Much like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Crunch started their season away from their home barn. After a training camp in Newfoundland, Syracuse got their regular season going this past Saturday in Binghamton, NY against the Senators. Syracuse's starting roster looks just about as young as Tampa's does, and that inexperience showed a bit during the team's first game of the season.
Syracuse and the Binghamton Senators ended the first period scoreless, but then the Crunch was able to jump ahead 3-1 during the second period. Each team scored short-handed during that frame, while the Crunch would add two more markers thanks to Dana Tyrell (who also scored the shortie) and Evan Rankin. However, the Crunch frittered away their two-goal lead in the third, letting the Sens control the play while the Crunch's young corps of defensemen struggled a bit to keep up. Binghamton ended up netting the game-winner mid-way through the overtime period.
Although starting off the franchise's 20th Anniversary season with just one point probably wasn't what this group had in mind, one point has proved to be a difference maker in the AHL. The Crunch are not one of 14 AHL teams who woke up this morning without a regular-season point. Although half of those teams have yet to play a regular season game, all of the Crunch's East Division has played at least once. Not one of those teams in the East haa gone without a point this opening weekend.
Some may remember that the Crunch became the East Division champions last year by one single point. The AHL's East Division is notoriously tough; four out of the five teams in the division made the playoffs last year, with the eventual Eastern Conference champion coming from the East Division. That team was, of course, Syracuse, who edged other Eastern Conference teams with the help of an outstanding road record.
So, although the Crunch would have loved to have woken up this morning with a win under their belt form the night before, one point via overtime loss isn't so bad.
It was definitely a learning experience for this team, about half of whom are either new to the organization or new to the team this year. The Crunch's official roster stands as follows:
11 Evan Rankin
16 Maxime Langelier-Parent
21 Drew Olson
23 J.T. Brown
29 Eric Neilson
42 Dana Tyrell
67 Geoff Walker
90 Vladislav Namestnikov
7 Artem Sergeev
24 Jean-Philippe Cote
44 Dmitry Korobov
30 Cedrick Desjardins
31 Riku Helenius
Taormina can’t be assigned here officially until he’s off injured reserve, although he has cleared waivers. So, once he’s cleared to play he will be on the roster. Cote was already on an AHL pact, so he can be on the team's roster even though he’s out with injury.
Syracuse gets their home portion of the season this Saturday at the Onondaga County War Memorial. In addition to raising two banners to the War Memorial's rafters, the franchise will also get their 20th Anniversary festivities kicked off. This past week it was announced that former Crunch player and fan favorite 'Big Bad' John Badduke will be joining in the fun. Badduke played in the Crunch's inaugural season, and was honored with a banner during the 1998-99 season after a fan vote recognized him as the fan favorite during the franchise's first five seasons. Although his number hasn't been officially retired, the banner recognizes him as one of the most popular fighters and players in the Crunch's history.
Syracuse faces the Rochester Americans on Saturday and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) Penguins on Sunday. Syracuse ousted WBS from the Calder Cup Playoffs last season during the AHL Eastern Conference Finals. Interestingly enough, the teams have a rather odd tradition of ending up with former players from each team on their rosters: Syracuse now features former Penguin defenseman Joey Mormina, while the Penguins will be dressing former Crunch goalie Jeff Deslauriers and former Tampa Bay Lighting/Syracuse Crunch defenseman Brendan Mikkelson.
Syracuse Crunch Latest Stats:
Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 0-0-1-0
Place in the conference standings (top 8 make the playoffs): Ninth
Place in division standings: Fourth
Top scorer: Dana Tyrell, 2-0-2
Top scoring defenseman: Dmitry Korobov, 0-1-1
Top defenseman, +/-: Luke Witkowski, +3
Top rookie: Nikita Kucherov, 2 SOG
Home Game attendance: N/A
Syracuse Crunch Player notes/transactions:
-D Drew Olson and F Maxime Langelier-Parent have been signed to AHL deals.