Crunch Let Lead Slip Away in Loss to Wilcox, Thunderbirds

By Jeremy Houghtaling

A few third-period mistakes proved costly for the Syracuse Crunch.

The Crunch took the lead 45 seconds into the third period but the Thunderbirds tied the score midway through the frame and netted the game-winner with 1:45 remaining, as Syracuse lost to Springfield, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

“It’s very disappointing,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We’re up 2-1, missed assignment on the second goal down low. With two minutes left, you have a defenseman diving down. It’s unacceptable.

“I don’t think we did enough tonight to win. That’s it.”

Byron Froese, acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning before the trade deadline, finished with one goal and one assist in his Crunch debut. The 25-year-old center was injured and only had one or two full-team practices before being inserted into the lineup.

“It took a little while to feel the puck out a bit,” Froese said. “I felt like I didn’t really have my hands quite yet, but I just wanted to work hard and I thought I did that. A couple things I’d take back, for sure, but obviously we didn’t get the win, so it wasn’t good enough.”

Syracuse’s Tye McGinn scored once, while Matt Taormina, Ben Thomas and Cory Conacher each had one assist.

While Adam Wilcox — who was traded to Springfield at the trade deadline — registered 29 saves for the win against his former club, Kristers Gudlevskis had 24 saves in the loss.

“I thought he was OK,” Groulx said of Gudlevskis.

Paul Thompson put the Thunderbirds on the board first with a goal late in the first period, but McGinn chipped in a loose puck from just outside the crease to even the score 4:13 into the second.

Froese’s one-timer from the top of the left wing circle gave the Crunch the lead 45 seconds into the final frame.

“It was a great move by Conacher to get it to (Taormina), and he feathered it right into my wheelhouse,” Froese said. “Took quite a few in practice and they all weren’t that good, so I was happy that one came out then.”

Anthony Greco had the game-tying goal 10:04 into the third, and added the eventual game-winner with 1:45 on the clock.

Syracuse (30-20-5-5) finishes the week by hosting St. John’s Saturday.

“Every game is important right now,” Groulx said. “We’ll digest this one and we’ll refocus for tomorrow.”

Pictured: Crunch center Byron Froese makes a pass against the Thunderbirds 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.