For Brett Connolly, the first one was the hardest.
The Syracuse Crunch forward, who posted 74 points in 89 games last season, went 10 games before registering his first American Hockey League goal this year. Still, he knew it was only a matter of time before the goals would start flowing.
Connolly finally broke through with a power play goal against Norfolk Dec. 6, turning months of frustration into relief.
"I knew it would come around," Connolly said. "At the start of the year, things weren't going in for me, but I think, in terms of my stats, I'm right back to where I was in the first 22 games last year. Usually it works itself out."
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forwards Dana Tyrell and Brett Connolly from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally the team has reassigned forwards Mike Angelidis and Ondrej Palat, along with defenseman Andrej Sustr and goaltender Cedrick Desjardins to the Crunch.
The Syracuse Crunch's recent slide is the result of a myriad of factors.
After losing two straight games and six of their last seven, it is impossible for the Crunch to pinpoint one specific problem. With a little bit of everything to blame, the answers range from a mix of bad luck and tough opposition in net to defensive lapses and a lack of scoring.
“We just haven’t been playing the way we want to play,” said Crunch forward Tyler Johnson.
The Crunch hopes to remedy one of those problems, an absence of offense, by combining their top three point-scorers on the same line. With Tampa Bay Lightning prospects Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Brett Connolly practicing on the same unit, Syracuse hopes it becomes the team's slump-buster when Albany and Adirondack visit the Onondaga County War Memorial on Friday and Saturday.
It was a night of firsts for the Syracuse Crunch.
But unfortunately for the Crunch, the firsts didn't stop there.
The St. John's IceCaps registered their first victory of the year after trailing at the first intermission, as the Crunch blew a 4-0 lead in a 5-4 overtime loss.
"I wish I was a little happier about it," Conacher said of his achievement. "Maybe sometime down the road I can get it and get a victory out of it, too."
As the Syracuse Crunch took the ice for warmups, they looked across the ice at something that gave them a range of emotions.
It was different. It was weird. It was somewhat-familiar.
It was the same bright blue, yellow and red Norfolk Admirals uniforms that most of the team wore last year during their amazing winning streak and ensuing run to the Calder Cup championship.
"You step out and you're skating around and you see them coming out of their lockerroom, and you're like 'Jeez, those jerseys look pretty familiar,'" Crunch defenseman Mark Barberio said. "After that, it comes down to you're playing hockey and they're the opposition."
Syracuse, the new affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, scored three power play goals in a 4-2 win over Norfolk, the former farm team, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.