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.
TJ and old Admirals beat down new Admirals.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 18 shots for the victory. He's won his last 2 starts, but his save percentage has dwindled all the way down to .901 after being at .913 to start the month of December. It's absolutely a cause for concern.
SYR Barberio, (6) (Connolly, Johnson), 9:42 (PP)
SYR Killorn, (11) (Namestnikov, Oberg), 12:12 (PP)
NOR Palmieri, (10) , 7:19
SYR Palat, (4) (Taormina, Johnson), 5:00
NOR Vatanen, (4) (Maroon, Wagner), 10:54
SYR Connolly, (13) (Panik, Palat), 16:15 (PP)
Tyler Johnson (pictured) and Richard Panik were the game's first and second stars. Panik attack y'all. Johnson's tied for 3rd in the league in scoring and is 2nd in goals. Unfortunately, given that 3/4 of Edmonton's NHL team is playing in Oklahoma City during the lockout, it's probably going to be tough for him to catch Jordan Eberle. Still, 3rd in the AHL in scoring during a lockout is damned impressive.
After giving the red light a one game holiday vacation, Alex Killorn scored yet another goal. That's 8 in his last 10 games. He's one of several guys, with Ondrej Palat also on that list, who might be playing themselves into contention for NHL jobs if the lockout ever lifts. It's an honest question the organization would have to ask itself: do you get more from a Tom Pyatt or a B.J. Crombeen than you'd get from a Killorn, Johnson, Conacher, Palat, Panik, etc?
Congrats to Vladislav Namestnikov on picking up a helper in his first game back since going on the shelf 2 months ago.
Syracuse faces the St. John's IceCaps tomorrow, with the Baby Thrasher-Jets still reeling from last year's Eastern Finals sweep and in dead last in the Atlantic Division.
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."
Shot down in the shootout.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 34 shots and 2 of 4 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the shootout loss. He's hit a little dry spell now, going 1-3-0-1 in his last 5 starts. That may partly explain why it looks like Helenius will get the bulk of the time this weekend.
SYR Connolly, (9) (Brown), 17:47
ADK McGinn, (7) (Couturier, Schenn), 1:56 (PP)
ADK Schenn, (10) (Couturier, Gustafsson), 4:54 (PP)
SYR Labrie, (5) (Wyman), 13:51
ADK Schenn, (11) (Akeson), 18:12
SYR Conacher, (10) (Aulie, Brown), 19:02
ADK- Schenn, Roe
Phantoms goaltender Scott Munroe managed to shut down the collective firepower of Conacher, Connolly, Panik, and Johnson in the shootout, only surrendering a goal to Ondrej Palat. Against that murderers row, I'd have to say he earned his pay - with the help of two posts.
Brett Connolly led the Crunch with a very solid 7 shots on goal to go with his game-opening marker. He's starting to really hit his stride.
Syracuse will finish out their weekend tomorrow afternoon against Bridgeport. That'll end the 3 in 3 nights scenarios for about 2 months, and the Crunch will settle into a more normal and less fatiguing routine. The fact they've managed to hang around the top spot in the conference even despite the scheduling challenges bodes well now that they've cleared this month-long hump of hectic weekend sets.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
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.