24 hours prior to Saturday night’s contest with the visiting Binghamton Senators, the Syracuse Crunch put forward arguably their worst effort of the season. The goaltending suffered because of bad defense, and the offense could never really get going. For Ben Groulx’s squad, virtually everything changed on Saturday night at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
After a scoreless first period, Syracuse jumped to a 1-0 lead at the 6:24 mark of the middle stanza. After some sustained pressure in the offensive zone, Tye McGinn spun around and found a streaking Yanni Gourde at the hash-marks who was able to deposit the biscuit past Senators goaltender Chris Driedger.
The only other action in the period came after Sens defenseman Guillaume Lepine took a run at the much smaller Cory Conacher. Crunch blue-liner Daniel Walcott retaliated by barreling through three or four people to get his hands on Lepine.
“You hate to see one of our top guys get pushed around like that in front of the net, especially by one of their bigger guys,” Walcott said. “I was there so I figured I would get in there and show them we’re not going to be pushed around.”
Binghamton responded a little over a minute into the third period with a goal of their own to knot the contest at one. Syracuse starting goalie Kristers Gudlevskis made an impressive save off of a one-time bid from the top of the right circle on Patrick Sieloff, but the rebound popped out to a wide-open Casey Bailey who fired the puck past a sprawling Gudlevskis.
From that point on, it was all Crunch as Daniel Walcott, Yanni Gourde, and Mathieu Brodeur all scored for the home team within 3:06 of each other to seal the deal and send the fans home happy.
“When they got that goal it just put a little fire under our butt to go ahead and get the other one,” Walcott said. “We came out flying and got three quick goals and from there we just shut the game down.”
Kristers Gudlevskis was a wall in between the pipes stopping 28 out of 29 Senator shots en route to the victory.
“It was one of his best performances in a long time,” head coach Ben Groulx said of his starting netminder. “I thought he was loose and focused and I haven’t seen that from him in a long time. I really liked his performance.”
It’s a quick turnaround for both teams as they take the action to the Senators home arena today for a 5pm start.