Braced by 19 goals in only three games, the Syracuse Crunch find themselves third in the North Division with a 15-8-1 record. The Crunch first beat the Rochester Americans on Wednesday night after overcoming a three-goal deficit (before almost blowing their own three-goal lead) to win 7-6. On Saturday, they met the Amerks again, but this time the Crunch came out with an early lead and held it (for the most part) until the end for a 5-3 win. And on Sunday, the Utica Comets came to town and were thoroughly beaten 7-1 by Syracuse.
The Crunch were buoyed in wins against Rochester and Utica thanks to a combined 12 goals from their top six. The newly minted top line of Otto Somppi centering Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh all ended the week with two goals each and a bucket-load of assists between them. They showed their quality in all three zones and in all situations for a second straight week.
After another two goals and four points, winger Boris Katchouk has extended his point-scoring streak to 14 games — the longest streak in the AHL this season. In those 14 games, Katchouk has 10 goals and 24 points on 35 shots. What’s even more impressive is the fact the Katchouk has done the vast majority of his damage at even strength. Out of those 24 points, one was in an empty net, one was a power play goal, three were power play assists, and another a shorthanded assist. His 18 even-strength points in 14 games is at the very least a transferable skill to the NHL. Hint hint.
He’s a long way from Darren Haydar’s 39-game record set in 2007, but if he keeps the streak up for a couple more games, he’ll have the longest streak in the last four AHL seasons. Plus, he might earn himself AHL Player of the Month (how do you not give it to the guy that’s scored in every game in April).
OKAY, BORIS. BORIS, OKAY. pic.twitter.com/ysRwGxq9On— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) April 18, 2021
Not to be outdone, center Ryan Lohin put up a goal-per-game while permanently heading up the second line. His linemate Henry Bowlby scored twice, with Peter Abbandonato getting one as well. Antoine Morand and Gabriel Fortier each scored from the third line, while brand-new rookie Cole Koepke got his first career AHL goal on Sunday against the Comets.
The Crunch also got offense from the defense with four goals from Lucas Carlsson (x2), Sean Day, and Andreas Borgman.
In net, Spencer Martin was shaky at first, getting pulled within five minutes of Monday’s game, but returned on Sunday for a stellar effort. Samuel Montembeault saved the Crunch on Wednesday, giving the team a chance to eliminate a three-goal deficit and eventually win. He also kept the team ahead throughout the heart-pounding Saturday night game. Overall, good performances from the two, despite a combined 10 goals against on 72 shots in those three games.
Have a look at the highlights at the end of the article (all the goals can be found there), but before that, here’s a write-up of the three games this week.
7-6 W @ Rochester Americans (Wed)
It wasn’t a great start for the Crunch. Within five minutes, the defense had completely missed their assignments in front of the net, with Spencer Martin letting in a stinker for a third goal. The Lightning goalie was swapped for Samuel Montembeault in an attempt to settle the game down. That move worked for the rest of the first period, but the game was set to get much more bonkers before the final horn.
Despite being down 0-3 after one period, the Crunch clawed their way back in the second with three responses. Boris Katchouk got his 10th goal of the season on the power play, while Sean Day and Antoine Morand both scored within the final minute of the frame. The Crunch looked much better in this period, keeping the Amerks to rush chances or forcing them high in the zone while defending.
The game was barely tied to start the third as Peter Abbandonato and Otto Somppi both scored within the first minute (a total of four goals within two minutes dating back to the end of the second). Taylor Raddysh tacked on another, making 6-3 and giving Katchouk a three-point night. Suddenly, the Amerks, who only had two shots 15 minutes into the third despite trailing the whole time, scored on all of their next three shots. Luckily, Otto Somppi got the game-winning goal for his second of the night (and fourth point) to give the Crunch seven and the win.
5-3 W vs Rochester Americans (Sat)
Tracey and I had a laugh on Saturday night as Bowlby scored to open the scoring before the Orlando Solar Bears even dropped the puck, even though the games were set to start at the same time. It took only 13 seconds for the rookie to open the scoring and get the Crunch out on the right food. They then tacked on two more from Fortier and Lohin to get a 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Amerks scored two late in the period to make it close before the end.
The Amerks tied it early in the second, but Raddysh scored on a sweet feed from Katchouk on the power play to regain the lead. Katchouk added the empty netter in the third after shutting down the Amerks for only two shots in the final frame. This was the most impressive part of the weekend because despite being up by a goal, the Crunch didn’t succumb to turtling and letting the Amerks come to them. They kept the pressure on with nine shots in the period.
Even though they had zone time for parts of the period, they didn’t give up any shots or chances towards the middle. You can’t score if you don’t shoot (yes, I just paraphrased Gretzky). This was a highly competitive game with penalties low and the quality of chances both ways relatively equal (until the third). Overall, very impressive.
