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Syracuse Crunch head south: Season fizzles, new affiliate sizzles

— The Syracuse Crunch is going south in more ways than one.

At 24-26-4-4, and mired in 14th out of 15 places in the Eastern Conference, the local American Hockey League team has all but given up the ghost of its 2011-12 season.

Meanwhile, the Syracuse franchise looks South for a new National Hockey League affiliate.

Last weekend, Crunch President Howard Dolgon confirmed that the team will sever its relationship with the Anaheim Ducks and said he has already signed a multi-year contract with a new parent club.

Last May, the Maine Hockey Journal a Tampa-based ESPN radio reporter reported that the Tampa Bay Lightning was interested in ending its present relationship with the Norfolk Admirals in favor of the Syracuse Crunch.

Dolgon hopes to announce the new affiliation before this sorry season comes mercifully to its close on April 15.

Sexton nets three

In three games last weekend, the Crunch scored 10 goals and allowed 10 goals while dropping one and winning two.

The Binghamton Senators sunk the Crunch 5-2 Friday, March 2, at the War Memorial after scoring four unanswered goals in the first period. Depressing!

On Saturday, Minnesota native Dan Sexton lifted Crunch spirits with a hat trick pacing the team’s come-from-behind 6-4 win over the visiting St. John’s IceCaps. While Sexton tallied his tenth goal of the season, New Jersey wunderkind Kyle Palmieri notched the game-winner. Palmieri, the 21-year-old AHL All-Star, leads the AHL with 32 goals, only eight behind the Crunch single-season record set by Lonny Bohonos in 1995–96.

The Crunch won again Sunday in the state capital by dispelling the Albany Devils, 2-1, on goals by Riley Holzapfel and Brandon McMillan.

Devils on ice twice

The Crunch continues its 2011-12 AHL season with two home games against the Albany Devils this weekend at downtown’s Onondaga County War Memorial, State and Harrison streets.

Face-offs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 11.

The Crunch is affiliated with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, while Albany is the top farm club of the New Jersey Devils. Ticket prices for home games range from $14 to $21; 473-4444.

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