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.
The weekend marks a return to Jon Cooper hockey...
SYR Connolly, (12) (Wyman, Killorn), 14:35
SYR Killorn, (8) (Devos, Brown), 11:21 (PP)
SYR Labrie, (6) (Johnson), 5:07
SYR Johnson, (16) (Panik, Palat), 16:37 (PP)
This weekend's two game set was a return to what makes Jon Cooper hockey so special. It's not just that the team will score a ton of goals. It's not just that they're tough as nails. At the heart of it all, what made last year's team in Norfolk so special was that they also played suffocating defense, too. They beat you like you stole large sums of money from them in every single phase of the game, and often made you look like a pee wee team in the process. And it didn't matter if it was Tic or Janus between the pipes, either. Back-to-back shutout annihilations should send a chilling message to the rest of the Eastern Conference. After two weekends of looking mortal, the next generation of the Lightning has returned to the style Jon Cooper preaches, and may God have mercy on the rest of the AHL's souls if they keep it up.
Syracuse is off until Friday when they'll try to continue their team shutout streak against last night's victim, Adirondack.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Riku makes the Phantoms' scoring chances disappear.
Riku Helenius stopped all 21 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. Coming into the season, Helenius had just one shutout in 37 career AHL appearances. Now he has two in his first 11 appearances since re-emerging from Finland.
SYR Killorn, (7) (Aulie), 4:53
SYR Panik, (12) (Korobov), 9:39 (SH)
SYR Gudas, (2) , 13:44
After a five game scoreless streak, Richard Panik and the Panik attack returned to the scoresheet with a shorthanded goal.
This was a rough, brutal game that saw the teams combining for 119 penalty minutes. If you're looking for one of the biggest differences between the AHL and the NHL versions of the Lightning, it's that the Crunch are tougher than the steak you get at Golden Corral.
Syracuse tries to wrap up a solid week tomorrow at home against the Penguins.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It has been stressed to Brett Connolly that he needs to drive to the net.
The 20-year-old Syracuse Crunch forward followed through against the Binghamton Senators Wednesday at the Onondaga County War Memorial, potting a pair of goals in the Crunch's 4-3 win.
"Coach has been all over me to do that," Connolly said. "That's where I've been scoring all my goals."