Johnson Wins MVP, Scores Three as Crunch Beat Admirals 6-1

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Tyler Johnson isn't one for grand acceptance speeches.

After winning the award as the American Hockey League's Most Valuable Player, the Syracuse Crunch forward gave most of the credit to his teammates, the coaching staff and the organization.

Johnson preferred to show how he earned it. He registered his second hat trick of the season, leading the Crunch to a 6-1 rout of the Norfolk Admirals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

"I though tonight we played a good solid team game, a full 60," Johnson said. "I thought we played pretty well. If we keep doing that, I think we'll be alright."

Syracuse, which has points in five straight games, has a three-point lead over Binghamton in the East Division, and can clinch with a win or a Senators loss Saturday.

"It's just sticking to the game plan, we've got guys playing the same system on the same page," said Crunch forward JT Wyman. "That's what we need moving forward."

Wyman and Johnson were two of four Syracuse players record multiple points. Johnson had three goals and an assist, Wyman tallied a goal and two helpers, and Ondrej Palat and Dan Sexton each recorded a pair of assists.

Mike Angelidis and Vladislav Namestnikov rounded out the scoring, while JT Brown, Brett Connolly and Philip-Michael Devos each registered an assist.

The Crunch set the tone early, recording three goals in the first. They chased Frederick Andersen, who made nine saves in the first 20 minutes.

"It's always a confidence-boost to get the first goal, let alone the first three," Wyman said. "We want to focus on our starts, that's going to be huge in the playoffs to get momentum in games."

Syracuse added two in the second to take a commanding lead, and Johnson finished off his hat trick with a little more than 12 minutes remaining.

Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins made 26 saves, allowing a single goal to Patrick Maroon in the second. John Gibson, coming on in relief for the Admirals, made 18 saves in his pro debut.

Syracuse (42-21-6-5) hosts Worcester Saturday, and wraps up the regular season with an afternoon game against Binghamton Sunday. Although clinching the division title is within reach, Johnson preferred to look at the bigger picture.

"It's awesome to be able to get that division title, but at the same time, we want the next two games here," he said. "We want to finish out the season strong. It's nice to have it, but you want to go onto the playoffs on a winning note."

Pictured: Crunch forward Tyler Johnson is congratulated by players on the bench after scoring his first goal of the night against the Admirals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.