Crunch Score Four Unanswered Goals to Top Amerks in Game 1

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After allowing a pair of one-goal leads slip away, the Syracuse Crunch were able to pull away.

With Gabriel Dumont leading the charge, the Crunch scored four unanswered goals over the final 40 minutes in a 6-2 victory over the Rochester Americans in Game 1 of the North Division Semifinals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

“I don’t think we played the way we wanted in the first half of this game. We played better after that,” Dumont said. “If you’re a good team, you’re going to get chances. We were lucky enough to capitalize on our power play and there was a big goal by the fourth line too.”

Dumont capped a hat trick with an empty-netter in the final minute. The veteran center finished with three goals and an assist.

“His contributions night in and night out you can’t replace,” Crunch defenseman Jamie McBain said. “We didn’t know at the beginning of the week for sure whether he’d be able to go, so having him in the lineup gives us definitely gives us a boost.”

Twelve of Syracuse’s 18 skaters recorded a point.

McBain had a goal and two assists. Brendan Bradley and Dominik Masin also scored, while Mathieu Joseph, Erik Condra, Carter Verhaeghe, Matthew Peca, Erik Cernak, Mitchell Stephens, Alexander Volkov and Daniel Walcott each had an assist.

Eddie Pasquale made 28 saves in goal for the win.

“He was unbelievable,” McBain said. “He made the saves when we needed him. They’re a very opportunistic team and they had like two breakaways and a couple odd-man rushes and he stood tall for us when we needed him the most just to give us that big save when you need it. That’s what you need in the playoffs.”

The Crunch couldn’t hold on to a pair of one-goal leads in the first period.

Dumont opened the scoring 3:22 into the contest, but Nick Baptiste evened the score 50 seconds later. McBain put Syracuse back in the lead midway through the frame, but Kyle Criscuolo knotted the score at 2-2 before the first intermission.

The tide turned in favor of Syracuse after Masin pounced on a loose puck just outside the crease 1:44 into the second period to give the Crunch another lead.

“I thought we were very solid after that,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Obviously, the fourth goal and the fifth goal put the game away, but it was a hard fought battle.”

Bradley finished off a cross-crease pass by Walcott 8:27 into the third period, and Dumont tipped in a Cernak shot on a 5-on-3 six minutes later. Dumont sealed the win with an empty-netter with 52 seconds remaining.

Syracuse hosts Rochester in Game 2 of the North Division Semifinals Saturday.

“It’s big. We’re at home. First game. But it’s over,” Groulx said. “We’re happy with the result tonight. Tomorrow we’ve got to be a better team.”

Pictured: Crunch players celebrate a goal against the Americans at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

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