Helenius, Riku

AHL Game Night: 1-12-13 Americans at Crunch

The exodus to Tampa begins...


Riku Helenius allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the loss.

First Period

Second Period
RCH Schofield, (4) (Sundher, Biega), 5:11
RCH Tarnasky, (8) (Flynn, Crawford), 13:26 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Connolly, (15) (Killorn, Palat), 6:34 (PP)
RCH Porter, (11) (Brennan, Biega), 10:47
RCH Brennan, (14) (Mancari, Adam), 15:11 (PP)

Brett Connolly was the game's second star after scoring Syracuse's only goal.

As might be expected, Alex Hutchings and Charles Landry were called up from the Coast before the game. This allowed the Crunch to pull several of their vets from the lineup as they prepare to head to Tampa for abbreviated training camp. That, in of itself, made things weird enough. But, once Richard Panik got himself kicked out early in the Second Period of the game, the lineup really got scrambled beyond recognition. It's going to be a strange next few weeks as players move up and down from Tampa. Once the roster finally settles down a little, this Syracuse team will have to re-learn how to play together with the personnel who are left. That's why Jon Cooper makes the big bucks.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-5-13 Crunch at Admirals

Crunch sweep homecoming weekend in dramatic fashion.

NOR-3 (OT)

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 25 shots for the victory after Jon Cooper chose to pass over Riku Helenius for the start and keep the same netminder for the back end of the two game set. We'll see if Riku goes on Wednesday or if Cooper has evoked the "stick with a winner" selection process.

First Period

Second Period
NOR Kurtz, (3) (Vatanen, Rosehill), 2:54
SYR Killorn, (13) (Wyman, Gudas), 3:48
NOR Maroon, (10) (Vatanen, Sexton), 12:28 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (2) (Labrie), 17:58

Third Period
SYR Panik, (17) (Connolly, Cote), 3:46
NOR Palmieri, (11) (Vatanen), 11:39 (PP)

SYR Connolly, (13) (Killorn), 2:21

Brett Connolly was the game's first star. He's been pretty consistent all season, statistically. If you look at his last 22 games, for instance, he was only held off the scoresheet in 6 of those games. That's got to make Coach Cooper, and Guy Boucher for that matter, smile.

Richard Panik is now just 2 goals shy from his total of all last season. The Panik attack has lit the lamp 4 times in the last 3 games.

Vladislav Namestnikov is also consistently finding the scoresheet since his return from injury. He got his second pro goal tonight and he has 2 goals and 3 points in the 5 games since he came off the shelf.

Alex Killorn had his 4th multi-point game in his last 9 outings. He was chipping in singles in the early part of the season, but now he's starting to really pick up steam in his rookie campaign.

Syracuse moves on Wednesday to face Rochester.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-4-13 Crunch at Admirals

For tonight, Tic and the Crunch are still the Kings of Norfolk.


Dustin Tokarski (pictured) stopped all 22 shots he faced for the shutout. The comfort of the old barn? Extra concentration going against his old uniform? Whatever it was, he put up the forcefield tonight in the Crunch players' return to the scene of many of their greatest career triumphs.

First Period
SYR Panik, (16) , 2:28 (PP)
SYR Johnson, (20) , 14:50

Second Period

Third Period
SYR Aulie, (3) (Killorn), 17:04

Tyler Johnson, Tokarski, and Richard Panik were the game's three stars. On January 4th, TJ becomes the first Syracuse player to reach the 20 goal plateau. The Panik attack, for his part, is now just 3 goals shy of his total from all of last season.

Vladislav Namestnikov checked first pro goal off his list recently, and tonight he had his first pro fight. So, that's all the low hanging fruit. Now he's got to move on to first pro multi-point game, first pro hat trick, etc. Right?

Let's be honest: there was no way in hell the Crunch were losing this game. They held Norfolk to just 11 shots on goal through 2 periods and it was pretty clear how focused the team was. They weren't going to stub their toe in the homecoming game. It just wasn't happening. Credit to the Admirals, they clearly wanted it badly, too.

Now, tomorrow night holds some intrigue. Presumably Riku Helenius will go in net and he doesn't have as fond a set of memories about Scope. It'll also be interesting to see Riku go against his teammate from last season in JYP, Sami Vatanen, who was a stellar defenseman in the SM-liiga. They won a championship together last season. But, that was last season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Blow 4-Goal Lead in 5-4 OT Loss to IceCaps

By Jeremy Houghtaling

It was a night of firsts for the Syracuse Crunch.

Vladislav Namestnikov notched his first professional goal and Cory Conacher registered his first Gordie Howe hat trick Saturday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.

But unfortunately for the Crunch, the firsts didn't stop there.

The St. John's IceCaps registered their first victory of the year after trailing at the first intermission, as the Crunch blew a 4-0 lead in a 5-4 overtime loss.

