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Syracuse Crunch vs Utica Comets home-in-home series preview

Familiar foes Syracuse and Utica gather for a Thanksgiving home-in-home series on Wednesday and Friday nights.

The Syracuse Crunch and Utica Comets will begin a home-in-home series on Wednesday night at Utica’s Adirondack Bank Center. The teams will take a break on Thursday for some turkey and football before resuming hockey on Friday night at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse. Each team has already won one game against the other in each other’s barns.

The Crunch enters Wednesday night’s game occupying second place in the North Division, trailing the Cleveland Monsters by one point for first place. They have collected points in seven of their last ten games, going 5-3-0-2 in that span. Wednesday and Friday night’s games will be the fourth home-in-home series Syracuse has played in November. They are coming off of a split with the Hartford Wolf Pack, with each team winning on their home ice.

Syracuse has been relying on its prolific offense to win games throughout the season, as they are third in the AHL on a goals-per-game basis. They are especially strong when scoring the first goal of the game – as they are 8-0-0-1 when they are the first to light the lamp.

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Felix Robert, who was on a torrid pace to start the season, missed the Hartford series. In his place, rookie Max Groshev has stepped up to fill the void. He has six goals in his last four games and is tied for the team lead in points with Robert. Defenseman Jack Thompson has also produced, especially on the power play. He is tied for the league lead in power play assists with six.

As good as the offense has been for the Crunch, the defense has slipped a little bit lately. They have given up at least three goals in seven straight games, and four or more in four of those games. On a goals-against-per-game basis, they have slipped back to sixteenth in the American Hockey League.

The Utica Comets

Like the Crunch, the Comets have collected points in seven of their past ten games, going 5-3-2-0 in that stretch. They are coming off a 6-3 win over the Laval Rocket on Saturday night at home.

The Comets offense has come alive as of late, as they have scored three or more goals in five of their last eight games. Xavier Parent is continuing to have a breakout season and leads the team in points with twelve. Forward Kyle Criscuolo has caught fire recently helping the recent offensive surge. He has registered at least one point in four straight games and has three goals and five assists during that time.

No team has more extremes on special teams in the American Hockey League than the Utica Comets. On one hand, the penalty kill has overall been excellent – ranking fifth overall in the league. A closer examination reveals that too is a study in extremes. They have the best penalty kill percentage in the league on the road at 96.4% (they have allowed one power play goal away from the Adirondack Bank Center). At home, however, they have the worst penalty-killing percentage in the AHL – coming in at 66.7%.

The penalty kill has not been put to the test much, as the Comets have the least amount of PIM in the entire league. They have only 119, the next least is 141 by the Bakersfield Condors.

There have been no extremes when it comes to the Utica power play – it has just been bad. At 9.3% it is the worst in the American Hockey League, breaking down to 10.0% at home and 8.7% on the road.

These will be the third and fourth of fourteen regular-season meetings between these two teams. Television coverage for both games will be on AHLTV and the radio broadcasts will be on ESPN Radio Syracuse and 94.9 K-Rock. For more information about either team, visit https://syracusecrunch.com or https://uticacomets.com.

Here’s the tale of the tape between the Syracuse Crunch and Utica Comets.

Team Records

Syracuse Crunch

  • Overall Record: 8-4-0-2, 18 Pts – 2nd place in the North Division.
  • Home Record: 3-2-0-1, 7 Pts.
  • Away Record: 5-2-0-1, 11 Pts.
  • Head Coach: Joel Bouchard.
  • Goal Differential: +11.

Utica Comets

  • Overall Record: 5-4-3-0, 13 Pts – 5th place in the North Division.
  • Home Record: 2-2-1-0, 5 Pts.
  • Away Record: 3-2-2-0, 8 Pts.
  • Head Coach: Kevin Dineen.
  • Goal Differential: +6.

Team Offense

Syracuse Crunch

  • Goals For: 53.
  • Goals Per Game: 3.79 – 3rd in the AHL.
  • Shots: 437.
  • Shots Per Game: 31.21 – 7th in the AHL.
  • Power Play: 20.0% (12 for 60) – 11th in the AHL.

