Overtime continues to be a puzzle that the Syracuse Crunch just can’t seem to solve. The recent trend of dominating regulation play but finding a way to lose in extra minutes carried ino Wednesday’s contest at the Utica Auditorium against the rival Comets.
As soon as the opening face-off commenced, the Crunch took it to Comets rookie goaltender Thatcher Demko. The first period narrative was written by both goaltenders making incredible save after incredible save. Crunch netminder Kristers Gudlevskis was all over the crease in the opening frame turning aside the seven Utica shots. At the other end of the building, Demko was equally stellar, turning aside 12 Crunch shots including a wide-open back-hand bid off the stick of Mike Halmo.
The middle frame was not nearly as kind to the Crunch, who payed the majority of the period in their own zone. Gudlevskis stood on his head the entire period stopping 14 shots but was finally solved when “Crunch killer” Alex Grenier collected a lateral pass on the rush from Curtis Valk and roofed it up and over Gudlevskis’ shoulder and into the back of Syracuse net. The Crunch would not score in the second period and were outshot 15-10.
Syracuse upped the pressure again in the third period and finally got one past the former Boston College standout at the 7:04 mark of the period. Former “Cruncher” Cody Kunyk took a hooking penalty that would send the Crunch on their third man-advantage of the evening and Syracuse didn’t waste it. After a flurry of blocked shots by Utica, Crunch leading scorer Matt Taormina blasted a shot from just below the blue-line that Halmo deflected perfectly into the net to tie the game at one. The goal was Halmo’s team leading 12th of the season and fourth in as many games.
The game would need overtime and the Comets wasted little time sending their fans home happy. Alex Grenier sailed a pass to Darren Archibald who sped down the left wing and wristed a shot past Gudlevskis to steal the extra point from the North Division leading Crunch.
- Defenseman Jake Dotchin returned to the Crunch lineup after missing the last three games with an undisclosed injury.
- Forward Cam Darcy left Wednesday’s game in the second period with an injury and did not return to the game.
The Crunch (18-9-2-5) are back in action on Friday when the Toronto Marlies (15-17-2-1) come to town.