It was a physical affair when the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins visited the War Memorial on Saturday night.
The scorching-hot Pens came in to the night boasting a league best record of 27-7-1, and seemed to be a step ahead of the Crunch in all facets of the game as soon as the puck dropped.
Wilkes-Barre applied a mountain of pressure early on to Crunch starting net-minder Kristers Gudlevskis. Rookie sensation Jake Guentzel whiffed on an open net, just minutes into the contest, that would have put the visiting team up 1-0. Somehow Gudlevskis and the Crunch defense were able to fend off sustained stretches of pressure and find the back of the net first.
At the 15:34 mark of the period, Jake Dotchin swooped in to the attacking zone where he reeled in a lose puck and sniped the biscuit over the left shoulder of Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith. The marker was Dotchin's third of the year with the helpers coming from Tanner Richard and Cory Conacher.
The only other action in the opening period came from a spirited tilt between enforcers Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Rome New York native and former Crunch fan favorite Tom Sestito.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the middle frame despite four man-advantages for the Penguins and three for the Crunch.
The regulation period was far from kind for the home town team. Wilkes-Barre found the back of the net for the first time at the 5:33 mark when Carter Rowney sent a rocket from a bad angle that beat Gudlevskis top-shelf over his left shoulder.
Just three minutes later, Penguins forward Dominik Simon sailed an innocent looking shot from the right-wing corner that bounced off of Crunch defenseman Jake Dotchin's skate and in to the Crunch cage. Simon's fifth of the season gave the baby pens a 2-1 lead and that is all they would need to put away the Crunch.
Overall, lack of discipline proved to be the Crunch's downfall on Saturday night. They played in to Wilkes-Barre's style of game and put themselves in to the penalty box far too many times. Syracuse will get a chance to redeem themselves on Monday when these same two teams square off for a 1pm matinee.
Mike Halmo and Brian Hart left the game early with undisclosed injuries. Ben Groulx had no update on either player after the game.