Crunch Complete Comeback in Shootout


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Dana Tyrell believes it was a bit of hockey karma.

His team trailing 3-2 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, the Syracuse Crunch forward caught a break. The puck bounced behind the net, and despite many of the Toronto Marlies looking for the puck in the corner, Tyrell found it on his stick.

"I think it went up my pants. To be honest, I'm not really sure what happened," Tyrell said. "I was forechecking the puck down - hunting it down - and it bounced up somewhere. I think it got caught up in my gear somewhere. As I was coming around the net, it dropped down in front of me and I had an open net.

"If we work hard as a team, we're going to get bounces like that," he added.

Tyrell's goal sent the game to overtime and the Crunch completed the comeback in the shootout, topping the Marlies 4-3 at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday night. Syracuse has shrugged its slump that lasted from late January into early February, winning its last five games.

"Last month we struggled a little," said Crunch forward Ondrej Palat. "Now we're on a winning streak. It feels good."

The Crunch were slow to start. Unable to convert on a two-minute 5-on-3 and a four-minute power play, Syracuse allowed Toronto's Joe Colborne to score with less than a second remaining in the first period.

Mike Angelidis tied the game less than three minutes into the second, finishing off a centering pass from Palat. Alex Hutchings was also credited with an assist.

Shortly after Colborne scored his second of the game to put the Marlies back in front, Palat broke into the offensive zone and wristed a shot on the rush from the left wing circle to tie the game with a little more than 13 minutes left in the second.

Admittedly frustrated from the lack of shots on the power play in the first, the goal, assisted by Mark Barbero and goalie Riku Helenius, came without the typical set up.

"We tried to be too cute," Palat said of the first period power play opportunities. "(Barberio) gave me a nice pass. I had speed and I just tried to shoot it on goal."

The Marlies took the lead again less than seven minutes into the third when Ryan Hamilton tipped a point shot from Dylan Yeo past Helenius, who was screened on the play.

The Crunch scrambled to tie the game and finally broke through with Tyrell's marker with 1:34 remaining.

"You've got to work hard to get lucky, that's the way I look at it," Tyrell said.

Palat, Radko Gudas, and Brett Connolly each tallied goals in the shootout, and Helenius stopped three of the five Marlies shooters to seal the victory.

"That's what good teams do," Palat said. "We found a way to come back and that's the key."

Helenius finished with 28 saves, while the Marlies' Mark Owuya had 32.

Syracuse (31-14-2-4) leads the Eastern Conference with 68 points in 51 games, and faces another tough test when it hosts Springfield, who is second with 65 points in 48 games, on Saturday.

"We've got to forget about this one and prepare the next few days," Tyrell said.

Pictured: Crunch forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie drives to the front of the net against the Marlies at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.