Trailing by one late in the third period, the Syracuse Crunch threw everything it could on net.
The shots either hit a body in front, Utica goalie Joe Cannata deflected the puck wide, or the shots just missed the mark, as the Crunch couldn't find the equalizer in a 4-2 loss to the Comets at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"I was shocked it didn't go in," said Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler. "(Mike Angelidis) had a chance to bury one, (Ryan) Martindale had it all alone in front. I haven't seen the replay, so I don't know if he just missed the net or it was blocked. I thought for sure we were going to tie it there and make something out of nothing, but we weren't able to."
With time winding down in overtime, Slater Koekkoek made a bold prediction.
The Syracuse Crunch defenseman was next to hit the ice during the three-on-three portion of the extra session, but took a moment to tell fellow rookie Dylan Blujus that he would end the game.
Koekkoek's words proved to be prophetic, as his game-winner 4:52 into overtime lifted the Crunch to a 2-1 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. Syracuse has won four straight.
"Blujus and I were sitting on the bench, and (assistant coach Trent) Cull had just said I was the next D out," Koekkoek said. "I looked over at Blue and I said 'Don't worry Blue, I got this one.'"
Syracuse goes Koekkoek in Overtime.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 28 points for the victory. That's just 1 goal allowed in the last couple of games.
SYR Gourde, (25) (Dotchin, Courtnall), 8:17
WBS Kostopoulos, (14) (Pouliot), 11:22
SYR Koekkoek, (4) (Marchessault), 4:52
Slater Koekkoek and Gudlevskis were the game's first and second stars. If you look at the last 11 games, Slater has 1 goal and 9 points in that span, with a +6 rating. He's definitely turned a corner in his development in the past few weeks, as he's now sprinkling in the offensive contributions with his reasonably steady defensive play.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Bolt Prospect of the Week for March 18, 2015 is … Slater Koekkoek, D, Syracuse Crunch (AHL – USA).
Slater Koekkoek made a key adjustment, and now the points are starting to flow.
A mobile defenseman used to rushing the puck himself in junior hockey, the Syracuse Crunch rookie has learned to make a quick pass and then follow the play to look for offensive opportunities. Koekkoek’s transition has begun to pay dividends, as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2012 first-rounder recorded eight points and is a plus-6 in his last 10 games.
Weekend sweep (roller coaster goes up)!
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 29 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. He had 5 last season. He also got his save percentage back to .900 with the victory, just a shade below his .901 of a year ago.
SYR Gourde, (24) (Koekkoek, Kunyk), 9:31 (PP)
SYR Courtnall, (5) (Smith, Blujus), 16:25
Yanni Gourde, Gudlevskis, and once (and future?) Bolt Prospect Justin Courtnall were the game's three stars. Yes, quiet acquisition Justin Courtnall, the ex-Lightning pick and son-of-a-Geoff. He's back in our lives. Reunited, and it feels so good.
Box score from TheAHL.com.