Crunch spiral downward with three weekend losses; playoff hopes dim

— After losing 2-1 to the Hershey Bears Friday, Feb. 10, at the Onondaga County War Memorial, Crunch forward Andrew Gordon said he and his teammates are playing “desperate hockey.”

They’re playing as though every game is a playoff game, Gordon noted. The team is that intent on squeezing into the American Hockey League post-season for the first time in four seasons.

After losing 4-1 to the Albany Devils here on Saturday, Feb. 11, Crunch associate head coach Trent Yawney questioned whether his team is desperate enough.

“Games are won this time of year through sheer will,” Yawney said. “Not want. Will. I know they want it. But are they willing to play desperate hockey for 60 minutes?”

After the Crunch lost 2-1 Sunday, Feb. 12, to the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland, Ohio, it became a team absolutely desperate to score goals. Sunday’s loss was the fourth game in a row in which Syracuse scored only one goal.

Fans frustrated

Syracuse fans have tried to stay supportive, but many have grown frustrated by a Crunch squad that lacks both scoring punch and team spirit. After Patrick Wellar – Hershey’s ill-tempered defenseman – put a knee into Syracuse forward Patrick Maroon on Friday, fans were flabbergasted first when no penalty was called and second when not one Crunch player retaliated.

Maroon is one of the team’s top scorers. When star players suffer illegal hits, teammates routinely respond. That hasn’t been happening here, and the losses keep piling up, effectively deflating hope for playoff eligibility.

Crunch home Tuesday

The Syracuse Crunch continues its 2011-12 AHL season with games in Albany Wednesday, Feb. 15, and in Virginia Feb. 17 and 18 against the Norfolk Admirals.

The team returns home for a 7 p.m. game against the Worcester Sharks on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the War Memorial, downtown at State and Harrison streets.

The Syracuse skaters are sinking fast in the AHL’s East Division, with a record of 19 wins, 22 losses, 4 overtime losses and 3 shootout losses.

The Crunch is the top farm, team of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, while the Sharks are affiliated with the San Jose Sharks. Ticket prices for home games range from $14 to $21; 473-4444.

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