SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse Crunch took a 2-0 series lead over the Rochester Americans last night in a high scoring affair at the Onondaga County War Memorial. Both teams struggled defensively or perhaps excelled offensively, but ultimately Syracuse would put themselves within one victory of advancing to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Crunch (2-0) led by as many as three in the second period, having tallied three straight goals across four minutes. The Americans (0-2) wouldn’t go down without a fight, having pulled back within one by the end of the middle frame. However, the Crunch successfully held off a late rally by Rochester to hold on to the 6-5 win.
The Crunch started off the scoring at 3:48 of the first, while on the power-play following a Matt Tennyson roughing penalty. Syracuse was moving the puck around in the Rochester end when Mat Bodie received the puck at the point. Bodie then slid the puck over to a waiting Matthew Peca at the left wing circle, who wristed it by a screened Linus Ullmark to make it 1-0 Syracuse.
The Americans would tie things up with a power-play goal of their own at 15:43 of the first. Seth Griffith had the puck in the Syracuse end by the right-wing wall and shuttled it to a waiting Stuart Percy at the point. Percy took the shot, but ultimately it was tipped in en route by Colin Blackwell in front of the Syracuse cage to beat Crunch netminder Eddie Pasquale to even the game at 1-1.
Syracuse would strike back shortly after, at 18:31 of the first period. Taking the puck in their own end, the Crunch would charge down the ice into the Rochester zone. After three defenders converged on Carter Verhaeghe, he passed it to a nearby teammate. Dominik Masin then fed the puck to Peca, who was hovering around the right-wing circle, drawing the attention of Ullmark. Peca would then quickly deliver a cross-ice pass to Mathieu Joseph, waiting on the open side of the cage, who would put it across the line to make it 2-1 Crunch.
The second period would start off with a bang, at just 1:29 elapsed. Peca once again picked up an assist, sending the puck from behind the Rochester net to Mitchell Stephens between the circles. Stephens fired on net, and Ullmark intervened but left the rebound, which was found by Olivier Archambault and put into the cage to make it 3-1 Crunch.
The Crunch extended their lead to three goals 46 seconds later. Erik Condra had the puck at the left wing boards with a Rochester defender in pursuit. He fed the puck to Reid McNeill at the point, who fired through traffic but found home, beating Ullmark’s glove for his first goal of the entire season.
Rochester would pick up a shorthanded goal to stop the bleeding at the 5:10 mark of the middle period. After a botched pass by Syracuse in the Americans’ end, Kevin Porter would stretch the pass to Justin Bailey, who streaked into the offensive zone and fired a wrister from between the circles, past the outstretched glove of Pasquale to make it 4-2 Crunch.
Less than a minute later, at 6:02, the Americans would pull back within one. Sean Malone had the puck at the right wall, turning away from the net and sending the puck all the way back to Percy at the blueline. Percy took the point shot, and it beat a screened Pasquale to make it 4-3 Syracuse, and they were threatening to tie the game.
Syracuse would break the seal on the scoring for the third period, at 4:52 of that final frame. Jamie McBain had his stick lifted and he chased the puck into the corner. From there, he turned and found a waiting Alexander Volkov on the far post. He passed the puck across to Volkov who whacked it into the net to make the score 5-3.
The Americans would answer back in less than a minute, at 5:22 of the third. After another Syracuse try on the net, Danny O’Reagan would find the puck and rocket down the ice toward the Crunch end. He passed it on to Kevin Porter, who took a shot that Pasquale would get a piece of, but not enough, and the puck went home to draw the Amerks back within one at 5-4.
Volkov would light the lamp a second time 67 seconds after his first. Rochester attempted to clear the puck from their end, but it was knocked down by Bodie, who fired it on net. Ullmark intervened but left the juicy rebound in front for Volkov who sent it into the net to make it 6-4 Syracuse.
Rochester would have one last gasp, trying to initiate the comeback, scoring again at 6:58 of the third. C.J. Smith sent a cross-ice pass from the right wall, banking it off of the left wall where it ricocheted in front of Andrew McWilliam. McWilliam one-timed it on goal, where it deflected off of Nicolas Baptiste and over Pasquale to make it 6-5.
Rochester would have a 5-on-3 power play opportunity late in the third but ironically could not capitalize. Despite their struggles, the Crunch would hold on to the lead until time expired, taking game two 6-5.
- Today’s game was the second consecutive six-goal performance by the Crunch.
- Peca has five points in two games so far.
- Ullmark has not allowed six goals in a game since November 22nd, 2017. His opponent? The Syracuse Crunch.
The series heads to Rochester for game three, Wednesday night at Blue Cross Arena. Puck drops at 7:05 EDT.