When the Syracuse Crunch returns to its home ice this Saturday night against the Rochester Amerks, it’ll be a much different team than the one which last played the War Memorial on Dec. 28.
While the Salt City’s American Hockey League team played a season-high seven road games from Dec. 29 through Jan. 14, a series of trades and player transactions has transformed the roster.
On Dec. 30, the Crunch demoted enforcer Jon Mirasty, a fan favorite, to the Elmira Jackals.
On Jan. 1, Syracuse’s parent club, the Anaheim Ducks, traded defenseman Brett Festerling to the Montreal Canadiens organization.
On Jan. 3, the Ducks sent playmaking center Nick Bonino back to Syracuse, which is a good thing because on Jan. 4 Anaheim traded Crunch top-scorer Trevor Smith to the Columbus Bluejackets for defenseman Nate Guerin.
The next day, Jan. 5, the Ducks promoted right winger Dan Sexton – arguably the Crunch’s fastest skater – to the NHL.
To take the edge off those significant losses in the offensive zone, Anaheim reassigned rookie phenom Kyle Palmieri to the Crunch after his stint with the bronze medal-winning U.S. National Juniors Team.
While Crunch Coach Mark Holick continues juggling lines to increase the team’s scoring punch, he’ll also have three recent call-ups from Elmira to fill in. The day after New Year’s left wingers Eric Lampe and Josh Brittain returned to the Crunch, and journeyman blueliner Guerin, 28, will be expected to fill in with his fists in Mirasty’s absence.
The Crunch lost two games on the road last weekend.
Despite the third two-goal performance of the season from Nathan Paetsch, Syracuse could not solve the Binghamton Senators and fell to their I-81 rivals by a 6-4 final Jan. 7, at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, snapping the Crunch’s three-game winning streak. The loss was the team’s fourth straight to Binghamton after winning the first game of the season series back on Oct. 16.
On Jan. 8, the Crunch were edged by the Albany Devils by a 2-1 score at the Times Union Center. Goalie J.P. Levasseur, making his first start in five games, denied 26 of 28 Albany shots, while Eric Lampe scored his second goal in as many nights for the Crunch in the losing effort.
Syracuse concludes its seven-game road trip Jan. 14 against the Hamilton Bulldogs in Ontario before returning to the War Memorial at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, against Rochester and Adirondack, respectively. The home team will be wearing new orange-and-white jerseys for each of this weekend’s games. Ticket prices range between $13 and $22; 473-4444; syracusecrunch.com.