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Crunch sweep weekend road trip

by Turner Batten / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Syracuse Crunch went into the weekend slate starring back-to-back-to-back road games in the face. It was nothing the Crunch could not handle as they came out of the weekend with three road wins, improving their record to 4-0-0-1.

The Crunch kicked off the weekend in a big way Friday night in Albany when special teams played a key role in the Crunch’s 3-2 victory over the Albany Devils. Facing two one-goal deficits, the Crunch used power play goals from Tyler Johnson and J.T. Brown to even the score before Mike Angelidis scored the game-winner 16:44 into the second stanza.

Not only was the Syracuse power play clicking, going two-for-four on the night, but so was the penalty kill. The Devils had five power play chances, but were stymied each time by the Crunch kill thanks to goaltender Dustin Tokarski.

Tokarski picked up the win for the Crunch while stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced.

On Saturday night it seemed as if the Crunch left their legs in Albany after getting down 5-0 early in the second period to the Binghamton Senators.

It turns out all they needed was a little spark and that is just what they got.

Midway through the second period a scrum broke out in front of the Binghamton net that ended at center ice.

Riku Helenius, the Crunch netminder, took offense to a few punches directed at some of his teammates thrown by Binghamton goalie Robin Lehner. Helenius made his way down the ice and was met at center ice for the classic goalie versus goalie scuffle.

Both goalies were given game misconducts, but Binghamton took the bigger blow as the incident really lit a fire under the Syracuse squad.

The Crunch scored five straight to force overtime after J.T. Wyman converted on a four-on-four with less than four minutes remaining in the third period.

The Crunch carried their momentum into overtime. At the 3:44 mark in the extra period, Richard Panik scored an unassisted goal to complete the improbable comeback.

After two comeback wins on Friday and Saturday night, one would think the Crunch would not have anything left in the tank to play yet another road game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

That was not the case at all as the Crunch jumped on the Penguins early, scoring three first period goals which proved to be all they needed to take home a 3-1 victory and complete the weekend road trip with three impressive victories.

The Crunch sit atop the AHL Eastern Conference standings and own the best record in the league with nine points in the young season.

Johnson amassed five points over the weekend after notching two goals and three assists to bring his season point total to eight. Johnson is tied for first in the league with five goals and tied for second in the league with eight points. Cory Conacher continued his league-leading offensive production with four points over the weekend, improving his AHL-best point total to nine.

Other notable point getters from the weekend include Ondrej Palat, Mark Barberio and Brett Connolly, all registering a goal and three assists.

The Crunch is well represented in the AHL’s top 10 scoring list with three players appearing on the list: Conacher, Johnson and Palat. Barberio is tied for second in AHL defensemen scoring with six points as well.

The Crunch will return home to War Memorial Arena this weekend for two games. The Penguins will be in town for a Saturday night tilt followed by a Sunday matinee featuring the Adirondack Phantoms.

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