Crunch AHL Calder Cup Finals Notebook
Saturday, June 7
Evgeny "John" Namestnikov, father of Syracuse Crunch center Vladislav Namestnikov, will be in the War Memorial Arena for Game 1 and Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals this weekend. John played three seasons with the Syracuse Crunch (1994-95, 1995-96 and 1996-97) as part of a lengthy hockey career before retiring in 2006. John will perform the ceremonial puck drop before Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals on Sunday, June 9 - just in time for Father's Day.
Several scenes from the 1977 hockey comedy Slap Shot were filmed at the War Memorial Arena, home of the Syracuse Crunch. Starring Academy Award winner Paul Newman, the movie depicts a minor league hockey team that uses violent play to gain popularity in a struggling factory town. A favorite of several Crunch players, parts of the film were shot in front of a cinder block wall outside of the team's current locker room.
A banner hanging from the rafters of the War Memorial Arena showcases the success of the Syracuse Stars - a team that was part of the first season of the International-American Hockey League (now known as the American Hockey League). Led by league points leader Jack Markle, the Stars defeated the Philadelphia Ramblers to win the inaugural Calder Cup Championship for the 1936-37 season. Following the 1939-40 season, the I-AHL renamed itself the AHL, which it remains today.
Friday, June 8
The Lightning's 2012 fourth-round draft pick from Gaspe, Quebec made his AHL debut during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals last week. Paquette also logged some time in Syracuse's series-clinching win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday. The 19-year-old rookie signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on May 3, 2013.
The Bearded Crunch
Several members of the Crunch team are sporting signature playoff beards as they gear up for Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals Saturday night. When asked about his facial hair, Tyler Johnson said, "It's way better than last year's (beard), but I still have a wimpy mustache."
One of the most infamous beards is that of defenseman Radko Gudas who was noticeably absent from the team's morning skate on Friday. Gudas was injured in the second period of the Crunch's 7-0 Eastern Conference Finals win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last Saturday and did not return to the game.
A large copy of head coach Rob Zettler's headshot from his '92 - '93 season with the San Jose Sharks was spotted hanging behind the team bench during Friday's morning skate. A Crunch player who asked to remain anonymous said the photo is part of a series of lighthearted pranks planned for the week. Zettler played 16 seasons as a defenseman in the NHL before beginning his coaching career.