All season, Crunch fans have hounded certain players to get their games in order. It seemed logical that once players like Brett Connolly and Mike Angelidis got their own seasons straight, that the Crunch might then have a chance of following through. True, last weekend it was the ECHL call ups who led the way, but Syracuse still had key players hanging around who had yet to really get their season going.
Well, those players officially got into the goal column this past weekend, but fans are still waiting for a consistent effort that will show in the "W" column.
The Crunch played the Norfolk Admirals at home twice this past weekend in two action-packed, penalty-filled games. It was very clear that these two teams don't just dislike each other, they down right hate each other. Friday night, the two teams combined for 106 penalty minutes and 10 power plays (5 each) between them. Norfolk scored on two of theirs, while the Crunch wasn't able to find the back of the net once during their man-advantages (this, unfortunately, has turned into a trend this season).
The game started out well for Syracuse. By the middle of the second, the Crunch was sitting pretty with a 3-0 lead. Drew Olson got things going with his first of the season, Angelidis followed suit and then Connolly was able to also pot one. Some interesting action took place, which included Angelidis getting a questionable goaltender interference call (questionable because Norfolk's goalie was closer to the blue line than his own crease). Unfortunately, Norfolk would get their first power play goal of the game while Angelidis was serving his penalty.
Not two minutes later, Crunch goaltender Cedrick Desjardins was clearly interfered with by Admirals forward (and former Crunch player) Devante Smith-Pelly. Desjardins got a bit irritated, and an altercation resulted where Smith-Pelly clearly shoved Desjardins back about a foot. Desjardins threw his gloves off, but before he could fight, Crunch defenseman Luke Witkowski cemented himself in Crunch lore by diving in, tackling Smith-Pelly full body and taking the fight for Desjardins.
The boys were fired up, sticking up for each other, and although Norfolk had gotten on the board once, Crunch fans were hoping the merry time would result in a win.
Unfortunately, Norfolk was allowed to score two more unanswered goals, tying the game at three apiece. Despite getting a potential game-ending power play at the end of OT, the Crunch was unable to score. This lack of firepower would continue during the shootout, with only Connolly scoring for the Crunch. Rickard Rakell and Charles Sarault both scored for Norfolk, so the Admirals got their two points while the disappointed Crunch only got one.
Syracuse was looking for revenge Saturday, but found no satisfaction. Although the game was marked by Eric Neilson's first goal of the season, a goal that was followed by the longest ovation and arena celebration ever seen in the War Memorial in December after a random goal, Neilson would be the only scorer of the night. The Crunch would lose 2-1. Crunch goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, in his first game back with Syracuse after his last call up, saw his first loss in a Crunch uniform.
The weekend was costly for Syracuse, who is now on the outside looking in when it comes to the standings. Syracuse is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Norfolk is now in seventh, thanks to their four point weekend. St. John's, who Syracuse will (of course) play twice this week (on Tuesday and Wednesday), is in eighth. The Crunch will then be idle Friday, due to the trip back from Newfoundland, before playing Saturday at home against Rochester.
Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:
Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 11-8-1-2
Place in the conference standings (top 8 make the playoffs): Ninth
Place in division standings: Fourth
Top scorer: Nikita Kucherov, 13-11-24
- Top scorer still active with the team: Cedric Paquette, 6-5-11
Top scoring defenseman: Matt Taormina 2-8-10
- Top scoring defenseman still active with the team: Dmitry Korobov, 0-10-10
Top defenseman, +/-: Jean-Philippe Cote, +6
Top rookie: Nikita Kucherov, 13-11-24
- Top rookie still active with the team: Cedric Paquette, 6-5-11
Home Game attendance: 12/6: 4381; 12/7: 5,455
Other Syracuse Crunch Player notes/transactions:
- Matt Taormina
Syracuse Crunch vs. Norfolk Admirals (December 6th, 2013) (via Syracuse Crunch)
Syracuse Crunch vs. Norfolk Admirals (December 7th, 2013) (via Syracuse Crunch)