"I wish I was a little happier about it," Conacher said of his achievement. "Maybe sometime down the road I can get it and get a victory out of it, too."

AHL Game Night: 12-29-12 IceCaps at Crunch

Crunch's epic collapse ends in overtime defeat.

SYR-4 (OT)

Riku Helenius allowed 5 goals on 33 shots for the overtime loss in his first start since returning from Finland over the holiday break. A goaltender of his caliber should not be coughing up a 4 goal lead, and goaltending remains one of the big question marks of this Syracuse team.

First Period
SYR Conacher, (12) (Labrie, Barberio), 15:50
SYR Killorn, (12) (Oberg), 18:25 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Aulie, (2) (Killorn, Conacher), 5:20
SYR Namestnikov, (1) (Connolly, Palat), 7:40 (PP)
STJ O'Dell, (5) (Mouillierat, Klingberg), 8:31
STJ Postma, (6) (Clark), 11:15

Third Period
STJ Gregoire, (6) (O'Dell, Maxwell), 1:53
STJ O'Neill, (1) , 7:32

STJ Chiarot, (1) (Maxwell, Macenauer), 4:40

Cory Conacher was the game's second star.

Congratulations to Vladislav Namestnikov on his first goal as a professional.

This loss is going to leave a sour, sour taste in Syracuse's mouth. They built a 4-0 lead and looked to be cruising before the wheels started coming off, particularly in a third period where they were outshot, 10-3. Along with mediocre goaltending, the tendency to only play 40 quality minutes of hockey rather than a full 60 has been a big bugaboo for this team. And, if Syracuse is going to try to grab a championship this season, those are two things they desperately need to remedy.

Syracuse is at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday, where they'll try to vindicate themselves after tonight's performance.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-22-12 Penguins at Crunch

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.

First Period
WBS Thompson, (8) (Gibbons, Holzapfel), 3:57 (PP)
SYR Killorn, (10) (Wyman, Gudas), 9:21
WBS Mormina, (1) , 9:35

Second Period
WBS Smith, (10) (Tangradi, Samuelsson), 10:20
SYR Johnson, (18) (Gudas, Aulie), 18:45

Third Period

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.

AHL Game Night: 12-15-12 Penguins at Crunch

The weekend marks a return to Jon Cooper hockey...


Dustin Tokarski pitched a 29 save shutout to match the 0'fer Riku Helenius posted last night. Tokarski now has a 2 game winning streak after going an ugly 1-3-1 in his previous 5 starts.

First Period
SYR Connolly, (12) (Wyman, Killorn), 14:35

Second Period
SYR Killorn, (8) (Devos, Brown), 11:21 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Labrie, (6) (Johnson), 5:07
SYR Johnson, (16) (Panik, Palat), 16:37 (PP)

Tic, Alex Killorn, and Tyler Johnson were the game's three stars. Killorn now has goals in 5 of his last 6 games. He's officially more on fire than a 1978 Ford Pinto after a rear end collision.

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.

AHL Game Night: 12-14-12 Crunch at Phantoms

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.

First Period

Second Period
SYR Killorn, (7) (Aulie), 4:53
SYR Panik, (12) (Korobov), 9:39 (SH)

Third Period
SYR Gudas, (2) , 13:44

Helenius, Alex Killorn, and Radko Gudas were the game's three stars. Killorn scored his fourth goal in the past five games.

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.

AHL Game Day: 12-9-12 Crunch at Sound Tigers


SYR- 2
BRI- 7

Riku Helenius allowed 4 goals on 13 shots for the loss before being lifted for Dustin Tokarski. Tic did little better, allowing 3 on 13 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
BRI Cizikas, (5) , 1:41 (SH)
BRI Landry, (6) (McDonald, Nelson), 12:34 (PP)
BRI Sundstrom, (7) (Persson, MacKay), 16:02

Second Period
BRI McDonald, (3) (Nelson, Niederreiter), 0:36
BRI Nelson, (10) (McDonald, Ness), 11:15 (PP)
SYR Killorn, (5) (Angelidis, Wyman), 15:27
SYR Brown, (5) (Devos, Taormina), 16:33
BRI Persson, (7) , 18:56

Third Period
BRI McDonald, (4) (Niederreiter, Landry), 12:35 (PP)

There's just no lipstick you can slap on this one to make it look good. Special teams and goaltending got the team behind the eight ball, and they never recovered. Now they've had back-to-back losing weekend sets heading into a game against Binghamton on Wednesday. Bingo's been hot as a firecracker in their past 10 games (9-1-0) and they have the best goaltending in the league, on paper, between Lehner and Bishop. So, it's a tough draw to try to make into a slump buster, and the Crunch have to be ready from the challenge from word "go" or they might get embarrassed again.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Score Early, Often In 5-1 Win Over Bulldogs

By Jeremy Houghtaling

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.

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