Crunch Notebook: Rulers of the road
by Jesse Connolly/Web Editor
Playing on home ice certainly has its share of advantages for hockey teams.
Players get to wake up in their own bed and make a familiar trek to a rink they know every nuance of. When it’s game time, nearly everyone in the stands is rooting for them and giving them a little extra juice.
On the flip side, hitting the road certainly has its hurdles. There’s the long bus rides, packing up at one hotel and shuffling off to another, and of course there’s the challenge of trying to succeed when entrenched in enemy territory.
Based on pure logic, the Syracuse Crunch should’ve been at a disadvantage with six of their first nine games this season coming on the road, but life outside their barn has suited the team just fine in the early stages of the 2012-13 campaign.
Syracuse improved to 5-0-0-1 on the road on Wednesday night, as Riku Helenius and Co. blanked the Hamilton Bulldogs by a score of 3-0. His 23-save performance earned him First Star honors for the tilt.
Down the other end of the ice, Dimitry Korobov, J.T. Wyman and Richard Panik tallied for the Crunch. For Korobov, the goal was the first of his AHL career. Wyman spent parts of four seasons with the Bulldogs, having been selected 100th overall by the Canadiens in 2004.
This past Friday it was a 23-save performance from Syracuse’s other netminder that got the job done. Dustin Tokarski allowed one goal late in the first period to the Phantoms, but Syracuse regained the lead in the second period thanks to goals from Panik and Tyler Johnson.
Matt Taormina sealed the deal when he notched his first goal of the season on an empty-netter, giving the Crunch a 4-1 victory at Adirondack.
Syracuse will square off with Hamilton again on Friday night, but their rematch will take place at the Bell Centre, home to the NHL’s Canadiens.
“For all our players, it’s a special experience,” Crunch GM Julien Brisebois, a Montreal native, told Syracuse.com. “It’s a growing experience. Our guys need to be ready. There will be a lot of distractions.”
Given their current position as the best away team in the American Hockey League, don’t expect the Crunch to be too fazed by the bright lights or the huge crowd on hand for their next road showdown.
News and Notes
- The Crunch have now earned points in eight of their nine games this season.
- The victory over the Bulldogs on Wednesday gave Syracuse coach Jon Cooper his 100th career victory in the AHL. His record now stands at 100-45-20.
- Unfortunately for the Crunch, leading scorer Cory Conacher’s point streak came to an end on Wednesday in Hamilton. He started the season with a point in all of the Crunch’s first eight contests.
The Week Ahead
Following Friday’s game against Hamilton at the Bell Centre, the Crunch will return home for a matchup with the Rochester Amerks on Saturday night. The Americans defeated the Crunch, 6-5, in their season opener. Rochester comes into the weekend in third place in the North Division with a 6-3-1-0 record. Syracuse is atop the East Division at 6-1-1-1.