Crunch open AHL season tonight in Syracuse.

If you haven’t bookmarked the Syracuse Crunch blog on the website of the Syracuse Post-Standard, now would be a good time to do so.

The Crunch play their first game tonight, with Marco Cousineau in goal among a laundry list of Ducks prospects who recently joined the AHL camp:

J.P. Levasseur will back up and also get minutes.

The scratches are defensemen Joe DiPenta, Mark Mitera, Mat Clark, and
Jake Newton, and forwards Brian Lebler, John Kurtz, Trevor Smith, Eric
Lampe, A.J. Perry and Derrell Levy.

Ducks fall 8-4 to Flames’ rookies.

Playing their second game in less than 24 hours, fatigue seemed to catch up to the Ducks’ rookies in an 8-4 loss to the Calgary Flames at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, British Columbia.

Tied at 3 midway through the second period, the Flames rallied for five straight goals against Anaheim goalie Marco Cousineau, who allowed all eight in his first appearance of the tournament. Forward Jon Rheault, who split last season between the AHL and ECHL, had three goals and an assist for Calgary.

John Kurtz, Jake Newton, Devante Smith-Pelly and Jake Carrick scored for the Ducks, who were outshot 41-22. Calgary had four power-play goals to the Ducks’ two. Cam Fowler and Peter Holland had assists on the goals by Kurtz and Newton, respectively.

“Penalty kill is a hard thing. You have to have special people that are
committed to doing it – guys that are committed to blocking shots all
the time,” Mark Holick, coach of the rookie Ducks, told the team’s website. “We didn’t
jump on loose pucks and we didn’t put enough pressure on their power
play. Your goalie is your best penalty killer and I thought maybe a
couple of those he would like back too.”

The Ducks will play their third and final tournament game Wednesday against the host Vancouver Canucks (4 p.m.), a game that will be streamed live on the Ducks’ website.
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Palmieri steals show at scrimmage.

The game didn’t count, but the first impression surely did.

Kyle Palmieri scored three impressive goals Tuesday night in an intrasquad scrimmage at the Ducks’ prospects conditioning camp. The scrimmage, which consisted of two 30-minute periods of four-on-four hockey, ended in a 4-4 tie.

For many of the fans in attendance at Anaheim Ice, it was their first chance to watch Palmieri play hockey. For Palmieri, who last made headlines when he was arrested in April, it was exactly the debut he needed.

“It was good to get back into a competitive game,” the 19-year-old said. “We’re all trying to impress the people upstairs. At the same time, we’re having fun and trying to get to know some people.”

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Ducks, Pens make a deal.

The Ducks have sent goaltender Mattias Modig, a 2007 fourth-round draft pick, to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the upcoming entry draft. The Penguins had originally acquired the pick from the Montreal Canadiens, so this will be the 27th pick of the sixth round and the 177th pick overall.

Modig, 23, has spent his entire career with Lulea of the Swedish Elite League. In 34 games, he posted a 2.49 goals-against average and .899 save percentage for Lulea in 2009-10. Modig has already signed a two-year entry-level contract with Pittsburgh.

The Ducks have several goaltenders already in the system, which likely made Modig expendable. Marco Cousineau and Timo Pielmeier are already signed, and soon-to-be free agents Jean-Phillippe Levasseur and Joey MacDonald could be brought back. Russian prospect Igor Bobkov was a fairly high draft pick (third round, 76th overall) in last year’s draft.

North American prospects report; Parros on TV.

Reviews of ten Ducks prospects who just finished their North American junior seasons have been posted on Hockey’s Future: Peter Holland, Mat Clark, Josh Brittain Scott Valentine, Luca Sbisa, Brandon McMillan, Stefan Warg, Nicolas Deschamps, Marco Cousineau and Radoslav Illo.

Also, George Parros will be on a special all-Hockey episode of “Sports Soup” tonight on Versus (8:30 p.m.).  A disclaimer: Watched the show once to find Sen Dog of Cypress Hill talking about the Lakers. If this brand of talk show is your idea of entertainment … don’t miss it.

Ducks acquire Aaron Ward.

Landing the depth defenseman they wanted, the Ducks have traded goaltender Justin Pogge and a future fourth-round draft pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Aaron Ward.

Ward told reporters in Raleigh this morning that he will not be in Anaheim for tonight’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, but told Randy Carlyle he will practice with his new team Thursday.

In an interview with TSN this morning, Ward, who has been anxiously awaiting a trade, said he “was surprsied it’s Anaheim.”

“I’m happy from the fact I feel it’s a new lease on life,” he said. “October, November, I thought I had the poorest runs of hockey in my career and wasn’t very happy with it. I think I’ve played well the last few months.”

Ward, who turned 37 in January, has a goal and 11 points in 60 games this season for the Hurricanes. His minus-17 rating was second-lowest on the team.

In 822 career NHL games, Ward has recorded 44 goals and 149 points with 728 penalty minutes. A three-time Stanley Cup champion with Detroit (1997, 98) and Carolina (2006), the 6-2, 209-pound defenseman has added four goals and 10 points in 95 career playoff games.

“Aaron Ward brings valuable experience and is a proven winner with
three Stanley Cup championships,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said in a
statement. “We are pleased to bring him on board.”

Pogge was acquired in the off-season from the Toronto Maple Leafs to serve as the team’s third goaltender. The 23-year-old split the season between ECHL Bakersfield and AHL San Antonio, where he carried a 2.57 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 23 games.

The Ducks have three young goalies already under contract. Timo Pielmeier and Jean-Phillippe Levasseur are currently in Bakersfield, and Marco Cousineau is finishing up his final season in the QMJHL.

Ward gives the Ducks seven NHL defensemen under contract. They have been playing with six since Nick Boynton was assigned to the AHL on Feb. 2.

Ducks sign Cousineau to entry-level deal

The Ducks signed goaltender Marco Cousineau to a three-year entry-level contract. The 20-year-old, who participated in the Ducks’ 2009 training camp, is has a 12-15-0 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in the QMJHL.

Cousineau, a third-round pick in 2008, was acquired by the Saint John Sea Dogs on Dec. 30 and has appeared in three contests with the club since. Cousineau started the season with the Prince Edward Island Rocket.