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.
Crunch squash Hamilton.
Riku Helenius allowed just 1 goal on 20 shots for the victory.
SYR Palat, (3) (Barberio, Johnson), 0:26
SYR Connolly, (8) (Killorn, Johnson), 7:08 (PP)
SYR Taormina, (3) (Conacher, Brown), 13:42 (PP)
HAM Palushaj, (7) (Beaulieu, Leblanc), 19:42
SYR Killorn, (4) (Palat, Barberio), 6:28
SYR Labrie, (4) (Connolly, Korobov), 11:08
Don't look now, but Palat has snuck past teammate Dmitri Korobov into the top spot in the league in +/- at +17. Tyler Johnson, who still leads the league in goal scoring, is lingering in a tie for third in the league at +14.Richard Panik and Radko Gudas are also in the top-20 in the league in the statistic.
Syracuse gave some rough treatment to former Lightning farmhand Cedrick Desjardins, running up a 42-20 shot advantage en route to pinning 5 goals on him. When you score 26 seconds into a game and swarm to a 3-0 lead within the first 14 minutes, it's safe to say you were ready to go at puck drop.
Keith Aulie (pictured) was back in the lineup for Syracuse for the first time since late October. The big d-man was +2 with 3 shots on goal.
Syracuse will move on to face Adirondack tomorrow night.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
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, as we say on Twitter, “is good at the hockey.”
The Prospect of the Week for November 26 is … Tyler Johnson, center, Syracuse (AHL – USA)
Tyler Johnson doesn’t get the most attention on the Syracuse roster, that title may go to everything-award winner Cory Conacher, top AHL defenseman Mark Barberio, or even everything-championship winner Dustin Tokarski. Such is the “first world problem” Tyler Johnson and his fans must endure with the near embarrassment of riches on the Lightning farm right now.
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.
And the Panik attack continues...
Riku Helenius stopped 18 of 19 shots he faced for the victory.
SYR Conacher, (9) (Taormina, Connolly), 14:52
ALB Whitney, (1) (Henrique), 5:00
SYR Johnson, (11) (Panik, Palat), 10:26
SYR Killorn, (3) (Johnson, Palat), 13:04
SYR Panik, (8) , 8:17
Tyler Johnson and Richard Panik were the game's first and second stars. Panik extended his scoring streak to nine games, matching the other two longest streaks in the AHL this season. More importantly, Panik is now creeping into the league leaders in goals and points alongside fellow Crunch forwards Johnson and Cory Conacher. This is big news for the Lightning organization. If he translates his stellar play in November consistently over the rest of the year, he will be in Tampa Bay next season. There's never been any doubt Panik has the highest upside of any forward in the Lightning organization. If he puts it all together, he's Marian Hossa reincarnate, and the rest of the NHL should be wary of him joining a team that already has the likes of Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.
Alex Killorn got the third goal of his rookie campaign tonight and it's hard not to be pleased with the 11 points he has in his first 16 games, but there's something instructive buried deeper in the stats. Killorn actually leads Syracuse in shots on goal with 49, ahead of Johnson's 47. The difference is that Johnson has an NHL shot and Killorn doesn't, yet. Developing an NHL shot can be done with hard work. Ask Vincent Lecavalier. And, if Killorn puts that work in, it can be the difference between a 5-10 year NHL career as a lower-liner and a 10-15 year career as a top two-liner. With the style of game he plays, which is a north-south, shoot first kind of game, if he fine tunes his shot he's going to score a lot of goals. He's an Ivy League guy, so I suspect he's capable of calculating the difference in career earning power in both scenarios. And, when he does, I'm fairly confident he'll find the cost-benefit of putting that extra time in will be well justified.
Syracuse ends their weekend set tomorrow afternoon in Worcester.
Box score from TheAHL.com.