Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse Crunch forward Tye McGinn spent all of last season in the NHL, skating with San Jose and Arizona.
He’s barely sniffed that level this year, but he’s put his time back in the AHL to good use by showing why he was a player of that top-level caliber in the first place.
McGinn has spent the last month in New Year’s Eve mode, sending out December with a noisy bang. He has eight goals in the month, but more impressively has tallied seven in his last seven games.
That includes twice scoring two goals in games at Hershey, on Dec. 20 and then again Tuesday. Overall, he’s tied for the Crunch lead with 11 markers this season.
“I’m just getting to the net. That’s where the puck goes in,” McGinn said Thursday morning, before his team left for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. “I’m just trying to shoot everything that I can.”
And the last time he was successful enough at that to score seven times in seven games?
“Maybe mite hockey? I don’t know. I can’t really remember,” said McGinn, 25.
The key thing that’s lodged in the 6-foot-3, 205-pound McGinn’s memory is his 2014-15 season. He played in 33 games for San Jose, posting a goal and four helpers, and 18 with Arizona (1-1).
He signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent last summer with the understandable expectation of continuing that NHL run with the Lightning. But so far he has just a pair of games with that club this season.
“I was up there the whole year, but I didn’t really play too much,” McGinn said of last season. “So it’s kind of good to get down here and play a lot of minutes and re-establish myself as a player. I’m not looking at it (that he’s an NHLer) like that at all.”
To McGinn’s credit, he’s attacked his AHL challenge much like he did during his last season in the minors, with Adirondack in 2013-14. That year he chipped in with 20 goals and 35 points, career-best numbers that could be toppled this season.
And despite an extended return to the minors, Crunch coach Rob Zettler said he’s seen “nothing but professionalism” from McGinn.
“He makes NHL plays,” Zettler said. “He’s big, strong. He’s able to shield and protect pucks, and that’s what NHL players do. They hang onto pucks and make plays. Some of our young guys can take a page out of his book and learn from some of the things that he does out there.
“Some guys would take it the wrong way after being in the NHL for a year. Not Tye. He comes to work every day, plays hard and he’s reaping the benefits and rewards. He’ll get another chance up there. He’s just got to keep with it.”
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