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."
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.
Syracuse beats the odds with a remarkable third period comeback.
Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 27 shots to get the victory.
CT Thomas, (5) (Haley, Miller), 18:49
CT Parlett, (1) (Segal), 13:53
CT Hrivik, (2) (Newbury, Kolarik), 3:03 (PP)
SYR Johnson, (14) , 6:37
SYR Panik, (10) (Devos), 12:45
SYR Panik, (11) , 13:20
SYR Barberio, (4) (Conacher), 4:13
Mark Barberio and Richard Panik (pictured) were the game's first and second stars. The Panik attack's two goals continued his scoring streak, which now stands at a dozen games. His 11 goals now break him into the top-10 in the AHL in goal scoring. Look out. Before the season Panik would've been a longshot to make the Lightning's NHL roster. He's now worked himself toward the head of the line among the young players in Syracuse for whenever the lockout finally ends, and his versatility and high ceiling will be tantalizing for Steve Yzerman and Guy Boucher when they consider how to fill out the team.
Well over 90% of the time in professional hockey, when a team builds a 3-goal lead in the third period, it's over. On the rare ocassion that a team manages to overcome that deficit, it can be a huge team-building moment for the winning team, and a crippling emotional blow for the loser. And, the effects of the game can linger for a week or two. So, for the Crunch, mark the calendar. Tonight was a big moment in 2012-2013 season.
For the moment, the team sits in first place in the Eastern Conference. They'll conclude the weekend in Binghamton tomorrow against the Senators' outstanding goaltending corps.
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."
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."