Mon., Dec. 31 — Crunch at W-B/Scranton - W, 2-1
Fri., Jan. 4 — Crunch at Norfolk - W, 3-0
Sat., Jan. 5 — Crunch at Norfolk - W, 4-3 OT
Wed., Jan. 9 - Crunch at Rochester, 7:05 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 11 - Crunch vs. Norfolk, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Jan 12 - Crunch vs. Rochester, 7:30 p.m.
Need to Know
- With three wins in Week 13, Syracuse has the AHL's best record, 22-7-2-3 (49pts), and points percentage, 0.721.
- Tyler Johnson has the most goals in the Eastern Conference (20) and second most points (35).
- The Crunch visit Rochester Wednesday before hosting Norfolk Friday and the Amerks Saturday.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Game 32: Syracuse celebrates New Year's Eve with 2-1 win at Penguins
Syracuse closed out the calendar year with a 2-1 victory over the Penguins in Wilkes-Barre. Richard Panik scored both goals for Syracuse and Dustin Tokarski made every save (19) until Trevor Smith's shot with one second left in regulation deflected off of a diving Matt Taormina and past Tokarski to spoil the shutout. Smith's tally against his former teammate came during a six-on-four advantage (goalie pulled), as the Pens power play beat the Crunch on the last of five opportunities. The Crunch were 1-for-6 with the man advantage, as Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson set up Panik's fifth power-play goal of the year 33 seconds into the third period. Brett Connolly had the lone helper on Panik's even-strength marker in the second. Brad Thiessen took the loss for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, making 33 saves. The Crunch and Pens have now split six meetings this year, and face off again Feb. 17 in Wilkes-Barre and Mar. 20 in Syracuse.
Game 33: Syracuse shuts out Norfolk, 3-0, as former Admirals shine
The group who won the Calder Cup last season made their first visit back to the Norfolk Scope in triumphant fashion as the Crunch blanked the Admirals, 3-0, Friday. Dustin Tokarski stopped all 22 shots for his 17th career AHL shutout (regular season and playoffs combined). His first 15 shutouts had come over the course of three seasons with Norfolk. Three other former Admirals provided the offense: Richard Panik scored the eventual game-winner 2:38 into regulation during a Crunch power play, Tyler Johnson potted his conference-leading 20th late in the first and defenseman Keith Aulie scored his second goal in three games to close the scoring in the third. Killorn had the game's lone assist, setting up Aulie's insurance goal. The Crunch and Admirals combined for 128 penalty minutes, including six fighting majors and seven misconducts. Frederik Andersen suffered the loss, making 26 saves on 29 shots.
Game 34: Connolly OT goal lifts Crunch over Admirals
The Crunch won their third consecutive game with a 4-3 overtime win at the Norfolk Scope. Fighting back from defecits of 1-0 and 2-1 on goals from Alex Killorn and Vlad Namestnikov, Syracuse took a 3-2 lead in the third on Richard Panik's 17th marker of the year. Former Crunch forward Kyle Palmieri (who sat out Friday) pulled the Admirals even, 3-3, with eight minutes left in regulation but Brett Connolly potted his 13th of the year 1:21 into overtime to win the game for Syracuse, Connolly's league-leading sixth game-winning goal of the year. Dustin Tokarski made 22 saves, earning his 15th win of the year and fifth-straight start. Other former Syracuse players John Kurtz and Patrick Maroon scored for Norfolk while Sami Vatanen collected three assists. Three fights in the game featured Kurt vs. Jared Nightingale, a rematch of Jay Rosehill and Eric Neilson, and Peter Holland against Richard Panik. Both Connolly and Killorn had two point games, while Radko Gudas had one assist and a game-high plus-3. Former Crunch forward Dan Sexton, playing his first game of the year, had an assist but was a game-worst minus-3. Igor Bobkov stopped 22 of 26 shots in defeat.
