Welcome to a different season of Syracuse Crunch hockey. It took us some time to get right here, however not less than the wait is over. Hello, I’m Hardev, common Uncooked Cost readers know me effectively for my stuff on the Lightning. This might be my first time being the first reporter on the Crunch on this website.
I’ve performed some stuff on the Crunch for the location previously — my first ever interviews got here with Benoit Groulx and Cory Conacher after a follow in Toronto, a reminiscence I’ll all the time keep in mind — however I haven’t dedicated to a full season till now. I’m a veteran of the AHL as I’ve been protecting the Toronto Marlies for a number of seasons now.
What you’ll be getting from me are common previews and recaps because the crew traverses via a 32-game schedule. In fact, there might be articles on transactions and breaking information. I’m hoping there might be little associated to COVID, however with the way in which each different league is struggling proper now, the percentages aren’t nice.
On the COVID matter, I’ve appreciated the emotions coming from the Crunch thus far this season. Proprietor Howard Dolgon has publicly been on the reserved aspect amongst house owners relating to followers within the stands, playoffs, variety of video games, and journey. He’s been very clear about following the strictest protocols and negating threat as a lot as doable.
Head coach Benoit Groulx has additionally spoken at size about earnestly following the principles, understanding the scenario we’re all in, and doing his finest to point out an excellent instance and preserve his gamers and employees as protected as they are often so the crew can have a profitable season.
When it comes to what a profitable season has been outlined as, merely it’s growth and giving the crew and followers an opportunity to have a season, no matter how restrained it’s. The roster the Crunch have is a full two years youthful on common than final season (22.7 from 24.9).
A part of that’s the junior prospects hanging round and soaking in data whereas the WHL is in stasis, but in addition attributable to a scarcity of cash to signal veteran gamers. Final season, the Crunch had signed Cory Conacher, Chris Mueller, and Cameron Gaunce, amongst different veterans to supply the roster with oomf. Sadly for these gamers, there’s no income coming on this season to signal affordable AHL contracts for his or her skills. All that there’s from the Tampa Bay Lightning are the ELC prospects, and some veterans who had multi-year offers or signed early in the summertime when issues have been nonetheless up within the air.
Oh, and an organization of Florida Panthers prospects!
Okay, that’s sufficient preamble, let’s take a look at this crew.
The Crunch have developed a really common 32-game schedule, which has been nice for me to plan round my lessons (I’m a instructor by day, similar to Weblog-Aunt and former Crunch author for us, Alexandra Ackerman).
Principally, if it’s a Wednesday or a Saturday throughout the subsequent 15 weeks, the Crunch will most likely be taking part in. There are a few Monday and Friday video games, however that’s it. Right here is as easy of a breakdown as I might make. Tracey did an excellent job organizing the schedule when it got here out, I like to recommend go that as effectively.
From now till Could fifteenth the Crunch might be taking part in:
- Each Saturday night time — all the time at 7pm ET. All of those video games might be at dwelling besides Could fifteenth in Rochester.
- Virtually each Wednesday (13 of 14) — principally at 7pm ET. There are two video games at 5pm (first and fourth week of March and each in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton).
- Twice on Friday — March twelfth in Utica and April 2nd in Rochester at 7pm ET. The crew will then journey dwelling to play the subsequent night time for the second half of a home-and-home.
- Twice on Monday — April nineteenth vs. Utica and Could tenth at Utica at 7pm ET.
When it comes to crew breakdown, the Crunch might be taking part in the Utica Comets, Rochester Individuals, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins solely. No different groups for 32 video games. Here’s a breakdown of video games in opposition to every crew.
- Utica Comets: Seven at dwelling, seven in Utica. 4 occasions a month in February, March, and April, 3 times in Could. Three home-and-homes, one triple-header on the finish of the season (that truly takes place over the course of six days).
- Rochester Individuals: Six at dwelling, six in Rochester. Three video games in February, two in March, 5 in April, and two in Could. One home-and-home, one triple-header at first of April (that additionally takes place over six days).
- Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins: Three at dwelling, three in WBS. As soon as in February, April, and Could, 3 times in March (together with each 5pm video games). No prolonged units.
