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.
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.
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."
Initially thought to have sustained a cracked sternum, Brett Connolly found out earlier this week that it was just a contusion.
While the injury made it hurt for him to breathe this week, the Syracuse Crunch forward was determined to play against the Hamilton Bulldogs at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
"Right now, it's just pain tolerance," Connolly said. "It's going to take a lot to keep me out of the lineup."
Connolly played through the pain, registering a pair of points - including a 5-on-3 power play goal seven minutes into the game that stood up as the game-winner - as the Crunch beat the Bulldogs, 5-1.
Syracuse beats the odds with a remarkable third period comeback.
Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 27 shots to get the victory.
CT Thomas, (5) (Haley, Miller), 18:49
CT Parlett, (1) (Segal), 13:53
CT Hrivik, (2) (Newbury, Kolarik), 3:03 (PP)
SYR Johnson, (14) , 6:37
SYR Panik, (10) (Devos), 12:45
SYR Panik, (11) , 13:20
SYR Barberio, (4) (Conacher), 4:13
Mark Barberio and Richard Panik (pictured) were the game's first and second stars. The Panik attack's two goals continued his scoring streak, which now stands at a dozen games. His 11 goals now break him into the top-10 in the AHL in goal scoring. Look out. Before the season Panik would've been a longshot to make the Lightning's NHL roster. He's now worked himself toward the head of the line among the young players in Syracuse for whenever the lockout finally ends, and his versatility and high ceiling will be tantalizing for Steve Yzerman and Guy Boucher when they consider how to fill out the team.
Well over 90% of the time in professional hockey, when a team builds a 3-goal lead in the third period, it's over. On the rare ocassion that a team manages to overcome that deficit, it can be a huge team-building moment for the winning team, and a crippling emotional blow for the loser. And, the effects of the game can linger for a week or two. So, for the Crunch, mark the calendar. Tonight was a big moment in 2012-2013 season.
For the moment, the team sits in first place in the Eastern Conference. They'll conclude the weekend in Binghamton tomorrow against the Senators' outstanding goaltending corps.
Box score from TheAHL.com.