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Crunch sweep Monsters in Cleveland with 6-3 victory

The offense finally showed up as six different Crunch players scored.

Scott Thomas Photography

In the third game of their season, the Syracuse Crunch finally found their offense. After scoring just a total of four goals in their first two games, the Crunch exploded for six tallies against the Cleveland Monsters and won the second game of back-to-back meeting, 6-3. Cal Foote recorded three assists while six different Crunch players found the back of the net in the blowout.

Louis Domingue made his second start for the Crunch and picked up his first win by stopping 30 of 33 shots in the offensively-charged game. Unlike the previous meeting Friday night, there was a lot more open ice Saturday as the teams combined for 12 power play opportunities and both teams enjoyed lengthy five-on-three advantages.

The Crunch dominated most of the middle part of the game, from roughly the middle of the first period and all the way through the second period. That allowed them to turn a relatively close game early on into a blowout. Of course, since they can’t do anything easy, a spat of penalties late in the second period and throughout the the third allowed Cleveland to hang around a little.

Syracuse did manage to kill off all six shorthanded chances and ran their season-opening streak to thirteen straight power plays denied. However, it’s sure to give Coach Groulx something to talk about and drill them on over the next couple of days.

The Goals:

Nolan Valleau (Gemel Smith, Cory Conacher) 1-0 Syracuse

Nice work through the neutral zone by Smith as he delayed the rush along the right boards until he saw Valleau open in the high slot. The defenseman took his shot with a little bit of traffic in front of goaltender Veini Vehvilainen and it found its way into the back of the net.

Kole Sherwood (Ryan Collins, Ryan MacInnis) 1-1

The goal itself is a bit of luck for Cleveland as Sherwood is in the right place to knock the puck after it hits a few bodies in front of Domingue, but the Crunch were way to passive on the entry by the Monsters, allowing the shot from the point to be set up almost uncontested.

Stefan Matteau (Justin Scott, Gabriel Carlsson) 1-2 Cleveland

Another rebound that finds a Cleveland stick. Sometimes the bounces just go the other way.

Dennis Yan (Gemel Smith, Cal Foote) 2-2

This is where the Crunch really started to find their offensive stride. They forced the Monsters into three consecutive icings and this line, which was buzzing all night, tied the game back up. Vehvilainen made two nice stops before the goal, one off of Yan from right in front, then a lunging left pad save on Smith. Smith was able to get his own rebound, circle behind the net and feed the puck back in front where Yan jammed it home.

Danick Martel (assist to Cleveland defense) 3-2 Syracuse

Dominik Masin starts it with a rather easy shot from the point that the goaltender knocked down and, instead of covering it with a couple of Crunch players nearby, played it to his defense. Calvin Thurkauf takes it behind the net and passes it right to Martel who banked it off of the goaltender and in. Both of Martel’s goals this season have totaled a scoring distance of about -3 feet.

Peter Abbadonato (Cal Foote, Ross Colton) 4-2 Syracuse

It’s not a great idea to give the Crunch a power play. It’s really not a great idea to give them a 5-on-3 power play, but that’s what Cleveland did when Ryan Collins flung the puck into the crowd while already shorthanded. Abbadonato (the only rookie in the line-up for the Crunch) got the goal as he swatted in a rebound off of the crossbar, but the goal was made by the Crunch’s sense of urgency. Too often on two-man advantages, teams can get too relaxed with the puck. The Crunch didn’t do that here as they hustled to keep the puck in the zone and the Monsters on their heels prior to the actual goal.

Kole Sherwood (Calvin Thurkauff) 4-3 Syracuse

Turnovers are never great. Midway through the second, the Crunch win a face-off at center ice, but Nolan Valleau flubbed the pass over to his defensive partner. Cal Foote made a nice play to break up the initial cross-ice pass, but the puck bounced right back to Thurkauff who fed it to Sherwood all alone in front of Domingue. The forward didn’t miss from there and Cleveland, despite being outplayed all period, was right back within one goal.

Alex Barre-Boulet (Cory Conacher, Cal Foote) 5-3 Syracuse

The Crunch didn’t back down after the Sherwood goal, but continued to apply pressure throughout the period. Eventually their hard work paid off as Barre-Boulet sniped a goal from the left circle just over the goaltender.

Otto Somppi (Luke Schenn, Taylor Raddysh) 6-3 Syracuse

Somppi put the icing on the cake in the third period on a goal originally credited to Luke Schenn. Following a penalty kill five minutes into the period, the Crunch regained a little momentum after a fantastic shift by Raddysh, Ross Colton and Abbadonato. They cycled the puck around for a solid sixty seconds of play, allowing the Crunch to change lines and set up in front of the net minder. The puck made its way back to Schenn who let another seeing-eye shot go from the point. Somppi made the slightest of redirects on it and the Crunch had their three goal lead.

The Kolya Vlasov Turning Point of the Game:

After dominating most of the second period the Crunch got a little careless towards the end of it. Ben Thomas took a penalty defending a rush. On the ensuing power play for Cleveland, Dominik Masin joined his defensive partner in the box after he slashed a Monster. Cleveland went on a prolonged 5-on-3 power play as time wound down in the second period. The Crunch penalty killers (Cory Conacher, Dominick Danick Martel, and Luke Schenn) were on the ice for most of the time and they did their job. Conacher and Martel had huge blocked shots as Cleveland helped out by misfiring on several passes across the crease. The horn sounded to end the period without the puck going in the net.

Three Best Players for the Crunch:

3. Dennis Yan - On a line with Gemel Smith and Cory Conacher, Yan had one of his best games in the last two seasons. He was skating well all throughout the game and also working hard down in front of the net. Yan ended up with three shots on net and the goal, but it was his work in the corners that allowed this line to be the most dominating one of the game.

2. Gemel Smith - Two assists and four shots for Smith as he drove possession for this line. It seemed like he was on the ice for roughly half the game and the puck was finding him all night long.

1. The Crunch penalty killers - It was a collective effort as they killed off fourteen minutes in penalties including a five-on-three and a four-minute, double-minor. Granted it was their own mistakes that put them there, but once they were shorthanded they did a great job of keeping the area in front of Domingue clear, and they kept the Monsters from being able to complete cross-ice passes.

Next game:

Wednesday, October 16th at Utica Comets, 7:00pm

The Crunch finish up their season-opening four-game road trip in Utica. So far they have five out six points on the trip.