Welcome to the Birthday Bash!   Leave a comment


One year ago today, some completely amazing people in their own right got together because of MJ to do something incredible for me. I’ve had this book marked ever since, as we all need something like this as a pick-me-up. It’s picked-me-up many, many times, as has a follow-up e-mail I got not long after this went live. I’d like to thank everyone again, from the bottom of my heart.

Originally posted on Chairman How's Glorious Army:

Over the course of the last few years, one thing around here has become glaringly apparent. When I show up, it’s an occasion. So, what’s the occasion this time? Is it railing about internet freedom, or genocide on trial? No, this time it’s actually something pertinent!

At some point this month, this place celebrated its sixth birthday, and that seemed like cause to celebrate. And, really, what’s a birthday party without someone singing about it?

Er, yes…

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Posted February 28, 2015 by allokago in Uncategorized

ICYMI on @RawCharge: #SyrCrunch week 18 in review: Crunch keep moving forward   Leave a comment

When AHL team appears to be on the skids, a looming 3-in-3 against historically tough in-state rivals–in this case, the Albany Devils, the Binghamton Senators, and the Rochester Americans–can sometimes be the last thing a team needs. When a team was outscored by a wide margin the previous week (as wide as 14-1, in fact, but who’s counting?) that challenging 3-in-3 can suddenly look like climbing Mt. Everest without a rope. With that kind of gauntlet in front of them, most teams might hope for a three-point split and be happy.

Lucky for all involved, a team that would settle for that is not the Syracuse Crunch. Nope, at least not right now, and not by a long shot. In fact, after everything was said and done Sunday, the Crunch officially had the best record in the American Hockey League.

The Crunch swept the weekend, earning all six points possible and outscoring their three opponents by a 12-7 margin. Over the course of the weekend, 8 different Crunch players scored goals, including Mike Angelidis, who had a three-point weekend, Carter Ashton, who scored his first goal in a Crunch uniform Saturday, and Vladislav Namestnikov, whose weekend haul included two game-winning goals and three assists. Syracuse also saw their defenseman speak up, with Jake Dotchin and Matt Corrente scoring goals. Defensemen Corrente, Slater Koekkoek, Joey Mormina, and JP Cote all also picked up a handful of assists throughout the weekend.

On the goalie front, Kristers Gudlevskis played Friday and Saturday, stopping 40 of the 44 shots he faced during the two games against Albany and Binghamton. Allen York played on Sunday in Rochester, giving Gudlevskis a well-deserved rest and getting himself up off the pine. York stopped a respectable 26 of the 29 shots he faced. Of the three goals York let in, one was a power play goal and one was a break-away goal.

However, the weekend had one dull spot: Syracuse’s struggling power play let in their 9th short-handed goal of the season Saturday night. Overall, Syracuse’s power play was 1-for-12 on the weekend, and is also clearly a defensive liability. It just seems as though a four-forward unit doesn’t work with this team. There’s too many defensive liabilities out there with the Crunch’s young and fairly inexperienced blue line, especially with Luke Witkowski and Nikita Nesterov still up with the Lightning, for the team to run four forwards and one defenseman. Also, of note is that the forward who scored the Crunch’s lone power play goal all weekend was Angelidis and not a guy like Namestnikov. Syracuse is in desperate need of a game-plan change, like a defenseman who can step up and be able to quarterback the man advantage.

The Crunch will have all of two days to recharge before heading back to Rochester on Wednesday. Syracuse will then face another challenging weekend when Albany comes back to town on Friday followed by the Utica Comets, who are currently in second place in the Western Conference.

Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:

  • Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 32-13-8-0

  • Place in Eastern Conference (top 8 make the playoffs): 1st

  • Place in Northeast Division: 1st

  • Top scorer: Jonathan Marchessault (13-28-41)
  • Top scoring defensemanSlater Koekkoek (3-13-16)

  • Top defenseman, +/-Jean-Philippe Cote, +11

  • Top rookie: Joel Vermin (9-12-21)

Other transactions and player news:

-The Crunch welcomed back top scorer Jonathan Marchessault this past weekend after a two-week absence from the team due to injury. Defenseman Dylan Blujus also returned from injury.

-Crunch players JP Cote, Mike Angelidis, and Eric Neilson are teaming together and are encouraging Crunch fans to save their change and donate it to a great cause. The funds will go to pediatric cancer research and will stay in the CNY area. TampaCuse enthusiasts can get in on the action, too, by going to the team’s Go Fund Me page.

