ICYMI: #SyrCrunch’s Andrei Vasilevskiy named CCM/AHL Player of the Week…goalie call up may be coming   Leave a comment


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Syracuse Crunch goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been selected as theCCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Dec. 14, 2014.

Vasilevskiy allowed one goal on 56 shots in earning victories in both of his starts last week, good for a 0.50 goals-against average and a .982 save percentage.

On Wednesday night, Vasilevskiy led the Crunch into Springfield and turned aside all 26 shots he faced in a 2-0 victory, snapping the Falcons’ franchise-record winning streak at 11 games. Then on Friday, Vasilevskiy made 29 saves to help Syracuse past Hershey, 4-1, the sixth time in his last eight starts allowing no more than one goal.

Tampa Bay’s first-round pick (19th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Vasilevskiy has compiled a record of 8-3-3 in 14 appearances with Syracuse this season, with a 2.34 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and two shutouts. The 20-year-old rookie from Tyumen, Russia, spent last season with Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL and helped Russia to medals at the 2012 (silver), 2013 (bronze) and 2014 (bronze) World Junior Championships as well as gold at the 2014 World Championships.

In recognition of his achievement, Vasilevskiy will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Crunch home game.

This comes on the heels of Crunch forward Yanni Gourde being named the AHL Player of the Month for November, so that’s pretty cool.

However, Vasilevskiy’s week may be getting even better today. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop went down with a lower body injury during last night’s Lightning loss to Pittsburgh, and did not return to the game. From the chatter on Twitter, it seems as though they’re going to re-evaluate this morning and then go from there on whether a call up is needed:

Twitter was also sharply divided on who the call up would be. I’m kind of in the “if it’s just a backup thing than go with Kristers Gudlevskis” camp, mainly because Vasilevskiy has been rocking the ice time here and I think it would be good for his development for that to continue. I also think it might not hurt Gudlevskis to get some time in with our NHL team and their coaches, as that might give him more glimmers of what we saw with his awesome performance Saturday night. But, I also know that Lightning fans are chomping at the bit to get a look at Vasilevskiy, and understand that Tampa Bay itself might want to toss him into a game situation to see what he can do.

Honestly, if there is a call up, we have to have confidence that we’ll be fine either way. Both goalies rocked it this past weekend, and the team as a whole has been playing much better hockey, which always helps whomever is in net. Allen York has been doing really well with the Florida Everblades this year, and recently debuted a new Syracuse Crunch helmet. He’d be our go-to if a call up does occur for a backup, and that really should be fine.

ICYMI: #SyrCrunch week 10 in review over at @RawCharge   Leave a comment

After a full seven months of struggle and frustration during the 2013-2014 AHL regular season, it was unnerving for everyone when this season looked like it was headed in that same direction. However, the Syracuse Crunch can finally start breathing a little easier again, as can its fans. It’s probably safe to say that nearly everyone is enjoying hockey season in Syracuse again, secure in the knowledge that the Crunch is, yet again, one of the best in the American Hockey League.

Read more and join in the conversation over at Raw Charge! 

#SyrCrunch transaction update: WE CAN HAS GOAL SCORER! Vladislav Namestnikov has been reassigned by the #TBLightning


TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned forward Vladislav Namestnikov to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Namestnikov, 22, has skated in 23 games with the Lightning this season, posting three goals and seven points to go along with four penalty minutes. He recorded his first career NHL goal and assist on October 13 against the Montreal Canadiens. The 6-foot, 182-pound forward tallied his first career game-winning goal on October 24 in Winnipeg. Namestnikov has played in 27 career NHL games, all with the Lightning over the past two seasons.

The Zhukovskiy, Russia native has appeared in 100 career AHL games, all with the Crunch, registering 26 goals and 69 points. Last season he set AHL career high totals for games played (56), goals (19), assists (29), points (48) and penalty minutes (40).

Well, kids, for all of those who were begging for some talent up front–including myself–here he is!

I know this has to sting for Vladdy. I can sympathize and imagine his frustration. But holy hell, did we need somebody back who can actually put the puck in the net. He needs minutes, and he will certainly get them here.

#SyrCrunch updates: @RawCharge check in, Gourde is #AHL Player of the Month

I wasn’t all Debbie Downer this week, but I do have three major concerns when it comes to the Syracuse Crunch right now. Some were easier to write about than others.

