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Louis Domingue makes his Syracuse Crunch debut in loss to Toronto

It was a close game from start to finish.

The Syracuse Crunch and the Toronto Marlies take the ice for the pregame skate at Ricoh Coliseum

The Syracuse Crunch fell by a score of 2-1 to the Toronto Marlies last night in the first of a back-to-back in Toronto. Louis Domingue made his debut with the Crunch in this game after being acquired from Tuscon (Arizona’s AHL affiliate). The game was a very even affair that included the goalies having to stand on their heads (and shoulders) a few times in order to keep the game as close as it ended up being.

The Goals

All of the goals in this game were scored on the powerplay. This just shows how even these two teams were on Saturday afternoon’s affair.

1-0

First, Travis Dermott takes a cross-checking penalty almost exactly three minutes into the game. Ben Thomas blasts the puck on net forcing goalie Garret Sparks to make an awkward shoulder save. Adam Erne is able to pot home the rebound after finding a way to untangle himself from Rinat Valiev in front of the net. Dennis Yan received the secondary assist.

This was Erne’s first goal of the season and it gave a team that emphasized having a quick start against Toronto an early lead.

1-1

10 minutes later in the first period, the Toronto Marlies have a power play of their own after Michael Bournival takes a high-sticking penalty. Cory Conacher breaks his stick while defending the powerplay and can’t cover the cross-ice seam. With the Marlies on what is essentially a 5-on-3.5, Andreas Johnsson receives a centering pass from Chris Mueller and redirects the puck past Domingue.

1-2

Former third-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs Carter Verhaeghe, who was briefly a Marlie earlier in his career, goes to the box for slashing with a little over two minutes to go in the first period. The Marlies had been having trouble getting into the Crunch zone thanks to some great work at the blue line from Peca, Bournival, and Conacher. But then Kasperi Kapanen shows why he should be in the NHL by taking the puck, splitting the defense of Reid McNeill and Jamie McBain, and sniping top shelf on Domingue. It was a perfect rush, and a perfect shot.

That would be all of the scoring in the first period, and also all of the sccoring for the game. The two goalies, Domingue and Sparks, played very solidly all afternoon.

The Goalies

In his debut, it is pretty clear that Louis Domingue is a very animated goaltender. He moves aggresively and quickly when he is moving laterally as well as when he leaves his net. Here’s what happened once upon leaving his net:

Like for most goalies, Domingue has a strong glove hand when they are standing up and not moving around on the ice. He made three or four big glove saves throughout the game that cut-off Toronto’s chances at taking advantage of any growing momentum.

Now, let’s get to “The Penalty.”

Throughout game, it was clear that Domingue was not afraid to play the puck from behind his net or in front of it. That said, it was his first game with the team and this defense, so it was clear there was some miscommunication issues on the ice at times. This was most obvious when Domingue took an interference penalty on Kapanen while his team was on the power play. Kapanen was able to knock the puck towards the corner, a place where goalies are still not allowed to be for some reason (thanks, Marty).

This was certainly an odd decision on Domingue’s part. Kapenen was on the penalty kill, all alone on that side of the ice, and Crunch defenseman Ben Thomas was heading right there. The worst that Kapanen could’ve done was attempt to beat Thomas 1-on-1 from behind the net. He would have then had to beat Domingue (had he been in his net). This wasn’t exactly a high-risk play, especially with Toronto down a man.

As an aside: When I was at Crunch practice on Friday afternoon, I didn’t see this style of goaltending from Domingue at all. He tended to stay in his net and stop shots. Seeing him play this aggressively was surprising to me.

Going back to communication, i’m sure goalie/video coach Karl Goehring used the few days he had with the defense and his new goalie to work out each players’ tenancies while in a game situation. Something like this simply needs time for the players to get more used to each other in order for it to be fixed. Teams with good skaters on the back-end and on forward can play well in front of an aggresive-style goaltender. The NHL equivalent of this is the LA Kings and Jonathan Quick.

A Summary

Here are my stream-of-consciousness notes during the game for you to follow along in case you missed the game, or if you watched the game and would like a refresher.

