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Syracuse Crunch Weekly Recap

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

Last Week

Wed., Dec. 12 — Crunch vs. Binghamton - W, 4-3

Fri., Dec. 14 — Crunch at Adirondack - W, 3-0

Sat., Dec. 15 — Crunch vs. W-B/Scranton - W, 4-0

This Week

Fri., Dec. 21 — Crunch vs. Adirondack, 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 22 — Crunch vs. W-B/Scranton, 7:30 p.m.

Need to Know

Syracuse owns the best record in the AHL, 17-6-1-2 (37pts), one point better than Abbotsford and Charlotte.

Riku Helenius and Dustin Tokarski posted shutouts in consecutive games, Syracuse's second and third of the year.

Syracuse faces Adirondack and W-B/Scranton again in Week 11 to cap a three-game homestand.


Game 24: Syracuse holds off division rival Binghamton, 4-3

Syracuse evened the season series with Binghamton Wednesday, winning the fourth of eight meetings, 4-3, at the War Memorial. Robin Lehner sufferd his first loss to Syracuse in three appearances, allowing goals to Alex Killorn, P.C. Labrie and two from Brett Connolly. Syracuse took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first period, later building a 4-2 lead as Binghamton's Mike Hoffan scored two power play goals to keep the Sens close. Mark Stone got Binghamton within a goal at 14:06, but Dustin Tokarski and his supporting cast of shotblockers held on.

J.T. Wyman and Mike Angelidis set up Alex Killorn's goal with stylish passing, while Cory Conacher's effort led to the next strike, soaring behind the net and feeding Matt Taormina in the left circle who's shot was tipped in by Labrie. Connolly's first goal came after Labrie's hard-work takeaway in front of the Binghamton net. Connolly's next goal, his 11th, also came from near the net, cleaning up a rebound after a Dmitry Korobov blast.

Game 25: Helenius notches second shutout in 3-0 win at Adirondack

Riku Helenius stopped all 18 Adirondack shots for his second shutout victory of the season Friday in Glens Falls, as Syracuse controlled the tempo in a 3-0 win over the Phantoms. Alex Killorn opened the scoring nearly five minutes into the second, set up by Mike Angelidis and Keith Aulie, for what turned out to be the game-winning goal, the first of the year for Killorn. Five minutes later on a penalty kill, Dmitry Korobov made a neutral-zone steal and found Richard Panik for a shorthanded-breakaway goal, the team's fourth shorthanded goal of the year and Panik's first point since his 12-game scoring streak ended Dec. 1. Radko Gudas sealed the victory in the third with his second of the season, blasting from the right wing for an unassisted tally. 116 penalty minutes were assessed in the contest, mostly the restult of four misconducts and six fighting majors.

The Crunch exhibited stellar shotbloacking again, most notably with J.P. Cote taking a shot to the face but not missing a shift. Syracuse has points in all five meetings with the last-place Phantoms at 3-0-1-1.

Game 26: Crunch blank Penguins behind Tokarski's 29 saves, 4-0

Syracuse won its third consecutive game Saturday, defeating the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 4-0, at the War Memorial as Dustin Tokarski posted his first shutout of the season, stopping all 29 WBS shots. Tokarski's two wins in Week 10 improve his record to 10-4-2 while his goals-against average has shrunk to 2.33, eighth best in the league. Crunch goals from Brett Connolly in the first, Alex Killorn in the second and P.C. Labrie and Tyler Johnson in the third were among 35 shots on Pens netminder Brad Thiessen. The Crunch were 2-for-6 on the power play-snapping a four-game drought-and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. Tyler Johnson (1g, 1a) and Ondrej Palat (1a) marked the scoring sheet for the first time in five games; Johnson is second in the AHL in goals (16) while Palat leads the Crunch in assists (17).


- The Crunch have seized the top spot in the AHL for the first time this year with 37 points and a leaugue-best .712 points percentage.

