SYRACUSE Sparse crowds and spotty play made for a couple sad nights at the Onondaga County War Memorial last weekend as the Syracuse Crunch lost two games in a row.
After breaking from the gate in high gear — the Crunch won four of its first seven games in its 2011-12 American Hockey League season — Syracuse skated in vain Oct. 28-29, losing 5-3 Friday to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and 6-2 Saturday to the Norfolk Admirals.
A crowd of about 3,000 watched a decidedly disorganized Crunch make haphazard passes and commit off-sides infractions through two periods before the lights suddenly went on inside their heads to draw them within a goal of the Penguins with 48 seconds left to play in the third…then the War Memorial lights went out and when play resumed 20 minutes later the Penguins scored an empty-net goal to ice the victory.
Closer to 4,000 turned out Saturday night, but the Crunch scored even fewer goals, one in the second period and another in the third, equaling just one-third of the Admirals’ offense.
One of the reasons Syracuse seemed soft last weekend was because the team’s leading scorer, 20-year-old right wing Kyle Palmieri, has been sidelined with a hip injury ever since he took a hit during an Oct. 22 overtime loss to the Lake Erie Monsters at the War Memorial. Palmieri has netted eight goals and notched two assists so far this season, while scoring with one of every four shots he takes on goal.
Even without Palmieri, the Crunch shut out the Lake Erie Monsters 7-0 in Cleveland on Oct. 26, on the strength of Iiro Tarkki’s stingy goaltending and two goals each from center Mark Bell and left winger J.F. Jacques.
Rookie center Peter Holland also scored two goals as the Crunch fell to the Penguins Friday night at the War Memorial.