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Crunch's Point Streak Snapped by Marlies

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Head coach Benoit Groulx liked the first 20 minutes, but the Syracuse Crunch faded in the second and third periods against the North Division leaders.

The Crunch fell behind early and the Marlies finished with a pair of power play markers, as Syracuse fell to Toronto, 4-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. The loss snaps the Crunch’s 10 game point streak.

“I thought we had a great first period. Missed many opportunities. ... They had one chance and they scored on it,” Groulx said. “Then I thought they were the best team on the ice. We turned the puck over. We didn’t have any speed. Our power play killed the momentum. Our PK was so-so tonight.

“Overall, I thought the first was pretty good and then Toronto was the better team.”

Mitchell Stephens netted Syracuse’s lone goal. Fellow rookies Anthony Cirelli and Dennis Yan had the assists, while Connor Ingram made 21 saves in the loss.

Trevor Moore opened the scoring for the Marlies on the power play 2:25 into the contest, and Ben Smith added to Toronto’s lead with another goal on the man-advantage 4:30 into the second.

Stephens slid in a rebound from a Cirelli shot on the power play midway through the second, but Colin Greening gave the Marlies a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission. Andreas Johansson added an empty-netter to seal the win for Toronto.

Coming into the game, the Crunch had killed off 28 straight penalties and was 41-for-43 on the PK during their 10 game point streak. Toronto finished 2-for-5 with the man-advantage, while Syracuse was 1-for-5.

“We took a lot of penalties tonight and we need to capitalize on the power play a little bit more,” Stephens said. “We have to forget about it and refocus on Utica for tomorrow night.”

For Crunch forward Daniel Walcott, the loss ultimately comes down to effort.

“Our team, we win a lot of games when we work hard and outwork the other team. I felt like today we had glimpses of it, but we just didn’t bring it every shift,” Walcott said. “We got caught.They got an early lead, they went up two, we got a goal but we were playing catch-up from there. We can’t be doing that.”

The Crunch had their nine game win streak snapped with a 2-1 overtime loss in Belleville Wednesday. Groulx saw some correlation between the two losses.

“We’ve got to have more jump. … We’re an explosive team when we skate and play fast,” Groulx said. “I don’t think we’ve been playing fast the last two games.”

Syracuse (24-13-2-2) hits the road to take on Utica — another division rival — on Saturday.

“Tomorrow is the biggest game right now of this streak,” Walcott said. “We’ve got the all-star break coming up. We can’t look ahead. We’ve got to really get that game. We can’t go down three games in a row. … It’s a hard loss, but we’ve got to bounce back.”

Pictured: Crunch goalie Connor Ingram makes a save against the Marlies 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.