Syracuse Crunch

More Complete Palat Seeks Additional Improvement


By Jeremy Houghtaling

When Ondrej Palat was first drafted as a 19-year-old, the Tampa Bay Lightning weren't sure if he could immediately challenge for a spot in the American Hockey League.

The Czech winger, taken in the seventh round in 2011, didn't waste time showing he was ready to make the jump to professional hockey, earning a contract less than a month into the 2011-12 season.

Now, after posting 39 points in his initial AHL campaign with the Norfolk Admirals and winning a Calder Cup, Palat is settling into his role on one of the Syracuse Crunch's top lines.

Conacher Takes Home Weekly Awards

The American Hockey League announced today that Syracuse Crunch left wing Cory Conacher was selected the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Oct. 14, 2012. Conacher was also named our prospect of the week here at Bolt Prospects. Since the AHL candidates for their award far outnumber the number of prospects in the Lightning organization, we listed the AHL’s award first. On pure importance, value, and prestige, ours would be listed first, of course. But we’re nice.

#deathtaxesConacher

Conacher picked up where he left off last season when he was named the AHL’s Most Valuable Player and Most Outstanding Rookie. During the league’s opening weekend, Conacher potted two goals and added three assists. His center, Tyler Johnson, had three goals, and his opposite winger, Ondrej Palat, had three helpers over the weekend.

Leftover Notes from Syracuse's Home Opener

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Cory Conacher did a little bit of everything Saturday.

Besides supplying the Crunch with a goal and an assist, he played the point on the first power play unit and drove hard to the net when he wasn't. The last part surely got under the skin of Bears goalie Braden Holtby. The two met in the crease a few times, and at one point it appeared Holtby was throwing punches after the two crashed into the net.

"I just broke my stick and stumbled into him," Conacher said. "I'm the one that goes to the net and does that kind of stuff."

AHL Game Story: Crunch 4 Bears 3

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Fruitless on four previous power play attempts, the Syracuse Crunch found themselves with a two-man advantage for nearly two full minutes early in the third period Saturday.

With plenty of extra time and space, it took only 34 seconds for Mark Barberio to set up Brett Connolly with a one-timer that beat Hershey Bears goalie Braden Holtby from the point.

"I had a few chances last night and tonight," Connolly said. "It's always nice to see the puck go in the net."

AHL Game Night: 10-13-12 Bears at Crunch

Syracuse hangs on hard against one of the league's perennial powers.

HER-3
SYR-4

Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the victory, in a successful return to North American hockey. This battle between Helenius and Dustin Tokarski for the top spot between the pipes in Syracuse is going to rage all season, and both guys are going to be better for it. It's an embarrassment of riches to boast two guys who won championships last season in the AHL and Finnish SM-liiga, respectively. Good. Problem. To. Have.

First Period
SYR Angelidis, (2) (Wyman), 11:23 (SH)

Second Period
SYR Johnson, (3) (Conacher, Palat), 5:36
HER Mitchell, (1) , 7:26 (SH)
HER Almeida, (1) (Taffe, DiSalvatore), 14:36
SYR Conacher, (2) (Taormina), 18:44

Third Period
SYR Connolly, (1) (Barberio, Conacher), 5:02 (PP)
HER DiSalvatore, (1) (Kundratek, Taffe), 13:04 (PP)

Cory Conacher (pictured) and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. For my money, Conacher was the best player in the league the first half of last season and Johnson the best in the second half. Why wouldn't they lead the Crunch in the home opener this year? With a little offseason rest, Conacher looks every bit the pesky scorer that tore up the league to start last year.

Brett Connolly scored the winner to notch his first point of the season. It's only a matter of time until J.T. Brown and Richard Panik follow suit.

No offense to our friends in Hershey, but I have to confess to being a little stunned that this year's version of the Bears is the least stacked, on paper, I've seen in a while. Sure, there's some fine players like Orlov and Holtby, but without the likes of Bourque or Giroux, this year's team lacks the fear factor of many recent editions. It's going to be interesting to see how the division plays out over the course of the season.

The Crunch travel to Albany next on Friday.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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