It’s a busy weekend and a busy rest of the season for the Syracuse Crunch, starting with a home-and-home with the Rochester Americans. The roster has also undergone a lot of change due to injuries, but also NCAA free agents signing contracts and turning pro. The Crunch also have a chance to find themselves in a “playoff” spot on Monday morning. That’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get into it.
Games this Week
Game #14: Syracuse Crunch at Rochester Americans (Fri, Apr 2, 7pm)
Game #15: Rochester Americans at Syracuse Crunch (Sat, Apr 3, 7pm)
I can’t believe it’s April already. Not only that, but the Crunch are playing the Rochester Americans again! This long weekend the Crunch and Amerks will play a home-and-home with serious standings implications at stake. If the Crunch are able to get three or more points out of this weekend, they’ll leapfrog the Amerks for fourth in the North Division. Thanks to their performances against the WBS Penguins, they are out of the running for that spot for now. Binghamton is well out of the way.
On the Playoffs
Before the season began, owner Howard Dolgon made it quite clear that he wants the players to have a safe season where they can get on the ice and play and learn. That plan didn’t include playoffs, plus reporters around the league have been reporting that the playoffs likely won’t happen at all.
All indications are that there will be no playoffs in the AHL. Wonder if a last minute solution can be found. Not looking good. It has been a tough year for all players and personnel involved.— Louis Jean (@LouisJeanTVAS) April 1, 2021
That means, technically, the Crunch aren’t playing for anything by winning fourth in the division. But hey, it’s still something to strive for and would be a nice conclusion to a season that started so awfully.
Rescheduled games vs. Utica Comets
The Crunch and Comets have missed four games against each other in recent weeks. Those games have now been rescheduled.
As a result...
How the rest of the season looks
Thankfully despite all the postponements and reschedulings, the Crunch haven’t had their season extended beyond the original May 15th end date. However, the games have gone up in frequency from two games a week to just over three games a week (20 games in the next 44 days).
As of Saturday, there’s seven weeks left in the season out of the 15 total. Technically, the Crunch are halfway through their season! Let’s parse out how those final seven weeks are going to go.
- Week 1 (Mar 28 to Apr 3): Friday at Rochester, Saturday vs. Rochester
- Week 2 (Apr 4 to Apr 10): Wednesday at Rochester, Saturday vs. Utica (hopefully)
- Week 3 (Apr 11 to Apr 17): Tuesday at Utica, Wednesday at Utica, Saturday vs. WBS
- Week 4 (Apr 18 to Apr 24): Monday vs. Utica, Wednesday at Rochester, Saturday vs. Rochester
- Week 5 (Apr 25 to May 1): Sunday vs. Utica, Wednesday at Utica, Saturday vs. Rochester
- Week 6 (May 2 to May 8): Sunday vs. Utica, Wednesday at Utica, Friday at Utica, Saturday vs. Utica — UTICA WEEK!
- Week 7 (May 9 to May 15): Monday at Utica, Wednesday at WBS, Saturday at Rochester
I’ll be honest, this is where the season can begin to look tedious and tiring. But as we’ve seen this year, the roster is constantly changing, and players can be trialed in different situations for the development. Hopefully the games are competitive. And if they’re not, I hope the Crunch are the ones doing all the winning.
- Yes, there will be five games in a row played against Utica over nine days. I’m sure no one on either team will get tired of each other.
- There will be 11 games against Utica, seven against Rochester, and two against WBS.
- All games can be found on AHL.tv. Games on Saturday and Sunday will be broadcast on CW6 in addition to AHL.tv
- This Saturday is a “Freeview” on AHL.tv where all the games can be streamed for free. There will be more of these, as well as Facebook broadcasts, throughout the season.
To Tampa Bay’s Taxi Squad: Gemel Smith, Taylor Raddysh, Ben Thomas, Chris Gibson
To Florida’s Taxi Squad: Aleksi Heponiemi, Brady Keeper
From Tampa Bay: Antoine Morand, Odeen Tufto
From Florida: Noah Juulsen
Traded for Alex Volkov, former San Diego Gulls forward Antoine Morand is in quarantine ahead of his debut with the Syracuse Crunch. Forward Odeen Tufto is an NCAA free agent that the Lightning signed and have assigned to the Crunch. Defenseman Noah Juulsen comes from Florida on a conditioning assignment, he already played last week.
I wrote about both Lightning moves right here at Raw Charge:
Here's something for Syracuse fans. https://t.co/HyTL0O0DOr— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsAHL) April 1, 2021
The Panthers have signed their star goalie prospect Spencer Knight to an ELC starting this season. At the moment, he’s on the team’s Taxi Squad with rumors flying that the team is looking into trading backup Chris Driedger (who has been excellent) so Knight could play in the NHL. Whatever happens, the Crunch are likely to keep Samuel Montembeault (Panthers third goalie Stephen Desrosiers could also show up to play for a time ala Gibson). I am hopeful Knight comes to the Crunch so we can see what he can do, because all reports indicate he is very impressive.
Forward Logan Hutsko and defenseman Matt Kiersted are both NCAA graduates who the Panthers signed starting next year. It’s unclear at the moment whether they’ll join the Crunch on an ATO, but it is possible. The Lightning have already confirmed where their newest players are going.
From my point of view, the OHL is not going to play a season anytime soon. At the very least not until sometime in May or June. This means Crunch forwards Declan McDonnell and Cole Schwindt will likely be staying put for the rest of the season. This is great news for the team as both players have been important parts of the forward lineup when healthy.
OHL not deterred by 28-day provincial lockdown. "(We) remain fully committed to playing a 2020-21 season . . . and continue to work with Government regarding our Return to Play and looks forward to getting players back on the ice as soon (and safely) as possible."— Ryan Pyette (@RyanatLFPress) April 1, 2021
Around the AHL
Sad news, Lightning prospect Jack Finley is out for the rest of the season in the WHL due to an injury. Finley played two games for the Crunch this season before getting called back to Spokane. He hadn’t played a game in junior this season before the injury.