The Syracuse Crunch scored their first goal of the night one minute into the game. It was a fluky goal that was the result of the opposing goalie first banking a pass off of his teammate and then tripping while trying to get back in the net. That should have been a sign that the night was going to get weird.
And weird it was.
Despite failing to cash in on ten power plays, the Crunch emerged victorious as they came back from two goals down to beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-3 in overtime.
With the exception of a couple of saves by Eddie Pasquale and the overtime winner by Carter Verhaeghe, the rest of the footage for this game should be burned. It was tough to watch. Thanks to the referees not only calling every infraction that happened, resulting in 11 power plays for the Crunch and 7 power plays for the Penguins, they also decided to toss players from almost every face-off for seemingly no reason. On at least four occasions, both teams had their centerman ejected from the same face-off.
Other nonsense that happened throughout the game? Well...
- The lights flickered through much of the first period, to the point that the players would look up and wonder what was going on.
- A stretch of play from 5:08 in the second period until 17:38 that saw roughly 2 minutes of even-strength play.
- The Penguins gave up a power play goal yet still improved their overall kill rate by more than 1% (76.3% to 77.5%)
- The Crunch had more than two minutes of 5-on-3 power play time and didn’t score a goal.
- The Penguins were called for a delay of game penalty as they tried to change players following an icing call.
- Nolan Valleau was called for playing without a helmet because the helmet came off while he had the puck.
- Andy Andreoff punched a guy in the back of the head and didn’t get ejected from the game.
- The Crunch hit four posts on the power play.
...Other than that it was your typical hockey game.
As mentioned, the Crunch took the early lead when Tristan Jarry, goaltender for the Penguins, went behind his net to play the puck. His attempt to clear the puck hit off of his teammate and bounced to Taylor Raddysh. The Crunch rookie raced to tuck the puck around one side of the net while Jarry tried to get in front going the other way. Raddysh won the race and stuffed it under the sprawling goaltender for the early lead.
The Penguins answered four minutes later when Garrett Wilson tipped home a shot from the point for the first of there three power play goals. The Crunch played pretty well in the first period, but Jarry settled down and made several nice saves to keep the game tied.
During the penalty-filled second period, the Penguins would add two more goals. The first one was on a heads-up play by Jarry. Eddie Pasquale, as he is wont to do, lost his stick making a save. The Crunch cleared the puck and he went to retrieve his stick. Jarry spotted this and sent the puck up the ice to Adam Johnson, who almost had a breakaway. Pasquale, stickless, scrambled back to the net and Cameron Gaunce hauled down Johnson. The puck squirted free as Johnson and Gaunce slid into the net. Anthony Angello took advantage of the chaos and fired it into the net.
Four minutes later, the Penguins added another one. Wilson made a nice backhanded pass across the crease. Alex Volkov just missed getting his stick on it and helplessly watched as Jean-Sebastien Dea fired it past Pasquale. With a 3-1 lead and the Crunch failing on power play after power play, it seemed like the game would end in a frustrating loss.
What was even more infuriating was that the Crunch power play actually looked pretty good despite not scoring on their first six opportunities. They dominated zone time, moved the puck around and generally did everything they needed to do except put it in the back of the net. Part of that was solid play by Jarry, and a part of it was bad luck as Carter Verhaeghe put two off the post.
Finally, with under three minute to go, the Crunch connected with the man advantage thanks to Mr. Power Play himself, Alex Barre-Boulet. The rookie started the play in his own zone and fired a quick rink wide pass to Ross Colton. Colton entered the zone and left it for Cory Conacher. The veteran spied Barre-Boulet in the slot and put the pass right on his tape. Barre-Boulet snapped it into the net and the lead was trimmed to one.
Things calmed down a bit in the third period (only six penalties!) and the Crunch kept pushing for the equalizer. Finally, for the second night in a row, it was Colton providing the heroics. After a sustained shift in the Penguins zone, Boris Katchouk fed a slick, blind pass to him from behind the net. Colton was in position to receive it and fired it just inside the goalpost on the far side of Jarry.
The Crunch may not have been in position to tie it if it wasn’t for Pasquale’s play in the third. While Tristan Jarry was impressive with the quantity of saves (37), Pasquale made up for it with the quality. Twice he slid post to post from his right to his left and snatched would-be goals out of the air with his glove. The first one came five minutes into the period and the second just a minute before Colton’s game-tying goal. If he doesn’t make either one of those saves, chances are the Penguins hold on to win.
Overtime was brief. Following a couple of forays into the Crunch zone by the Penguins, the trio of Gaunce, Barre-Boulet and Verhaeghe weaved their way up the ice. Barre-Boulet stickhandled around two Penguins and fed the puck across the ice where Verhaeghe was streaking in. He released a forehand shot that ticked off of Sam Lafferty’s stick and over Jarry’s shoulder for the win.
Raw Charge’s Three Stars of the Game:
3. Alex Barre-Boulet - 1 goal, 1 assist, 7 shots
2. Tristan Jarry - 37 saves on 41 shots, 1 assist, no help from his teammates
1 Carter Verhaeghe - 1 goal (game winner), 6 shots on net, 2 posts hit