There were plenty of stories to follow from the Syracuse Crunch’s first day of training camp Tuesday. So many, in fact, that we decided to pull together as many different media items from as many sources as we could find just for our dear readers.
The Crunch waited until Tuesday morning to release their full roster, and with good reason. The roster contained many familiar names like Matthew Peca, Tye McGinn, Ben Thomas, Adam Erne, and Daniel Walcott. It also had some names that fans are growing used to hearing such as Jamie McBain, Mathieu Joseph, Anthony Cirelli, and Shane Conacher. Finally, it also had a few surprises, like AHL regulars Ty Loney and Troy Bourke - signed to AHL contracts yesterday - and right wing Jason Akeson, whose path to the Crunch was rather sudden.
Akeson on the organization: “What I see here is exciting. For me, it gives me new life and new excitement coming to the rink." pic.twitter.com/6eV7Ar2ehM— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) September 26, 2017
Walcott was one of the first players back in town this past week, and he got roped into talking about the Crunch’s newly renovated workout space on Monday. The Onondaga County War Memorial is slated to undergo a lot of changes in the coming months, and the team’s workout space was one of the first places to be addressed.
...the Tampa Bay organization wants the weight room to be an environment that players want to utilize, and now, as much as possible, it has an even more welcoming tone.
A brand new tile floor has been laid down. It's blue, of course.
The Crunch also has new squat racks, paid for by owner Howard Dolgon. Last year, Dolgon sprung for new plates and free weights.
Speaking of Walcott, it was revealed yesterday that the natural defenseman was asked by the organization which position he preferred: blue liner or forward. Walcott played forward for a good chunk of the season in 2016-17, and the Lightning wanted to reward his willingness to be flexible with a choice between the two. Walcott chose to stay a blue liner.
As the players began to gather in Syracuse Tuesday night, there were, unfortunately, a smattering of red no-contact jerseys among the regular blue and white jerseys. It was revealed that Erik Condra, who captained Syracuse for part of the ‘16-17 season, is rehabbing in Syracuse.
Players have taken the ice. Erik Condra is skating in a red jersey. pic.twitter.com/HtRtDK7kVU— Jeremy Houghtaling (@JGHoughtaling) September 26, 2017
With many of the projected vet core for Syracuse still up with the Lightning, it’s a bit difficult to project how the Crunch’s letters will shake out this season. However, head coach Ben Groulx wasn’t afraid to voice some certainty in at least one area:
Erik Condra is our captain as far as I'm concerned. But we haven't talked anything about leadership.
Forward Jonne Tammela and defenseman Dominik Masin are also rehabbing with the Crunch:
Groulx said Masin twisted ankle at camp. Could be available in next couple weeks. Tammela skated before practice.— Jeremy Houghtaling (@JGHoughtaling) September 26, 2017
Thankfully, most of those on the ice were able to jump into practice right away, and the tone set at the beginning seemed fast and furious.
The Crunch is the AHL’s reigning Eastern Conference champs, and after “a great year last year,” Groulx is eager to get to know the new faces on the ice better and to begin building the team’s compete level right from the start:
(the sound is quiet at the start in this clip, but it gets fixed a few seconds in, so save your speakers)
This week of training camp is about developing habits, learning systems and finding chemistry. pic.twitter.com/9KzZDail0U— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) September 26, 2017
One of the familiar guys back with Syracuse, at least for now, is forward Adam Erne. Erne was a large part of Syracuse’s playoff run last season, and he seems to have a really great attitude after what was probably a disappointing cut from the Lightning’s camp this season. Erne is confident the team won’t have any lasting layovers from the run the Crunch went on last year:
Erne on the new faces in the locker room: “It’s hard to know what to expect, but everyones out here excited and ready to work." pic.twitter.com/0L3QMzaI93— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) September 26, 2017
Rookie Mitchell Stephens, who is looking at his first full season with Syracuse, is excited to get started:
Stephens on the camaraderie with his fellow rookies: “It’s pretty cool to develop with them and start our first year pro together." pic.twitter.com/AqhS0doxLw— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) September 26, 2017
Finally, sometimes it really is the little things that can make a fan squeal with joy. Little things, like scrolling through a collection of media posts and seeing a certain new goalie coach on the ice with his new team for the first time (for the fourth time):
(picture credit goes to the Syracuse Crunch. Super bad editing credit goes to me)
The Crunch’s training camp gets going again today with a planned practice at the War Memorial at 9 AM. The practice should go until about 10:15 or so. All on-ice practices at the War Memorial are free and open to the public.