Welcome to the fifth week of Crunch hockey here at Raw Charge. With 10 weeks left in this very condensed schedule we’re already a third of the way through the season in terms of days, though it’s only games #8 and #9 of 32 this week. As we begin March, I have gone through the Crunch roster and provided an update on who’s left. With all the injuries, call ups, and assignments to junior, it’s been hard to keep track. Alright, let’s get into it.
February featured a bunch of firsts, including first pro and AHL goals.— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) March 2, 2021
Take a look back at our goals of the month. pic.twitter.com/1lWqiZ7IVY
Games this Week
Game #8: Syracuse Crunch at WBS Penguins (Wed, Mar 3, 5pm)
The Crunch are in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a 5pm game tonight. The Penguins have made a couple changes to their 5pm games for later this month, including March 24th against the Crunch, and are having them start at 7pm instead. This game, however, is staying at 5pm.
The Penguins beat the Crunch 5-4 in regulation in the third game of the Crunch’s season. Coming off a win, they’ll be trying to make up for that loss with a one goal better result. This will be the second of six meeting between the two teams this year. The Penguins are 4-2-1 and sitting in fourth place in the North Division right now.
Game #9: Rochester Americans at Syracuse Crunch (Sat, Mar 6, 7pm)
On Saturday in Syracuse the Americans are coming back to town. This will be the fourth meeting of 12 this season. Three of the Crunch’s five points this season have come against Rochester — a win and an overtime loss. The other two points obviously came from the season opener against Utica.
Monday’s game got fairly chippy at different points in the game. Temperatures have been rising steadily this season so I wouldn’t be surprised if it keeps going up starting this weekend.
WHL has begun
We knew this was coming, but it still hurts a little bit to lose these talents from an already stripped to the bone lineup. Jack Finley, Gage Goncalves, and Jaydon Dureau are all heading north to finish their junior seasons.
Denisenko to the NHL
Shortly before the weekend, the Florida Panthers re-assigned Grigori Denisenko to the Taxi Squad from the AHL. While he was technically a rookie for the Crunch, he has developed for a while in the KHL and was one of Syracuse’s best shooters. He has been missed, particularly on the power play.
Reinforcements from the ECHL
You’ve probably seen Devante Stephens on the Crunch, he was called up from the Solar Bears before the weekend and scored his first AHL goal on Monday in the win. The Florida Panthers also re-assigned forward Greg Meireles from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. A sixth round pick, Meireles is an OHL graduate who started his first pro season in the ECHL with a good amount of offense. He’s born on January 1st, which is fun. I hope we get to enjoy seeing some goals.
This week the Crunch lost two more regular defensemen in Chase Priskie and Luke Witkowski. Priskie got injured during practice before Saturday’s game. Witkowski was scheduled to play in Monday’s win, but a last minute injury came up that afternoon and he missed the game. He didn’t play very well on Saturday so maybe his injury was a kick in the ass? I’m kidding!
I’ll also mention Boris Katchouk blocked a shot with his leg on Monday and looked really hurt as he finished his shift. He came back in the game and was an important participant in the win. He should be good to go for tonight, but it’s very possible his status has changed in the last two days.
- Healthy: Serron Noel, Gabriel Fortier, Boris Katchouk, Jimmy Huntington, Otto Somppi, Peter Abbandonato, Taylor Raddysh, Nikita Pavlychev, Ryan Lohin, Scott Wilson, Greg Meireles
- Injured: Aleksi Heponiemi, Boo Nieves, Henry Bowlby, Daniel Walcott
- Probably gone: Declan McDonnell (OHL), Cole Schwindt (OHL)
The OHL seems determined to play a season this year, but it doesn’t seem likely. But they’re pushing hard. If they do break through the protocols, Schwindt and McDonnell have to go back. Schwindt is currently the team’s 1C, so it wouldn’t be ideal.
- Healthy: Devante Stephens, Brady Keeper, Ben Thomas, John Ludvig, Alex Green, Dmitry Semykin, Sean Day
- Injured: Chase Priskie, Luke Witkowski
- Probably gone: Quinn Schmiemann (WHL)
The Crunch have eight healthy defensemen on the team at this moment. It should fall to seven when Quinn Schmiemann goes back to the WHL. His team announced that they’ll be playing late yesterday afternoon and he has to go. Schmiemann has not played a game with the Crunch so far.
- Healthy: Spencer Martin, Samuel Montembeault, Tyler Johnson
Grateful the goalies are healthy, as is Clint Windsor in the ECHL.
Who could come back
- Tampa Bay: Alex Barre-Boulet, Ross Colton
- Florida: Grigori Denisenko, Riley Stillman
Since there’s been no consistent length that I can find regarding COVID quarantines (there are different variables of travel, isolation length, tests, etc) it’s hard to know how long Denisenko and Stillman have been with the Panthers and/or how long it’ll take for them to come back. ABB and Colton could be on their way back soon as the Lightning get healthier. Mitchell Stephens will likely dictate that timeline. Heck, we might never see them here again since they’re playing so well.
Quotes from the Crunch
“When you turn the puck over in the neutral zone, you’re giving the other team momentum. You’re getting tired, make bad decisions, you’re panicking and no good things happen from turnovers.”— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) March 2, 2021
Ben Groulx on working on puck management in the neutral zone. pic.twitter.com/fpeHbIFaAK
“I just took this opportunity to just build off my camp and show them that I belong here and I can help the team win some games here."— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) March 2, 2021
Devante Stephens on making the most of his opportunity in his call up from Orlando. pic.twitter.com/xgESvBjHwk