I once told you all that it's never boring, being a Crunch fan. This past week was pretty much a prime example of why so many of us are wound tighter than a screw most of the time. What a ride!
First, we had the AHL All Star game. As you probably know, Syracuse's only player in the competition was prospect Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri didn't break any records during the skills competition, but he did score two points (1 goal, 1 assist) for the East in their win. I must admit, I don't really care for the All Star game. I think it's boring, and there's way too much lag time during the skills competition to hold my gnat-like attention span. But, the kid got to go down to Hershey, have some fun, and show off a bit without worrying so much about physicality. Since that's the kind of game this team seems destined to play, it was probably a good thing for him.
Next, it was back to buisness for the team on Thursday. Some of our players went on wine tours while others went down to NYC during the break. Only one member actually played hockey. Therefore, we were not expecting fireworks in our first weekend back. Breaks have never been kind to the Crunch, something I understand we usually have in common with the Ducks.
Friday, the team traveled to face the ADK Phantoms, a team that is still last in our division but had, as of that night, beaten us all five times we had faced them. Dan Sexton had been recalled back to the big club, as expected, once the NHL break was over, so we were going in short some firepower. Our confidence in our team's ability to win was deflated even more when goaltender Timo Pielmeier was recalled to the Ducks.
Of course, the Crunch decided to laugh in the face of all of this and beat ADK 4-0. It was JP Levasseur's fourth shutout of the year. He's only won 8 games. More on this in a moment.
After finally managing to beat one of the worst teams in the league Friday, the Crunch rolled back home for a Saturday tilt against one of the best, the Baby Pens. Surprisingly, WBS has actually been one of the least dangerous opponents in Crunch land this season. Going into last night, Syracuse led the series 2-1. Thankfully, that trend continued. The Crunch won convincingly, with a 4-2 score.
The big story of the weekend seemed to be Matt Beleskey. When Sexton was recalled, Beleskey--who had been sent down at the same time as Sexton--was left behind. It was clearly a message to him that he had to pick up his game in order to be looked at seriously again. For his sake (and ours), he seems to have done just that. In his first two games after being sent down, Beleskey only scored one assist. In the two games after that, he scored a goal and a helper in each game-- four points in two games. Not too shabby, really. It's nice to see a player receive that kind of a message and actually work harder.
However, it turned out that two things would outshine Beleskey's performance: the rumor mill and the next evolution of the Mirasty Saga.
First up: the Mirasty Saga. Another chapter was written this weekend, when news broke yesterday that Mirasty had been loaned to Fort Wayne of the CHL, a team that is--ironically--the lower-level developmental team for the Blue Jackets. Mirasty wasn't traded there, however; he's still tied by contract to Syracuse. Many of us are wishing the Ducks would just give the guy a clean break and let him settle somewhere for the rest of the season, but obviously ANA isn't really asking our opinions on this. The Crunch is still running a commercial featuring Mirasty during the games, still planning a Mirasty bobble-head night in a few weeks, and is still shoving merchandise with his face on it down our throats. Personally, I think they're just adding fuel to a poorly-contained fire.
This news probably brings an end to me reporting on the Mirasty Situation. (Try to cut down on your tears of joy, okay?) I would assume that he won't be seen in a Crunch uniform again. There's a part of me that hopes I'm wrong, but the other part is increasingly feeling like it's time to move on. This would be easier without all the mechanizing out there, but I also understand that the team has a lot of money invested in these things. I guess there's nothing they can really do. They paid for these things, so they're certainly not going to let them rot somewhere.
Next, the rumor mill: Thursday morning, word started circulating on Twitter that the Ducks were interested in signing Ray Emery. As you all have discussed here, there are a variety of pros and cons as to how this all works out. From our perspective, we're hoping he'll be slated as a strong number three, a guy we can hopefully depend on to help us out of an inconsistent goaltending slump. Whether this is in vain, we'll know soon enough.
As I write this, word has come down that Timo Pielmeier has been returned from his call up to ANA and sent...um...to Elmira, the ECHL affiliate of the Crunch and the Ducks. Ouch. Personally, an Emery/Levasseur tandem was not what I expected here at all. I love Levasseur's effort and heart, but like I said, he's only won eight games. Granted, Pielmeier has only won 10, but still...I was under the impression that Timo is where the money is for the Ducks.
However, maybe they're figuring that while the Crunch is idle in Norfolk this week--they don't play until Friday--Timo can get some games in with Elmira. Maybe they also figure that JP seems to be working out well, so why ruin a good thing? Who knows, to be honest. I'm still a bit surprised by this news and don't quite know what to make of it. We'll see.
There you have it: a week in the life of a Crunch fan. This was one of those rare mostly good weeks, when almost everything seemed to go our way. It will be very interesting to see how the Emery deal shakes out Monday. It's good to see that the Ducks have finally come to terms with the goaltending situation. Now I just hope he'll be around long enough to make a difference.