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Crunch depth shines in weekend sweep

Syracuse Crunch goaltender Adam Wilcox making a pad save against the Binghamton Senators.
Photo by Scott Thomas

After falling just short of a victory in Utica on Wednesday night, the Crunch turned their attention to a pair of contests this past weekend against another two divisional rivals, Toronto and Binghamton.

The meeting with the North Division-leading Marlies came on Friday night in front of a great crowd of 5,567 at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena. The Black Friday match-up proved to be a tough test for a Syracuse squad that wasn’t able to dress two of their most dangerous threats. Forwards Cory Conacher and Gabriel Dumont were both listed as day-to-day with injuries.

Kristers Gudlevskis would get the nod for his second straight start opposite Marlies goaltender Antoine Bibeau. Toronto would jump out to an early 2-0 lead in the opening period, with goals coming from Kasper Kapanen and Byron Froese.

The second period began with more of the same. Colin Greening hopped all over a lose puck in the slot and buried the second chance bid short-handed just sixty ticks in to the middle frame.

Syracuse would quickly get one back on the man-advantage. Snake-bitten Jeremy Morin collected a pass at the top of the left circle from Matt Taormina and rifled a shot bar-down for his first tally of this season’s campaign. Adam Comrie, a recent call up from ECHL Kalamazoo, had the secondary assist on the goal. It was his first point of the year with the Crunch. The power play score broke a slump that saw Syracuse go 0 for 16 on the special teams unit.

Morin’s tally swung the momentum in favor of the hometown team and the Crunch rode it for the rest of the period. Joel Vermin added another power play marker off of a one-time blast from the right circle just three minutes later. A mere 35 seconds after that, Michael Bournival squeaked a slapper past Bibeau to tie the game at three and send the War Memorial in to a frenzy.

Toronto was able to briefly regain the lead at the 15:00 mark of the period when Kerby Rychel pushed a lose puck past Gudlevskis while on the power play. In typical Syracuse fashion though, 23 seconds after the Marlies score Matt Taormina sent a fluttering point shot into the back of the cage to knot the game once more.

The contest would need over-time to determine a winner. After a flurry of incredible saves by Gudlevskis, the Crunch would send their fans home happy. Dylan Blujus, returning from an injury, gathered in a rebound off of a Daniel Walcott point shot and tickled the twine for the game winner. That goal was his first of the season.

Saturday night the boy in blue traveled down to the southern tier for a meeting with former Cruncher Mike Blunden and the Binghamton Senators. This time Adam Wilcox would be the man between the pipes, taking on former Ottawa Senator star Andrew Hammond.

After a relatively quiet start to the game, Crunch forward Mike Halmo would open up the scoring with only ten seconds remaining in the first period. The marker came off of a slick cross-crease feed from Cam Darcy to make it 1-0.

The Crunch began to pour on the offense in the second period. Matt Taormina sent a rocket through traffic and past a screened Hammond to extend the Crunch lead to two goals. The marker came on the man-advantage, with the helpers going to Adam Erne and Tanner Richard. 15 seconds later, Mike Halmo registered his second goal of the game and fifth of the season, with the assists belonging to Michael Bournival and Adam Comrie.

Binghamton wouldn’t go down without a fight, though. Kyle Flanagan sent the B-Sens in to the locker-room at the second intermission with a little glimmer of hope. His goal came short-handed, the second shorty given up by the Crunch in as many games.

The Sens continued to try to claw back in to the game 1:42 in to the third when Buddy Robinson whacked in a rebound past a sprawling Wilcox to cut the Syracuse lead to one goal. But all hope for Binghamton was dashed with a little under three minutes to go in the contest. Matt Taormina sent a slap-pass to the front of the cage where a falling Joel Vermin was able to tip it past Hammond low blocker side for the fate sealer.

Wilcox made 30 saves on 32 Binghamton shots en route to a Crunch victory.

Syracuse travels to The Rock for games Tuesday and Wednesday against the St. John’s IceCaps.