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Recap: Syracuse Crunch @ Americans, 10.12.2012

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“Don’t take for granted what you’ve got, honey – rock it, honey.” (NEEDTOBREATH, Solomon’s Ashes)

Play by play man Don Stevens and Amerks Coach Ron Rolston

I’ve been struggling with where to start for the Amerks home opener. By that, I meant that I’m not sure what my favorite part was. I’m pretty sure it was watching them give up four unanswered goals before tying the game, only to win in a shootout, though. THe more things change, the more they stay the same …

The Amerks kicked off the season in style (although less style and fanfare than last season, but who’s paying attention), with a red carpet event hosted by long-time play-by-play man Don Stevens. It was a rather low-key, but nice event, with lots of player interviews, smiling, and autograph signing. As we anxiously awaited warmups, conversation centered on the notion that this Syracuse Crunch team would not be the team that we have played the last several seasons. Due to an affiliation flip-flop, the 2011-12 Syracuse Crunch are now the Norfolk Admirals, and the defending 2011-12 Calder Cup Champion Norfolk Admirals are now the 2012-13 “nobody” Syracuse Crunch. What I anticipated was a good battle, maybe less chippy than previous years, but a good game none the less.

What I did not anticipate was Corey Tropp scoring off of a Cody Hodgson pass twenty-four seconds into the game. Five minutes and four seconds later, we had a tie game, as Syracuse’s Mark Barberio tied the game at one on the power play. Not to hold off on an age-old rivalry, Mike Angelidis went after Nick Tarnasky on a shift change. Tarnasky made quick work of Angelidis, however, and both spent some time in the box. When one goal is not enough, it does tend to make for good hockey, and Tropptastic netted his second of the night, from Luke Adam and Drew Schiestel, near the fifteen minute mark. Not to be outdone, Marcus Foligno netted one (for my niece, because it was her birthday), with captain Kevin Porter and Mark Mancari getting the helpers. I had been under the impression that Syracuse’s new affiliate is the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it would appear that, based on the amount of diving that came out the Crunch during this game, the Sedin twins were at training camp. In the last minute of play of the first, Marcus Foligno was called on a tripping minor. This led to quite the melee, leaving not only Foligno with a penalty, but Mancari and Syracuse’s Pierre-Cedric Labrie with roughing minors and Joe Finley and Radko Gudas with fighting majors. The period would close with the Crunch on the power play and the Amerks up 3-1.

Goal-wise, the second period appeared to be highly uneventful. Mark Pysyk got into the fray, scoring his first of the season at 3:22, with assists to Evan Rankin and Phil Varone. I wish I had seen it, but my stomach was rumbling and I was waiting in line for food. It felt like the Amerks were on the penalty kill the WHOLE SECOND PERIOD. They actually were not, however – both teams had three power plays in the second period. New season in the AHL, new rules … or rules I’ve never heard of that have been around forever and no one’s ever enforced them. At 14:21, Marcus Foligno and Vlad Namestnikov were both assessed minor penalties for grabbing the face mask. I have never, ever, in MANY years of hockey heard of anyone getting a face mask penalty in hockey. Foligno was assessed an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, as well. What should have happened, at this point, was not what actually happened and confused the hell out of me (and many other fans, I’m sure). Foligno and Namestnikov went to their respective boxes, and play continued. At the end of the first Foligno penalty, when he was not released from the box (as he should not have been), Coach Rolston sent (I believe) Mark Mancari onto the ice. A bench minor was called on Rochester for an illegal substitution, and the Crunch continued on the power play. From what I can gather, TWO Amerks should have been sent to serve for Foligno’s two minor penalties, so that when the coincidental minors expired, someone from the Rochester club could reenter the ice. Because that’s not how it went down, Mancari served the bench minor. Syracuse would score to come within two at the end of the second, as Angelidis buried a pass from Wyman.

If last season was the season of the second period breakdown, I sincerely hope that last night was not an indication of things to come for this team. AHL MVP Cory Conacher scored a goal and tallied two assists, and Tyler Johnson added two more to give the Crunch a 5-4 lead over Rochester. As Syracuse served a bench minor for delay of game, Mancari stepped it up, and tied the game at 12:42, with assists going to TJ Brennan and Foligno. The teams would skate though a scoreless bonus period and head into the shootout. In the AHL, we don’t believe in ties (unlike our NHL brothers), and the shootout goes five rounds OR until a winner is decided. While another fifteen-rounder would have been one hell of a way to end the home opener, Amerks fans wouldn’t have to wait that long. Mark Mancari was the fifth shooter, and scored the lone shootout goal, giving the Amerks the win over the Syracuse Crunch. Welcome back to Rochester, Mr. Mancari!

Game Notes: Although the officiating seemed obscenely one-sided, twenty-four total penalties were called (twelve aside). Rochester went 1-for-7 on the PP; Syracuse was 2-for-7. Each team was assessed thirty minutes in penalties … Syracuse dominated the second period in shots, racking up 12 to Rochester’s 3. They ended the evening with 34 shots (10-12-10-2-0) to Rochester’s 25 (10-3-10-1-1) … The three stars of the night were 1. Mark Mancari (ROC), 2. Cory Conacher (SYR), 3. COrey Tropp (ROC) .. Speaking of Tropptastic, he got slammed into the boards by Crunch D-man Radko Gudas late in the third. ALthough he could barely move following the hit, he still managed to get deep into the slot on that PP. He had a REALLY hard time getting to the bench (as no one was available to help him), and did not return to the game. He was seen leaving the arena on crutches, but Coach Rolston did not comment on the injury during post-game … All of the Amerks ended even or higher, except for Mark Mancari, TJ Brennan, and Kevin Porter, who finished a minus-1.

The Amerks head north next, to take on North Division rivals (and Calder Cup runners-up) Toronto Marlies, for the Marlies home opener on Saturday. Rochester returns home on Tuesday to meet the Binghamton Senators. Rochester went 6-2-0 against Binghamton last season. However, Bingo has also received roster bolster the lockout has provided, and likely will not look like the sad, tired squad there were last season. As always, I’ll be there, here, and on Twitter. See you at the game!

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