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Crunch finish strong

Although the Syracuse Crunch failed to make the American Hockey League playoffs again this year, its spunky skaters rallied to win nine of its last eleven games here at the Onondaga County War Memorial.

Last week at the War Memorial, they sunk the Norfolk Admirals twice in a row by scores of 5-3 on April 7 and 5-4 on April 9. Then, on Sunday the 10th first-year Coach Mark Holick took the Crunch down to Pennsylvania where they ended their season with a 4-1 rout of the two-time defending Calder Cup Champions.

Syracuse finished the season with 35 wins and 38 losses including three overtime losses and four shootout losses.

Prior to Saturday night's home game, the team announced its player awards for the season. Forward Josh Green was named Most Valuable Player after scoring 14 goals and adding 28 assists in 66 games. Patrick Maroon was named power forward of the year after notching 18 goals, 27 assists and 68 penalty minutes.

Twenty-year-old right winger Kyle Palmieri led the Crunch in goals with 29, and was named the team's Rookie of the Year. The scrappiest player award went to left wing John Kurtz, who scored just three goals in 46 games but earned 95 penalty minutes, many of them for fighting.

Defenseman Mat Clark and forward Nicolas Deschamps were the only two players to appear in all 80 games for the Crunch this season.

The Anaheim Ducks will continue as Syracuse's NHL parent club next season, according to Dicks officials, and Mark Holick is expected to return as the Crunch coach; syracusecrunch.com.

The usually low-scoring Crunch went to town against Albany Friday with goals by Nick Bonino, Maxime Macenauer, Patrick Maroon, John Mitchell and John Kurtz.

Rookie phenom Kyle Palmieri dazzled the home town crowd of 5,879 with a gorgeous goal midway through the third period. After taking a precision pass from Bonino, Palmieri slipped the slab past an Albany defenseman, then deked to his backhand and slid a shot through the legs of Devils' back-up goalie Jeff Frazee to put the Crunch up 6-1.

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