Fri., Dec. 21 — Crunch vs. Adirondack - SOL, 4-3
Sat., Dec. 22 — Crunch vs. W-B/Scranton -L, 3-2
Wed., Dec. 26 — Crunch at Binghamton, 7:05 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 28 — Crunch vs. Norfolk, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 29 — Crunch vs. St. John's, 7:30 p.m.
Need to Know
Syracuse leads the Eastern Conference at 17-7-1-3 (38pts) and the best points percentage in the AHL, 0.679.
Alex Killorn has a goal in each of the last six games, the longest active streak in the AHL.
The Crunch visit Binghamton Wednesday; Norfolk and St. John's come to Syracuse Friday and Saturday.
Week In Review
Game 27: Phantoms start hot, close out Crunch in 4-3 shootout
Syracuse fell behind 2-0 in the first 2:30 of the game, trailed 3-0 at the end of one, and-despite coming back to tie the game-lost a seven-round shootout to Adirondack, 4-3, Friday at the War Memorial. The Crunch are now 0-3 in shootouts and 3-0-1-2 against the last-place Phantoms.
Harry Zolnierczyk struck first for Adirondack, converting from the right side of a two-on-one 1:11 into the contest. Jason Akeson doubled the Phantoms lead with a power-play goal at 2:30 (his first AHL tally of the year) then potting his second with 4:27 remaining in the first.
The Crunch comeback began in the second with a power-play goal for Richard Panik with assists to Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson. Alex Killorn extended his goal streak to five games on a feed from Matt Taormina out of the right-wing corner to get the Crunch within one by the end of the second. Johnson scored the equalizer with a five-on-three power play goal-lifting a rebound of a Mark Barberio shot over Ca Heeter-at 8:24 of the third. Despite a furious attack late in the third and overtime (Syracuse managed 43 shots) settled for another shootout.
Shootout tallies from Taormina, Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik were not enough, as Garrett Roe, Brayden Schenn, Jason Akeson and Danny Syvret won the shootout for Adirondack, 4-3, in the seven rounds.
Game 28: Penguins quiet Crunch, 3-2
The Crunch again had to fight from behind Saturday, ultimately losing to the Wilkes-Barre/Scanton Penguins, 3-2, at the War Memorial. Syracuse is now 3-6-0-2 when allowing an opponent to score first and 5-2-1-3 in one-goal games. It was Syracuse's first regulation loss on home ice since a 2-1 decision Nov. 23 vs. Binghamton.
Paul Thompson opened the scoring with a power-play goal less than four minutes into the game, with Brian Gibbons and former Crunch forward Riley Holzapfel assisting. J.T. Wyman set up Alex Killorn at 9:21 of the first for the tying score, Killorn's sixth goal in six games. Joey Mormina beat Dustin Tokarski 14 seconds later with his first of the year (an unassisted point shot) to regain the lead for WBS. In the second period, Trevor Smith extended the Pens lead to 3-1.
Tyler Johnson got the Crunch within one at 18:45 of the second, scoring his Eastern Conference-leading 18th goal of the season, as Radko Gudas picked up his second assist of the game and Keith Aulie notched his third helper of the year. Syracuse mustered just five shots in a scoreless third period despite two power plays, including a six-on-four attack in the game's final half minute. Jeff Zatkoff earned the win on 29 saves, his 11th of the season, while Dustin Tokarski slipped to 10-5-3.
Alex Killorn has a goal in each of his last six games, the longest active streak in the AHL and two short of the league's longest streak this season (Charlotte's Drayson Bowman, eight, Oct. 19-Nov. 4). Killorn has five points in the last three games (3g, 2a) and his 21 points (10g, 11a) are fifth most on the Crunch and eighth most in the AHL among rookies. His 97 shots on goal leads all rookies and are third most in the AHL.
Tyler Johnson has five points (3g, 2a) in the last three games and now has 18 goals for the year, second most in the AHL. His 30 points lead the Crunch and are third most in the AHL, trailing only Justin Schultz and Jordan Eberle of Oklahoma City who have 40 points each.
Syracuse is the only AHL team with five players posting 10 goals or more (only Rockford has even four). Also, Syracuse is the only club with six players at 20 points or more (only Oklahoma City has even five).
Leading the AHL in goals per game, 3.57, Syracuse is the first club to reach 100 goals this season with an even hundred in 28 contests. The Crunch have scored at least three goals in 22 of their 28 games. Syracuse allows fewer shots per game than any other team (25.21).
