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.
TJ and old Admirals beat down new Admirals.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 18 shots for the victory. He's won his last 2 starts, but his save percentage has dwindled all the way down to .901 after being at .913 to start the month of December. It's absolutely a cause for concern.
SYR Barberio, (6) (Connolly, Johnson), 9:42 (PP)
SYR Killorn, (11) (Namestnikov, Oberg), 12:12 (PP)
NOR Palmieri, (10) , 7:19
SYR Palat, (4) (Taormina, Johnson), 5:00
NOR Vatanen, (4) (Maroon, Wagner), 10:54
SYR Connolly, (13) (Panik, Palat), 16:15 (PP)
Tyler Johnson (pictured) and Richard Panik were the game's first and second stars. Panik attack y'all. Johnson's tied for 3rd in the league in scoring and is 2nd in goals. Unfortunately, given that 3/4 of Edmonton's NHL team is playing in Oklahoma City during the lockout, it's probably going to be tough for him to catch Jordan Eberle. Still, 3rd in the AHL in scoring during a lockout is damned impressive.
After giving the red light a one game holiday vacation, Alex Killorn scored yet another goal. That's 8 in his last 10 games. He's one of several guys, with Ondrej Palat also on that list, who might be playing themselves into contention for NHL jobs if the lockout ever lifts. It's an honest question the organization would have to ask itself: do you get more from a Tom Pyatt or a B.J. Crombeen than you'd get from a Killorn, Johnson, Conacher, Palat, Panik, etc?
Congrats to Vladislav Namestnikov on picking up a helper in his first game back since going on the shelf 2 months ago.
Syracuse faces the St. John's IceCaps tomorrow, with the Baby Thrasher-Jets still reeling from last year's Eastern Finals sweep and in dead last in the Atlantic Division.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
After only a handful of games, Jon Cooper saw the signs of what was to come from Vladislav Namestnikov.
The Syracuse Crunch head coach watched the same progression in many of the rookies on the Calder Cup-winning Norfolk Admirals last year, whether they were Tampa Bay Lightning picks like Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik, or undrafted free agents like Tyler Johnson and Cory Conacher.
“Those guys that came in, felt out the league, learned it and after Christmas, took off,” Cooper said. “That’s where Vladdy would have been this year, but we’re just going to have to wait a few months for that to happen.”
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Quebec Remparts 3 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 2 (OT)
W Nikita Kucherov, QUE: Did not play
Season totals: 6 GP, 3-7-10, -1, 2 PIM
Nikita Kucherov sat for the second straight game, then after the game reports began to surface that Kucherov was on the QMJHL trading block. One reporter said Kucherov had been playing “lazy.” Quebec has three import players and one has to move, though it was assumed Kucherov and his good friend Mikhail Grigorenko would be the ones staying. Nick Sorensen is the other import player. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Kucherov was a surprise Import Draft selection because few expected him to be interested in coming to North America. Quebec’s Patrick Roy knew something others didn’t, and having Grigorenko on the Remparts was no doubt a big help in getting that talented Kucherov to North America. Kucherov could choose to return to Russia if he’s not happy with his next playing situation. Stay tuned.
Drummondville Voltigeurs 3 @ Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 6
C Cedric Paquette, BLB: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 2 Hits
Season totals: 22 GP, 10-16-26, +7, 45 PIM
Marc-Olivier Roy (undrafted) had two goals and an assist for the Armada in their win over the visiting Volts.
Val-d’Or Foreurs 5 @ Moncton Wildcats 4
D Artem Sergeev, VDO: 1-0-1, +1, 4 PIM, 1 SOG, 0 Hits
Season totals: 22 GP, 5-9-14, +6, 14 PIM
Artem Sergeev (pictured) snapped a 3-game scoreless streak with a goal in New Brunswick. He is within two goals of his career high of seven goals, scored last year in 46 games. Moncton outshot the Foreurs, 42-21, on Friday.
Ontario Hockey League
Brampton Battalion 4 @ Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds 3
D Dylan Blujus, BRAM: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM
Season totals: 22 GP, 2-8-10, -9, 20 PIM
Dylan Blujus scored his second goal of the year in a 4-3 win in Wayne Gretzky’s old stomping grounds. The Soo had a 2-0 lead entering the second period before the Battalion scored three times in the middle frame. Blujus had seven goals in 66 games last year.
Owen Sound Attack 2 @ London Knights 5
D Jake Dotchin, OS: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 21 GP, 1-4-5, E, 22 PIM
Former Lightning camper Seth Griffith (Bruins) had a goal and two assists for London and was given First Star honors. Griffith and Lightning prospect Vladislav Namestnikov were linemates last year in London. With the win, the Knights leapfrogged the Attack for first in the Midwest Division. They also took over the OHL lead in points by one over Barrie and Owen Sound.
Mississauga Steelheads 2 @ Guelph Storm 7
C/W Tanner Richard, GUE: 0-3-3, +2, 2 PIM
Season totals: 20 GP, 2-25-27, +6, 44 PIM
Tanner Richard had three helpers to regain the OHL assist lead from Islanders first rounder Ryan Strome (Niagara) at 25. Richard has played in two fewer games than Strome, who leads the league with 39 points. Former Lightning prospect Brock Beukeboom scored his first of the year for Guelph.
Peterborough Petes 3 @ Kingston Frontenacs 7
D Slater Koekkoek, PBO: 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM
Season totals: 23 GP, 3-15-18, -14, 18 PIM
This was a 3-2 game halfway through the game until the Fronts exploded for a 7-3 win.
Tic gets on track.
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.
ALB Hoeffel, (1) (Josefson), 0:58
SYR Johnson, (4) (Palat, Conacher), 7:45 (PP)
ALB Tedenby, (1) (Sestito), 16:44
SYR Brown, (1) (Killorn, Namestnikov), 10:44 (PP)
SYR Angelidis, (3) (Barberio, Nightingale), 16:44
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.