Crunch Allow Four Unanswered Goals in Loss to Comets

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch's effort early was erased by the Utica Comets’ four unanswered goals.

The Crunch allowed two goals in a 16 second span late in the second period to tie the score and the Comets scored the eventual game-winner on the power play in the third, as Syracuse fell to Utica, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“I think we’ve got to be pleased with the way we played for 29 minutes,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Then they had that bad goal late in the … second and then they made a good play and scored the second goal. The game changed and then we had some chances. I thought (Comets goalie Richard) Bachman was the best player for them tonight. He made some great stops and then they were very opportunistic scoring on that power play.

“They’re a good team. We were a good team tonight. We’ve got to be pleased with what we accomplished tonight, but obviously it wasn’t enough.”

Bachman finished with 34 saves, while Syracuse goalie Connor Ingram made 20 stops in the loss.

Alexander Volkov and Olivier Archambault each scored once for the Crunch, and Jamie McBain, Reid McNeill, Erik Condra and Dennis Yan each had an assist.

“That was probably his best game in a while,” Groulx said of Volkov. “I think when he scored that goal he could feel he was relieved a little bit.”

Archambault opened the scoring with 2:46 remaining in the first period, and Volkov’s turnaround shot at the top of the circles increased the Crunch’s lead with 4:26 left in the second.

Philip Holm netted his first of the night to cut the Comets’ deficit to one with 1:41 left in the middle frame, and former Crunch defenseman Dylan Blujus scored the game-tying goal 16 seconds later.

“It was a breakdown defensively. They got two quick ones and then it’s a tie game,” Condra said. “We dominated for 38 minutes and we let up a little bit with two or three minutes left in the second.”

After a too many men call put Utica on the power play, Holm’s shot from the point deflected in to give the Comets the lead with 10:48 remaining.

“I ended up going out for a shot block and it hit me,” Condra said. “It was going one way and it deflected the other way and ended up going bar in. (Ingram) can’t see that and there’s nothing he can do about it.”

Wacey Hamilton scored into the empty net with 1:16 remaining to seal the win for the Comets.

Syracuse (26-17-2-2) has a week of practice before it hosts Hartford Friday in the first part of a three-in-three weekend next week.

“We haven’t had a week of practice in a month. That’s a long time ago,” Groulx said. “With all the new players we feel that we’re not as tight and we’re not playing always the right way. Hopefully that’s beneficial for us.”

Pictured: Crunch forward Alexander Volkov looks to make a pass against the Comets at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

For more pictures from the game, visit the BoltProspects Facebook page.

To listen to postgame interviews, go to this SoundCloud page.