Crunch Let Lead Slip Away in Loss to Rocket

By Jeremy Houghtaling

One night after scoring three unanswered goals to steal a win, the tables were turned on the Syracuse Crunch.

The Laval Rocket cut the Crunch lead to one in the first minute of the third period, evened the score with five minutes left in regulation and netted the game-winner with 32 seconds left in overtime at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. The 5-4 loss snaps Syracuse’s six game win streak.

“I thought they were more opportunistic than us,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We made some bad plays in our own end and they took advantage of it.”

Dennis Yan and Mat Bodie each recorded a goal and an assist for Syracuse, while Carter Verhaeghe had a pair of helpers. Erik Condra and Gabriel Dumont each scored once, while Jonne Tammela, Mitchell Stephens and Michael Bournival each had an assist.

Eddie Pasquale made 17 saves in the loss.

“It’s got to be better than that,” Groulx said of his goaltending. “But you know what? Eddie has been a difference maker for us since he’s here. That third goal early in the third, I’m sure he’d like to get back. The other goals it’s opportunistic, bouncing puck, loose puck, broken play. Those pucks are tough to stop.

“Since he’s been with us, he’s been miraculous almost. Today he was just good.”

Chris Terry opened the scoring for Laval 4:28 into the game, but Dumont scored shorthanded to tie the game 34 seconds later. Condra potted a rebound midway through the frame and the Crunch took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

All three goals in the second period were scored on the power play. Yan jammed in a loose puck in the crease 4:15 into the frame, and after Laval answered with a goal of their own, Bodie’s point shot went through a crowd and into the net.

The Rocket’s Antoine Waked scored 12 seconds into the third and Kerby Rachel netted the equalizer for Laval with 4:56 left in regulation.

“They started the period with a goal I think Eddie would like to get back and then they had three chances and scored three goals, basically,” Groulx said.

Pasquale blockered away a shot in the final minute of OT, but defenseman Ben Thomas couldn’t wrangle the puck in the slot. Jeremy Gregoire chipped the fluttering puck and it beat Pasquale stick side.

“It’s three-on-three,” Dumont said. “There’s not much else to say. It’s three-on-three.”

Syracuse (35-18-3-3) has a week to practice before beginning a three-in-three weekend against Hershey Friday.

“I think the way we were playing lately maybe we had this coming to us,” Dumont said. “We were winning, but weren’t really playing our best hockey. It’s a little wake up call. We have a good week of practice coming and we’ll regroup and go on another streak.”

Pictured: Crunch captain Erik Condra enters the offensive zone against the Rocket at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

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