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Syracuse Crunch hold on to beat the Hartford Wolfpack, 3-2

The Crunch move back into first place.

Scott Thomas Photography

The Syracuse Crunch held on Friday night to beat the Hartford Wolfpack 3-2 in an intense, physical game that featured the first professional meeting between brothers Darren and Taylor Raddysh. The win, coupled with a loss by Rochester, allowed Syracuse to move back into first place in the North Division.

Goals by Alex Volkov, Andy Andreoff and Mitchell Stephens built a three goal lead going into the third period. Hartford battled back with two goals (including one with their goaltender pulled) to come within one goal at the end of the game, but they could not find the equalizer.

The game was played at a high pace and featured a lot of punishing hits. Terrence Wallin delivered an elbow to Boris Katchouk that set off a scrum in the second period. Cory Conacher (5’8” and 180 lbs) ran into and knocked over goaltender Brandon Halverson (6’4” 210 lbs) that touched off another round of pushing and shoving. There were several other big hits throughout the game as both teams were determined not to be shoved around by their opponent.

After controlling play for most of the first two periods, it was the Crunch holding on in the third against a very determined Wolfpack squad that made the difference. The Crunch did seem to tire as the game went on and struggled at times to clear the puck, something that Coach Groulx won’t be happy about. Still, they did hold the fort and secured the victory.

Turning Point

The Crunch’s third goal. Not only did it end up being the game winning goal, but the Crunch killed off the absurd penalty that followed it. If Hartford had been able to score on the ensuing power play, the lead would have been cut to two with a lot of time on the clock. Instead the Crunch killed it off (and the following one) to preserve the lead.

Crunch Goals

1. Alex Volkov from Gabriel Dumont and Cory Conacher (1-0 Crunch)

The Crunch brought the puck through the neutral zone and Cory Conacher took a hit along the boards to get the puck to Dumont. The captain dropped the puck back to Volkov who was trailing the play. A quick snapshot beat Halverson through the pads to give the Crunch the early lead.

2. Andy Andreoff from Taylor Raddysh and Ross Colton (2-0 Crunch)

What a revelation this line has been. Andreoff has a six-game point streak, while Colton and Raddysh are now riding seven-game streaks. With this goal, Colton sent Raddysh into the zone and both defenders drifted over to him. He was able to slide the puck over to Andreoff and the veteran poked it past Halverson into the empty net.

3. Mitchell Stephens from Boris Katchouk and Brady Brassart (3-0 Crunch)

This was just a great play by Katchouk who drove the net and sent the puck back in front as he drew the defense down low. Jonne Tammela wasn’t able to handle the pass, but Mitchell Stephens was in the right spot to fire it home. Wallin wasn’t happy about the goal and smoked Katchouk with a hit well after the rookie had let the pass go. Somehow Wallin wasn’t called for the hit and the Crunch were shorthanded following the goal.

Hartford Goals

1. Gabriel Fontaine from John Gilmour and Matt Beleskey - PP (3-1 Crunch)

There wasn’t much Pasquale could do on this one. He made the initial save on Gilmour’s shot, but left a rebound right in front of the net. Fontaine was there to poke it home to get the Wolfpack on the board and snap a 100+ minute shutout streak Pasquale had going against them. It looked like the Crunch were starting to wear down a bit having to kill penalties.

2. Vinni Lettieri from John GIlmour and Ryan Group (3-2 Crunch)

Sometimes you just tip your hat to the shooter. Lettieri had the puck in front of the left half-boards and just let it rip. The puck somehow squeezed by Pasquale and the near post to bring the Wolfpack within a goal.

Goaltenders

Syracuse - Eddie Pasquale - 24 saves on 26 shots.

He wasn’t overly busy in the first two periods as he only had to face 14 shots total. He made up for that lack of activity in the third, turning aside 10 of the 12 shots Hartford threw at him. It was another night where he didn’t make too many spectacular saves (although props to the two-pad stack on Ryan Gropp in the first period).

Hartford - Brandon Halverson - 21 saves on 24 shots.

It wasn’t a great outing for Halverson, who probably should have stopped the shot from Volkov and overcommitted on the Andreoff goal. Still, he made some key saves in the second and drew an interference penalty in the third.

Special Teams

Crunch Power Play - 0 for 3. The first power play looked a little rough, but the back-to-back ones in the second were really good. They did everything but score as they kept the puck in the zone almost for the entire four minutes and both units had chances. The best was probably a stuff attempt by Alex Barre-Boulet that was stopped and the rebound chance by Carter Verhaeghe went just wide.

Crunch Penalty Kill - 6 for 7. Most of those short-handed moments came in the physical third period when Hartford was really pressing. For the most part Syracuse limited high-danger chances while down a man. Most of the shots were blocked or deflected aside.

Our Three Stars

3. Eddie Pasquale - 24 saves on 26 shots

2. John Gilmour - 2 assists, 4 shots

1. Cory Conacher - 1 assist, 6 penalty minutes.

Notes

  • The game was the first professional matchup of the Raddysh brothers. Prior to the game, Taylor looked forward to trying to give his older brother a “hard time.” Darren, a defenseman, was picked up from the Chicago organization earlier this year. Taylor “won” the meeting with an assist and the victory.
  • This game featured a rough first period for Cory Conacher. First he took the hit to make the play on the goal. Later in the period he caught an inadvertent elbow to the jaw from Brandon Crawley.
  • The Crunch absolutely dominated the second period. They outshot Hartford 13-7 and spent copious amounts of time in the Wolfpack zone. For about an eight minutes stretch starting about three minutes in, the Crunch didn’t allow the Wolfpack a chance at getting out of their zone. Unfortunately they weren’t able to capitalize as Hartford kept the middle of the ice jammed.
  • The Wolfpack returned the favor in the third, outshooting the Crunch 12-2. They were aided in part by five power plays, but they were the better skating team in the final 30 minutes.
  • Who would have thought Andy Andreoff, Ross Colton and Taylor Raddysh would be the line that clicked over the final third of the season? Raddysh has turned into a playmaker with five assists during his seven game point streak. Most of them have come to the benefit of Andreoff who has four goals this month.
  • Mitchell Stephens probably wishes the Crunch had a couple of more matchups against the Wolfpack. He has three goals against them this season.

Box Score

Next Game

The Crunch are back on the ice Saturday night as they finish up the quick two-game homestand with an evening contest against Binghamton. The Crunch hope to continue their season success against the Devils - they have beaten them eight out of nine times.