American Hockey League rosters can be a bit fleeting and can change without much notice. However, at present, there are nine Ontario Hockey League grads playing for the Syracuse Crunch. Add to that a head coach and assistant coach that both played their junior hockey in the OHL. Three of the nine players are in their first season of pro hockey. Two are vets that have been out of junior hockey for nearly a full decade.
Blujus played four years in the OHL from 2010-11 to 2013-14 with the Battalion, three years in Brampton and one year in North Bay. Dylan was a third round pick by Stan Butler and the Troops at the 2010 OHL Priority Selection, 60th overall.
The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Blujus in the second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, 40th overall. He signed an entry level contract with the NHL club in May, 2014 and is signed through 2016-17. This year so far, Dylan has spent all his time with the Crunch.
Corrente played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2004-05 to 2007-08 with the Saginaw Spirit and the Mississauga/Niagara IceDogs. At the 2004 OHL Priority Selection, Matt was the second overall pick by Saginaw, behind just John Hughes who went to the Belleville Bulls. He was traded to Mississauga 29 games into the 2006-07 season.
The New Jersey Devils took Matt in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, 30th overall. He has played pro hockey since 2008-09 in the AHL and NHL. His National Hockey League experience consists of 12 games in 2009-10 and 22 games in 2010-11, all with the Devils. 2014-15 is Corrente’s first year with the Crunch.
Dotchin spent three years in the OHL from 2011-12 to 2013-14 with the Owen Sound Attack and Barrie Colts. He was part of a deadline deal in his second season. Originally, Jake was a fourth round pick by the Attack in 2010.
The Lightning selected Dotchin in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, 161st overall. He signed an entry level with the club in April, 2014 that is good through 2016-17. So far, Jake has spent the 2014-15 exclusively with Syracuse.
Koekkoek played four years in the OHL from 2010-11 to 2013-14 with the Peterborough Petes and Windsor Spitfires. He was the seventh overall pick by the Petes at the 2010 OHL Priority Selection. Slater was team captain with Peterborough in 2012-13 until a deadline traded sent him to the Spitfires.
Tampa Bay selected Koekkoek tenth overall in 2012. He is signed through 2016-17. He has yet to get called up to the NHL.
Angelidis played four years in the OHL from 2002-03 to 2005-06, all with the Owen Sound Attack. Owen Sound took Mike deep in the ninth round of the 2001 OHL Priority Selection, 170th overall. He was a 53 goal scorer in his final year with the Attack.
Undrafted to the National Hockey League, Angelidis has played pro hockey since 2006-07 in the ECHL, AHL and NHL. His NHL experience has been limited to seven games, six in 2011-12 and one in 2012-13, all with the Lightning. 2014-15 is Mike’s third year with the Crunch and third year as team captain.
Blunden played four years in the OHL from 2002-03 to 2005-06, all with the Erie Otters. He was the 18th overall pick at the 2002 OHL Priority Selection by the Otters. In his final year, Blunden won gold with Canada at the 2006 IIHF World Juniors.
The Chicago Blackhawks took Mike in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. His first pro action came in 2005-06 while still a junior, playing eleven regular season and one playoff game with the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL. Blunden has played in 104 NHL games to date with the Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay. This year, he has played two games with the Lightning.
Namestnikov played two years in the OHL, 2010-11 and 2011-12, with the London Knights. Vlad was the 20th overall pick by the Knights at the 2010 CHL Import Draft. The following year, the Lightning took him in he first round, 27th overall.
He played four games with Tampa Bay in 2013-14. This year, Vlad has appeared in 25 games with the Lightning, most recently sent down to the Crunch on January 16.
Richard played two years in the Ontario Hockey League, 2011-12 and 2012-13, with the Guelph Storm. Despite being born in Markham, Ontario, Tanner was taken 28th overall at the 2011 CHL Import Draft by Guelph. Having grown up in Switzerland, Richard played for the Swiss at the 2012 and 2013 WJC.
The Lightning selected Tanner in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, 71st overall. He is in his second full year with the Crunch after playing his first North American pro hockey with Syracuse in 2012-13 (8 games) while still in junior. His first pro hockey came in the form of four games with Rapperswil of Switzerland’s NLA in 2010-11 as an 18 year old.
Smith played four years in the OHL from 2008-09 to 2011-12, all with the Ottawa 67’s. Dalton was a fourth round pick by the 67’s at the 2008 OHL Priority Selection. Two years later, he was a second round pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Dalton has played pro hockey since 2012-13, all in the American Hockey League. He was traded to the Crunch from the Springfield Falcons 50 games into the 2013-14 season.
Rob Zettler – Head Coach
Zettler played four years in the OHL from 1984-85 to 1987-88 with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He was a third round pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1986. Rob played 569 regular season and 14 Stanley Cup playoff games in the NHL between 1988-89 and 2001-02 with the North Stars, San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals. Zettler has been head coach of the Crunch since 2012-13.
Trent Cull – Assistant Coach
Cull played in the OHL from 1989-90 to 1993-94 with the Owen Sound Platers, Windsor Spitfires and Kingston Frontenacs. Trent played pro from 1994-95 to 2003-04 in the Colonial Hockey League, AHL and IHL.
Trent was assistant coach of the Guelph Storm in 2004-05 and 2005-06. He was head coach of the Sudbury Wolves from 2010-11 to 2012-13. Cull was previously an assistant coach with Syracuse from 2006-07 to 2009-10 and returned for the 2013-14 season.
The Crunch have existed in Syracuse since the 1994-95 AHL season. The franchise relocated from Hamilton, where they were the Canucks in 1992-93 and 1993-94. The Crunch have been affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning since 2012-13. That year, Syracuse reached the Calder Cup finals before losing to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
In 2013-14, Syracuse took a step back and did not qualify for the post season. Currently, the Crunch sit fourth in the 15 team Eastern Conference.
The Syracuse Crunch play home games at the War Memorial at ONCenter in Syracuse, New York. The venue seats 6,230 for hockey and was opened in 1951. The arena was home to some of the footage from the 1970’s hockey cult hit movie Slap Shot.