-Namestnikov was named the AHL Player of the Week just this afternoon for his performance this past weekend. From the league’s official release:

Namestnikov notched three goals and three assists for six points along with a plus-5 rating in three games last week as the Crunch moved into first place in the overall AHL standings.

-Goalie Allen York was signed by the Lightning to an NHL/AHL two-way contract this afternoon.

Syracuse Crunch media highlights:

The Crunch’s SoundCloud has been updated with broadcasts and player interviews from the past week.

ICYMI at @RawCharge: #SyrCrunch week 16 in review: Crunch claw their way to the top

One of the initial issues many fans had with Syracuse Crunch head coach Rob Zettler was the way his team always seemed to falter whenever a roster move had been made. Players come and go in the American Hockey League constantly, and a coach in the AHL needs to be savvy enough to know how to make adjustments work. For the majority of Zettler’s beginning tenure with the Crunch, it just didn’t seem like the team was following whatever game plan he was putting down when changes happened. Granted, it was difficult to tell whether the breakdowns were coming from the coaching side or the player side, but the disconnect was too large to ignore.

Well, whichever side needed to make an adjustment has apparently made it, because nothing seems to stop the Crunch now.

As of early Sunday night, the Syracuse Crunch has the best record in the entire AHL. Their 29-11-7-0 record is good for 65 points. Right behind them in the Eastern Conference is the Manchester Monarchs, with 64 points. Over in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Barons also have 64 points. The Barons played Sunday night; the Monarchs did not.

So, pending the outcome of that Barons’ game, the Crunch might still be on top of the league when this story goes live, a feat that is really pretty remarkable give the past month. Syracuse quite literally clawed their way up to the top through plenty of adversity. Defensive and goalie call ups have ravaged the team on that end, with Nikita Nesterov, Luke Witkowski, and Andrei Vasilevskiy all in Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future, while major injures to the Crunch’s forward squad has weakened Syracuse’s scoring side. Forward Mike Blunden is done for the season due to knee surgery, and Jonathan Marchessault is out for at least another week with an undisclosed lower body injury.

Despite all of this, Syracuse has a 6-2-2-0 record in their last 10 games. Although the Crunch’s scoring has wilted, the team still managed to push through to a 1-0-2-0 record this past week, earning three out of six points, which was just good enough to be crowned the AHL king (for however long it lasts).

More good news should be coming down the pike for Syracuse, as things should start becoming a little easier for the Crunch. Thanks to some smart acquisitions by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Syracuse has a new first line of Vladislav NamestnikovCarter Ashton, and Nicolas Deschamps. Ashton was re-acquired this past week by the organization, along with ECHL/AHL forward David Broll. Deschamps is paying his second visit to the Salt City, as he played 111 games with the Crunch when Syracuse was affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks.

On the defensive side, defenseman Artem Sergeev is back with Syracuse after starting the season with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. Last season, Sergeev totaled 10 points (3g, 7a) in 68 games with the Crunch, but ended the season with a team-low -11 +/-. Sergeev was muscled out of the Crunch’s initial 2014-2015 roster by guys like Nesterov, Slater KoekkoekDylan Blujus, and Jake Dotchin. Sergeev’s return will be positive for the Crunch if he can show that he isn’t still a liability on the blue line.

Goalie Allen York was solid in his season debut for the Crunch Saturday night, stopping 34 of the Springfield Falcon’s 36 shots through regulation and overtime. Both York and Kristers Gudlevskis have looked confident and strong in net, win or lose, something that will only help the Crunch excel down the stretch.

The Crunch plays at Adirondack Tuesday before bringing their game down to Norfolk, Virginia for one final time this weekend. The Crunch and the Admirals, who have had a spirited rivalry ever since they switched parent clubs three seasons ago, won’t be facing each other ever again in regular season play. The Admirals will be moving to San Diego, California next season, while the ECHL will be relocating the Bakersfield Condors to Norfolk.

Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:

  • Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 29-11-7-0

  • Place in Eastern Conference (top 8 make the playoffs): 1st

  • Place in Northeast Division: 1st

  • Top scorer: Jonathan Marchessault (12-26-38)
  • Top scoring defensemanNikita Nesterov (3-11-14)

  • Top scoring defenseman still on rosterSlater Koekkoek (3-11-14)

  • Top defenseman, +/-Jean-Philippe Cote, +11

  • Top rookie: Joel Vermin (8-11-19)

Other transactions and player news:

-Defenseman JP Cote was a healthy scratch for the first time this season this past Friday, as he and his wife welcomed a healthy baby to their family.

Syracuse Crunch media highlights:

The Crunch’s SoundCloud has been updated with broadcasts and player interviews from the past week.

