After an impressive come-from-behind win at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester on Friday, the Syracuse Crunch returned home Saturday to take on the Utica Comets. Second year pro Adam Wilcox got the start between the pipes for ‘Cuse after his counterpart Kristers Gudlevskis picked up a much-needed win the night before.
Syracuse controlled the better half of the opening period, peppering Comets goaltender Richard Bachman with 13 grade “A” chances. Their biggest chance came when Crunch alternate captain Gabriel Dumont rung a shot off of the post, but the puck somehow stayed out of the Utica cage. The teams would head in to the locker-room knotted at zero.
The Crunch got on the board at the 6:16 mark of the middle stanza on one of the flukiest power-play tallies one would ever see. Erik Condra took a long centering pass from Cory Conacher down the middle of the ice and in to the attacking zone. Comets goalie Bachman wandered out of his net and turned it aside, but the puck then ricocheted off a Utica defender and slowly trickled into the back of the net. The official scoring sheet listed Condra getting his second goal in as many games, with the assists coming from Conacher and newly-named alternate captain Matt Taormina.
The rest of the period wasn’t as kind to Syracuse as they spent the majority of the time down a man. Two of those kills were especially challenging, and one proved too difficult. The Crunch killed off a Luke Witkowski double minor, but then just minutes later found themselves trying to kill off a five-on-three with Condra and Witkowski in the box. Comets forward Alex Grenier cashed in on the man advantage, beating Wilcox on a one-timer from a ridiculous angle, tying the game at one.
Syracuse was able to get the lead back just over a minute into the final regulation period. Yanni Gourde found a wide open Mike Halmo in the slot who sent a rocket of a shot in to the top left corner of the net. Conacher earned his second assist of the night on the tally.
That goal would be all the Crunch would need. Wilcox would go on to make 23 saves, earning his fourth win of the season.
The Crunch move to 6-3 on the season, good for second place in the North Division behind the Toronto Marlies. The Comets fall to a harsh 2-7-1.
Syracuse is back in action Friday night when they host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.