Whereas these are the one groups the Crunch play this season, the opposite three groups produce other opponents as effectively. Utica will play 4 groups (us, Rochester, Windfall, and Binghamton). Rochester will play three groups (us, Utica, and Cleveland). And WBS will play 4 groups (us, Binghamton, LeHigh Valley, and Hershey).
Clearly, if/when video games get affected attributable to COVID, these schedules will change. I anticipate Sunday, Monday, and Thursday to be good days to reschedule any misplaced video games, there aren’t many video games scheduled on these days. Utica is just about empty on Sunday, Rochester on Monday, and WBS on Thursday.
The Crunch open their season tomorrow night time (Saturday) at dwelling in opposition to the Utica Comets at 7pm ET. All games will be streamed on AHL.TV this season, in the event you don’t have a subscription I might extremely suggest getting one, the opening weekend of the AHL season is being streamed on that platform totally free if you wish to test it out first. The Crunch have also landed a local TV deal with CW6 to broadcast all 14 Saturday dwelling video games.
I’ll have a recap of the primary recreation prepared for Monday morning on this platform, so keep tuned for it! Recaps will exit each Monday morning besides the 2 occasions the crew performs on that day, these recaps will exit on Tuesday. I’ll publish a preview each Wednesday morning to get you set for the motion that week.
I’ve taken the lineup from last week’s preseason game in opposition to the Comets (the crew iced 11F/7D) and I’ve stuffed it out with all of the scratches and their possible spot on the depth chart. I’ve included numbers in addition to there are loads of new faces. These in italics are rookies that should be despatched to the WHL or OHL as soon as their seasons begin.
Grigori Denisenko – Ross Colton – Alex Barré-Boulet
Boris Katchouk – Boo Nieves – Taylor Raddysh
Gabriel Fortier – Otto Somppi – Daniel Walcott
Henry Bowlby – Jimmy Huntington – Serron Noel
Ryan Lohin – Peter Abbandonato – Cole Schwindt
Jack Finley – Gage Goncalves – Declan McDonnell
John Ludvig – Brady Keeper
Riley Stillman-Chase Priskie
Max Gildon – Alex Inexperienced
Sean Day – Luke Witkowski
Dmitri Semykin – Ben Thomas
If you wish to know the place all these 32 names have come from, I lined that for the complete coaching camp roster a number of weeks in the past. I lay out who’s coming from Tampa, Florida, and inside these two organizations gamers from Springfield, Orlando, Canadian Junior, and the NCAA. From my record of 35, Devante Stephens was despatched to the ECHL Photo voltaic Bears, Patrick Bajkov was despatched to the ECHL Swamp Rabbits, Jonathan Ang had his contract terminated, and I genuinely don’t know the place Scott Wilson is (he was assigned to the Crunch however wasn’t on the coaching camp roster).
The Management Group
Whereas a captain has but to be introduced but, Luke Witkowski was the person with the “C” final season and he’s nonetheless with the crew this yr. Daniel Walcott has completely stepped up thus far in coaching camp. He’s been a really vocal mentor to the younger guys and gamers new to the Syracuse space. I actually really feel like his affect might be felt this season. Boo Nieves is the second-oldest participant on the crew on the ripe age of 27 (Walcott is 26). He gained a contract at Lightning camp and is anticipated to be a dependable skilled presence for the Crunch this season. The oldest participant from the Panthers group that’s on the crew is Chase Priskie, he’s solely 24 and has one yr of AHL/professional expertise below his belt.
Potential Taxi Squad Name-ups
Extra this season than every other time the Crunch ought to anticipate to see a few of their gamers leaving to go fill roles on the Taxi Squad of the Lightning or Panthers. Right here’s a listing of gamers with NHL expertise and will see themselves in Florida in the course of the season:
- Lightning: Luke Witkowski (D), Ben Thomas (D), Boo Nieves (F), Alex Barre-Boulet (F), Ross Colton (F).
- Panthers: Samuel Montembeault (G), Brady Keeper (D), Chase Priskie (D), Riley Stillman (D).