- The Crunch won three consecutive games in Week 13, the fifth time this season they've strung together at least three straight victories. The team's best win streak of the year is four, Oct. 12-21.
- With five straight wins vs. East Division opponents, Syracuse has a 12-5 intra-division record.
- Brett Connolly's game-winning goal Saturday in overtime was his sixth of the year, most in the AHL. Tied for 17th on the AHL scoring list, Connolly's 30 points are second most on the Crunch.
- Richard Panik collected his third and fourth game-winners Monday and Friday and is tied for fifth in the league. Panik has four goals in the last three games. His 17 goals overall are second most on the Crunch and his 28 points are third.
- Alex Killorn has points in 10 of his last 12 games (Dec. 9-Jan. 5), totaling 14 points in that span (9g, 5a). His two-point effort Saturday (1g, 1a) was his fifth multi-point game of the year and fourth in the last nine games.
- Dustin Tokarski has won each of his last five starts, including one shutout, allowing nine goals. His 15 wins are third most in the AHL and his 2.27 goals-against average is 12th in the league. Tokarski has two shutouts this season, improving his AHL career shutout total to 17. He has 13 regular-season shutouts and four in the Calder Cup playoffs.
- Syracuse has the sixth-best penalty kill in the AHL at 85.6% and the seventh-best power play at 19.1%.
- The Crunch more goals per game than any other AHL team, 3.59, and hold opponents to 2.68 goals per game, 12th best in the AHL. Syracuse limits opponents to 24.82 shots per game, best in the league, while posting the league's fourth-best average of shots on goal, 32.41.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Crunch at Rochester—Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
Syracuse rekindles its rivalry with the Western Conference's Rochester Americans Wednesday at Blue Cross Arena. It will be the third meeting of the year between the I-90 rivals, but the first since Nov. 10. The Amerks won both of the previous meetings: 6-5 in a shootout Oct. 12 in Rochester and 5-2 Nov. 10 in Syracuse.
Rochester has won four of its last six games but is 5-4-0-1 in its last 10. The Amerks are 17-13-2-1 and fourth in the North Division, 10th in the Western Conference. The leading scorers for the Amerks are defenseman T.J. Brennan (12g-18a-30pts), left wing Marcus Foligno (10g-17a-27pts) and right wing Mark Mancari (8g-19a-27pts). David Leggio is second in the AHL in victories with a 16-10-1 record, including two wins vs. Syracuse. He has one shutout and a 2.92 goals-against average. Dutin Tokarski and Riku Helenius have both suffered losses to Rochester while Cory Conacher leads the Crunch vs. the Amerks with four points (2g, 2a). Rochester's Joe Finley leads all players with 27 of his 74 penalty minutes vs. Syracuse.
Crunch vs. Norfolk Admirals—Friday, 7:30 p.m.
The Crunch take on the Admirals for the fourth time of the season Friday, with all four meetings occuring in the two weeks. Syracuse has won all three meetings with a combined score of 11-5. Since losing to the Crunch Friday and Saturday, the Admirals suffered a 3-1 loss to Charlotte in Raleigh, home of the Checkers' parent club, the Carolina Hurricanes.
Former Crunch players continue to pace the Ads, with Peter Holland (12g-18a-30pts) leading the way. Kyle Palmieri (11-12-23pts) and Patrick Maroon (11g-11a-22pts) are second and third in team scoring, but all three players have a negative plus-minus. Frederik Andersen (7-9) and Igor Bobkov (7-10) each suffered losses to Syracuse last weekend.
The Admirals play in Binghamton Saturday and next play Syracuse March 15 at the War Memorial.
Crunch vs. Rochester—Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday the Crunch play the Amerks for the second time in four days, the fourth meeting of the season between the I-90 rivals. Rochester hosts Hamilton in between meetings with the Crunch. The Amerks are 6-7-2-0 on the road.
The game will be televised on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel, the third television broadcast for the Crunch this season. Details of more Crunch games on TV will be released shortly.