The 19th season for the Syracuse Crunch Hockey Club was its most successful. The team went to the finals of the American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup Championship series for the first time. Tyler Johnson was named the league’s MVP, another first for the club. While players may look back at the season as a failure after losing the Calder Cup to the Grand Rapids Griffins, team management and fans, though disappointed, enjoyed the ride.
So, it was with much fanfare and jubilation last Saturday night when, with the help of 20 year ticket holders and sponsors and loud approval from the rest of the fans attending, team members from last year’s Syracuse Crunch squad raised banners for winning the 2012-2013 AHL Eastern Division and Eastern Conference Championships over the OnCenter War Memorial ice surface. New members to the team watched from the bench and immediately knew the task before them for the 2013-2014 season. The 20th one in a city which was once described as a hockey graveyard.
The raising of the banners was the finale of the opening ceremonies which included a video recapping the Crunch’s previous 19 seasons, introduction of one of the original Crunch players from the 1994 squad, Big Bad John Badduke, who addressed the fans and players being escorted onto the ice by young cancer survivors from Upstate University Hospital.
From top left: Zoom Tan Ice Girl handing out replica Eastern Conference Championship banners to fans, Crunch players being escorted on to the ice by an Upstate University Hospital cancer survivor, original Syracuse Crunch player Big Bad John Badduke addresses the fans from center ice and then helps out with the ceremonial puck drop along with an Upstate University Hospital representative, Crunch captain Mike Angelidis (10) and Rochester Americans Matt Ellis (37).
Editor’s Note: As you can see, I hit the ground running last week after returning from vacation. Might be a week or two before things get back to normal around here. Thank you for your patience!