It was the perfect recipe for some ruckus and a rally, and the Syracuse Crunch had all the ingredients.
Dragging a four-game losing streak into a game against the St. John's IceCaps, a team that had come back from a four-goal deficit the last times the teams squared-off, the already frustrated Crunch allowed three straight IceCaps goals and trailed 3-2 in the second period.
And then the gloves went flying.
Syracuse defenseman Dmitry Korobov crunched IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray in the corner, drawing a crowd. As the line brawl started, Crunch goalie Dustin Tokarski shared a look down the ice with fellow netminder Eddie Pasquale, shrugged, and before he knew it, was swinging at center ice.
"I was just running on adrenaline," Tokarski said. "It was fun. It's good to get the first one out of the way."
The fisticuffs sparked the Crunch, who scored four unanswered goals en route to a 6-3 win at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
Dustin Tokarski (pictured) allowed 3 goals on 18 shots before being kicked out of the game for leaving his crease to beat Eddie Pasquale like a drum. Key point: Eddie Pasquale is 6'3" 220 lbs. Tic is 6'0" 194 lbs. Didn't matter. Tic was like a rabid wolverine on its prey. He became a folk legend tonight. Oh, yeah, and Riku Helenius stopped all 15 shots he faced the rest of the way for the win (yawn).
SYR Killorn, (14) (Panik, Barberio), 14:50 (PP)
SYR Wyman, (4) , 17:37 (SH)
STJ Arsene, (1) (Mouillierat), 1:46
STJ Mouillierat, (4) (O'Dell, Melchiori), 2:35
STJ Cormier, (3) (Klingberg), 4:46 (PP)
SYR Wilson, (1) (Oberg, Panik), 9:16
SYR Killorn, (15) (Johnson, Barberio), 3:40 (PP)
SYR Cote, (1) (Angelidis, Killorn), 15:58
SYR Panik, (19) (Johnson, Korobov), 19:44
Alex Killorn and Richard Panik were the game's first and second stars. Panik's game was his first back from a 3 game suspension, and he came out like an animal that's been caged up too long with 1 goal and 3 points to show for his night. The Panik attack has equalled his goal total from a season ago and the sky is the limit if he keeps playing like that. Killorn snapped a personal three game scoreless streak in style with 2 goals and 3 points, as the entire Syracuse team had a breakthrough.
This was a huge win for this team, after suffering through the post-lockout malaise. They're still not at full strength with Taormina still out, but getting Panik tonight and winning an emotional, brawl-filled game by blowing a team off the rink in the Third Period goes a long way toward rekindling the club's confidence. They've been slowly recalibrating the bomb sites despite the setbacks and frustrations of the past few games, and tonight St. John's (and Eddie Pasquale's face, for that matter) was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Springfield is next on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It was a proverbial staring contest, and neither netminder blinked.
Twenty scoreless minutes turned into 40, and before either the Syracuse Crunch or the Binghamton Senators were able to light the lamp, regulation had passed.
With 67 saves split between them, Robin Lehner stonewalled the Crunch and Dustin Tokarski came up big against the Senators, each keeping the game scoreless through an extra five minutes.
Stephane Da Costa was the first and only one to break through, scoring the lone shootout goal for Binghamton, as Syracuse dropped its fourth straight, 1-0, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
Post lockout misery continues...
Dustin Tokarski took the vicious, hard luck shootout loss stopping all 27 he faced in the real game and 3 of 4 in the penalty shot session.
Tokarski was the game's third star. How Robin Lehner got just second star after stopping 40 shots and 5 shooters is beyond me, but they gave the top spot to DaCosta for the winner in the shootout.
The Crunch will try to post the slump buster again tomorrow against St. John's.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
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.
