When Syracuse Crunch coach Jon Cooper looked at his defense at the beginning of the season, he saw seven players and a question mark.
Dmitry Korobov, set to play his first season in North America, was up against more than smaller ice surfaces and more physical play. The Belarusian had to deal with a language barrier, and due to the ongoing lockout, NHL-level competition – not only from the opposition, but to crack the Crunch lineup.
“We didn’t know what Dmitry was, and when we’re fully healthy with the eight guys, I don’t know if you can sit here and say who’s one through eight,” Cooper said. “We have a bunch of ones in their own way.”
Crunch comeback from a flat opening 40 falls short.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 36 shots for the loss.
WBS Smith, (6) (Reese), 3:09
SYR Panik, (9) (Gudas), 18:58
WBS Bennett, (5) (Holzapfel, Peters), 8:49
WBS Dumoulin, (1) (Holzapfel, Dupuis), 17:53 (PP)
WBS Holzapfel, (5) (Bennett), 9:24 (PP)
SYR Connolly, (7) (Devos, Korobov), 10:45
SYR Devos, (2) (Barberio, Brown), 17:23 (PP)
WBS Smith, (7) (Zatkoff), 19:53 (EN)
Syracuse was outshot 30-12 through two periods before winning the shot battle in the final frame, 14-7. Flat as a pancake? I'd say so. That's got to be one of the bigger challenges for Coach Cooper. This is a deep, talented team that has already climbed the mountain. They're going to have games like this where they think they can just roll their helmets out on the ice and win, and that doesn't happen at any level of professional hockey.
Richard Panik completed his masterpiece of a November with a goal. He had a point in all 11 games in the month, finishing with 8 goals and 15 points in that span. For a guy whose biggest knock has been inconsistency, this is a huge statement, and he's even managed to raise his season totals to a point a game with 9 goals and 18 points in 18 games, despite a slow October. I'll re-ask the question: by definition is he not the AHL Player of the Month? As of this posting, the Panik attack is tied for 13th in the league in scoring with the likes of first rounders like Nino Niedereiter and Zach Boychuk. Can he extend it deep into December?
Dmitry Korobov slid into the league lead at +14, going +2 in a game where most of his teammates pulled minuses. There's a lot to like about big #44.
Syracuse will face Connecticut tomorrow, hopefully having learned their lesson that they need to be prepared to go at the drop of the puck. Don't give the opposition a two period head start.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Sharks get bit by one of Syracuse's star rookies.
Dustin Tokarski allowed one goal on 26 shots for the victory.
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
SYR Johnson, (13) (Killorn, Taormina), 13:33 (PP)
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.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Acadie-Bathurst Titan 2 @ Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 6
W Nikita Kucherov, QUE: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 1 Hit, *Second Star*
Season totals: 8 GP, 5-9-14, +3, 2 PIM
With R-N: 2 GP, 2-2-4, +4, 0 PIM
With Quebec: 6 GP, 3-7-10, -1, 2 PIM
Nikita Kucherov extended his point streak to eight games with a goal and an assist against Acadie-Bathurst. He now has four points in two games since joining Rouyn-Noranda. He has also “starred” in both games. So far he’s looking like a fine acquisition for the Huskies.
Shawinigan Cataractes 1 @ Val-d’Or Foreurs 4
D Artem Sergeev, VDO: 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 1 Hit
Season totals: 26 GP, 5-15-20, +6, 16 PIM
Artem Sergeev’s point streak increased to five games with two assists against the defending Memorial Cup champs. He matched last season’s point total in 20 fewer games.
Ontario Hockey League
London Knights 3 @ Owen Sound Attack 0
D Jake Dotchin, OS: Did not play
Season totals: 23 GP, 1-4-5, E, 29 PIM
Jake Dotchin remains out of the Attack lineup due to a possible suspension. Former Lightning camper Seth Griffith (Bruins) had a goal for London.
Ottawa 67’s 5 @ Guelph Storm 7
C/W Tanner Richard, GUE: 0-3-3, +3, 0 PIM
Season totals: 24 GP, 2-31-33, +10, 54 PIM
Tanner Richard (pictured) had his third 3-assist game in his last five outings, helping the Storm to a 7-5 win over the 67’s. All of his points came in the first period when Guelph skated to a 4-1 lead at the first intermission. Scott Kosmachuk (Jets) had a hat trick for Guelph. Richard leads the Storm in scoring by a point over Kosmachuk. He is two helpers behind Ryan Strome (Islanders/Niagara) for the league lead in assists.
Peterborough Petes 2 @ Sarnia Sting 8
D Slater Koekkoek, PBO: 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 25 GP, 3-16-19, -17, 20 PIM
Peterborough continues to struggle, this time losing big to Sarnia, 8-2. Charles Sarault (undrafted) had a goal and four assists for the Sting.
Riku Helenius (pictured) stopped all 23 shots he faced to post his second career AHL shutout.
SYR Korobov, (1) (Taormina), 6:01
SYR Wyman, (2) (Killorn, Gudas), 15:40
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.