Syracuse Crunch

Crunch Begin New Season with Excitement, Expectations

By Jeremy Houghtaling

For many of the Syracuse Crunch players, the beginning of the new hockey season comes with high expectations.

A previous season that included a record-breaking 28-game win streak and was capped with a sweep of the Toronto Marlies in the Calder Cup finals will tend to do that. But the 15 former Norfolk Admirals moving to Syracuse with the Tampa Bay Lightning affiliation welcome the pressure.

AHL Preseason Game Day: 10-7-12 Crunch at IceCaps

Alex Killorn (pictured) had 3 goals and 1 assist to lead Syracuse to a 6-5 overtime victory over St. John's. Richard Panik also had a multi-point game with 1 goal and 1 assist, as did Mark Barberio with a pair of assists, including 1 on Ondrej Palat's overtime winner. Reigning AHL MVP Cory Conacher also had a goal and J.T. Brown and Keith Aulie added single helpers.

Dustin Tokarski was between the pipes for the Crunch.

Syracuse completes its preseason 3-0-0, sweeping the IceCaps, and moves on to Rochester where they'll face the Americans on opening night of the regular season on Friday.

Game story from syracusecrunch.com.

AHL Preseason Game Night: 10-5-12 Crunch at IceCaps

SYR-3
STJ-2 (SO)

Riku Helenius got the shootout victory, stopping 3 of 4 in the penalty shot session.

Brett Connolly and Matt Taormina had Syracuse's goals during regulation. Connolly also had the winner in the shootout with Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson also converting.

Game story from syracusecrunch.com.

AHL Game Night: Crunch at IceCaps

New year, new affiliate, familiar result.

SYR-4
STJ-1

Dustin Tokarski started the game, played in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, and stopped 12 of 13 St. John's shots in the first period. Ben Maxwell beat him from in close when he knocked in a loose puck while on the power play. Tokarski took a seat on the bench in favor of Riku Helenius midway through the second period and the big Finn, making his return to North American ice, was perfect the rest of the way. Helenius is expected to play all of the Crunch's second preseason game, Friday night in Stephenville, Newfoundland.

First Period
SYR Conacher (Barberio)
STJ Maxwell

Second Period
SYR Devos (SH) (Hutchings)
SYR Panik

Third Period
SYR Killorn (SH, EN)

No boxscores are available at this time, so the scoring summary is based on game reports from both teams. Conacher's goal was basically scored into an empty net, made possible by a back-door pass by reigning defenseman of the year, Mark Barberio (pictured). Philip-Michael Devos scored shorthanded, taking a pass from Alex Hutchings, who was stationed behind the net. Hutchings was big for OHL Barrie while shorthanded, leading the league in shorties by a wide margin his last year. It could be his ticket to playing time with the Crunch this season. Richard Panik scored from the left circle and Alex Killorn added an empty net shorthanded goal with just over two minutes left in the game.

After the game, Syracuse coach Jon Cooper told the Syracuse Post-Standard that the team is well ahead of where they were last year at this time. And we all know how maliciously Norfolk treated the AHL record book last year. As we saw last season, the team can turn it on and dominate a period or two (or three), and after being outshot 13-11 in the first period tonight, they peppered IceCap goaltenders with 17 shots in the second period. St. John's managed six on Tokarski and Helenius in the second. Syracuse fans can expect to see plenty more periods like that this season.

The Post-Standard said Cooper singled out the following players (non-scorers) for good play on Thursday: J. T. Brown, Vladislav Namestnikov, Danick Gauthier, Evan Oberg, Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, Matt Taormina.

Namestnikov (OHL London) and Gauthier (QMJHL St. John) were playing their first professional games. Taormina and Brown were making their "Lightning AHL affiliate" debut.

Syracuse wore their road white/orange jerseys tonight with blue numbers to go with blue lightning pants. Their new uniforms will be unveiled later this month.

Scratches for Friday's game are expected to include Conacher, Barberio, Aulie, Labrie, Oberg, Killorn, and Panik. That would mean Brett Connolly would make his AHL debut.

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