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Syracuse Crunch Weekly Release January 16, 2024

CRUNCH HIT HALFWAY POINT IN SECOND PLACE  

The Crunch returned home for the first time in 2024 and took two wins in three games in Week 14.

Syracuse’s six-game homestand began Friday with a match against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Despite a season-high 55 shots, the Crunch fell, 4-2, to the T-Birds. The next night, the Crunch went toe-to-toe with the division-leading Cleveland Monsters and prevailed in a shootout, 3-2. The Crunch made it back-to-back wins with a Monday matinee overtime win, 5-4, against the Utica Comets.

The Crunch will continue their longest homestand of the season this weekend when Providence and Utica come to town. At the halfway point of the season, the Crunch are 20-12-2-2 and are in second place in the North Division.

TOP PERFORMERS

Waltteri Merelä put together a strong week for the Crunch before earning a recall to Tampa Bay earlier today. The winger extended his point streak to five games and finished with three goals and five points during the three-game week. 

Merelä notched his first two-goal game Friday and then capped a one-goal, one-assist Saturday with the shootout game-winning goal against Cleveland. He grabbed another assist in Monday’s victory over Utica to give him seven points (4g, 3a) in the five games.

The 25-year-old was recalled to the Lightning today. He has skated in 14 games for the Lightning already this season, but he is still in search of his first NHL point.

***

Goaltender Hugo Alnefelt made a season-high 36 saves to help the Crunch to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Cleveland Monsters Saturday. Alnefelt finished 2-0-1/1.91/.943 in three appearances against the division-leading Monsters this season. 

Alnefelt has won his last two starts and is 6-5-3 with a 2.41 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. The 22-year-old is 4-2-1/2.12/.921 in seven starts since Dec. 2.  

NHL DEBUTS PILING UP

Last week saw two more Crunch players make their NHL debuts with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Forward Gage Goncalves saw his first NHL action Thursday versus New Jersey, and the Crunch’s AHL All-Star representative dressed in two games for the Bolts.

Two days later, defenseman Max Crozier made his debut in a win against the Anaheim Ducks. Crozier’s debut made it five NHL debuts in a 10-day span from players being called up from the Crunch. In total, the Crunch has seven players who have made NHL debuts with Tampa Bay this season.

HALFWAY THERE

Joe Carroll’s buzzer-beating overtime winner yesterday gives the Crunch a 20-12-2-2 record at the midway point of the regular season. The Crunch’s 0.611 points percentage is the team’s best at the halfway mark since 2018-19 when they had a 0.618 points percentage. The Crunch won the North Division that season.


UPCOMING WEEK 

Friday, January 19 vs. Providence | 7 p.m.      

The Crunch host the Providence Bruins Friday in the second of four head-to-head matches this season. The Crunch grabbed a 4-1 win in Providence on Dec. 17 in the opening match of the series. After starting the season 6-8-1-2, the Bruins have ripped off a 15-4-2-0 run, and they’ve earned points in eight straight (7-0-1-0). They enter the week in second place in the Atlantic Division with 47 points (21-12-3-2).

Saturday, January 20 vs. Utica | 7 p.m.      

The Crunch and Comets meet for the second time in less than a week Saturday in Syracuse. After the Crunch’s 5-4 overtime win yesterday, the teams have split the first eight games of the season series. Utica is 3-0-1-3 in the past seven games but is in last place in the North Division with 33 points.

WEEK 14 RESULTS

Friday, January 12 | Game 34 vs. Springfield | L, 4-2

Springfield         2 0 2 – 4     Shots: 10-6-10-26   PP: 1/3

Syracuse            0 2 0 – 2     Shots: 20-21-14-55 PP: 1/4

2nd Period-Merelä 4 (Day, Koepke), 8:01. Merelä 5 (Thompson, Robert), 13:50. . . . Tomkins 6-5-1 (25 shots-22 saves) A-5,476

Saturday, January 13 | Game 35 vs. Cleveland | W, 3-2 (SO)

Cleveland       1 1 0 0 0 – 2     Shots: 11-20-4-3-0-38 PP: 0/4

Syracuse        1 0 1 0 1 – 3     Shots: 12-7-8-7-1-35   PP: 0/3

1st Period-Merelä 6 (Allard, Koepke), 5:16. 3rd Period-Carlile 4 (Merelä, Thompson), 10:50. Shootout-Cleveland 2 (Fix-Wolansky G, Pyyhtia NG, Del Bel Belluz G, Butler NG) Syracuse 3 (Edmonds NG, Chaffee G, Carroll G, Merelä G). . . . Alnefelt 6-5-3 (38 shots-36 saves) A-5,891

Monday, January 15 | Game 36 vs. Utica | W, 5-4 (OT)

Utica               2 1 1 0 – 4     Shots: 3-9-6-3-21     PP: 1/4

Syracuse        3 0 1 1 – 5     Shots: 12-9-5-2-28  PP: 1/5

1st Period-Myers 3 (Stephens, Groshev), 0:10. Stephens 4 (Robert, Merelä), 4:52. Chaffee 10 (Thompson, Goncalves), 11:43. 3rd Period-Finley 3 (Element), 1:40. Overtime-Carroll 9 (Groshev), 4:59. . . . Tomkins 7-5-1 (20 shots-17 saves) A-5,912

CategoryAverage/TotalAHL Rank (Prev)
Power Play17.6% (25-for-142) T-20th (21st)
Penalty Kill84.8% (134-for-158)T-7th (T-5th)
Goals For3.17 GFA (114)13th (14th)
Goals Against2.78 GAA (100)6th (5th)
Shots For28.92 SF/G (1041)21st (27th)
Shots Against26.58 SA/G (957)3rd (2nd)
Penalty Minutes14.47 PIM/G (521)9th (6th)
Category Leader
Points31Goncalves
Goals10Chaffee|Robert
Assists24Goncalves
PIM70Element
Plus/Minus+20Myers
Wins7Tomkins
GAA2.41Alnefelt
Save %.905Alnefelt
North DivisionGPWLOTLSOLPTSPCTGFGAPIMHOMEROADLAST 10STREAKS/O
1. Cleveland35231011480.68611811144910-4-0-013-6-1-16-3-0-10-1-0-12-1
2. Syracuse36201222440.6111141005219-5-2-111-7-0-15-3-2-02-0-0-02-2
3. Belleville34181222400.5889910656210-5-1-28-7-1-08-2-0-01-0-0-01-2
4. Laval35151442360.5141211316149-6-2-16-8-2-18-1-1-06-0-1-02-2
5. Rochester33161331360.5451061283956-6-2-010-7-1-14-5-1-00-1-0-03-1
6. Toronto33141351340.5151161004998-7-4-06-6-1-12-6-2-00-1-0-01-1
7. Utica33131343330.5001051113777-7-1-36-6-3-03-3-1-33-0-1-30-3
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