You can do this.
All of you, Coach Jon Cooper included.
You can do this.
Focus only on the game ahead.
Take it one period at a time.
Play the hockey we know you can play.
Syracuse knows you all can do it because we’ve seen it happen. We remember it. We know this feeling. And we remember how it felt to see you all overcome every single challenge and play hockey.
Radko, Mark, Tyler, Ondrej, Richard, Alex, J.T., Andrej, Cedric, Kristers, Keith, and even Anders…you’ve all pulled on a Crunch jersey at some point in the past two seasons. You’ve all WON in Crunch jerseys at some point in the past two seasons. We’ve watched you all grow, we’ve watched you all develop, we’ve watched you all leave, we’ve watched you all excel.
We’ve watched you all do exactly what you were supposed to do.
The Lightning are NOT out of this. Our group, our Ex-Syracuse Cool Boys who gave this fan base so much hope and so much joy and so many amazing memories last year, are not out of this. The Lightning team as a whole, a team that I have watched all season fight and grow and change, is not out of this.
Hockey playoffs are made for this kind of drama.
Pick your heads up, boys.
One goes, you all go.
Play your game, <3.
For the first time in Syracuse Crunch history, one of our players has won the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, which means he has been selected as the 2013-14 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year.
And it is so incredibly well deserved.
Syracuse Crunch forward Eric Neilson selected as winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award
Syracuse, NY – The American Hockey League announced today Syracuse Crunch forward Eric Neilson has been selected as the winner of the Yanick Dupr Memorial Award as the 2013-14 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year.
This award has been presented annually since 1998 to an AHL player for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations. The Yanick Dupr Memorial Award winner is selected by the AHL and representatives from IOA and American Specialty from among 30 individual team Man of the Year honorees.
A six-time recipient of his team’s Yanick Dupr Award nomination (in five different AHL cities), Neilson has continued an impressive tradition of community service that has been a hallmark of his career. Since joining the Crunch organization in 2012, Neilson has gone above and beyond in his efforts to give back to the Syracuse community.
Neilson’s efforts this year were highlighted by his creation of the “Breakfast with a Champion” program, designing, developing and executing his initiative designed to teach elementary school students the importance of nutrition and healthy eating. Neilson was involved in every step of the program’s planning process, from pitching it to local schools to shopping for groceries to supplying students with tickets to Crunch games as rewards for their participation.
Neilson’s commitment to children was also seen in his work with as the primary speaker in the Crunch’s anti-bullying program, and as the team’s main spokesman for Upstate University Hospital including their “safe kids” public service initiative about concussion prevention. He dedicated time to issues such as men’s and women’s health causes also, generating awareness for breast cancer and heading up the team’s winning “Mustache Movember” team for prostate cancer research.
The AHL’s annual Man of the Year award is named after the late Yanick Dupr, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 24 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. A second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1991, Dupr played four seasons in the AHL with the Hershey Bears and was an AHL All-Star in 1995.
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2013-14 regular season ends on Saturday, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.
Word on the street is that Tampa Bay and Eric are currently in contract negotiations. Eric said in the end of the season “Thank you, fans!” video that he wouldn’t want to play in front of any other fans. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:
In case you missed it, I really want Eric back next year, too.
This award is probably the most richly deserved in team history. Congratulations, Eric. Thank you, for all you do!
LIGHTNING RECALL FORWARD CEDRIC PAQUETTE FROM SYRACUSE
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forward Cedric Paquette from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Paquette will wear number 54.
Paquette, 20, has played in 70 games in his rookie season with the Crunch, posting 20 goals and 44 points to go along with 153 penalty minutes. He leads all Crunch skaters for goals and ranks tied for first on the team with two shorthanded tallies. Paquette ranks fourth in the AHL among rookies for penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 203-pound center has recorded four goals and three assist over his past six games with the Crunch.
The Gaspe, Quebec native skated in 126 career QMJHL games over two seasons with Blainville-Boisbriand, recording 58 goals and 131 points. He recorded career-highs for assists (56) and points (83) during the 2012-13 season.
Paquette was drafted by the Lightning in the fourth round, 101st overall, at the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.
Black Aces/”Let’s see what talent we have” players are starting to gather in Tampa, Crunch fans, and that means our roster is going to start getting a little thin on recognizable faces. We’re fine, and only playing for pride, but it still kind of stings to lose these guys without saying goodbye for the off season.
