The two best teams in the AHL’s North Division squared off on Wednesday when the Crunch traveled down to the state capitol for a date with the Albany Devils. For the second straight contest Syracuse iced four guys on PTOs because of the recalls of Joel Vermin, Michael Bournival, Gabriel Dumont, and an injury to leading goal-scorer Mike Halmo.
Albany didn’t wait very long before depositing a puck behind Crunch starting net-minder Adam Wilcox. Just over six minutes into play, Devils forward Carter Camper shielded a puck from Crunch defenseman Matt Taormina behind the Syracuse net, before dishing to a wide-open Ryan Kujawinski who easily jammed the puck across the goal line.
Neither team would have anything to celebrate again until the regulation period where the Devils extended their lead to two goals. This tally would come on the man-advantage as Crunch forward Olivier Labelle was serving a elbowing minor. Vojtech Mozik netted his fourth goal of the season from Reece Scarlett and Brian Gibbons.
Just past the halfway point of the period, Syracuse would get one back on a mad scramble in front of the Devils goal crease. Rookie Crunch defenseman Ben Thomas wristed a shot from the blue-line that Devils goalie Ken Appleby was able to get a piece of. The rebound slid out to the slot where Yanni Gourde was waiting to bury it and cut the Devils lead in half.
Less than three minutes later, Syracuse found a hole behind Appleby once more to knot the game at two apiece. Jeremy Morin out-muscled a Devils defender and sent a precision pass in the direction of a streaking Tanner Richard who sniped a quick wrister past the goaltender’s low blocker side.
This contest would need more time, and just like the first goal of the game, Albany wouldn’t waste much time before cashing in. At the 1:17 mark of the extra period, Devils defenseman Jacob MacDonald threw a shot towards the net that was redirected by Kevin Rooney over the blocker of Wilcox.
Wilcox stopped 23 of the 26 shots he saw in a losing effort while Appleby turned aside 29 for a Albany victory.
The Crunch (20-10-3-5) are back at the War Memorial on Friday to take on the Binghamton Senators (16-19-2-1).