And let’s pretend last night didn’t happen.
The Syracuse Crunch have a busy week of games. Four games in seven days, including three against the Utica Comets. The NHL is on the other side of the Trade Deadline so roster limits have been eliminated. As a result, the Crunch have lost a few players to the affiliates, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.
The Crunch are also returning to a 32-game schedule as their second-last game of the season against the WBS Penguins has been cancelled. A game between the two teams was added last month while most of the North Division was mired in a COVID-19 outbreak. The season will still end on May 15th against the Rochester Americans.
Our game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday, May 12 has been canceled.
The cancelation is due to the addition of a game already played on March 19. We’re now back to an originally scheduled six-game season series. https://t.co/HbXc0Jhvvd
— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) April 13, 2021
Games this Week
Game #18: Syracuse Crunch at Utica Comets (Tues, Apr 13, 7pm)
I got my schedules wrong and this game has already happened. The Crunch lost 5-1 to the Utica Comets on the road, a form of payback for the loss Utica suffered at the hands of Syracuse by the same scoreline on Saturday. Penalties kept the Crunch in the box and forced to play defense for much of the game (five penalties in the second period, only three shots on goal in that frame).
The Crunch were playing light on defense after injuries and call-ups to several players. Luke Witkowski was the surprise absence, his fight on Saturday might’ve been the cause for him missing this game. The Crunch played with 13 forwards and five defensemen, and forced those few defensemen to spend a lot of time on the penalty kill.
Game #19: Syracuse Crunch at Utica Comets (Wed, Apr 14, 7pm)
The Crunch get to try it all again with a rematch in Utica tonight. The team might have recalled defenseman Alec Rauhauser available in time for the game, or they’ll have to run light at the back for the second night in a row.
After all the COVID postponements all season, the schedule is very crowded, especially against Utica. This is the reality the league has forced themselves into.
Game #20: WBS Penguins at Syracuse Crunch (Sat, Apr 17, 7pm)
In order to break up a potential four-game series against the Utica Comets, the WBS Penguins will be coming to town on Saturday to play the Crunch. However the Wednesday game goes, this game should be a palate cleanser and a chance for the Crunch to get back on track. They’ve played the Penguins extremely well all season.
The Penguins have a tendency to shoot from the wing, which lets the Crunch off the hook as they’ve been consistently poor at covering players and sticks in front of the net — it’s a big reason why the penalty kill has been so poor.
Game #21: Utica Comets at Syracuse Crunch (Mon, Apr 19, 7pm)
And then it’s back to playing the Comets, thankfully this game will be in Syracuse as the Crunch get to spend the weekend at home. I will have a recap of a slightly different format after this game because of all the games to cover.
- Mitchell Stephens (returned to TBL from conditioning loan)
- Alex Barre-Boulet (recalled to TBL Taxi Squad)
- Noah Juulsen (returned to FLA from conditioning loan)
- Nikita Pavlychev (reassigned to ECHL Solar Bears)
Stephens and ABB join Ross Colton, Gemel Smith, Daniel Walcott, and Ben Thomas on the Lightning roster (and taxi squad). Stephens was on a conditioning loan that could have lasted a few more days but the team felt he was ready early (so did I). ABB fills the sixth spot on the Taxi Squad.
Also on a conditioning stint was defenseman Noah Juulsen from the Panthers, he was sent back as well after a couple decent games on the Crunch. I honestly wasn’t very impressed with his game, but the Panthers have him back on their Injured Reserve list. It’s either the NHL or waivers for him next as he’s yet to clear waivers this season (he was actually claimed from Montreal at the start of the season).
Pavlychev goes back to the Orlando Solar Bears after being a consistent scratch for the Crunch.
- Andreas Borgman (reassigned from TBL)
- Cole Koepke (signed to ELC by TBL and assigned to AHL)
- Alec Rauhauser (recalled by FLA from ECHL Swamp Rabbits)
Andreas Borgman played seven games for the Lightning this season, but in low minutes and was on the Taxi Squad for most of the time. He now comes back to the AHL. Borgman spent most of last year on the San Antonio Rampage (STL affiliate), and two years before that on the Toronto Marlies. He’s a good AHL defenseman when he is motivated.
The Lightning signed prospect Cole Koepke to a two-year ELC that begins next season. Until then, he’s on a tryout with the Crunch, which should begin as soon as his quarantine has ended. Koepke is 22 and leaves the NCAA after three years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Koepke was originally a sixth round pick in 2018. Let’s see what he’s got!
The Panthers also assigned left-shot defenseman Alec Rauhauser to the Crunch from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in the ECHL. Rauhauser, 26, is in his first pro season out of the NCAA. He was a high-scoring defenseman in college.
We have signed Cole Koepke to a two-year, entry-level contract.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 13, 2021
Around the AHL
Michael Carcone was named AHL Player of the Week last week.
Former goalie for the Syracuse Crunch, Norfolk Admirals, and about half the teams in North American professional hockey, Mike McKenna retired two years ago. He went down memory lane yesterday, it was really nice.
Last lap of an amazing career for an AHL legend. https://t.co/QpVDrBsjoZ
— Alexandra Ackerman (@SinBinCrunch) April 13, 2021
On the Trade Deadline front, players who were on their NHL team’s active roster aren’t eligible for the playoffs in the AHL (the Crunch aren’t participating in a playoffs, unofficially).
Guys on the taxi squads will be eligible to play in AHL. This only goes for players on NHL rosters as the trade deadline passes.
— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) April 12, 2021
AHL Trade Deadline is next Monday at 3pm. That’s the last day players on AHL/ECHL contracts can be moved.