After being shut out 2-0 by the lowly Adirondack Phantoms, the Syracuse Crunch heard a cacophony of boos and hisses from a crowd of 5,200 displeased hockey fans Dec. 28, at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Crunch Coach Mark Holick took exception to the booing, but ever since it happened his players have sharpened their skates and added slap to their shots.
The resurgence didn't occur overnight because the Crunch was shut out again, losing 5-0 on Dec. 29 to AHL East Division leaders Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Pennsylvania. But starting on New Year's Eve, Syracuse won three straight on the road.
They dispatched the Hershey Bears 4-2 on Dec. 31, soundly trounced the Rochester Americans 4-1 on New Year's Day, and sent the Albany Devils across the River Styx by a score of 5-3 on Sunday, Jan. 2. Sunday's game was particularly satisfying for center Trevor Smith who scored four goals.
Smith, 25, became the fifth player in Crunch history to net four goals in a game, joining Steve Kariya, Mark Hartigan, Andy Delmore and Alexandre Picard. Smith tied a season-high with two power play goals, one goal at even strength and also scored a last-minute shorthanded goal - into an empty net. He now has 12 goals on the season.
On Sunday, the only Crunch score that didn't involve Smith came after Dan Sexton and MacGregor Sharp went 2-on-1 into Rochester's zone during a power play. Sexton fed a pinpoint pass to Sharp who re-directed the disk past Amerks goalie Mike McKenna to knot the score at 1-1.
Smith's last AHL hat-trick was on Dec. 13, 2008 when he helped the Bridgeport Sound Tigers beat the Norfolk Admirals 6-4. That was a breakout year for Smith who scored 30 goals and notched 32 assists in 76 games for Bridgeport.