Wed., Dec. 26 — Crunch at Binghamton - W, 5-3
Sat., Dec. 28 — Crunch vs. Norfolk - W, 4-2
Sat., Dec. 29 — Crunch vs. St. John's - OTL, 5-4
Fri., Jan. 4 — Crunch at Norfolk, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 5 — Crunch at Norfolk, 7:15 p.m.
Need to Know
- Syracuse has the AHL's best record, 19-7-2-3 (43pts), and points percentage, 0.694.
- Rookie Vlad Namestnikov scored his first pro goal Saturday and has two points since returning from injury.
- The Crunch visit WBS New Year's Eve and Norfolk Friday and Saturday.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Game 29: Crunch plow through Binghamton, 5-3
Traveling through a post-Christmas snow storm, the Crunch showed no signs of getting stuck in the slush Wednesday in Binghamton. In defeating the Senators 5-3, Syracuse had a decisive shots advantage: 12-2 in the first, 17-7 in the second and a game total of 44-20. Syracuse leads the season series with Binghamton, 3-2.
The Crunch, who allowed five goals to the Sens in each of the first to trips to Binghamton this year, took a 3-0 lead before the Senators finally got on the board midway through the second period. Mark Barberio, Cory Conacher and Radko Gudas built the lead for Syracuse, while J.T. Brown and Mike Angelidis later padded it. Barberio's and Brown's goals came on the power play and Angelidis's was an empty net marker with 45 seconds left in regulation. Stephane Da Costa, Jakob Silfverberg and Jean-Gabriel Pageau tallied for the Sens.
Conacher was the game's first star thanks to a three-point effort (1g, 2a), his first since Oct. 13. J.T. Wyman had his first two-point game of the year with two assists.
Ben Bishop made 39 saves in the losing effort while Dustin Tokarski stayed sharp even with most of the play in the Binghamton end, stopping 17 shots. The Crunch took only two minor penalties the entire contest, meaning the Crunch have served their fewest (4) and most (72) penalty minutes of the season at Binghamton.
Game 30: Familiar faces return to Syracuse as Crunch beat Admirals, 4-2
The flip-flopped affiliates of Anaheim and Tampa Bay played a close, energetic game with two fights and a benches-clearing scuffle at the end of regulation, but it was the new Crunch (last year's Norfolk club) defeating the new Admirals (last year's Syracuse club), 4-2, at the War Memorial.
Mark Barberio and Alex Killorn each scored power-play goals in the first period to gain the edge for the home team, while Kyle Palmieri (who had 58 points in 51 games for Syracuse in 2011-12) got Norfolk on the board with a steal at center and a breakaway goal against Dustin Tokarski. Ondrej Palat potted his fourth of the year five minutes into the third for what would be the game-winning tally. Sami Vatanen pulled the Ads within one (Patrick Maroon and Chris Wagner assisting), but Tyler Johnson scored his conference-leading 19th of the year (Richard Panik and Ondrej Palat assisting) to seal the win, Syracuse's third power-play goal, a season high.
Tokarski made 16 saves, as the Crunch held the Ads to 18 shots, their fewest of the season. It was the seventh time Syracuse held an opponent to 20 shots or less, winning all seven.
Game 31: St. John's stuns Syracuse in OT, 5-4
Beginning the week with two of its strongest efforts of the year, Syracuse continued to roll offensively against the St. John's IceCaps, taking a 4-0 lead midway through the second period Saturday vs. St. John's. And despite an assortment of statistics to foreshadow otherwise, the IceCaps-and their league-worst offense-rallied for two goals in the second, two in the third to tie, and one in overtime to win and sting Syracuse, 5-4. It is just the second time in 19 games that Syracuse has failed to collect two points when leading after two periods, while the IceCaps had been 0-10 when trailing after two.
Cory Conacher, Alex Killorn, Keith Aulie and Vlad Namestnikov built the lead for Syracuse, but Eric O'Dell, Paul Postma, Jason Gregoire, Will O'Neill and Ben Chiarot scored five straight for the improbable win. The goals from defensemen O'Neill and Chiarot were their first of the season, respectively. Riku Helenius and Igor Bobkov each faced 33 shots, but Bobkov made one more save. Helenius, playing his first game since Dec. 14, dropped to 7-4 despite making a series of impressive saves to ensure the Crunch would get at least one point.
Cory Conacher had two multi-point games in Week 12, his first since Nov. 17. Wednesday he had three points (1g, 2a) and Saturday a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist and a fight). Conacher, who had 12 points in Syracuse's first eight games, now has 27 points (12g, 15a), tied with Brett Connolly for the team's second most.
Vlad Namestnikov scored his first pro goal Saturday in his second game back after a two-month absence due to an Oct. 21 shoulder injury. He has two points since returning and four for the year, all on the power play.
Mark Barberio had three points in three Week 12 games (2g, 1a) and has the fifth most points amog AHL defensemen (6g-16a-22pts). Among Crunch players, he has the second most assists and power-play points (11).
Tyler Johnson sat out his first game of the year Saturday because of illness, but had his team-leading 10th multi-point game Friday vs. Norfolk (1g, 2a) and leads Syracuse with 33 points, fourth most in the AHL. His 19 goals are one short of the AHL leader Jordan Eberle of Oklahoma City.
For the first time this season, Syracuse's power play (19.4%) is statistically as strong as its penalty kill (86%), both ranking sixth in the AHL. Syracuse has at least two power play goals in five of its last six games.
The Crunch own the AHL's best averages in goals per game, 3.65, and shots against, 25.06.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Crunch at Norfolk Admirals—Friday, 7:30 p.m. & Saturday, 7:15 p.m.
Jon Cooper and 16 current Syracuse players who won a Calder Cup with the Admirals last year make their first trip back to Norfolk since Tampa Bay and Anaheim swapped AHL affiliates in the summer. The two-game series will be the second and third of eight matchups this year between the East Division opponents.
The new Admirals began the season strong with five wins in their first six games, but have sunk to last place in the East Division at 14-15-1-0, 13th in the conference, losing two of three in Week 12, including a 4-2 decision to Syracuse Friday at the War Memorial.
Peter Holland leads the Admirals in scoring and tied for 10th in the AHL with 29 points (12g, 17a), followed by Kyle Palmieri (10g-11a-21pts) and Patrick Maroon (9g-11a-20pts). 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 2.42 goals-against average and Igor Bobkov at 7-9 with a 3.38 goals-agaisnt average.