The Syracuse Crunch has reached the quarter mark of their season. Two months are behind them and five lay front. November, although better than October, was still full of inconsistent playand effort, and certainly had its share of frustrating games. The ups were great, but the downs were, and still are, a concern.

Fittingly enough, the Crunch’s final week of November contained the exact mixed bag that the rest of the month served up. Wednesday night, Syracuse lost to Utica 5-4. According to those watching the game, starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made huge save after huge save, but that effort wasn’t enough to combat the Crunch’s defensive deficits. Friday night, the Crunch got off to an amazing start against the Binghamton Senatorswith forward Philippe Paradis putting up a natural hat trick (one that even included a penalty shot!). However, Syracuse then let its foot off the gas, allowed the Senators to score four unanswered goals in the third period, and lost the game 6-3. Then, Saturday, the Crunch played one of its most complete first and third periods this season, which thankfully was enough to topple opponent Hershey 4-1.

See what I mean? The past week was a crazy mix of the improbable and the impossible, the good and the bad. As I think about the past two months, I can’t help but ask myself some questions about what’s going on. Some are tougher questions than others, I will admit.

Read more over at Raw Charge.

Also, just breaking tonight: Yanni Gourde has been named the AHL Player of the Month for November.

PRINGFIELD, Mass. — The American Hockey League announced today that Syracuse Crunch left wing Yanni Gourde has been selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for November.

Gourde tallied nine goals and nine assists for 18 points along with a plus-13 rating in 13 games for the Crunch during November.

After recording just one assist in eight games during October, Gourde led the entire AHL in scoring in November, beginning with an assist on the go-ahead goal in the Crunch’s 6-3 win at Binghamton on Nov. 1. Gourde notched his first two goals of the season in the third period of a 5-4 win over Norfolk on Nov. 8, helping the Crunch rally from a three-goal deficit, and also had two-goal games on Nov. 15 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Nov. 19 at Hartford, both sparking come-from-behind wins as well. Gourde tallied the game-winning goal in the Crunch’s 2-1 win over Utica at the Toyota Frozen Dome Classic inside the Carrier Dome on Nov. 22, and registered his first three-point night of the year with a goal and two assists against the Comets on Nov. 26.

Gourde leads Syracuse with nine goals and is tied for the team lead with 19 points while skating in all 21 games this season. The 22-year-old native of Saint-Narcisse, Quebec, signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay on Mar. 10, 2014, and has totaled 24 goals and 44 assists for 68 points in 122 career AHL games with Syracuse and Worcester. Gourde played junior hockey with Victoriaville in the QMJHL, where he won a scoring title and most valuable player honors in 2011-12.

In recognition of his achievement, Gourde will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Crunch home game.

ICYM – From @RawCharge: #SyrCrunch week 7 in review: @TheFrozenDome

Much has already been said about the Frozen Dome Classic, the record-breaking hockey game held inside Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome Saturday. It was an incredible event, one that wasn’t to be missed if you lived anywhere near Central New York. The Syracuse Crunch and the Utica Comets got together with sports fans from all over and broke the indoor hockey attendance record with a total count of 30,715. The game was made even sweeter, at least for Crunch fans, by the 2-1 Syracuse victory.

This game meant different things to different people. For the fans of both the Crunch and the Comets, it was a chance to see their team duke it out in an NHL-like atmosphere. The ice rink that was built for the game was regulation size, which is actually bigger than what the Crunch plays on at the Onondaga County War Memorial. Although the War Memorial has plans to enlarge their rink this coming off season, it was good for the Crunch’s fans to see them play on a larger ice surface.

It was also good for the team itself to experience a home game atmosphere with such a large crowd behind them. It’s probably a guarantee that the players on the Crunch will remember the noise that the Carrier Dome erupted with when both of their goals were scored for a long time to come. To give credit where it’s due, Comets fans also made quite a bit of noise when their team scored its lone goal. What more motivation might a team of young players need than to experience that kind of noise after scoring a goal, or even hearing that large of a crowd respond to a saved goal or a successful penalty kill?

