Gliding to success on a much smaller stage

When last I left you with photos and my impressions of the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, they’d skated to a 2-1 victory over the Utica Comets in a one-time event called the Frozen Dome Classic. Almost 31,000 fans had crammed into the Carrier Dome for the Saturday night in November, and oh, what a spectacle it was.

Four Saturdays later, my dear wife Karen and I went to the Crunch’s regular rink, the Onondaga County War Memorial, to catch the game against the Albany Devils under much more normal AHL conditions.

The two squads busted their butts in an arena instead of a stadium.

Syracuse hockey history.

Syracuse hockey history.

A rink, really, in a building honoring our veterans that has banners flying atop honoring teams that have skated in it since it opened in 1951.

The attendance was 5,391, and the building seemed awful loud as the Crunch held on for a 3-2 victory, the team’s ninth straight victory in a season that’s looking mighty good right now.

Key Crunch players Mike Angelikis and Mike Blunden scored in the first period and Vladdy Namestnikov’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as goalie Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 26 Albany shots.

I had my iPhone 6 busy from our fantastic seats behind one of the goals, season seats given to us by our great friends JoAnn and Brenda.

Pre-game light show.

Pre-game light show.

Before the teams were introduced, the crowd was treated to a five-minute display of dancing lighting effects.

Everybody's attentive for The National Anthem at the Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, N.Y.

Everybody’s attentive for The National Anthem at the Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, N.Y.

The crowd was into the singing of The National Anthem, too, and you can spot the performer on the ice at the far right, in the white blouse.

Ready for period one, Syracuse Cruch vs. Albany Devils.

Ready for period one, Syracuse Cruch vs. Albany Devils.

My zoom took me to center ice for the opening face off.

Goalie eye's view.

Goalie eye’s view.

And it gave me the Devil goalie’s eye view of the Crunch’s first-period pursuit of the net, too.

The flow of the game.

The flow of the game.

But sometimes a long-range view allows the best feel for the natural flow of ice hockey.

Our friends gave us their tickets to three games in a row. Karen and I are going to see the Crunch try for No. 10 in a row, the night after Christmas. The opponent again will be Albany. My daughter Elisabeth and her boyfriend George are going the next night, when the Crunch plays the Worcester Sharks. This is the Crunch’s longest winning streak since the 2007-2008 season, which they closed by winning the final 15 games. Here’s hoping.

What do you have planned for the day after Christmas? Has one of your favorite sports teams turned in a long winning streak, and have you been at one of the games as part of it? Who’s your favorite sports team that you’ve gone seen play live?

17 thoughts on “Gliding to success on a much smaller stage

  1. That’s very cool! Hockey is a sport that I actually don’t mind watching. 🙂 My BFF dates a former Maple Leaf and she photographs all the retired players’ charity benefit games. Your photos are awesome!


  2. My first hockey game was the Utah Grizzlies.
    I wasn’t prepared for how fast it was! These guys were flying! When they went past I swear i could feel the air swoosh. When they crashed the boards in front of me, I flinched, shouted, and thought they’d end up in my lap. When things would happen that 95% of the fans understood and I didn’t, I screamed in protest and hurled abuse at the refs too! LOL! i HAD NO IDEA WHAT IN THE HELL WAS GOING ON EXCEPT THAT I WAS HAVING A BLAST!
    That’s when I learned more about Hockey.

    Go Grizz!!!


    • Utica got the Comets last season after 20 years of no AHL squad. The driving force was president Robert Esche, a Utica area native who was a longtime goalie in the NHL. They are a winning team this season. It’s a good upstate New York pocket, Utica, Syracuse, Albany, Rochester, Binghamton. Even Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fits right in.


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