The Syracuse Crunch are undefeated at home this season against the Rochester Americans and continued that streak on Saturday night with a 3-2 win in front of 6,117 fans at the War Memorial.
Unlike previous contests between the two teams in Syracuse the Amerks put in a solid effort on the ice.
The Crunch scored first when Maksim Mayorov found the back of the net for his 16th goal of the season. Craig MacDonald tallied his 24th assist of the year when he fed the pass up to a streaking Mayorov along the boards. Mayorov was going one on one with Mike Caruso across the blue line, slid the puck around Caruso to the center of the ice, cut left with the puck and beat David Shantz glove side.
The Crunch forwards have learned how to skate around the Amerks defense untouched. Hopefully that’s something that can be stopped by next weekend.
David Shantz made a spectacular save towards the end of the first period on a shot from Alexandre Picard. The puck was in the face off circle when Picard took control of it, pulled a spin-o-rama move around Ellerby and put a quick shot on Shantz.
Randall Gelech tied the game at 8:50 of the second period, assists went to Shawn Matthias and Stefan Meyer. Meyer had the puck and shot it wide on net and the puck went behind the Crunch net. Shawn Matthias was in front of the net and as he went chasing after the puck around the net the Crunch goaltender Kevin LaLande tried to reach with his stick to slow it down.
That’s when the play backfired.
Instead of getting his stick on the puck he was tripped up and fell to the ice. Matthias was able to quickly capitalize on the mistake by wrapping around the net, toss the puck at LaLande who made the initial save by Gelech was there to put the loose quick across the goal line.
The Crunch went ahead 2-1 at 1:50 of the third period off a power play goal from Alexandre Picard. Picard was skating towards the back of the Amerks net when he pushed a pass out to Derek MacKenzie on the point who put a slap shot on Shantz. As MacKenzie was getting ready to let the shot go Picard was skating around and back to the front of the net. He got to the right place as the right time as Shantz wasn’t able to cover up the rebound and Picard stuffed it between his pads.
Janis Sprukts got the Amerks back into the game about three minutes later to tie the game at two. Gelech sent a pass to Caruso at the point, took the shot, and the rebound landed on the stick of Sprukts who put it into the net with a backhand.
Unfortunately the Crunch scored the game winning goal on a 5 on 3 advantage at 7:44 of the third period. Kenndal McArdle and Michal Repik were both in the penalty box for hooking.
Drew Larman, Keaton Ellerby, and Mike Caruso were the three Amerks on the ice trying to kill the penalty but some quick passes by the Crunch were too much for them to handle. Derek MacKenzie fed a pass from one end of the trapezoid behind the net to Mike York at the opposite side. York then fed a quick pass to Michael Blunden who had a clear shot on Shantz and was able to pick off the glove side corner.
The hooking penalty on Michal Repik was questionable, it appeared as if two players had just run into each other and Repik got called.
The Amerks continued to put pressure but the Crunch defense was able to hold off the Amerks for the win. They had a few great chances with under 30 seconds left to play but somehow a Crunch player was able to keep the puck from going anywhere.
“We played our hearts out tonight, both teams were equal, physical game, we had a lot of shots, they had a lot of shots, they had a 5 on 3 and were able to capitalize,” Stefan Meyer said after the game.
The Amerks are back at home on Sunday night at 6:05pm against the Grand Rapids Griffins.