Utica Comets

  • Goals For: 40.
  • Goals Per Game: 3.33 – 11th in the AHL.
  • Shots: 332.
  • Shots Per Game: 27.67 – 28th in the AHL.
  • Power Play: 9.3% (4 for 43) – 32nd in the AHL.

Top Five Scorers + Individual Leaders

Syracuse Crunch

  • 1.) Maxim Groshev: 8G + 5A = 13 Pts. Groshev is 11th in the AHL in goals.
  • 2.) Felix Robert: 6G + 7A = 13 Pts.
  • 3.) Mitchell Chaffee: 4G + 8A = 12 Pts.
  • 4.) Gabriel Dumont: 5G + 6A = 11 Pts.
  • 5.) Gage Goncalves: 2G + 9A = 11 Pts.
  • Shots Leader: Jack Thompson with 37.
  • Power Play Goals Leader: Gabriel Dumont with three. Dumont is 17th in the AHL in PPG.
  • Power Play Points Leader: Jack Thompson with seven. Thompson is tied for the AHL lead in power play assists with six.
  • Shorthanded Goals Leader: five with one each.
  • Game Winning Goals Leader: Gabriel Dumont with two.
  • +/- Leader: Philippe Myers at +10. Myers is 6th in the AHL in +/-.
  • PIM Leader: Shawn Element with 32. Element is 17th in the AHL in PIM.

Utica Comets

  • 1.) Xavier Parent: 5G + 7A = 12 Pts.
  • 2.) Kyle Criscuolo: 3G + 8A = 11 Pts.
  • 3.) Graeme Clarke: 4G + 3A = 7 Pts.
  • 4.) Simon Nemec: 2G + 5A = 7 Pts.
  • 5.) Justin Dowling: 1G + 6A = 7 Pts.
  • Shots Leader: Graeme Clarke with 45. Clarke is 17th in the AHL in shots.
  • Power Play Goals Leader: Graeme Clarke with three. Clarke is 14th in the AHL in PPG.
  • Power Play Points Leader: Graeme Clarke with three.
  • Shorthanded Goals Leader: Shane Bowers and Kyle Criscuolo with one each.
  • Game Winning Goals Leader; Xavier Parent with two.
  • +/- Leader: Filip Engaras at +7. Engaras is 18th in the AHL in +/-.
  • PIM Leader: Samuel Laberge with 14.

Team Defense

Syracuse Crunch

  • Goals Against: 42.
  • Goals Against Per Game: 3.00 – 16th in the AHL.
  • Shots Allowed: 363.
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 25.93 – 3rd in the AHL.
  • Penalty Kill: 83.8% (57 for 68) – 12th in the AHL.
  • Shorthanded Goals Scored: five – tied for 1st in the AHL.

Utica Comets

  • Goals Against: 34.
  • Goals Against Per Game: 2.83 – 10th in the AHL.
  • Shots Allowed: 363.
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 30.25 – 16th in the AHL.
  • Penalty Kill: 87.5% (35 for 40) – 5th in the AHL.
  • Shorthanded Goals Scored: two – 11th in the AHL.

Goaltenders

Syracuse Crunch

Hugo Alnefelt

  • Record: 2-3-2.
  • GAA: 2.87.
  • Saves: 154.
  • Save Percentage: 0.885.
  • Shutouts: 1.

Brandon Halverson

  • Record: 1-0-0.
  • GAA: 3.16.
  • Saves: 75.
  • Save Percentage: 0.882.
  • Shutouts: 0.

Utica Comets

Isaac Poulter

  • Record: 5-1-1. Poulter is 13th in the AHL in wins.
  • GAA: 2.05. Poulter is 6th in the AHL in GAA.
  • Saves: 224.
  • Save Percentage: 0.933. Poulter is 4th in the AHL in save percentage.
  • Shutouts: 1.

Erik Källgren

  • Record: 0-3-2.
  • GAA: 4.26.
  • Saves: 105.
  • Save Percentage: 0.854.
  • Shutouts: 0.

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