7-1 W vs Utica Comets (Sun)
The Utica Comets opened the scoring with Sven Bärtschi beating Spencer Martin. That would be all the scoring they’d get as the Crunch would respond with seven unanswered goals over the course of the game. It started with back-to-back goals from top defenseman Lucas Carlsson. The dangerously versatile defenseman absolutely destroyed a puck that dared to poke loose into the slot. He hammered it past Joel Hofer with disdain. His second came from jumping into the slot again, this time picking up a high rebound and smashing it through a chaotic pile of bodies in front of the net.
This game was all about secondary scoring as the Crunch got two goals from their second line in the second period (Bowlby and Lohin). Andreas Borgman also chipped in with another point shot after a scramble in front of the net. Cole Koepke scored literally seconds later with his first career AHL goal. Initially a scratch, Koepke got in his second career AHL game after a late injury to Aleksi Heponiemi in warmups. It turned out to be a stroke of luck as his goal put the Crunch up 6-1 after two.
The third was fairly uneventful, with the Comets trying to save face with 11 shots, but an insurance marker from Lohin sealed the deal.
This rarely happens in the AHL, but most of the lineup was consistent throughout the three games. The top six was consistent the whole week with the third line having Heponiemi for a game. The Finnish center was a late scratch on Sunday (replaced by Koepke) and could potentially be injured again. The fourth line had a defenseman skating on it as the team is currently bursting with defensemen that deserve ice time. For the first two games it was rookie Vladislav Kolyachonok, on Sunday it was Devante Stephens.
This Week in Thoughts
Been excellent on the power play as a quarterback and been creating a lot of offense from the defense that the forwards in front of the net can exploit. His shot is hard, he can get it off his stick in a hurry, and he has the ability to hit his spots (either for tips, rebounds, or going for the net) on a consistent basis.
Congrats to ABB on scoring his first career NHL goal last night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. A perennial MVP for the Crunch, ABB finally got his chance this season and he’s dazzled with speed and shiftiness, but just couldn’t get himself on the scoreboard in his first seven games. Gratefully, the 23-year-old got the milestone goal in his eighth game.
Couldn't be more excited for this guy!— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 26, 2021
Congrats, Alex pic.twitter.com/QNyFRo5tFL
It shows the Lightning’s commitment to him that they put him on their power play. His shot is dangerous and the Blue Jackets will do well to respect it next time.
Got it done on the power play!! pic.twitter.com/QR3pt6WG05— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 26, 2021
7-6 W @ Rochester Americans (Wed)
Boris Katchouk (10) from Otto Somppi (11) and Lucas Carlsson (5) (PP)
Sean Day (3) from Alex Green (6) and Aleksi Heponiemi (6)
Day scores through traffic pic.twitter.com/mdNiMmRmsH— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) April 22, 2021
Antoine Morand (5) from Ryan Lohin (3)
Peter Abbandonato (3) from Lucas Carlsson (6)
Otto Somppi (9) from Taylor Raddysh (12) and Boris Katchouk (15)
I LOVED the stick-lift Katchouk made on this goal. So clever.
Taylor Raddysh (8) from Otto Somppi (12) and Boris Katchouk (16)
Zero quit in these guys pic.twitter.com/ZmZvrePcEY— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) April 22, 2021
Otto Somppi (10) from Taylor Raddysh (13)
5-3 W vs Rochester Americans (Sat)
Henry Bowlby (3) from Peter Abbandonato (5)
Gabriel Fortier (5) from Ben Thomas (8) and Grigori Denisenko (4)
Gabe Fortier redirects the puck home for his 5th goal of the season. Grigori Denisenko (FLA) and Ben Thomas pick up the assists. pic.twitter.com/47EbzMHT44— Future Bolts (@LightningProsp1) April 25, 2021
Ryan Lohin (3) from Henry Bowlby (2) and Peter Abbandonato (6)
Taylor Raddysh (9) from Boris Katchouk (17) (PP)
Boris Katchouk (11) from Taylor Raddysh (14) (EN)
7-1 W vs Utica Comets (Sun)
Lucas Carlsson (2) from Otto Somppi (13) and Vladislav Kolyachonok (2)
More like Lucas Clappersson pic.twitter.com/uwX7BLM1WV— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) April 25, 2021
Lucas Carlsson (3) from Andreas Borgman (1) and Boris Katchouk (18)
Henry Bowlby (4) from Peter Abbandonato (7) and Ryan Lohin (4)
Let’s spend more time talking about this Bowlby-Lohin-Abbandonato line. pic.twitter.com/xnaQy0Izrh— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) April 25, 2021
Andreas Borgman (2) from Devante Stephens (4) and Antoine Morand (8)
Another right-point slap shot, another Crunch goal. pic.twitter.com/ESvZwYf1mf— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) April 25, 2021
Ryan Lohin (4) from Jimmy Huntington (8) and Sean Day (8) (PP)
Cole Koepke (1) from Chase Priskie (3) and Antoine Morand (9)
Ryan Lohin (5) from Henry Bowlby (3) and Devante Stephens (5)