After a fairly dismal effort on Satuday night that saw the Crunch get downed by a score of 3 to 1, the hometown team rebounded nicely to down the Penguins and complete the week with five out of a possible eight points.
It was Adam Wilcox between the pipes for the Crunch after missing the third period on Friday night, and all of Saturday, with an eye injury. The second-year pro and former Golden Gopher was in the zone from the second the puck hit the ice to guide the Crunch to a much needed win.
Wilkes-Barre controlled the opening minutes of play, jumping out to a quick seven-to-zero shot advantage. Syracuse wouldn’t register their first official shot of the game until the 10:57 mark of the period, when Yanni Gourde took advantage of a Pens turnover and sped quickly in to the offensive zone.
The recently announced 2017 AHL All-Star fooled a Wilkes-Barre defender with a slick toe-drag and quickly sniped the biscuit past the low-blocker side of Pens goaltender Tristan Jarry. Daniel Walcott had the lone helper on Gourde’s twelfth of the season.
A little less than four minutes later, Walcott once again created offense for the home team. The Syracuse “utility man” powered his way down the right-wing boards and around Penguins blue-liner Tim Erixon to put a shot on goal. The initial shot was stopped by Jarry, but Walcott was there waiting to bury the rebound and send Syracuse in to the intermission with a 2-0 lead. The marker came on the power-player and was assisted by Matt Taormina and David Pacan.
The start of the middle stanza was just as kind to the Crunch as they were able to extend their lead to three goals at the 6:42 mark of the period. Recently signed PTO David Pacan won a face-off straight back to Crunch defenseman Slater Koekkoek who deposited a one-timer from the high slot past the glove of Jarry. The two points registered by Pacan on Monday were his first in the AHL since a brief stint during the 2014-15 season with the Norfolk Admirals.
The pesky Pens were able to get one back to make things a bit more interesting with just over five minutes to play in the contest. Carter Rowney jammed a rebound past Wilcox off of a Dom Simon shot from right out in front of the crease. That would be all of the offense the Penguins would muster up against a rather depleted Crunch roster.
Syracuse sealed the deal and sent the fans home happy with a Matt Peca empty-net goal from Tanner Richard and Matt Brodeur, with 3:05 remaining in the contest.
Adam Wilcox was stellar in net for the Crunch, making 31 saves on 32 shots.
Syracuse (20-10-2-5) are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to the TIme Union Center to take on the second place Albany Devils (22-15-1-1) in pivotal division match-up.