Paquette has been one of the few pleasant surprises on the Crunch this season. His speed, development and poise has made him one of the top rookies to watch on the team. In his first professional season, he is fourth on the team in scoring with 44 points (20-24) and was one of three players on the roster to have played in all 70 of the Crunch’s games played up until this point. His game matured at the pace one believes Tampa expected from all of their rookies this season, and it says a lot about Paquette that he actually achieved that kind of maturity considering all of the roster turnover in Syracuse.
Paquette was ranked at 20 on Raw Charge’s Top 25 Under 25 list. Last season, Paquette played his way into the Calder Cup playoffs, making the roster of an already talent-loaded Syracuse team through his work during practice with the Black Aces. The coaching staff was impressed and Paquette saw ice time during the Eastern Conference finals. He played on the fourth line and contributed visible energy and physicality.
Paquette has continued his lack of fear about being physical, but he’s gotten smart about how and where to do it. His compete level is high, and he’s one of the few guys that Crunch fans could honestly say showed up every single game and made himself visible this season. He isn’t afraid to hang out in front of the net and definitely embraced the space created by Tampa’s ravaging of Syracuse’s roster this past season.
Syracuse Crunch sign Charles Lavigne to ATO
Syracuse, NY – The Syracuse Crunch have signed goalie Charles Lavigne to an amateur tryout contract, Crunch General Manager Julien BriseBois announced today.
Lavigne, 25, comes from the University of New Brunswick where he was 17-3-1, with four shutouts, in 22 games recording a .908 save percentage and 2.30 goals-against average. Lavigne also appeared in three postseason games this season earning a .921 save percentage and 1.72 goals-against average. Previously the Hawkesbury, Ontario native skated for St. Thomas University for three seasons with a 14-55-0 record, leading the AUS in saves each year. The 6-foot, 190-pound goalie also spent two years playing in the QMJHL for Quebec (2008-09) and Moncton (2007-08) with 34-11-2 and 6-15-5 records, respectively. Lavigne also spent the 2006-07 season with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers going 6-3-0 with goals-against average of 2.62 and .917 save percentage in 12 games played.
Lavigne is expected to be available when the Crunch host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m.
Be glad we got to say goodbye to Kristers this past weekend with two wins, kids, because he is gone for the season:
LIGHTNING RECALL KRISTERS GUDLEVSKIS FROM SYRACUSE
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis (güd-LEV-skeez) from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Gudlevskis, 21, has appeared in 34 games with the Crunch this season, posting a record of 18-11-4 to go along with a 2.68 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. He leads all Crunch goalies for games played and wins and ranks tied for second in the AHL for shutouts with five. Gudlevskis dressed for his first NHL game on February 8 against the Red Wings, but served as the back-up. He began the season with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, posting a 7-4-0 record with a 1.83 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 11 games.
A native of Aizkraukle, Latvia, Gudlevskis represented his country at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. He played in two games for Latvia, posting a 3.54 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. Gudlevskis made 55 saves against Team Canada in a 2-1 loss in the quarterfinals at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Gudlevskis was drafted by the Lightning in the fifth round, 124th overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft.
No word yet on who his replacement will be, but the Post Standard is speculating the following:
Also, this would be neat:
Reminder: if Kristers plays in the NHL this season, he’ll be the first player ever to play in three professional leagues (ECHL, AHL, NHL) and the Olympics in one season. :D
Good luck to Kristers, and the same to Anders Lindback, who held up incredibly strong last night in relief of Ben Bishop, who left the ice injured in the first period.
Also, get well wishes to Ben! We’re thinking about you.
Up until the 18:21 mark of the third period Saturday night, it looked like that game versus Utica belonged on this list (of blowouts). Syracuse was losing 5-2 against the Comets and had allowed 4 unanswered goals. Despite appearing to outplay Utica for most of the game, the Crunch just wasn’t finding the back of the net.
When Syracuse pulled Gudlevskis for the extra attacker, most fans started gathering their things and heading for the exits. The Crunch has had little, if any, success with this tactic this season, so pulling Gudlevskis when the score was 5-2 just seemed like the team was begging for more humiliation.
AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED?!