The Prospect of the Week for January 23 is … Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay (NHL – USA)
Last week the North American sports world’s biggest headlines were about a story that was fake. During the college football season, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o was the subject of multiple stories documenting his inspirational play in memory of his deceased girlfriend. It was a heart-wrenching story… until it was proven to be false. Te’o was allegedly the victim of a hoax and his girlfriend never existed beyond someone’s imagination.
The American sports fan was already cynical, and now their ability to engage in an emotional story will take a greater hit.
Don’t let it.
Good (true) stories still exist. Take Cory Conacher as an example.
Jean-Philippe Cote has changed in many ways since his brief stint in the National Hockey League seven years ago.
The defenseman's experience since has helped show him how to do his job better, and he might be even a little faster. But he knows his chances of a call-up have likely passed.
"Obviously, there's that dream still, but I do know my role," Cote said. "I know, compared to maybe five years ago, I'm not the next guy on the list (of guys being called-up)."
Instead, the 30-year-old has embraced his new purpose – being a leader and mentor on and off the ice for some of the Tampa Bay Lightning's top prospects with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired forward Jean-Francois Jacques from the Florida Panthers in exchange for future considerations, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Jacques, 27, has played in 24 games this season with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, collecting five goals and seven points to go along with 37 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-3, 231-pound left winger ranks tied for first on the Rampage with three power play goals.
Less than two minutes after the Syracuse Crunch squandered a golden opportunity, the Lake Erie Monsters made them pay.
The Crunch, unable to take the lead with a five minute power play in the third period, allowed the Monsters to score the game-winner on an ensuing man-advantage, losing its third straight, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"It's one of those games where didn't capitalize when we should have," said Crunch captain Mike Angelidis.
"The bottom line is that they scored on their power play and we didn't score on ours," Angelidis added. "The special teams lost the game for us, I guess."
Post-lockout pains continue.
Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss. He's now just one game over .500 and his .878 save percentage is ugly. This can't be what anyone had in mind when he came over from JYP.
LE Carey, (7) (Agozzino, Pock), 3:42
LE Pock, (5) (Carey, Steffes), 8:55
SYR Palat, (5) (Connolly, Gudas), 9:20
SYR Palat, (6) (Johnson), 16:23 (SH)
LE Thomas, (15) (Sgarbossa, Connolly), 16:59 (PP)
LE Chouinard, (1) , 19:59 (EN)
You can't really say anything other than, "It'll get better." Richard Panik will come off suspension, Taormina will get healthy, and this group will begin to settle into their new roles and get used to new on-ice combinations. But, it's going to hurt a bit over the next couple of weeks to get there. The team did outshoot Lake Erie tonight and it is showing signs of improvement. But, it takes time to build chemistry.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Syracuse meets the post-lockout bump in the road.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the loss.
RCH Mancari, (11) (Porter, Sundher), 14:17
RCH Flynn, (13) (Adam, Crawford), 4:41
RCH Rankin, (9) (Schofield, Varone), 7:05
SYR Nightingale, (1) (Johnson, Palat), 16:31
RCH Varone, (4) (Biega, Schofield), 14:14
Chemistry in hockey can be a weird thing. There are plenty of examples of teams that weather losing a key player and continue to play well. But, in the case of the Crunch, they're dealing with losing Keith Aulie, Cory Conacher, and P.C. Labrie to Tampa Bay, Taormina being down with an injury right now, and Richard Panik on a three game suspension. Clearly it was too much to overcome tonight as the team struggles to develop continuity. Even once Panik and Taormina return, it's a tall task to try to replace a defenseman with NHL experience, the reigning AHL MVP, and an emotional and physical leader like Nacho. Fans of the Lightning farm team have been a little spoiled over the last year plus and these next few weeks are going to be a little tough as Syracuse works through the changes. It'll settle down eventually. Jon Cooper's too good a coach not to get it settled down and back on track. However, be aware, this isn't going to be quite the same juggernaut it was moving forward.
Syracuse plays Lake Erie tomorrow while the big boys get going against Washington.
Box score from TheAHL.com.