Crunch's Win Streak Snapped By Checkers

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch couldn’t overcome their slow start.

The Checkers controlled play throughout most of the first period and the Crunch trailed by two heading into the final frame. Syracuse rallied in the third, but Charlotte held on for a 4-1 victory at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The loss snaps the Crunch’s seven game win streak.

“It’s two teams that are playing playoff style hockey right now,” Crunch captain Erik Condra said. “They gave us a little bit of a wake-up (call) in the first and second period with their speed, and we came out and it was too little, too late in the end.”

Olivier Archambault scored the lone Syracuse goal on the power play in the third period. Condra and Matthew Peca recorded the assists.

Connor Ingram finished with 26 saves, including 16 in the first period alone, but was tagged with the loss.

“We knew how good this team would be tonight, and I think they taught us a lesson,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “They were all over us in the first period. Without our goalie, this game is over after one period. I thought Connor was spectacular. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win.

“We got better as the game went along, but I thought Charlotte was the best team tonight.”

Charlotte outshot Syracuse 17-9 in the first period, but the lone goal of the frame went to the Checkers’ Trevor Carrick. Greg McKegg added to Charlotte’s lead in the second period, and had another insurance marker 1:39 into the third.

The Crunch were able to get the momentum when Archambault scored on the power play five minutes later, but Jeremy Smith kept Syracuse off the board over the final 13 minutes and Aleksi Saarela sealed the Charlotte win with an empty-netter.

“I don’t think the first (period) was our best. Once we started playing our game and stopped being cute, we got chances,” Peca said. “They got some momentum on their power play and capitalized on some of their odd-man rushes. It was just the way the game went.”

For Groulx, there were positives to take from the loss.

“I like the fact that we never backed down. We tried our best to come back, but tonight was not a good night for us,” Groulx said. “The best team on the ice was Charlotte and they totally deserved the win.”

After three games in four days, Syracuse (43-20-3-4) has time to rest before it travels to Binghamton Friday.

“At this point, like I said, any type of break is good going into the playoffs,” Condra said. “We’ve got to be ready for playoff hockey, so that’s what we’re trying to train for.”

Pictured: Crunch forward Olivier Archambault makes a pass against the Checkers at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

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