Crunch Fall to Marlies in Shootout for Second Straight Night

By Jeremy Houghtaling

There was a serious case of deja vu at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

With the score tied after 65 minutes, the Crunch and Marlies went to a shootout. Syracuse’s shootout struggles continued, as Toronto earned a 3-2 win for a second straight night.

The Crunch came into the weekend tied for first place in the North Division, but the Marlies now lead by two points.

“Two teams that are giving it all on the ice, obviously,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Last night they took the lead 2-0 and we came back. Tonight we took a 2-0 lead. They came back and they found a way twice in the shootout. It’s disappointing, but I’m very proud of the two hard fought battles we gave them this weekend.”

Kevin Lynch and Tanner Richard each scored once for Syracuse. Tye McGinn had a pair of assists, while Erik Condra had one.

Syracuse goalie Kristers Gudlevskis made 21 saves, including one on a penalty shot in overtime, but was tagged with the loss.

“Exactly like Mike (McKenna) last night, he gave us a chance to win,” Groulx said.

Lynch backhanded a rebound past Toronto goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo to open the scoring 5:06 into the first period, and Richard added to the Syracuse lead with another goal off a rebound 6:58 into the second.

The Marlies’ Brendan Leipsic cut the Crunch lead to one less than six minutes later, and Frederik Gauthier netted the equalizer 6:07 into the third.

Toronto’s Seth Griffith scored in the first round of the shootout and Lynch was able to tie it up in the third round. In the fifth round Kaskisuo stopped John Kurtz and Dmytro Timashov answered with a goal to end the game.

Kaskisuo finished with 30 saves for the win, as the Crunch fall to 2-7 in shootouts this season.

“It’s different every single time you go out there,” Lynch said of the shootout. “You’re facing a different goalie. You don’t really know his tendencies. We work on it every day in practice after we’re done. I don’t think it’s anything in particular. I think it’s just sometimes you score and sometimes you don’t. That’s how it is.”

Lynch chose to look at the positives, as the Crunch come closer to clincing a playoff berth.

“It’s a little disappointing, but the past week — the past three games — four out of six points isn’t bad,” Lynch said. “Every game has felt like playoff hockey, and it’s going to continue until we get to the playoffs. I think we did a lot of good things right. Obviously, we wish we had a better outcome in overtime, but I think we can take a lot of good things out of this weekend.”

Syracuse (34-23-6-7) has another game against a division rival when they take on the Devils in Albany Wednesday.

“We’ve struggled going into their building and playing them at their rink,” Crunch alternate captain Matt Taormina said. “So we’re going to have to go in and play our game. We have to get back to playing hard-nosed, get to the net, get shots there, grind it out and hopefully we’ll get the power play going.”

Pictured: Crunch goalie Kristers Gudlevskis pokes the puck away against the Marlies 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.