Crunch Beat Rocket for Fifth Straight Win

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch were able to overcome some adversity to remain on a hot streak.

Despite getting back into town late after a trip from Toronto and at one point being down to 10 forwards, the Syracuse Crunch held the Laval Rocket off the scoreboard until the final four minutes and hung on to win their fifth straight game, 2-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

“Tonight was a tricky game for us,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We came back very late from Toronto, and it’s never easy when you travel during the night. We came in at 3 or 3:30 a.m., so the following game is always a tough one. We saw it right away that we didn’t have our best legs tonight. … It was a tricky game, but I thought we did enough to win. We hung in there at the end. Our goalie was solid again. It’s a good win for us.”

Forwards Adam Erne and Matthew Peca each scored once for Syracuse. Both have struggled to put pucks in the net in their third pro seasons.

“We’ve been playing well as of late — a couple wins in a row — and when the team is playing well defensively and offensively, those things will happen,” Peca said. “Guys will get the monkey off their back and start scoring. It’s a collective effort and I think today was a good example of us playing a full 60 minutes.”

Jamie McBain, Anthony Cirelli, Ben Thomas and Mitchell Stephens each had an assist for the Crunch. Goalie Louis Domingue, acquired in a trade last month, recorded 24 saves for the win.

“He’s been very good since he’s been with us,” Groulx said on Domingue. “He’s a huge part of the team.”

The Crunch started the game with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. After Dennis Yan left the game with an injury in the first period, Mathieu Brodeur — a defenseman signed to a tryout earlier in the day — was moved up to forward for the first time in his career.

Syracuse finally broke through for the first goal in the second period. Cirelli slid a nifty pass on the rush to Erne, who cut across the goalmouth and scored 5:58 into the middle stanza.

The Crunch led 1-0 heading into the third period, but added to the lead 1:56 into the final frame. Stephens attempted a wraparound but it ended up on Peca’s stick, and the center fired it into the net.

The Rocket got a 5-on-3 power play late in the third and pulled their goalie for another attacker. Chris Terry brought Laval to within one, but Syracuse held on for the win.

For Peca, the win shows the character in the Crunch room.

“We work extremely hard. There’s no denying that. It’s a part of our system and a part of our culture,” Peca said. “Regardless of legs, I still think we’re able to perform because of the players we put out on the ice and the way we play.”

Syracuse (9-9-1-2) wraps up the weekend by hosting Belleville Saturday. The Crunch hope they have put their rough start behind them and continue their hot streak.

“It’s a tight knit group,” Erne said. “We’re young, but everyone is close. We all support each other. Obviously, we had a tough time losing a bunch of games at the beginning, but that brought us together and brought us closer. I think it’s showing now. We feel good and we’re rolling.”

Pictured: Crunch forward Adam Erne rushes the puck up the ice against the Rocket at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

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

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