most likely see an increased workload with the Crunch.

The young netminder provided plenty of highlights in his first season with Syracuse:

The first year in professional sports can be a grind and a lot of time and energy is spent simply in learning how things are done in the pros. With that behind him now Ingram can focus solely on improving his game and working to take the next step.

Last season, he relied a lot on his athleticism and quick reactions in order to keep the puck out of the net. That’s all fine and dandy, but in order to get better he will have to work on his positioning, rebound control, and ability to read the puck in traffic.

It’s unlikely, barring an injury to Andrei Vasilevskiy, that Ingram will see any time in the NHL this season. That’s not a bad thing. He needs more time to develop in the AHL and with the solid team in front of him, he should have that opportunity.

Eddie Pasquale:

18-19 Crunch: Pasquale

Age 2017-18 Team 2017-18 Regular Season Stats 2017-18 Playoff Stats Contract Status
Age 2017-18 Team 2017-18 Regular Season Stats 2017-18 Playoff Stats Contract Status
27 Syracuse Crunch 15 GP 1.72 GAA .938 SV% 3 GP 4.09 GAA .840 SV% 1 year 2-way contract

Eddie Pasquale rode into town last winter and was nothing short of spectacular. He went 10-1-1 with the Crunch and stabilized what was a rather shaky situation in net. Along the way, he also helped mentor Ingram as the rookie navigated his way through his first professional season.

In a somewhat shocking move, he re-signed with the Lightning early in the summer opting to not test the free agent market despite his stellar play in the regular season. Coupled with the trade of Budaj, it gave the Crunch a clear path in net for the 2018-19 season.

It’s unlikely that he will duplicate the numbers he put up with the Crunch last season, but if he performs to his career line (2.54 GAA and .914 SV% over 226 career games) that would be just fine for Syracuse.

When training camp opens up in a few weeks, Pasquale and Ingram will be fighting for the overall number one position. The organization would most likely prefer to have Ingram win the starting job and earn the bulk of the games in order to further his development.

That doesn’t mean Pasquale would linger on the bench as a backup. The way the AHL schedule is set up, with a lot of back-to-back games over the weekends almost demands a team carry two quality netminders. It’s not like the NHL where the starter can go 60-65 games and a team can hide the backup against lesser competition. The Crunch will need both goalies in order to make it back to the postseason.

Who’s New (Maybe):

Martin Oullette

18-19 Crunch: Oullette

Age 2017-18 Team 2017-18 Regular Season Stats 2017-18 Playoff Stats Contract Status
Age 2017-18 Team 2017-18 Regular Season Stats 2017-18 Playoff Stats Contract Status
26 Florida Everblades 42 GP 2.02 GAA .921 SV% 19 GP 2.31 GAA .917 SV% 1 year AHL contract

The newest member of the Lightning/Crunch goalie guild is Martin Oullette. A former 7th-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Oullette has bounced between the ECHL and the AHL over his career. Everywhere he’s played, he’s put up decent numbers culminating with his performance last season with the Florida Everblades as he guided them to the Kelly Cup Finals.

The ECHL is not an easy league for goaltenders. Defense in front of them can be spotty if not downright horrible and teams tend to focus more on offense than stopping the puck. So for Oullette to put up the numbers he has (2.42 GAA, .914 SV%) in his career is a testament to his ability. While he hasn’t had as much opportunity in the AHL (only 21 games), he has carried that performance with him (2.30 GAA, .920 SV%).

Oullette will most likely spend the bulk of the season in Orlando, biding his time until an injury (and there are always injuries) requires his call up. However, this could be another clever little find by the Lightning/Crunch’s scouting staff and should Ingram or Pasquale stumble, he could find himself playing his way onto the Syracuse roster.