State of the #SyrCrunch: what the hell is going on, again?

Okay, so, after gathering news in drips and drabbles this morning, this is what I got:

  • Evgeni Nabokov has cleared waivers, but has been given a day or so to figure out what he’s doing. The Tampa Bay Lightning has assigned him to the Syracuse Crunch, but he might choose to retire instead of take that assignment. Nabokov is 39 years old, and doesn’t seem inclined to accept his assignment to Syracuse. I can’t really blame him.
  • Allen York, in the meantime, has been spotted in Syracuse. He’s been officially recalled according to the AHL Transactions page.
  • Andrei Vasilevskiy arrived safely in Tampa after weather delays.
  • Mike Blunden ended up on the bad end of a collision in Hershey Saturday night and may require surgery for his injury. He could be out for up to a year. This is incredibly sad, as the forward was currently experiencing one of his best times in the AHL. Blunden was 4th on the team in scoring as of this morning,
  • Jonathan Marchessault is out with injury and won’t play Wednesday night. His status for the weekend hasn’t been determined yet.
  • Danick Gauthier has been recalled from ECHL Wichita and will join the Crunch for this week’s tilts. His last game in a Crunch uniform was October 25th. He had a shot on goal and 2 PIM. He’s played in 58 total games in the AHL, all with Syracuse, and has 8 goals and 9 assists.

ICYMI from @RawCharge: #SyrCrunch week 15 in review: The underdogs make an impact

Two years ago, when the Syracuse Crunch made it to the Calder Cup final for the first time in franchise history, everyone knew why. Their roster was stacked with guys who are now household names with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tyler JohnsonOndrej PalatAlex KillornMark Barberio, and Radko Gudas were all strong players and strong dressing room forces that helped propel one of the strongest and most balanced Crunch squads in team history to that final round. AHL personalities like Eric Neilson, Mike Angelidis, and JP Cote helped, of course, but they weren’t the main story of the day.

This season, things are a bit different for Syracuse. In fact, things are almost opposite for Syracuse. This season, it’s all about the underdogs.

Oh, sure, the Crunch has a full AHL powerhouse first line in Jonathan Marchessault, Yanni Gourde, and Vladislav Namestnikov. Marchessault has 38 points, Gourde has 31, and Namestnikov has 21 (in just 22 games). Syracuse also had (up until Sunday) crazy talent in net in Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy has 14 wins in 24 games, and was the AHL Goaltender of the Month for December.

(On a side note, Vasilevskiy was recalled by the Lightning yesterday while Evgeni Nabokov was placed on waivers. In his place, it’s expected that Kristers Gudlevskis and Allen York will step in and hold down the fort while the Lightning go on a West Coast road swing for most of the month of February. Gudlevskis, to be fair, is nothing to sneeze at himself. He’s had a shaky AHL season so far, but he’s also been playing with a lot of pressure to perform on his shoulders in his sophomore season.)

However, beyond those names, the majority of the Crunch’s success is coming from a bunch of underdogs who may just be having a collective “best season ever”:

-Angelidis currently has 27 points in 44 games. He is third on the team in scoring and has 14 goals. His best season in the AHL was in 2010-2011 with Norfolk, where he netted 38 points in 80 games. He is on pace to beat that this season. Angelidis will be 30 years old in June.

-Mike Blunden has 22 points in 33 games, good for 5th on the team in scoring. The most he’s ever scored is 37 points in an AHL season. He currently has 13 goals. 18 is his career best. Blunden will be 29 in December.

-Philippe Paradis currently has 15 points in 33 games, which ties his total from last season with Syracuse (which he took 56 games to amass). His career-best is 16 points, scored in 2011-2012. Paradis’ 8 goals so far this season are the most he’s ever scored in one AHL season.

-Dalton Smith has 13 points in 40 games. In 3 AHL seasons, Smith has never amassed that many points. His 9 goals so far this season are a career high for him, and are three more than the 6 he scored last season when he split time between Springfield and Syracuse.

-Defenseman Joey Mormina has only played in 27 games for the Crunch this season, but has 12 points in that half-season. Last season with Syracuse, he had 13 points in 56 games. His best year came in 2009-2010, when he had 18 points with the Adirondack Phantoms, a total he may just surpass this season. Mormina will be 33 this year.

Keep in mind that Syracuse still has 32 games left on their schedule. These guys aren’t done yet. Most of these guys are (ahem) a bit more advanced in years than the usual players who make their mark in this league, while the others aren’t guys a team might usually look to for scoring. Either way, the Crunch would most certainly be floundering without their sudden resurgences.

