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.
Wherein #89 reminds us he's the reigning league MVP...
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 20 shots for the victory.
SYR Barberio, (5) (Conacher, Connolly), 18:54 (PP)
SYR Conacher, (11) , 0:28
SYR Gudas, (3) (Wyman), 9:51
BNG Da Costa, (4) (Hoffman, Silfverberg), 11:07
SYR Brown, (6) (Palat, Conacher), 1:02 (PP)
BNG Silfverberg, (12) (Jessiman, Benoit), 5:23 (PP)
BNG Pageau, (2) (Jessiman), 11:35
SYR Angelidis, (5) (Wyman), 19:15 (EN)
Cory Conacher (pictured) and Mark Barberio were the game's first and third stars. Conacher's been exceedingly quiet with just 1 goal and 4 points in the 10 games prior to tonight, but his 3 point outburst signals perhaps "The Honey Badger" (not the LSU variety that ends up in rehab) is ready to start hitting the scoresheet regularly again.
Hard to believe Alex Killorn didn't score a goal tonight. His streak snaps at 6 games, although he did have 5 shots on goal tonight.
Syracuse outshot Bingo a mind-numbing 44-20 in the game, including 29-9 through the first 40 minutes. Almost dominant.
And now, the moment that we knew was coming and have been dreading. Norfolk comes to town Friday night, and the Crunch will try to take down the franchise for which they staked a record-breaking winning streak that may never be equaled. Mixed emotions.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It starts with the term "shutdown defenseman."
After that, Keith Aulie rattles off the rest of his responsibilities, memorized not in a mirror but through repetition on the ice.
"I try to go out there, play hard, finish my hits, make my first passes, be tough for their forwards to play against, kill penalties, and be consistent back there," Aulie said before taking a breath.
Likely set to at least challenge for a spot on the Tampa Bay Lightning blueline this season, Aulie has taken his talents to the Syracuse Crunch during the NHL lockout. A team that has been near the top of the Eastern Conference in points and penalty minute leaderboard all season, the Crunch welcomed the 6-6, 229-pounder’s ability to log substantial ice time.
Syracuse gets Grinched in their last weekend set before Christmas.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the loss as his save percentage continues to atrophy this month. He got the back-to-back start with Riku Helenius gone to Helenius to handle some family matters, but tonight was not the night he turned his recent slide around.
WBS Thompson, (8) (Gibbons, Holzapfel), 3:57 (PP)
SYR Killorn, (10) (Wyman, Gudas), 9:21
WBS Mormina, (1) , 9:35
WBS Smith, (10) (Tangradi, Samuelsson), 10:20
SYR Johnson, (18) (Gudas, Aulie), 18:45
Radko Gudas and Alex Killorn were the game's second and third stars. Don't look now, but Gudas is on a pace for about 30 points, which would be a nice haul for a guy who may also have 200 PIMs when all is said and done this year. Killorn now has goals in his last 6 games and 7 in his last 8. How is he accomplishing this? He's tied for 4th in the AHL in shots on goal. The guy plays a north-south game and he puts pucks on net. As his shot continues to improve, watch out. This guy could very well become a steady goalscorer at the next level, too.
Going 0-1-0-1 in the last 2 games going into the holiday break is obviously a let down for the team. They're still perched atop the Eastern Conference despite a very iffy month of December to date. There's simply got to be more consistency though if they want to stay up in the standings, starting Wednesday in another important early season game against Binghamton and their great goaltending battery.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Syracuse Crunch came out flat Friday, and the Adirondack Phantoms took full advantage.
The Phantoms tallied goals on the first two shots of the game, and led 3-0 before the first intermission. The Crunch spent the rest of the game playing catch-up, and despite tying the game in the third, fell short in the shootout, 4-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
"It was a good comeback, the guys battled hard," Syracuse forward Tyler Johnson said. "But at the same time, we shouldn't put ourselves in that position. We shot ourselves in the foot."
Syracuse stumbles out of the gate, but salvages a point.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 23 shots and 4 of 7 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the shootout loss. His December numbers are positively shambolic compared to his strong November run.
ADK Zolnierczyk, (8) (Roe, Rinaldo), 1:11
ADK Akeson, (1) (Schenn, Couturier), 2:30 (PP)
ADK Akeson, (2) (Schenn, Lauridsen), 15:33
SYR Panik, (13) (Palat, Johnson), 5:48 (PP)
SYR Killorn, (9) (Taormina, Connolly), 14:09
SYR Johnson, (17) (Barberio, Connolly), 8:24 (PP)
ADK- Roe, Schenn, Akeson, Svyret
SYR- Taormina, Palat, Panik
Tyler Johnson was the game's second star. Alex Killorn has now scored goals in 5 straight games and 6 of his last 7. Richard Panik now has a 3 game point streak after missing the scoresheet for 5 games at the conclusion of his massive 12 game scoring streak that spanned the entire month of November.
Syracuse draws Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tomorrow before a brief Christmas break.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Philip-Michael Devos' stay in the American Hockey League was supposed to be temporary.
After failing to make the Norfolk Admirals out of training camp last season, the undrafted forward earned himself a December call-up by posting nearly a point-per-game over his first 20 ECHL contests. Still, the boarding pass likely had "round trip" stamped on it.
Devos had other plans.
"When he came back up, he wouldn't let us send him down," former Admirals head coach Jon Cooper said. "We had all intentions of sending him back down, but he played so well for us."
This week we continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
This week’s winner is the only person to walk on this earth that can say he completed his Harvard University degree while winning a Calder Cup championship.
The Prospect of the Week for December 17 is … Alex Killorn, C/W, Syracuse (AHL – USA)
No one can claim they completed their Harvard degree while winning a Calder Cup championship except Alex Killorn.
Killorn made his AHL debut late last season for the Norfolk Admirals after finishing an outstanding collegiate career at Harvard University. He finished his last Harvard paper during Norfolk’s Calder Cup run, contributing three goals and 12 points when he wasn’t hunched over his computer.
Plenty of numbers stuck out after the Syracuse Crunch topped the Wikes-Barre Scranton Penguins 4-0 at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
The night began with 1,286 teddy bears thrown on the ice after Brett Connolly opened the scoring, the Crunch's power play followed by converting for two goals, and Syracuse goalie Dustin Tokarski finished with 29 saves for his first shutout of the season.