I’ve spent a lot of time rambling about specific hockey players lately. Last week, I enjoyed a brief moment of reminiscing that was caused by former Crunch coach and retired hockey goalie Karl Goehring coming back to town. The week before that, I pleaded with Tampa Bay management to re-sign Crunch forward Eric Neilson.
This week, I want to talk about our captain, forward Mike Angelidis.
I’ve been harsh on Mike before, I’ll admit it. Last season, when things started to go off the track, I called on him to step it up and lead his team. This season, I had a similar rally cry at a similar time. It’s difficult to see your favorite team fall apart, and it’s instinct to jump at the leaders in the dressing room and demand they do something.
Towards the middle of the season, my feelings on Mike softened, mostly because he was consistently showing me what he can do. I could see him doing more on the ice to set the example. I watched as he tried to rally the guys. I heard about his blowups at the team when no one seemed to care. All of that impressed me to no end. Whatever–if there was anything–that may have been bothering Mike or preventing him from working to his fullest potential in the beginning of the season was clearly in the past.
And then I watched this interview, and I grew to admire him even more:
The absolute pure and painful honesty from him stopped me in my tracks. Finally, someone with the team was articulating what we had felt all year, and it was so appreciated. You can tell he cares from what he says, from how he sounds.
That’s a captain.
However, what caused me to write this today actually isn’t any of that. While doing some research for my Raw Charge update this week, I waded through the games we’ve played this year and took a close look at the “blowouts” we’ve had. I defined “blowout” by considering every game that the Crunch had lost by three goals or more. Believe it or not (and, let’s face it, you probably believe it), Syracuse has lost 17 games by that kind of margin this season.
To put that into perspective, that’s almost a quarter of the season. Another way to look at it? More than half of the 30 loses the Crunch has experienced this year have been blowouts.
But as I did my research, I began to notice a common theme. Take a look at the games I summarized:
-October 13th, 2013: Syracuse loses to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins by a final score of 6-3. Vladislav Namestnikov, Cedric Paquette, and Matt Taormina scored for the Crunch in the loss. Goalie Riku Helenius allowed the 6 tallies on 27 shots.
-October 18th, 2013: Syracuse loses to the Binghamton Senators by a final score of 6-2. Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov score for the Crunch. Goalie Cedrick Desjardins lets in 6 pucks on 20 shots.
-November 22nd, 2013: Syracuse loses to the Hamilton Bulldogs by a final score of 4-1. JP Cote is credited with the Crunch’s lone goal. Desjardins allows 4 goals on 27 shots.
-November 27nd, 2013: Syracuse loses to Binghamton again, this time with a 5-1 final. Geoff Walker scores the Crunch’s only goal. Helenius faced 37 shots.
-December 10th and 11th, 2013: Syracuse loses to St. John’s two nights in a row, first by a 6-2 final and then by a 5-1 final. Mike Angelidis, Paquette, and Walker score the three Crunch goals between the two games. Goalie Kristers Gudlevskis faces 47 shots the first night; Desjardins faces 36 the next.
-December 28th, 2013: Syracuse loses to the Norfolk Admirals by a 6-3 final. Angelidis, Evan Rankin, and Drew Olson score for the Crunch. Gudlevskis and Desjardins split time, facing 30 total shots between them.
-December 31st, 2013: Syracuse loses to the Penguins by a 5-2 final. Angelidis and Taormina score; Desjardins faces 28 shots.
-March 7, 2014: Syracuse loses to the Rochester Americans by a 4-1 final. Angelidis is the lone scorer. Gudlevskis faces 26 shots.
-March 22nd, 2014: Syracuse loses to the Albany Devils by a 6-2 final. Brett Connolly and Jonathan Marchessault score. Desjardins faces 28 shots.
I was struck by how many times I found “Angelidis” on the score sheet in these blowout games, especially since he isn’t a shooter/scorer like Vladdy Namestnikov or Jonathan Marchessault. Sometimes, Mike was the lone scorer. Sometimes he was a part of a bigger plan to try to get his team going again. Whether by design or desperation, his name was the most mentioned as a goal scorer in the games I looked at.
Talk about leading by example. You want your team to stop looking like it’s rolling over and dying? You get out there, you work your ass off and score, and you hope to God they’ll follow your example.
It’s really all you can do.
Nice job, Captain.