Instead of floundering, Syracuse finds itself at the top of the AHL’s Eastern Conference yet again, mostly thanks to the hard work of this rag-tag group of unsuspecting underdogs.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Thank you.

Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:

  • Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 28-11-5-0

  • Place in Eastern Conference (top 8 make the playoffs): 1st

  • Place in Northeast Division: 1st

  • Top scorer: Jonathan Marchessault (12-26-38)
  • Top scoring defensemanNikita Nesterov (3-11-14)

  • Top scoring defenseman still on rosterSlater Koekkoek (3-9-12)

  • Top defenseman, +/-Jean-Philippe Cote, +11

  • Top rookie: Joel Vermin (8-11-19)

Other transactions and player news:

-The Allen York recall has not been officially released by the Syracuse Crunch, but it is listed on the ECHL transaction page.

Syracuse Crunch media highlights:

The Crunch’s SoundCloud has been updated with broadcasts and player interviews from the past week.

ICYMI: #SyrCrunch forward Jonathan Marchessault has been named an #AHLAllStar; Vladdy a starter

A few days ago, it was announced that Syracuse Crunch/Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov would not be participating in the American Hockey League All-Star game due to his current call up with Tampa Bay. Nesterov was supposed to playing alongside forward Vladislav Namestnikov, who also got a nod for the Crunch. It wasn’t known at the time who the league was going to pick to replace Nesterov, especially since roster replacements don’t have to come from the same team.

Even though Nesterov is a defenseman, news broke this afternoon that the Crunch would be sending a forward instead as their second player at the league’s All-Star eventJonathan Marchessault. From the team’s official release:

Marchessault, 24, leads the Crunch with 36 points (10g, 26a) in 39 games, tied for fifth in the league. This is the third time in his four-year career that Marchessault has been honored with an AHL All-Star selection. Marchessault has seven multi-point games on the campaign and has points in 27 of his 39 games. He recorded a point in eight straight games, Nov. 1-19, capped by a three-game goal streak.

Through 266 AHL games, the Quebec native has 233 points (78g, 145a) with Connecticut, Springfield and Syracuse. In Calder Cup play, Marchessault has seven points (4g, 3a) in 17 games. Marchessault, undrafted, was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets March 5, 2014.

Marchessault is arguably one of the most deserved players on the roster to get a replacement spot. He’s been a steady rock for Syracuse’s top line all season, and hasn’t once been ruffled by the coming and goings of the players around him. Many were surprised he wasn’t nominated the first time around.

It was also announced that Namestnikov has been voted by the fans of the league as a starter for the Eastern Conference’s All-Star team. The starting lines for both conferences are as follows:

Eastern Conference:

G – Anton Forsberg, Springfield
D – Austin Madaisky, Springfield
D – Derrick Pouliot, W-B/Scranton
F – Chris Bourque, Hartford
F – Tom Kostopoulos, W-B/Scranton
F – Vladislav Namestnikov, Syracuse

Western Conference

G – Jacob Markstrom, Utica
D – T.J. Brennan, Rockford
D – Bobby Sanguinetti, Utica
F – Connor Brown, Toronto
F – Cal O’Reilly, Utica
F – Teemu Pulkkinen, Grand Rapids

The 2015 AHL All-Star Classic is taking place in Utica, N.Y. next week. The All-Star Skills Competition is at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 25 and the All-Star Game is at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 26.

ICYMI: #SyrCrunch All-Star Nikita Nesterov will not be participating in the event

A few weeks ago, it was reported that two Syracuse Crunch players had been selected as AHL All-Stars for the event at the end of this month. The media was notified today that the league has been informed that defenseman Nikita Nesterov will not be participating due to his current call up with the Tampa Bay Lightning. As much as it was an honor to be selected, I’d imagine that it’s safe to say that Nesterov isn’t too upset about all of this.

Nesterov has been on recall with the Lightning since December 31st and has earned quite a bit of praise along the way. He was selected as an AHL All-Star while on recall, and it was noted that he might not be able to participate if he hadn’t been returned to Syracuse in time for the game. With Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas out for the next few months and Matt Carle seeing a specialist today, it’s very safe to say that Nesterov probably won’t be returning to the Crunch any time soon.

This leaves Syracuse forward Vladislav Namestnikov as the only Crunch representative at the game, for now, anyway. The AHL will probably select another player to replace Nesterov, but the player doesn’t necessarily have to come from the Crunch. Syracuse is currently 2nd in the AHL’s Northeast Division and 4th in the AHL’s Eastern Conference.


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