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The Syracuse Crunch season in photos: Alex’s favorites

Alex looks back at the 2017-18 Crunch season through Scott Thomas’ amazing images.

Syracuse Crunch and Belleville Senators players stand for the National Anthem before an American Hockey League (AHL) game at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, December 2, 2017.
Scott Thomas Photography

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!

Syracuse Crunch players congratulate Tye McGinn (16) for his goal against the Belleville Senators in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, October 13, 2017. Syracuse won 4-2.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch Adam Erne (73) gets a shot off past Belleville Senators defenders Maxime Lajoie (8) and Jordan Murray (4) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, October 13, 2017. Syracuse won 4-2.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch players Dominik Masin (27) and Erik Cernak (44) congratulate Matthew Peca (22) on his goal against the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. Syracuse won 6-5 in Overtime.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch Dennis Yan (18) celebrates his overtime goal against the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. Syracuse won 6-5 in Overtime.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch goalie Louis Domingue (70) makes a save against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, November 24, 2017. Syracuse won 5-2.
Scott Thomas Photography

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:

The Syracuse Post-Standard

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

Syracuse Crunch and Belleville Senators players stand for the National Anthem before an American Hockey League (AHL) game at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, December 2, 2017.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch Adam Erne (73) leans into a shot past Utica Comets defender Marco Roy (39) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, December 30, 2017. Syracuse won 3-2 in a Shootout.

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!

Syracuse Crunch goalie Connor Ingram (39) gloves the puck against the Utica Comets in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, New York on Friday, January 12, 2018. Syracuse won 3-2.
Scott Thomas Photography

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!

Syracuse Crunch Head Coach Benoit Groulx complains about a call against the Utica Comets in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, New York on Friday, January 12, 2018. Syracuse won 3-2.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch goalie Connor Ingram (39) before a face-off against the Belleville Senators in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, January 26, 2018. Syracuse won 5-2.
Scott Thomas Photography

Look, I’ll be honest: I just this like photo.

It’s cool.

That’s all.

Seriously.

Photo #11: Dat smile, pt. 2

Syracuse Crunch Gabriel Dumont (40) backhands the puck at Lehigh Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goalie Anthony Peters (30) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, February 24, 2018. Syracuse won 3-1.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch Gabriel Dumont (40) puts the puck past Lehigh Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goalie Anthony Peters (30) for a goal in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, February 24, 2018. Syracuse won 3-1.
Scott Thomas Photography

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...

Syracuse Crunch Daniel Walcott (85) gets upending by Lehigh Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Jeff Taylor (2) going for the puck in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, February 24, 2018. Syracuse won 3-1.
Scott Thomas Photography

Sometimes a photograph just makes you wonder what the hell happened.

Yup.

Picture #13: Because

Bridgeport Sound Tigers goalie Kristers Gudlevskis (70) stands for the National Anthem before playing the Syracuse Crunch in an American Hockey League (AHL) game at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, March 23, 2018.
Scott Thomas Photography

This is my entry. I don’t have a real reason for including this photo, and I don’t need a real reason.

So there.

Picture #14: Snowed in

Bridgeport Sound Tigers goalie Kristers Gudlevskis (70) playing in net against the Syracuse Crunch in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, March 23, 2018. Syracuse won 4-1.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch Daniel Walcott (85) body checks Bridgeport Sound Tigers Kane Lafranchise (14) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, March 23, 2018. Syracuse won 4-1.
Scott Thomas Photography

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...

Syracuse Crunch Gabriel Dumont (40) jumps to clear a path for Mathieu Joseph (7) to shoot at the Utica Comets net in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Syracuse won 2-0.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch Alexander Volkov (83) celebrates his first thrid period goal against the Rochester Americans with teammates Reid McNeill (3), Matthew Peca (22) and Jamie McBain (2) in American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup Playoff action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Syracuse won 6-5.
Scott Thomas Photography

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

Syracuse Crunch goalie Eddie Pasquale (80) makes a glove save against the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup Playoff action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Syracuse won 6-5.
Scott Thomas Photography

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)

Syracuse Crunch Daniel Walcott (85) and Matthew Peca (22) after loosisng an American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup Playoff series to the Toronto Marlies at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Toronto won 2-1.
Scott Thomas Photography

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!