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Crunch blanked by Devils, 3 to 0

Late call-ups hurt the Crunch in Albany on Wednesday night.

Photo by Scott Thomas

The Syracuse Crunch traveled across the state to take on the Albany Devils Wednesday night.

Already dealing with multiple injuries, as well as players called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning, many Syracuse Crunch fans were not happy Wednesday afternoon when they caught word of the latest organizational transactions. Both Cory Conacher and Michael Bournival were recalled to the Bolts shortly before the ‘Cuse would take to the Times Union Center ice for warm-ups in a pivotal division match-up against the pesky Devils.

Instead of icing their normal squad, Ben Groulx was forced to dress nine defensemen, and boy did it show. That’s three more defenseman than the normal six, and the three extras made up a whole forward line of their own.

Albany controlled the action from the very beginning of the contest. Crunch starting net-minder Mike McKenna had to be on his game early and, for the most part, did enough to win the hockey game.

The first period started out rather even for both teams. Neither team ran away in the shots column. The Crunch held off the Devils power play twice in the first 15 minutes of the period. A third penalty came 17:12 into the first; a tripping call to Tanner Richard. The Devils would strike first with a little over two minutes remaining in the opening period of play. Nick Lappin corralled a John Quenneville rebound that eluded Syracuse defenders and easily tucked it past McKenna.

Erik Condra followed the Devils’ power play with yet another Crunch penalty, their fourth in the first period, but the Devils failed to capitalize. Albany would head in to the locker-room up 1-0 and leading in shots on goal 9-7.

Syracuse’s misfortunes would only get worse in the middle frame. Both teams returned for the second period and the Crunch quickly got their first power play of the game just 27 seconds in on a boarding call to Karl Stollery. Unfortunately, the Crunch were burned on a shorthanded chance. Nick Lappin again scored for the Devils and put them up 2-0. This time it was Brian Gibbons getting the shortie. Lappin assisted on the goal giving him his third point of the game. The Crunch again could not finish out the power play with a goal.

The Crunch went into the 2nd intermission down 3-0 after the two shorthanded goals. The Crunch fared better in the shots department during the second leading 14-9, putting them up 21-18 for the game. With those two goals, the Crunch are now third in the league in short-handed goals against with 12. They only trail Tuscon and LeHigh Valley.

The third period was quiet with no scoring. The Devils were up comfortably and didn’t need to press the issue with the Crunch unable to find even the first goal of the night. The Devils didn’t give up any more penalties in the third and that may have contributed to them not scoring again. The Crunch however did give up two more power play opportunities.

The game ended with the Devils winning 3-0 and Mackenzie Blackwood getting the shutout in net. The Crunch return to action on Friday when they travel down the road to Binghamton. The Crunch will get some reinforcements as Lightning forward prospects Brett Howden and Dennis Yan are scheduled to join the team and practice on Thursday.

Overall, the Crunch gave the Devils seven man-advantages, with four coming in the first period. McKenna stopped 30 out of 33 shots in the loss. Syracuse (34-24-6-7) is back in action Friday when they travel to Binghamton to take on the Senators (26-41-2-2).