Big Second Period, Gudlevskis' Shutout Lift Crunch Over Tigers


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 22 shots in his American Hockey League debut and the Crunch surged ahead with five goals in the second period, lifting Syracuse to a 5-0 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

Eleven players recorded a point in the Crunch's third-straight win. Jean-Philippe Cote registered a goal and an assist, while Nikita Kucherov and Luke Witkowski each added two assists.

Matt Taormina, Evan Rankin, Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov each registered a goal. JT Brown, Dana Tyrell, Dmitry Korobov and Nikita Nesterov chipped in a helper apiece.

Cote's goal came 49 seconds into the middle frame, and Paquette's shorthanded marker came with just a few ticks remaining.

"We got some breaks," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "I thought the shorthanded goal was a great shot by Paquette … I didn't think it was a perfect game by any stretch, it was a little sloppy on both sides. We were able to capitalize on our chances."

"We were really opportunistic … We have to get confidences we go through," Cote said. "We have a lot of good guys that can score goals … We just have to keep that confidence."

Gudlevskis didn't show any hint of nerves in the first period, as he turned away five shots.

"First game is always the hardest," Gudlevskis said. "The guys helped me very much. They blocked so many shots."

"You always want to battle for the goalie that's back there … As the game goes on, you really want to take pride in your defensive zone," Cote said. "It's great for a guy like that to come in and get that type of confidence."

Even when Syracuse took firm control in the second -- and chased Bridgeport netminder Anders Nilsson -- Gudlevskis kept the same mentality. Before he knew it, he was skating back out to be recognized as the second star of the game.

"The third period was really quick," Gudlevskis said. "I wasn't looking at the clock."

"He didn't see a lot of action, but you could see the way he battles and fights for pucks and you could see how quick he is with his legs," Zettler said. "He kicked a few out and made it look easy, but he fought for those pucks, he fought to see them."

Syracuse (4-2-1-0) looks for its fourth-straight win when it travels to Albany Wednesday. With the schedule set to pick up, the Crunch are hoping to get on a roll.

"We just have to keep the same attitude," Cote said. "We got something good going, and you can't change a whole lot."

Pictured: Crunch goalie Kristers Gudlevskis makes a save against the Sound Tigers at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.