It was just one of those weekends for the Syracuse Crunch. One night the team couldn't do anything wrong; the next night, the team couldn't do anything right. After an emotional home opener Saturday that included a banner raising ceremony and featured a 5-1 win against in-state rival Rochester, the Crunch would go on to fall flat the next night, losing to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins by an embarrassing final of 6-3.
Saturday night was very poignant, touching, and fun for all involved. Over 6,000 fans welcomed the team's 20th anniversary season and saw the 2012-13 AHL East Division championship and Eastern Conference championship banners raised. You can see a portion of the banner-raising ceremony and highlights of the game in the video below:
The Crunch had a group of season ticket holders who have been with the team for all twenty years along with twenty year sponsors assist members of the Crunch who helped earn those banners. The night also featured a video montage of last year's highlights, as well as a second montage of the best moments from the last 19 years. Once the banners were raised, Crunch fans were treated to this image:
During opening night last year, the Crunch played tribtute to those who serve by having each player be escorted onto the ice by one member of the military or fire and police departments. This year, the Crunch kept a similar theme but instead had each player be introduced along with a child who had beaten a form of cancer. It was a humbling, touching moment for both the players and the fans. Pictured below is the Crunch's J.T. Brown (who was recently featured in our Top 25 under 25) with one of the children.
After everything was said and done, the team still had a hockey game, of course. And, as can been seen in the video clip, it was quite a game indeed. Rookie Nikita Kucherov scored his first professional hat trick, goalie Riku Helenius made 18 saves on 19 shots, and the Crunch's power play ignited as the unit scored three of the team's five goals.
Things did not go as well for them Sunday night. Although Syracuse scored three goals, the Penguins scored six. Five of their goals were all scored in the third period. Half of those six talleys were power play goals. The Crunch ran into penalty trouble and spent quite a bit of time in the box. Cedric Paquette gave the Penguins a five-minute power play in the third for boarding while Philippe Paradis got a 10-minute misconduct under the seldom-used "not leaving the fighting area" rule. It was a rough night for the team, and one that will probably linger this week as the Crunch returns to practice before a home-and-home against Binghamton this weekend.
Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:
Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 1-1-1-0
Place in the conference standings (top 8 make the playoffs): Eighth
Place in division standings: Fourth
Top scorer: Nikita Kucherov, 3-1-4
Top scoring defenseman: Matt Taormina 1-3-4
Top defenseman, +/-: Luke Witkowski, +4
Top rookie: Nikita Kucherov, 3-1-4
Home Game attendance: 10/12: 6,167 (sell out); 10/13: 4,049
Syracuse Crunch Player notes/transactions:
-Danick Gauthier (LW) was assigned to Florida of the ECHL
-Dan Milan (D) was assigned to Florida of the ECHL
-Matt Taormina (D) was activated off of IR and returned to Syracuse
-Kristers Gudlevskis was assigned to Syracuse and then re-assigned to to Florida of the ECHL
-Cedrick Desjardins was recalled to Tampa Bay and then assigned back to Syracuse