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Coach Cooper Earns 100th Career AHL victory as Crunch Remain Top Dog in East Division

by Jamie Kelly / Tampa Bay Lightning

For what it’s worth, Jon Cooper knows how to lead his troops.

Entering his sixth season coaching hockey, Cooper has already won two championships, the first coming with Green Bay in the United States Hockey League in 2010, and the second coming with the Norfolk Admirals in the American Hockey League last season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning moved their affiliate from Norfolk to Syracuse for the 2012-13 season and Cooper has continued to shine as bench boss in upstate New York. Cooper recently recorded his 100th career AHL win when the Crunch shutout the Hamilton Bulldogs, 3-0, during a road matchup November 7, and has his team sitting atop the East Division and second in the Eastern Conference with a 7-2-1-1 record.

Ondrej The Great: Crunch left winger Ondrej Palat certainly doesn’t mind setting up his teammates, as his 11 assists attest, this guy loves to dish the puck. With one assist in each of his last five games, Palat has the longest current assist streak in the AHL and has recorded a point in 10 of Syracuse’s 11 games, making him one of the Crunch’s most consistent scorers.

Panik Attack: Along with Palat, Crunch right winger Richard Panik has been a steady contributor to the offensive attack, as he is currently riding a four-game scoring streak, notching three goals and two assists in that span. Panik now has four goals and eight points through 11 games as he sits fourth on the team in scoring.

Road Warriors: So far this season, the Crunch are bucking the trend and playing their best hockey on the road, rather than at home. Currently riding a six-game road winning streak, the Crunch have a near flawless record playing in different buildings around the league as they have yet to suffer a regulation loss on the road.

Welcome To The Big Show: The Crunch really got a taste of what it’s like to be a visiting team in a hostile environment when they faced off against the Bulldogs at The Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, last Friday night. The Bell Centre is home to the NHL’s Montreal Canadians and a crowd of 18,582,the 10th largest in AHL history, came out to watch the visiting Crunch cruise to a 4-1 victory off the back of two Tyler Johnson tallies.

Home Motivation: Though their road record is terrific, the Crunch could use some extra jump at home as they will try to snap a three game home losing streak against Hershey on Friday.

Next On The Schedule: The Crunch will continue a three-game home stand Friday night when they play host to the Hershey Bears at the War Memorial Arena. The Crunch’s only victory at home this season came when they hosted the Bears in their home opener back on October 13, where they skated away with a 4-3 win.

The Crunch will then take on the Adirondack Phantoms the following night, in what will be the third matchup of the season between the two teams. The Phantoms won the first matchup but the Crunch secured the second, as their head-to-head matchup stands at 1-1-0. The Crunch will have to keep an eye on Phantoms center Brayden Schenn as he has scorched the Crunch with four points in the teams’ first two meetings.

The week wraps up with a Sunday evening game in Hershey, where the Crunch will be looking to make it seven consecutive victories on the road.

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