Crunch Snap Skid By Beating IceCaps, 4-2

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Cedric Paquette scored with less than five minutes remaining in regulation to lift Syracuse past the St. John's IceCaps, 4-2, snapping the Crunch's five-game losing streak at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

"I told them 'We are what we are, you game it out and play the right way and let the chips fall, and the result will take care of itself,'" said Crunch coach Rob Zettler.

With four of its top six scorers out of the lineup due to injury or recall to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Syracuse found a way to produce just enough offense for the win.

"We don't have a lot of skill players on the team right now," Paquette said. "To create opportunities, we need to go to the net, jam the net and stick to what we did well tonight."

Ray Kaunisto, making his Crunch debut after signing a professional tryout earlier in the day, opened the scoring with less than two minutes remaining in the first period. Maxime Langelier-Parent, skating in his second game with Syracuse, picked up his first American Hockey League assist, while Eric Neilson registered his first helper of the season.

The Crunch extended its lead midway through the second, when Geoff Walker scored his second goal in as many games. Paquette and Dmitry Korobov registered assists on the power play tally.

"That's the way we've got to play, we've got to get dirty to score goals," Zettler said.

The IceCaps rallied to tie the score with a pair of goals 23 seconds apart later in the period.

With less than eight minutes left in the frame, St. John's converted on the power play when Jason Jaffrey finished off a feed from former Syracuse forward Andrew Gordon.

The IceCaps fed off the momentum, and JC Lipon tied the score less than 30 seconds later.

Syracuse continued to drive the net to create scoring chances in the third, and finally cashed in with Paquette's goal with 4:24 remaining. Philip-Michael Devos and Danick Gauthier each registered an assist.

Gauthier sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.

"We're not going to win games being cute," Walker said. "We've got to get to the front of the net like we did tonight and bang away."

Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins finished with 26 saves, while Eddie Pasquale had 33 in the IceCaps' net.

Syracuse (10-7-1-1) looks to keep rolling when it travels to Adirondack Saturday.

"We need to step up and help this team win, and we did that tonight and we're looking forward to doing that tomorrow," Walker said.

Pictured: Crunch defenseman Matt Taormina maneuvers around IceCaps forward at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.