The Crunch came in to Wednesday night’s contest at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Scranton having lost their last three games in a row. With one less PTO on their roster, and two veteran scorers back in their lineup (Vermin, Halmo), the Crunch roster actually looked as if it belonged in the league.
Goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis saw his first action since getting beaten up on Friday against Binghamton. At the other end of the ice, Tristan Jarry patrolled the WBS goal-crease.
The Crunch started this contest in a surprising manner by taking it to the Penguins’ defense and pelting Jarry with pucks early and often. The good guys were able to get on the board first against the AHL’s top team when Cory Conacher circled the Pens’ net and fed a wide-open Joel Vermin in the slot, putting the Crunch up 1-0 at the 13-minute mark of the opening period.
The Penguins got one back early in the middle stanza when Tom Kostopoulos tucked a rebound past Gudlevskis. The play started off of the rush with Teddy Blueger wristing a shot towards the Crunch net-minder, who was there to make the save, but couldn’t cover.
Just two minutes later, WBS struck again to take a 2-to-1 lead. Kevin Porter, who has been a “Crunch killer” all season long, went in alone on Gudlevskis and netted his third break-away goal of the campaign against Syracuse.
As has been the theme all year long for the Crunch, they were resilient and battled back to knot the game at two goals apiece. At 9:31 of the second period, Henri Ikonen and Brian Hart rushed down the ice to set up a nice rebound tap-in by defenseman Adam Comrie.
The contest needed extra minutes and both teams got their chances. Unfortunately for the Crunch, despite a commanding advantage in total shots (41-29) they gave up the game-winning goal with a mere two seconds left in overtime.
Gudlevskis made 26 saves on 29 shots in a losing effort while his opponent Jarry turned aside 39 Syracuse bids.