by Julian McKenzie | AHL On The Beat
It was Tye McGinn’s second game back from injury. As he held the puck in the offensive zone against the Binghamton Senators, he suddenly had the best seat in the house.
Yanni Gourde streaked behind him and called for the pass. McGinn obliged, spinning and feeding Gourde for his first of two goals that night. The Syracuse Crunch went on to win, 4-1.
— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) March 5, 2017
“I heard Gourde scream for it,” McGinn said after the game on the Shootout Show with Dan D’Uva. “I didn’t have a play to the net, so I just stopped and heard him. I looked up and saw him going to the net. I did my best to get a pass over to him and he did what he does best – scores goals.”
“I’m coming in, looking around to see if I have Tye coming wide,” said Gourde. “I was by myself. I just dragged the puck and shot it far blocker.”
Prior to March 3, McGinn hadn’t played a game since Oct. 16 against the Rochester Americans. He returned just in time to head into a three-in-three and made an immediate impact. He is currenty on a six-game scoring streak (5g, 2a) and has registered at least one point in all but one game since rejoining the lineup. The winger has seven goals and three assists in 11 games on the year.
McGinn brings the type of offense the Crunch need at this point in the year, especially with their parent club, the Tampa Bay Lightning, having called up a majority of the team’s forwards during a season plagued with injuries. Ten different Crunch forwards have suited up for the Bolts during the 2016-17 campaign, yet Syracuse continues to lead the North Division.
“We’re first place in our division and I did my best to get back and contribute as much as I could,” said McGinn.
In just the second game of the season, McGinn faced an injury that required surgery on his right shoulder and sidelined him for 53 contests. One night earlier, the offensive threat was one of four goal scorers in a season-opening victory at the War Memorial Arena.
Following the injury, the 6-foot-3, Fergus, Ont., native worked hard to get back in the lineup as soon as he could. He would occasionally skate by himself without pucks to get back into game shape. He credits Crunch head athletic trainer Brad Chavis and the rest of Syracuse’s training staff for a faster-than-expected return.
“It’s not always the most fun to skate without pucks,” he laughed. “I worked hard with Brad and the trainers and they got me ready to go a little earlier than what was expected. I have to give it to them and the doctors. They did a fantastic job with me.”
At 26, McGinn is near the team’s median age, five years older than the youngest player, Ben Thomas, and seven years younger than its eldest, Mike McKenna. He regards himself as a player who can tie his teammates together, but when a player is not on the ice practicing and playing, it becomes a challenge. That is precisely why Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, who coached McGinn on the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Gatineau Olympiques, insisted that the forward remain around the team during his recovery.
“I was interacting with the guys and still felt like a part of the team,” said McGinn on staying in Syracuse to rehab. “Being an older guy, I had to be there for the younger guys, supporting them, showing them how pro hockey is. We’re here to do a job and have fun, but also work.”
With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Crunch are fending off division rivals for the North Division crown. McGinn’s offensive play and chemistry with his teammates couldn’t have returned at a better time.