We here at Raw Charge are so lucky to have our coverage of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL club enhanced by Scott Thomas’ photography. Scott does so much work every Syracuse Crunch game to capture moments, goal, and players. All of us who are able to access his work are truly blessed.
With the sting of the Crunch’s second-round exit now fading, I thought it would be fun to go through the archives and grab out my favorite shots from the past season. Some were selected for the sheer brilliance of the shot, but others were selected for...different reasons.
2017-18 was a very special season, one that deserves a final visual glance back.
Photo #1: Hug it out!
This photo from the very beginning of the season struck me on several levels. Hockey hugs are usually the subject of my favorite pictures, but I think what was so special about this one was the players in it. Tye McGinn and Cory Conacher, the two main players in the picture and two guys that were instrumental to Syracuse’s success last season in 2016-17, were both gone by the end of the following month. McGinn was part of the trade for Louis Domingue in the middle of November, while Conacher earned two recalls, one at the end of November and one a few weeks later, and was never returned to Syracuse. It is nice to look back on this early season goal and celebrate with them both, one last time.
Photo #2: So fast it was all a blur
Funny faces and blurry pucks are a staple in hockey photography, and this one from October 13th had both. I think what made this photo for me, though, was the look on Maxime Lajoie’s face. Adam Erne is putting so much effort into it all, and Lajoie is either super bored or super awed. I really can’t tell which.
Picture #3: Dat smile
Matthew Peca is usually a very serious guy, at least when he’s on the ice doing his job. It takes a lot for him to even crack a smile, which is why this photo - with him displaying a wide celebratory grin - is so much fun. This photo is made all the more special with the realization that the victory that goal was a part of kicked off the Crunch’s first 10-game winning streak of the season.
Photo #4: OT heroics
Speaking of the win that kicked off Syracuse’s first 10-game winning streak of the season, here’s the goal that ended that game with a victory for the Crunch. Dennis Yan’s overtime marker was certainly a breath of fresh air for a team that had lost all three of the bonus hockey rounds it had gotten to up to that point. It also began a team-wide, season-long comeback that would carry the Crunch into the playoffs.
Picture #5: Eye on the puck
Domingue made a pretty immediate impact with the Crunch after he was traded to the organization. Though this action shot is from his early days with Syracuse, I know I was drawn to it for a different reason.
I have a soft spot in my heart for goalies with mismatched gear, one created after goalie Karl Goehring signed onto Syracuse in 2007 for the second time in his career. Boasting a Milwaukee Admirals helmet, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton pads, and a Crunch jersey, his style in those early games spoke of both his travels and his journeyman status. Here’s that picture for reference:
Scott’s photo of Domingue from late November reminded me so strongly of Goehring’s return that I couldn’t help but smile. Domingue’s tape-stylized helmet - created by Crunch team equipment manager Colten Wilson - was also a fun feature of that photo that was front and center.
Picture #6: The Onondaga County War Memorial
I just love this photo. These kinds of shots highlight the classic look of our Memorial and are usually really interesting to those who haven’t been to the building. It will also be a good memento of how everything looked before all of the work happens that is scheduled for this summer happens.
Picture #7: The futility of it all
Originally I was attracted to this shot because of the fun bend in Erne’s stick. You can see the force and power behind his shot. The awesome concentration in Erne’s face is also pretty cool. Ultimately, though, the futility of actions the Utica Comets’ player is what really made this shot for me.
Photo #8: Mine!
Connor Ingram’s flourishing confidence was a big part of the Crunch’s season. This photo, taken during a stretch of games in the middle of the season where Ingram found himself the Crunch’s clear #1, perfectly illustrates that calm and cool attitude that helped Syracuse turn their season around.
Picture #9: Emotion!
One of the oddest complaints I often hear about Crunch head coach Ben Groulx is that he doesn’t complain or react enough during games “in support of his players.” Having sat through the Ross Yates Era of Comatose Coaching, I can promise you this is far from the truth. However, I thought I’d include this photo just for all those haters out there. Look! Emotion! He has it!
Picture #10: Gaze of steal
Look, I’ll be honest: I just this like photo.
Photo #11: Dat smile, pt. 2
Sometimes a picture captures just the right moment. Gabriel Dumont’s smile here as he knows - just knows - that the puck is headed into the net is perfect.
Picture #11A: The aftermath
In a visual continuation of the last photograph, we see the puck actually go into the net. This goal happened during Dumont’s third game back in a Crunch uniform (where he belongs, dammit). Dumont’s return was a big part of the second half of the Crunch’s season, and a big part of their first round sweep of the Rochester Americans in the Calder Cup playoffs.
Picture #12: What...is...happening...
Sometimes a photograph just makes you wonder what the hell happened.
Picture #13: Because
This is my entry. I don’t have a real reason for including this photo, and I don’t need a real reason.
Picture #14: Snowed in
This picture I actually picked for a reason. I loved the snowstorm in the bottom right. The way Scott captured how the ice is spraying up is awesome.
Picture #15: Going down
Daniel Walcott is a RFA this summer. I sure hope he is asked to return. He never stops working, and his physicality can’t be beat. Crunch fans are certainly hoping to see more of the above photo this fall.
Photo #16: I believe I can fly...
I’m afraid we just don’t have much in common if you can’t see why I included this photo.
Photo #17: Dat smile, pt. 3
Alex Volkov’s excitement in this photograph is so cartoon-like it’s adorable. Volkov had his first season in North America in 2017-18. He didn’t know the English language when he first arrived here, and for much of the season played the part of the Serious Russian well. It’s pictures like this, though, pictures that capture such universal joy in our sport, that really remind us how hockey transcends culture and country. Hockey just is.
Picture #18: You can see it all
I love everything about this picture of Eddie Pasquale. I love the desperate hope that Reid McNeil has that his goalie made that save. I love that you can see the puck and its logo nestled so perfectly in Pasquale’s glove.
Most of all, I love that the puck is in his glove and not, you know, in the net behind him.
Picture #19: End of the road (Alternate title: Ow, my heart)
I’m sorry, everyone. I’m sorry to do this to you all. But I’ll tell you, when I was looking through Scott’s final set of pictures for us, this one just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It was taken after the Crunch was swept by the Toronto Marlies. The team gave their salute to the fans - one final, last salute - and then started to head into the dressing room. Peca and Walcott displayed the emotions of that moment in one final half-hug, and Scott captured it beautifully.
While it was hard to end this collection on such a downer, knowing how the season ended doesn’t at all take away from the moments we all shared, moments captured here and in our memories. Here’s to the players that made it all possible, and to the incredible photographer that helps us remember them!