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Crunch Overwhelmed in Loss to Marlies

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch were overwhelmed by the top team in the AHL.

The Crunch evened the score late in the first period but the Marlies’ Andreas Johnsson netted a natural hat trick in the second, as Syracuse fell to Toronto, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The Marlies now have earned a point in 11 straight games.

“They were, again tonight, the best team by far,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “I thought (goalie Louis Domingue) kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win, but obviously not good enough.”

Rookies Anthony Cirelli and Alexander Volkov each scored once for Syracuse, while Jamie McBain, Mathieu Joseph, Mitchell stephens and Olivier Achambault each had one assist.

Domingue, down to get minutes during the NHL all-star break, finished with 27 saves in the loss. He had back-to-back shutouts in his last two AHL games.

“It was a much better team coming our way and they played the right way, they played a good game and they were opportunistic on their scoring chances,” Domingue said. “When they scored, it seemed like we lacked a bit of energy and fight back. When we did, it was a little too late.”

Chris Mueller opened the scoring for the Marlies with a power play goal 2:57 into the contest, but Cirelli answered with less than four minutes left in the frame to make it 1-1 heading into the first intermission.

With a loose puck approaching the slot, Domingue rushed out of the crease to try and clear it 6:23 into the second. Johnsson chipped the puck away and slid it into the net on his backhand,

Johnsson scored his second of the night midway through the second and completed the hat trick 3:30 later.

“We worked hard in the first, but then our D fell apart,” Groulx said.

The Crunch, who were held to 11 shots on goal in the first 40 minutes, were able to convert with the extra attacker on late in the third. Volkov cut the Marlies’ lead to two with 56 seconds remaining, but Toronto held on for the win.

“We’ve got to learn from those games,” Crunch captain Erik Condra said. “That’s a hungry team that wants to score and wants to win. No matter what the score is, they’re coming hard and that’s why they’re in first place. Sometimes we have to remember we’re a young team and learn that if we get down or things don’t go our way, we need a little bit more pushback.”

Dealing with a series of injuries and call-ups, Syracuse heads into the all-star break with a 26-15-2-2 record. The Crunch return to action Friday in Utica against the Comets.

“I think this all-star break comes at a good time for us,” Condra said. “We’ll have a lot of guys coming back after it. We learned a lesson from a good team tonight and we take the break and we come back.

“When we’re a good team and we’re going, we’re hard to beat.”

Pictured: Crunch goalie Louis Domingue makes a save in front of Marlies forward Kerby Rychel 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.