The Crunch have the top three plus-minus performers in the AHL: Ondrej Palat (+17), Dmitry Korobov (+17) and Radko Gudas (+15), while Tyler Johnson (+14) and Richard Panik (+13) are among the top 10.
Stopping 135 of 157 opposing power plays, no team in the AHL has killed more penalties than Syracuse. Four of five East Division teams rank among the AHL's seven best penalty kills: Binghamton (89.9%, 2nd), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (87.5%, 3rd), Syracuse (86%, 6th), Norfolk (85.9%, 7th).
Syracuse and Springfield are the only AHL teams who've yet to suffer conecutive regulation losses. Three times have the Crunch been winless in consecutive games, but they've never been winless in three games so far in 2012-13.
The Week Ahead
Crunch at Binghamton Senators—Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
Syracuse takes on division rival Binghamton for the fifth of eight times this season, having split the first four matchups. Syracuse won in Binghamton Oct. 20, 6-5 in overtime (the largest comeback in club history), and Dec. 12, 4-3, at the War Memorial. The Senators won Nov. 23 in Syracuse, 2-1, and Dec. 2 in Binghamton, 5-2.
The B-Sens (16-6-1-2) are three points behind the Crunch for the East Division lead and are fourth in the Eastern Conference. Binghamton has collected points in its last four games (3-0-0-1) since losses to Norfolk and Syracuse. They won nine straight games from Nov. 10 to Dec. 7, the longest streak in the AHL this season. On the road, Binghamton has won six of twelve.
The rank in the top AHL's top four in goals for (3.36) and against (2.52) per game. Robin Lehner is 10-4 and leads the Eastern Conference with a 1.93 goals-agaisnt average and 0.943 save percentage. Rookie Jakob Silfverberg is the Sens' leading scorer (11g-11a-22pts) while Stephane Da Costa has five of his 10 points against Syracuse in just three games, including a three-goal, one-assist performance Dec. 2.
Binghamton visits Albany and Rocester Friday and Saturday.
Crunch vs. Norfolk Admirals—Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Syracuse and Norfolk meet for the first time this season, in an odd matchup of players who will oppose their parent club's former AHL affiliate. With the Anaheim Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning swapping Norfolk and Syracuse this year, many Admirals donned Crunch jerseys last season while 16 current Syracuse players won a Calder Cup last year with Norfolk.
The Admirals began the season strong with five wins in their first six games, but have sunk to last place in the East Division at 13-13-1-0, 12th in the conference. Since a six-game losing streak to finish November, Norfolk has won six of nine, including the last two.
Peter Holland leads the Admirals in scoring and is 13th in the AHL with 27 points (11g, 16a), followed by Kyle Palmieri (9g-10a-19pts) and Patrick Maroon (8g-10a-18pts). Those three players paced the Crunch last year: Maroon, 74 points; Holland, 60 points; Palmieri, 58 points. Split duties between the pipes have Frederik Andersen at 7-7 with a 2.48 goals-against average and Igor Bobkov at 6-7 2 with a 3.29 goals-agaisnt average.
After playing in Syracuse Friday, the Ads head to W-B/Scranton Saturday and Springfield Sunday.
Crunch vs. St. John's IceCaps—Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
St. John's makes its first visit to Syracuse since the opening round of the 2012 Calder Cup playoffs when the IceCaps defeated the Crunch four games to one. The IceCaps were then swept by the Norfolk Admirals, with Dustin Tokarski allowing just two goals in four games and Tyler Johnson posting a goal and four assists. The IceCaps are the former Minnesota Moose, relocating to Newfoundland last year when their parent club, the Atlanta Thrashers, moved to Winnipeg and reincarnated the Jets.
The IceCaps are 14-16-0-1 (29pts), last in the Atlantic Division and tied for tenth in the Eastern Conference. They have just three wins in their last ten games. They have the 28th ranked offense at 2.32 goals per game, but allow only 2.74 goals per match, the 12th best mark in the league.
Defensemen Derek Meech (3g-14a-17pts) and Zach Redmond (8g-8a-16pts) are the Caps leading scorers and while Spencer Machacek is third in points (7g-8a-15pts) he has the league's worst plus-minus (-18). Eddie Pasquale is 7-10-1 with a two shutouts and 2.49 goals-against average.
St. John's visits Hamilton Friday, Syracuse Saturday and Binghamton Sunday, capping an eight-game road trip.