Crunch Pound IceCaps, 6-3


By Jeremy Houghtaling

It was the perfect recipe for some ruckus and a rally, and the Syracuse Crunch had all the ingredients.

Dragging a four-game losing streak into a game against the St. John's IceCaps, a team that had come back from a four-goal deficit the last times the teams squared-off, the already frustrated Crunch allowed three straight IceCaps goals and trailed 3-2 in the second period.

And then the gloves went flying.

Syracuse defenseman Dmitry Korobov crunched IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray in the corner, drawing a crowd. As the line brawl started, Crunch goalie Dustin Tokarski shared a look down the ice with fellow netminder Eddie Pasquale, shrugged, and before he knew it, was swinging at center ice.

"I was just running on adrenaline," Tokarski said. "It was fun. It's good to get the first one out of the way."

The fisticuffs sparked the Crunch, who scored four unanswered goals en route to a 6-3 win at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

"That's the great thing about hockey, stuff just happens," Tokarski said, "Whether it's adrenaline, frustration or whatever it is. It turned out to be a game-changer for us, and the guys battled hard the rest of the way."

"We rallied together," Crunch defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote said. "It was definitely the turning point of this game. All those guys stepping up for each other, that's what we're all about."

Ten Syracuse players recorded a point, with Alex Killorn registering two goals and an assist and Tyler Johnson adding a pair of helpers.

Killorn opened the scoring with a power play tally in the first, and JT Wyman added a shorthanded goal to give the Crunch a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

The IceCaps responded with three straight in the first five minutes of the second before the melee began.

"We did good things tonight minus the first five or six minutes of the second period. I thought we responded well," Tokarski said.

Less than five minutes after the penalties were done being doled out, Kyle Wilson tied the game by tipping an Evan Oberg shot past Mark Dekanich, who took over for Pasquale. The goal was Wilson's first of the season.

Killorn struck again less than four minutes into the third for his second power play marker of the night, which held up as the game-winner.

"We were just trying to move it around and look for opportunities," he said. "I know the past few games we've struggled, and it doesn't only hurt us because we haven't scored, but the momentum shifts for the other team."

Cote added an insurance tally with four minutes to play, the defenseman's first of the season, and Richard Panik, in his first game back from a three-game suspension, sealed the win with an empty -netter.

"It's not my job, but when you get one every once in a while, it's a bonus," Cote said of his goal. "It feels good."

While the Crunch piled on the IceCaps, Riku Helenius kept them off the board. The Finnish netminder stopped all 15 shots for the win.

Syracuse (25-10-2-4) goes into the AHL All-Star break in second place in the East Division, two points behind Binghamton. It travels to Springfield Friday.

"If we play like today, or like yesterday, we're going to win more than we're going to lose," Cote said. "That's what we have to focus on."

Pictured: Crunch forward Alex Killorn takes a shot on net against the IceCaps at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

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