As long as things go according to plan, the post-lockout Syracuse Crunch shouldn't look too different from the pre-lockout Syracuse Crunch.
The once peaceful AHL has been turned upside down by the return of the National Hockey League from it's hiatus, as we knew it would. Transactions are draining minor league clubs as NHL franchises prepare for training camps. Some cities will fare better than others, and luckily for Syracuse, we should be just fine..
The depleted Crunch played an awful game this past Saturday night, losing a belly-flopper to the Rochester Americans 4-1 while missing five regulars from the lineup (with more to be promoted post-game). Missing from the Crunch roster were spark plug forwards such as Cory Conacher, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Mike Angelidis and defensemen Keith Aulie and Matt Taormina... A bland game was pretty much expected with thanks to this. Unfortunately, it happened in front of one of the biggest crowds the Crunch has seen this season, as over 6,000 attended the game.
Saturday aside, the Crunch have been playing fantastic hockey as of late, so the lockout ended at a good time for the club. The Crunch built up a nice cushion in the standings by going on a 7-2-1-0 run over their past 10 games. Saturday night's loss didn't hurt too bad in terms of the standings, and as the team doesn't play again until this Friday, most of our roster should be back to normal by the time we take the ice again.
Not only did our past ten record build up a nice store of points for us, it also contained a few mighty steps forward as a team. One of those steps came last Friday night (January 11th), when the Crunch found themselves in their fourth shootout of the season against the Norfolk Admirals. Their previous three shootout contests had resulted in rather embarrassing loses for one of the top offensive units in the AHL, so home fans were really hoping for some magic.
With a rather odd shootout lineup of J.T. Wyman, Ondrej Palat, Jared Nightingale, and Richard Panik, Syracuse went four-for-four and Crunch goalie Dustin Tokarski turned away two out of four Norfolk players for the win. Tokarski's celebration, in part pictured above, was definitely highlight reel worthy!
Transactions of note:
- 01/13/2013: Cory Conacher (LW)...Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay
- 01/13/2013: J.T. Wyman (RW)...Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay
- 01/13/2013: Keith Aulie (D)...Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay
- 01/13/2013: Mark Barberio (D)...Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay
- 01/13/2013: Matt Taormina (D)...Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay
- 01/13/2013: Mike Angelidis (C)...Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay
- 01/13/2013: Pierre-Cedric Labrie (LW)...Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay
- 01/13/2013: Radko Gudas (D)...Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay
- 01/13/2013: Tyler Johnson (C)...Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay
- 01/12/2013: Alex Hutchings (LW)...Reassigned to Syracuse from Florida Everblades (ECHL)
- 01/12/2013: Charles Landry (D)...Reassigned to Syracuse from Florida Everblades (ECHL)
Obviously, not all of the Crunch players listed above will be staying in Tampa. Most have it figured that Tampa has one D slot open, a position that will probably go to Aulie, and two forward positions open. My bet is on Conacher and either Wyman or Johnson to fill those slots. Although the loss of two of those guys will hurt, it's probably a pretty good bet that the Crunch will be just fine. The depth in the organization is strong, and Saturday's mess was caused more by the amount of players lost at one time rather than the loss of the players themselves.
- Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 24-8-2-3
- Place in the conference standings (top 8 make the playoffs): First place
- Place in division standings: FirsTop scorer: Tyler Johnson, 20-15-35
- Top scoring defenseman: Mark Barberio, 6-16-22
- Top defenseman, +/-: Tie between Dimitry Korobov, +22, and Radko Gudas, +22
- Top rookie: Alex Killorn, 13-18-31
- Game attendance: 1/11: 5,408; 1/12: 6,214
(Photo by Scott Thomas of Scott Thomas Photography and used with his permission. )