Brown, J.T.

Crunch Score Three Power Play Goals, Beat Admirals 4-2


By Jeremy Houghtaling

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.

AHL Game Day: 11-25-12 Crunch at Sharks

The Sharks get bit by one of Syracuse's star rookies.

SYR-6
WOR-1

Dustin Tokarski allowed one goal on 26 shots for the victory.

First Period
SYR Brown, (2) (Connolly, Cote), 2:14
SYR Brown, (3) (Nightingale, Devos), 5:55
SYR Johnson, (12) (Panik), 6:16
WOR Kearns, (7) (Pelech, Kennedy), 16:37

Second Period
SYR Johnson, (13) (Killorn, Taormina), 13:33 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Korobov, (2) (Connolly, Brown), 14:05 (PP)
SYR Brown, (4) (Connolly, Devos), 17:31

J.T. Brown (pictured), Tyler Johnson, and Brett Connolly were the game's three stars. This was inevitable. J.T. Brown has too many gifts to not have an outburst like this from time to time, especially when he's playing with guys like Connolly who are just as talented and creative.

Lost in the jet fuel fumes of Brown's game is the fact Tyler Johnson just pulled into the league lead in goals with 13 in 17 games. TJ could hit 60 goals this year. He's got one of the best shots in the league, amazing wheels, and a talented supporting cast around him. Conacher got all the awards last year, but we may well see Johnson carrying the bulk of the hardware in 2012-2013.

The Panik attack hit 10 games today with an assist on one of Johnson's goals. There's one more game left on the schedule for Syracuse in November, and here's an interesting philosophical question for the league to ponder. If a player gets a point in every single game in a month, should not said player be the Player of the Month? Am I wrong? Right now, Richard Panik has 7 goals and 13 points in 10 November contests.

Dmitry Korobov scoring his second goal of the season gives me an opportunity to dote on the young KHL transplant. At +12 he's tied for third in the AHL in +/-, and 2 goals and 5 points in his first 14 games in North America is nothing to sneeze at. The big Belarussian is going to get better as he continues to settle in, and he's already pretty darned good.

Syracuse sits in first in the Eastern Conference, and has another 3 games in 3 nights weekend starting on Friday against the Penguins.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Use Second Period Rally To Top Phantoms, 5-2


By Jeremy Houghtaling

JT Brown described his team as having a good feeling going into the first intermission Saturday.

Leading 1-0 over the Adirondack Phantoms, it only got better for the Syracuse Crunch, who scored four times in the first 12 minutes of the second period en route to a 5-2 victory -- their second straight -- at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

"Our team has been playing well the past few games, and that's just the kind of thing we needed," Brown said. "We needed to put together a few good games to get ourselves rolling."

AHL Game Night: 11-17-12 Phantoms at Crunch

Dominant.

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Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. I'm not sure he ever got staked to a 5 goal lead for low-scoring, defensive-minded JYP last season. He had to be reveling in all the goal support tonight.

First Period
SYR Labrie, (3) (Conacher, Barberio), 13:09

Second Period
SYR Conacher, (8) (Taormina, Connolly), 1:32 (PP)
SYR Palat, (2) (Brown, Killorn), 8:19
SYR Connolly, (5) (Brown), 9:59
SYR Panik, (5) (Barberio, Johnson), 11:53 (PP)
ADK Schenn, (8) (Manning, Gustafsson), 13:27 (PP)

Third Period
ADK Gustafsson, (2) (Roe, Syvret), 10:07

Brett Connolly (pictured), Cory Conacher, and J.T. Brown were the game's three stars. Who knows, they could be playing together in Tampa if the owners ever pull their heads out of the sand and have a season.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Richard Panik each came within a helper of Gordie Howe hat tricks tonight. The Panik attack has lasted 6 consecutive games now, with points in every game in November. It's his month, I guess.

As I mentioned the last time Syracuse faced the Phantoms, bear in mind this Adirondack roster is dotted with NHLers like Bourdon, Schenn, Couturier, Rinaldo, etc. Their record doesn't bear it out, but that's a very talented team and Syracuse put them over their knee and spanked them hard tonight.

The Crunch finish their weekend tomorrow in Hershey.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Come Out Flying, Down Bears 6-1


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Seeing that there were only four men on the ice after the first Syracuse Crunch line change, Philip-Michael Devos quickly jumped on the ice to join the play.

The center accepted a pass from Richard Panik and fed it to an open Tyler Johnson, who fired the puck past Hershey Bears goalie Braden Holtby to give the Crunch a one-goal lead less than a minute into the game.

"I looked and there were only four guys on the ice, so I'm going to go," Devos said. "I jumped on, and four seconds later, the puck was in the net."

AHL Game Night: 11-7-12 Crunch at Bulldogs

Finland representing.

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HAM-0

Riku Helenius (pictured) stopped all 23 shots he faced to post his second career AHL shutout.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Korobov, (1) (Taormina), 6:01
SYR Wyman, (2) (Killorn, Gudas), 15:40

Third Period
SYR Panik, (3) (Palat), 18:14 (EN)

Helenius and Dmitry Korobov were the game's first and second stars, respectively. Korobov's goal was his first career AHL goal. It was originally awarded to forward J.T. Brown who was back in the lineup tonight after missing a couple of weeks of action. He was +2 with 3 shots on goal. Wait til the rust falls off.

Panik attack, y'all. Empty net style.

The real story is Helenius getting off the canvas, though, with his first AHL shutout since he was a rookie about four years ago. His season GAA and save percentage are still the dog's breakfast, but readers of this site last season know what Helenius did early in the season in the SM-liiga last year when he turned one shutout into bunches of shutouts. It's a good omen for the Crunch.