- Holding opponents scoreless Friday and Saturday, Syracuse has now posted back-to-back shutout wins nine times in franchise history: three times in 2001-02, twice in 2002-03, once in 2005-06, once in 2006-07, once in 2007-08 and once so far in 2012-13.

- Three shutouts between Riku Helenius (2) and Dustin Tokarski (1) eclipse Syracuse's total from all of last season; Iiro Tarkki had the only two shutouts for the 2011-12 Crunch.

- Helenius's two shutouts this season (Nov. 7 & Dec. 14) triple his AHL career total; his only other AHL shutout was for Norfolk in 2008-09. The 24 year old blanked seven opponents last season (at 17-9-5 with a 1.64GAA) for JYP Jyväskylä of the SM-liiga in Finland. He led JYP to the SM championship, going 11-2 in the postseason.

- Tokarski's Dec. 15 shutout is his first since Game 3 of the 2012 Calder Cup Final (Jun. 7) when Norfolk defeated Toronto 1-0 nine minutes into overtime. It was one of three postseason shutouts for Tokarski, following five in the regular season among his league-best 32 wins. The 23 year old now has 16 AHL career shutouts.

- Syracuse has the top three plus-minus performers in the AHL: Dmitry Korobov (+18), Ondrej Palat (+17) and Radko Gudas (+15). Also in the top 10 are Tyler Johnson (+14) and Richard Panik (+13).

- The Crunch lead the AHL in goals per game at 3.65, with 95 goals in 26 contests. They are the only team with four players scoring 10 goals or more, and one of two teams (OKC) with five players posting 20 points or more.

- Alex Killorn has a goal in each of his last four games, tied for the longest active streak in the AHL and tied with Richard Panik for longest on the Crunch this season. Killorn's effort Saturday (1g, 1a) was his second multi-point game of the year and he's now tied for sixth in team scoring (8g-10a-18pts).

- Brett Connolly scored two goals in Week 10 and is now tied for second-most goals (12g-11a-23pts) on the team.


Crunch vs. Adirondack Phantoms—Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Syracuse meets Adirondack for the third time in two weeks-the sixth time overall this season-Friday at the War Memorial. Syracuse has points in all five previous meetings (3-0-1-1), earning a measure of revenge Saturday in a 3-0 win at Adirondack six days after a 4-3 shootout loss in Glens Falls. Adirondack's Brayden Schenn leads all scorers in the five meetings with 9 of his 26 points coming against the Crunch. Schenn (11g-15a-26pts), Sean Couturier (7g-13a-20pts) and Eric Gustafsson (3g-11a-14pts) have combined for 18 points vs. Syracuse.

Phantoms captain Ben Holmstrom has been absent from the lineup because of a knee injury. The Flyers' AHL affiliate has the league's smallest point total (21) and is last in the Northeast Division at 10-14-1. They've not won a road game since Nov. 14. The Phantoms host the St. John's IceCaps Wednesday before visiting Syracuse Friday, then playing at Bridgeport Saturday.

Crunch vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins—Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Syracuse caps a three-game homestand with its second matchup against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in as many Saturdays. The Penguins-who've lost five straight-suffered a 4-0 loss in Syracuse Saturday, dropping their record to 13-10-1-1, third in the East Division, and two points behind second-place Binghamton. The season series between Syracuse and WBS is even at 2-2. Former Crunch forward Riley Holzapfel has four points (2g, 2a) against his old team, pacing the Pens. Rookie Beau Bennett leads the Pens in scoring overall with 21 points (5g, 16a) and has two goals and one assist vs. Syracuse. Goalie Jeff Zatkoff was the AHL's netminder of November but has been sidelined since suffering an injury in practice Dec. 10. The Pens have the third best penalty kill in the AHL at 87.7%, first in the league on the road at 91.5%. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton visits Binghamton Wednesday before coming to Syracuse Saturday.

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