First Period

1-0

Dermott takes a penalty for crosschecking and off the faceoff, Adam Erne scores on the powerplay! Thomas takes a shot from the point and Erne is in front to bang home the rebound.

Rosen goes to the box for tripping. Lots of early power play chances for the Crunch. Marlies do a great job of sending the puck out of the zone and keeping the Crunch from entering for the majority of the power play.

As the penalty expires, Domingue makes a lovely toe save off of a tipped shot. he’s been animated and active early on.

The Crunchs youth line get themselves hemmed in their own zone by the Marlies first line (led by Kapanen). The rookies do a decent job of keeping the passing lanes closed but still give up a couple great chances that Domingue had to be solid for.

1-1

Bournival goes to the box for high-sticking Trevor Moore. Cory Conacher breaks his stick while defending the power play and on the 5-on-3.5 Andreas Johnsson scores after re-directing a shot from in front of the net.

Former Marlie Carter Verhaeghe goes to the box for slashing with a little over two minutes to go in the first.

1-2

With 30 seconds left to go in the Verhaeghe infraction, Toronto’s top prospect Kapanen streaks in on his own and snipes glove side on Domingue. Conacher was right: that team does have a lot of offensive weapons.

Bracco and Kevin Lynch go into the corner and Lynch takes Bracco down, taking a cross-checking penalty with a few seconds left in the first. The majority of the penalty will (hopefully) have to be killed in the next period.

After one the shots were 7-7

Second Period

The powerplay continues and the forward unit of Erne and Bournival keep the passing lanes closed while in the offensive zone. Bournival steps up and is able to knock the puck back into the Marlies zone, essentially ending the powerplay.

The Crunch have had a lot of trouble containing Toronto’s top six forwards a few too many times for my liking. With nine rookies on the roster, the odds are high that this will improve as the season goes on.

Erne has been Syracuses best forward so far. The majority of his shots so far in this game have been in front of the net or in the slot.

Lynch gets hit along the boards in the neutral zone and is slow to get up. He heads right to the bench as the play goes on.

Lynch did end up returning to the game.

Andrew Neilsen takes a high-sticking penalty, the third penalty of the game against the Marlies, sending the Crunch to the powerplay!

Syracuse gets a few chances but ultimately cannot convert on the chance.

I was speaking to my colleague Species 1967 about how the Crunch were playing much better than the Marlies so far in the second period. Just as I say that, the Marlies get a 2-on-1 chance that Domingue makes an amazing glove save, keeping the deficit at only one. I think that signals the end of my press box chatter for the afternoon.

After two, it’s been a very even game, for the most part. Neither team has really been able to own the play and win a majority of the battles in the other teams’ zone for too long. Both goalies have come up big when they had to and after two, the shots are 19-14 for the Crunch.

ONTO THE THIRD!

Third Period

Early in the third, the Goat Train (6’5” Frederik Gauthier) bears down on Domingue. The Crunch goalie stands tall and keeps the initial shot as well as the rebound from going in.

A Toronto defenseman (allegedly) is seen streaking down the wing and gets a shot on Domingue in the slot. Domingue once again makes a sharp glove save. Dommy keeping the boys in the game!

After Domingue does his job, keeping the Crunch in the game, the boys are rewarded with a powerplay chance with 14 minutes to go in the game. DOMINGUE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING! NO DON’T INTERFERE WITH HIM ARGHHH...

Domingue takes an interference penalty while on the powerplay after trying to play the puck behind the net and losing the handle. Sigh...

Louis, please, be chill next time.

Michael Peca blocks a shot while on a four minute penalty kill after Dennis Yan went off for high-sticking. Peca is slow to get up but makes it to the bench on his own. The penalty expires and the play goes the other way. The Crunch get a great chance. Solid response after spending a lot of time in your own zone.

With a minute to go, the Crunch pull Domingue. They are all in. The whistle goes with 51 seconds to go in the game and the Crunch take a timeout to plan their attack. The clock winds down and the game ends.

Up next for the Crunch

Syracuse is back in Toronto today for a rematch. Puck drop is at 4. The game can be seen on the NHL Network.