Syracuse wraps up the two game set against Hamilton on Friday in Montreal.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

JT Brown Anxious to Resume Pro Career

By Jeremy Houghtaling

JT Brown was just getting his feet wet in the National Hockey League.

In the final game of the 2011-12 regular season – his fifth game since the free agent collegian chose the Tampa Bay Lightning – the highly sought-after prospect registered an assist for his first professional point.

But more importantly, the short time in Tampa gave Brown a taste of the NHL lifestyle, the speed of the game, and the coaching systems.

AHL Game Day: 10-28-12 Phantoms at Crunch

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

ADK-4
SYR-3 (OT)

Riku Helenius allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the overtime loss. He's struggled in his past couple of starts and currently checks in with a horrific .824 save percentage. Ouch.

First Period
SYR Connolly, (3) (Conacher), 8:21 (PP)

Second Period
ADK McGinn, (2) (Syvret, Schenn), 1:07
ADK McGinn, (3) (Schenn, Mangene), 8:45
SYR Killorn, (1) (Palat), 13:31
SYR Killorn, (2) (Taormina), 14:01 (PP)

Third Period
ADK Schenn, (4) (Couturier, Gustafsson), 18:58 (PP)

Overtime
ADK Manning, (2) (Schenn, Couturier), 0:14 (PP)

Alex Killorn (pictured) was named the game's second star. I got a question on the message boards about Alex Killorn's quiet start. Two goals and six points in his first seven games is nothing to sneeze at. On the list of things that concern me about the start of this season, J.T. Brown getting nicked up and Richard Panik having his photograph on the side of a milk carton rate quite a bit higher.

Syracuse came within 1:02 if taking a win against an Adirondack team that, on paper, looks to be one of the better teams in the conference. I liked the start, with Brett Connolly cashing a check he wrote in his interview after yesterday's game, and I liked Killorn bringing the team back after surrendering the lead in the first half of the second period. But, they got back on their heels a bit in the third period and didn't quite get that one more big save they needed. Welcome to the lockout version of the AHL, boys. You're going to have to up your game when protecting a lead when 1/4 of Adirondack's roster was playing in Flyers jerseys last year.

The rematch goes down Friday night in Adirondack.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 10-19-12 Crunch at Devils

Tic gets on track.

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ALB-2

Dustin Tokarski (pictured) allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for his first victory of the season. That was a very solid rebound performance, especially in the Third Period, after an ugly stat line on opening night. So Tic just raised Riku, and we'll see what Helenius can do tomorrow to answer. It's great to have two really good young goaltenders who are the cusp of making the jump to the bigs pushing each other.

First Period
ALB Hoeffel, (1) (Josefson), 0:58
SYR Johnson, (4) (Palat, Conacher), 7:45 (PP)
ALB Tedenby, (1) (Sestito), 16:44

Second Period
SYR Brown, (1) (Killorn, Namestnikov), 10:44 (PP)
SYR Angelidis, (3) (Barberio, Nightingale), 16:44

Third Period
NO SCORING

Mike Angelidis and Mark Barberio were the game's first and third stars. Tic was robbed.

J.T. Brown scored his first goal as an AHLer to tie the game up in the second stanza.

There's a little rust on this Syracuse team that still needs to be knocked off. The east-west guys are still getting their timing back and the north-south guys, stylistically, are clearly ahead. So, I'd definitely say the Paniks and the Connollys are still feeling things out. It'll come, though. It's good to be 2-0-0-1 knowing these guys aren't close to what they're capable of yet.

For being such a young pup, Vladislav Namestnikov is holding his own. His power play assist from the Hershey game got switched to Cory Conacher shortly after the game, but he got his second helper of the season tonight and looks every bit as feisty as the scouting report says he is, even despite being on the skinny side. It wouldn't shock me, at all, if he had a really good second half once Coach Cooper gets him settled in. There's a slightly built guy wearing #12 for the Crunch who had a similar story last season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 10-13-12 Bears at Crunch

Syracuse hangs on hard against one of the league's perennial powers.

HER-3
SYR-4

Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the victory, in a successful return to North American hockey. This battle between Helenius and Dustin Tokarski for the top spot between the pipes in Syracuse is going to rage all season, and both guys are going to be better for it. It's an embarrassment of riches to boast two guys who won championships last season in the AHL and Finnish SM-liiga, respectively. Good. Problem. To. Have.

First Period
SYR Angelidis, (2) (Wyman), 11:23 (SH)

Second Period
SYR Johnson, (3) (Conacher, Palat), 5:36
HER Mitchell, (1) , 7:26 (SH)
HER Almeida, (1) (Taffe, DiSalvatore), 14:36
SYR Conacher, (2) (Taormina), 18:44

Third Period
SYR Connolly, (1) (Barberio, Conacher), 5:02 (PP)
HER DiSalvatore, (1) (Kundratek, Taffe), 13:04 (PP)

Cory Conacher (pictured) and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. For my money, Conacher was the best player in the league the first half of last season and Johnson the best in the second half. Why wouldn't they lead the Crunch in the home opener this year? With a little offseason rest, Conacher looks every bit the pesky scorer that tore up the league to start last year.

Brett Connolly scored the winner to notch his first point of the season. It's only a matter of time until J.T. Brown and Richard Panik follow suit.

No offense to our friends in Hershey, but I have to confess to being a little stunned that this year's version of the Bears is the least stacked, on paper, I've seen in a while. Sure, there's some fine players like Orlov and Holtby, but without the likes of Bourque or Giroux, this year's team lacks the fear factor of many recent editions. It's going to be interesting to see how the division plays out over the course of the season.

The Crunch travel to Albany next on Friday.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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