Just as he had for a majority of the season, Adam Wilcox led his team through the tunnel and out on to the War Memorial ice to begin Friday’s contest. The only difference on this night was the Thunderbirds logo on his chest and the crease he patrolled. The second year pro out of the University of Minnesota, traded at the deadline to the Florida Panthers organization, would be opposite his pal and former teammate Kristers Gudlevskis.
After a fairly quiet start to the opening period of play, the visiting T-birds were able to draw first-blood despite being heavily out-shot for most of the period. A shot from the hash marks by Dryden Hunt was deflected out in front and popped loose in front of Paul Thompson who was angled perfectly to deposit the puck behind Gudlevskis. This gave Springfield the 1-0 lead with just over a minute left to play.
The Crunch were able to strike back at the 4:13 mark of the second period. A scrum erupted in the Springfield crease and after a few wacks at a lose puck, Tye McGinn cashed in to find the equalizer. Byron Froese notched his fist point as a member of the Crunch on the play while Ben Thomas registered his 13th helper of the campaign.
Just :45 in to the regulation period, the Crunch power play lit the lamp to continue their recent string of success. Froese set up shop on the half-wall and directed a laser of a one-timer past Wilcox to take the 2-1 lead.
“It was just a great pass and a great move by Conacher to get it to (Taormina) who feathered right into my wheelhouse,” Froese said. “I took quite a few of those in practice and they all weren’t that good, so I was happy.”
The next two goals in the period would come off the stick Anthony Greco of the Thunderbirds with the second coming with just over a minute to play in regulation. Despite a late 6-on-4 advantage for Syracuse, they were unable to find the back of the net and force overtime.
“It’s very disappointing,” Crunch head coach Ben Groulx said. “We were up 2-1, missed an assignment on the second goal down low and with two minutes left in the game you have a defenseman diving down, it’s unacceptable. I don’t think we did enough tonight to win and that’s it.”
Gudlevskis stopped 24 out of the 27 Springfield bids he saw while Wilcox turned aside 29 of 31. The Crunch will face the St. John’s IceCaps tonight with the aid of center Matthew Peca, who was recalled earlier today.