Oct 10, 2008 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Syracuse Crunch opens its 2008-09 AHL season this weekend vs. Rochester:
It may take a few games for Crunch fans to forgive Zenon Konopka for leaving the local American Hockey League franchise in order to pursue his National Hockey League dreams in Tampa of all places.
Sure, the former Crunch captain’s hard-nosed playing style and rousing leadership will be missed, but once the 2008-09 season gets underway this weekend fans will see that Konopka has left the team in good hands.
Veterans such as defensemen Dan Smith and forwards Mike York and Trevor Frischmon will set the pace for prospects like blossoming blue-liners Andrey Plekhanov and Clay Wilson and sure-scorers like Adam Pineault, John Vigilante, Steve Kelly and Petr Pohl.
Last year’s scrappers, Jon Mirasty and Tom Sestito, return to keep opponents looking over their shoulders, waiting for the gloves to drop. Sestito, 21, hails from nearby Rome, N.Y.
Judging from their pre-season performances, goalies Dan LaCosta and Sebastian Dahm appear ready and willing to shut down opposing slap-shooters.
If that’s not a solid enough foundation, remember, there’s more help coming from parent-club the Columbus Blue Jackets. Three key players — Derek Dorsett, Craig MacDonald and Derek MacKenzie — are still with Columbus but will likely earn more ice time here than in Ohio.
The Crunch opens its 15th AHL season with a home-and-home series against Thruway rivals, the Rochester Americans. The teams face off in the Flower City on Friday Oct. 10, followed by the home opener here at the Onondaga County War Memorial at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 11. Ticket prices range from $13 to $20; 473-4444.
So who will replace Konopka as captain? Coach Ross Yates isn’t saying yet. In the final pre-season game on Oct. 4, however, Frischmon, Mirasty and newcomer Jonathan Sigalet all wore an ‘A’ as alternate captains. In a previous game against the Amerks, Dan Smith sported the ‘A.’
Given his reputation for self-sacrificial shot-blocking and his 12 years of pro experience, Smith deserves the ‘C.’
I mean, Z had zest, but Dan’s the man !
The Syracuse Crunch will pay tribute to Hollywood Legend Paul Newman by raising a banner featuring the number seven prior to Saturday’s game against the Rochester Amerks. Newman’s character, Reg Dunlop, wore number seven in the 1977 hockey comedy “Slapshot.”
The tribute will be part of the club’s opening night ceremonies. Assisting in the pre-game banner-raising will be the Crunch’s own “Hanson Brothers,” two brothers and a sister who have sat in the stands in costume since the team’s first game in 1994.
Newman passed away at the age of 83 on Sept. 26, after a battle with lung cancer. The Academy Award-winning Newman is best known for his roles in such films as “The Hustler,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Sting,” and “The Color of Money.”
Scenes for “Slapshot,” directed by George Roy Hill, were shot at the War Memorial where hundreds of locals signed on as extras playing rabid fans. Newman roomed at Hotel Syracuse during that shoot.
Actor Ryne Sanborn, known for his role as Jason Cross in Disney’s “High School Musical,” will appear at the Crunch’s Quickway home opener at 7:30 p.m. Saturday Oct. 11, at the War Memorial.
Sanborn, 19, has appeared in all three installments of Disney’s musical series, including “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” scheduled to open in theaters nationwide on Oct. 24.
A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Sanborn is an avid hockey fan, whose childhood dream was to play for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. He played hockey at Taylorsville High School as well as Utah’s Under-16 travel team. The young actor frequently plays in charity games featuring other celebrities and National Hockey League alumni.