However, the game probably meant the most to the Syracuse Crunch front office, the group that was the brain and the brawn behind the event. An idea that started with the organization’s Chief Operating Officer Jim Sarosy grew into something big for everyone once Crunch owner Howard Dolgon got on board. Local writer Brent Axe summed up Dolgon’s influence on this event, and on all of Central New York, quite succinctly:

Syracuse Crunch owner Howard Dolgon is not from Central New York, but he sure likes to think of ways to show the world what we are capable of.

Let’s put a hockey rink in the Carrier Dome, he said. Let’s show the sports world that Syracuse is the best “pound-for-pound” sports city in America.

Hockey in the Carrier Dome? Is he serious?

But we’ve learned that doubting Howard Dolgon is not a wise play.

Just like when he was told 21 years ago that Syracuse was a “hockey graveyard” and having a record-breaking outdoor hockey game in Syracuse wasn’t a wise idea.

If Howard Dolgon says you are going to the moon, don’t question him. Just ask what you should pack and what time the rocket leaves.

Don’t question him, indeed.

But what about the league itself? What impact has the Crunch and its big ideas have on it? Well, as AHL president David Andrews explains in a Syracuse.com feature:

“No, never,” Andrews said when asked if he could have envisioned that ( a game in the Carrier Dome). “It’s a spectacle that I would have never imagined. To walk in a couple of hours before game time and see an ice surface in here, and the configuration for a hockey game. I mean it’s fantastic. Then, obviously, the fan support here has been incredible, and everybody is having a great time. It’s sensational, really.”

“Not only with events like this, and the first outdoor game (in 2010), but just generally speaking his franchise has set a great example of being able to be in a smaller market in our league with an older building and make it work,” Andrews said. “He’s made it work by connecting in the community with his fans, he’s connected in the community with the political support that you need to do things like this, the community connection to come into the Carrier Dome in Syracuse and marry up the university with a community sports team. All of those things are not easy, but he’s willing to do the work to make it happen.”

The Crunch is a strong AHL franchise, one that has beat the moniker of a hockey graveyard, one that has come through parent club drama and changes to be even brighter and stronger than it was before. And, to be totally fair and honest, it has to thank theTampa Bay Lightning for some of where it stands today. Yes, the city and the organization has proven that it is a great place for future NHL players to develop and prosper. However, I’m not so sure that this game would have been as successful as it was if it wasn’t for the Crunch’s run to the Calder Cup finals in 2013. The prospects and the talent that the Crunch has seen rotate through its doors the past three seasons-Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Mark Barberio, Radko Gudas, Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov–have all helped the notoriety and the popularity of the Crunch, even through the lack-luster months of the 2013-2014 season and the rough beginning of this season.

It’s easy to imagine that the Crunch would have put on the Frozen Dome Classic without the Lightning and their influence, given the determination of the team’s front office staff, but the stability and the strong commitment to winning hockey that Tampa Bay has provided and promised the Crunch has certainly increased their popularity. The Crunch had a strong two weeks leading up to the Frozen Dome, earning 12 out of 16 possible points, but two single weeks of good hockey would not have been enough to pack that building alone. The 2012-13 season helped, the “Miracle at the War Memorial” last season helped, even the arrival of Jonathan Drouin helped. The Crunch has been able to build a strong hockey legacy on top of an already firm foundation thanks to the Tampa Bay years.

The Crunch itself wasn’t perfect Saturday night, but they didn’t need to be. The defense was scary at times, but goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy shined, stopping 26 of 27 shots. The offence withered a little in comparison to their last couple of games, putting up only 23 shots, but the two shots that needed to get through got through thanks to Joel Vermin and Yanni Gourde. Those goals were enough to get the win in a history-making game. There’s still work to be done, but, for this moment in time, what has been done is more than enough.

Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:

  • Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 10-5-3-0

  • Place in Eastern Conference (top 8 make the playoffs): 4th

  • Place in Northeast Division: 2nd

  • Top scorer: Jonathan Marchessault (6-11-17)
  • Top scoring defenseman: Nikita Nesterov (2-6-8)

  • Top defenseman, +/-Jean-Philippe Cote, +8

  • Top rookie: Joel Vermin (5-4-9)

Other transactions and player news:

-Crunch defenseman Joey Mormina’s status is still “out indefinitely,” as is Crunch forward Mike Blunden. However, they both took warm ups before the Frozen Dome Classic, although neither participated much.

