Crunch Continue to Struggle, Fall to Amerks 5-3


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Richard Panik was in the right place at the right time.

The Syracuse Crunch forward, stationed just outside the Rochester Americans' crease, watched as the puck trickled away from a sprawling David Leggio.

"I was standing on the goal line and I tapped it in," Panik said.

With the game tied, the tide seemed to turn in the Crunch's favor.

But that feeling was brief.

Before the goal was finished being announced, Rochester retook the lead on a Rick Schofield goal. The Americans scored three more times before the Crunch could respond, as Syracuse fell 5-3 at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

Syracuse has lost two straight and six out of its last seven. In each of those losses, the Crunch allowed the other team to score first.

"We have to start playing from the first minute," Panik said.

Patrick Rissmiller opened the scoring for Rochester midway through the first, and Schofield, a former Syracuse forward, scored 38 seconds after Panik's goal. Nick Crawford then gave the Americans a 3-1 lead before the second intermission.

The Crunch allowed seven power plays in the first two periods, and the Americans capitalized on two of those. Syracuse went 0-for-4 with the man-advantage.

"Before the third, we were saying that we weren't going to quit," Crunch defenseman Radko Gudas said.

Kevin Sundher and Kevin Porter each scored in the first 10 minutes of the final frame, putting the game out of reach.

"We still believed we could get back into the game," Panik said. "We've done it this year."

Brett Connolly chipped a rebound past Leggio with a little more than seven minutes remaining, and Danick Gauthier brought the Crunch to within two less than five minutes later.

Although Syracuse couldn't complete the comeback, it outshot Rochester 21-3 in the third and 46-21 in the game.

Crunch goalie Riku Helenius finished the night with 16 saves.

Syracuse (25-12-2-4) has a full week of practice before it hosts Adirondack Friday.

"This week is going to be hard work," Panik said. "We have to get back into our habits."

"We've got to work on those little things," Gudas said. "It's going to be a battle throughout the week, a lot of work. There's still a long way to go in the season."

Pictured: Crunch forward Philip-Michael Devos retrieves a rebound and turns to shoot against the Americans at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.