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.
The Sharks get bit by one of Syracuse's star rookies.
Dustin Tokarski allowed one goal on 26 shots for the victory.
SYR Brown, (2) (Connolly, Cote), 2:14
SYR Brown, (3) (Nightingale, Devos), 5:55
SYR Johnson, (12) (Panik), 6:16
WOR Kearns, (7) (Pelech, Kennedy), 16:37
SYR Johnson, (13) (Killorn, Taormina), 13:33 (PP)
SYR Korobov, (2) (Connolly, Brown), 14:05 (PP)
SYR Brown, (4) (Connolly, Devos), 17:31
J.T. Brown (pictured), Tyler Johnson, and Brett Connolly were the game's three stars. This was inevitable. J.T. Brown has too many gifts to not have an outburst like this from time to time, especially when he's playing with guys like Connolly who are just as talented and creative.
Lost in the jet fuel fumes of Brown's game is the fact Tyler Johnson just pulled into the league lead in goals with 13 in 17 games. TJ could hit 60 goals this year. He's got one of the best shots in the league, amazing wheels, and a talented supporting cast around him. Conacher got all the awards last year, but we may well see Johnson carrying the bulk of the hardware in 2012-2013.
The Panik attack hit 10 games today with an assist on one of Johnson's goals. There's one more game left on the schedule for Syracuse in November, and here's an interesting philosophical question for the league to ponder. If a player gets a point in every single game in a month, should not said player be the Player of the Month? Am I wrong? Right now, Richard Panik has 7 goals and 13 points in 10 November contests.
Dmitry Korobov scoring his second goal of the season gives me an opportunity to dote on the young KHL transplant. At +12 he's tied for third in the AHL in +/-, and 2 goals and 5 points in his first 14 games in North America is nothing to sneeze at. The big Belarussian is going to get better as he continues to settle in, and he's already pretty darned good.
Syracuse sits in first in the Eastern Conference, and has another 3 games in 3 nights weekend starting on Friday against the Penguins.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
JT Brown described his team as having a good feeling going into the first intermission Saturday.
Leading 1-0 over the Adirondack Phantoms, it only got better for the Syracuse Crunch, who scored four times in the first 12 minutes of the second period en route to a 5-2 victory -- their second straight -- at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"Our team has been playing well the past few games, and that's just the kind of thing we needed," Brown said. "We needed to put together a few good games to get ourselves rolling."
Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. I'm not sure he ever got staked to a 5 goal lead for low-scoring, defensive-minded JYP last season. He had to be reveling in all the goal support tonight.
SYR Labrie, (3) (Conacher, Barberio), 13:09
SYR Conacher, (8) (Taormina, Connolly), 1:32 (PP)
SYR Palat, (2) (Brown, Killorn), 8:19
SYR Connolly, (5) (Brown), 9:59
SYR Panik, (5) (Barberio, Johnson), 11:53 (PP)
ADK Schenn, (8) (Manning, Gustafsson), 13:27 (PP)
ADK Gustafsson, (2) (Roe, Syvret), 10:07
Brett Connolly (pictured), Cory Conacher, and J.T. Brown were the game's three stars. Who knows, they could be playing together in Tampa if the owners ever pull their heads out of the sand and have a season.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Richard Panik each came within a helper of Gordie Howe hat tricks tonight. The Panik attack has lasted 6 consecutive games now, with points in every game in November. It's his month, I guess.
As I mentioned the last time Syracuse faced the Phantoms, bear in mind this Adirondack roster is dotted with NHLers like Bourdon, Schenn, Couturier, Rinaldo, etc. Their record doesn't bear it out, but that's a very talented team and Syracuse put them over their knee and spanked them hard tonight.
The Crunch finish their weekend tomorrow in Hershey.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Seeing that there were only four men on the ice after the first Syracuse Crunch line change, Philip-Michael Devos quickly jumped on the ice to join the play.
The center accepted a pass from Richard Panik and fed it to an open Tyler Johnson, who fired the puck past Hershey Bears goalie Braden Holtby to give the Crunch a one-goal lead less than a minute into the game.
"I looked and there were only four guys on the ice, so I'm going to go," Devos said. "I jumped on, and four seconds later, the puck was in the net."