See the full post with media highlights and throw up a comment over at Raw Charge! 

As seen first on @RawCharge: The @SyracuseCrunch make #hockeyhistory today at @TheFrozenDome Classic. #AHL

Those who know me know that I harbor no real love for Syracuse University sports, or college sports in general. My own alma mater (which is not SU) has a pretty stellar hockey team nearly every season, but by the time I was a sophomore in college I was starting to fall for the Syracuse Crunch and the rest didn’t matter. In fact, I am probably one of a very small handful of sports fans in the Central New York area who hasn’t watched a game at Carrier Dome, SU’s famed sports complex.

That will change today when I head “up the hill,” as they say, to watch my team take on the Utica Comets in an AHL matchup in front of a record-breaking crowd. The indoor crowd record for a hockey game, set by the Tampa Bay Lightning (of all teams), has fallen as a reported crowd of 29,000+ has already bought seats. The Crunch is aiming for more than 30,000 by game time at the ice rink that has been built for this one weekend only.

I do have a different connection to the Dome, though, one that is very fondly remembered, even if talking about it comes off as an awkward first date confession. When I was in high school, I was a band geek. I played the violin in the orchestra and marched in the marching band’s color guard. Although I enjoyed both activities, I credit a lot to the four years I spent with the marching band especially. I performed with a group that was a proud member of the National Class of the New York State Field Band Conference (NYSFBC). My best friend became my best friend during those years, and my life would be drastically different and much less enjoyable if it wasn’t for the bond we formed during our time in marching band.

The NYSFBC holds their championship event every year at the Carrier Dome. I spent the final Sunday of every October in high school performing on the turf of that Dome, and I still have so much pride in every moment. Although we never won the National Class championship – we lost first place my senior year by .90 of a point – it always felt like we had done something special as a group on that Dome floor.

Today, the Syracuse Crunch hockey club, then centerpiece of the hockey community that has given me back many of the same feelings of pride I had while performing with my old marching band, is going to do something special on the Dome’s floor, too. There’s ice installed on that floor now and I won’t be the one out there, obviously, the Crunch will be. But, still, the connection is no less deep for me.

Two seasons ago when the Crunch made it to the Calder Cup Finals, Brent Axe made the comment that the buzz around the team was something the Crunch could be proud of because they did it all on their own. That buzz was very reminiscent of the one that happened in 2010, when the Crunch put on the first outdoor game in AHL history, the Mirabito Outdoor Classic. The Crunch set an attendance record that day of 21,508. It was also much like the attention and energy that was around the team during the 2008 Calder Cup playoffs, playoffs the Crunch reached by going on a 15-game winning streak to end the regular season.

The Crunch has had some help with the Frozen Dome Classic. They’ve had the powerhouse of SU’s reach behind them. But no one can deny that the Crunch organization was the push behind getting this done. They worked to get the fans on board, reached out to every source of ticket sales they could think of, and were the driving force in building the rink and completing the transformation. They have gotten guests that people want to see and set up a schedule of events that appeals to many fans, not just Crunch fans.

The sheer effort and man-hours that has gone into this is incredible. Anyone who follows the Chief Operating Officer of the Crunch, Jim Sarosy, on Twitter has seen his middle-of-the-night tweets from the Dome. The Crunch’s front office has been on the front lines of this thing, and it’s been intense. But, as Sarosy told me a few days ago, it’s been a good intense, one I’m sure he wouldn’t trade right now.

Central New York should be darned proud of all of this. Not only has the Crunch created an amazing fan event, they’ve also created a fabulous opportunity for the prospects of the Lightning. The opportunity for those players to play a game in front of an intense, NHL-sized crowed right in their own backyard, can’t be understated.

Howard Dolgon, owner of the Crunch, likes to quote the fact that Syracuse was once called a hockey graveyard. The city had a string of unsuccessful professional franchises at different levels that came and went before the Crunch, starting with the first team to ever win the Calder Cup championship back in 1937, the Syracuse Stars. Now, that very city is holding an event that will break the indoor attendance record for a hockey game.

Much to be proud of indeed.

Go Crunch!

Latest visual schedule for the #SyrCrunch’s @theFrozenDome!


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