Syracuse Crunch's North Division wins AHL All-Star Classic

Syracuse Crunch forward Mitchell Stephens celebrates one of his two goals during the AHL All-Star Classic in Utica. His former Syracuse teammate, Matt Taormina assisted on the goal (Matt Hauswirth)

The AHL All-Stars gave the "home" North Division something to cheer for on Monday night.

The "Thruway Brothers" from Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica fill the North Division, along with stars from Belleville, Binghamton, Toronto and Laval.

But on this night, in this game played in Utica, what a finish for the fans from Upstate New York.

Staring at elimination, down 4-3 to the Atlantic Division in a de facto semifinal game, the North Division struck twice to win the game and make it to the championship.

For the second time on the night, it was the lone Syracuse Crunch all-star Mitchell Stephens finding his former teammate Matt Taormina from Laval for a goal. This one to win it with 12 seconds left.

The goal would hold and send the North to a championship game against the Pacific Division, a rematch of the night's opening game which the Pacific won 5-3.

Momentum, however, was on the North's side and a goal from Rochester's C.J. Smith was enough to deliver the North Division to an AHL Classic victory.

On the night, Stephens tallied two goals and dished out three assists. Despite being boo'd by the rival crowd in Utica, it was an experience Mitch says he'll never forget.

"I wasn't expecting it last night" Stephens said of the fans booing him. "But, you know the rivalry is awesome. It's really cool to be a part of, it was really funny (the booing) I was laughing a little bit and I'm sure the Syracuse fans would've done the same to Utica players" he added.

"It's pretty cool to play against the players that you get to play against on a nightly basis. The amount of skill out there on the ice it's pretty cool to be a part of, for sure"

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