Gudlevskis, Crunch Shut Out Americans, 1-0

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After getting pulled from a game earlier this week, Kristers Gudlevskis was eager to step back into the crease.

The Syracuse Crunch goalie looked at a few pucks hitting the pipes behind him as a positive omen, and finished with a 27-save shutout in a 1-0 win over the Rochester Americans at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. The victory snaps a four-game losing streak for Syracuse.

"When you get those pipes, you start to feel comfortable," the Latvian netminder said. "You start to feel like it's your day. It's a lucky moment, it's help."

But the luck didn't seem to be on the Crunch's side early in the game.

Syracuse appeared to take the lead with 7:29 remaining in the first period, when Artem Sergeev ripped a shot past Rochester goalie Nathan Lieuwen and into the top right corner of the net. The Crunch's annual Teddy Bear Toss promotion kicked in and stuffed animals began to rain onto the ice, but the shot was reviewed and the referees determined it never went in.

During the extended break for bear clean-up and review, Syracuse coach Rob Zettler tried to keep his team loose.

"I just said 'Grab a teddy bear for one of your kids,'" he said. "I felt like lately we've been really tight. I'm feeling it when we don't win, the players feel it, they know it. I was just trying to stay a little bit looser tonight and have a little bit of fun on the bench."

Less than two minutes after play resumed, Brett Connolly redirected a shot from the slot for the eventual game-winner. Dmitry Korobov and Luke Witkowski each had assists on Connolly's second goal of the season.

"I just tried to get a stick on it, and luckily it went in," Connolly said.

Connolly, who registered 74 points in 89 games last season, nearly converted on a few earlier scoring opportunities, but pushed the puck just wide or hit the crossbar.

"I've gotten frustrated enough this year, I think I've gotten over it … You just have to keep pressing, it's only a matter of time," Connolly said.

Syracuse (12-10-1-2) hopes to stay loose and grind out another win when it travels to Hershey Wednesday.

"It's a matter of getting on a roll now," Connolly said, referencing the Crunch being a couple points out of a playoff spot. "We've got to get points, and we've got to catch up again."

Pictured: Crunch goalie Kristers Gudlevskis makes a save against the Americans at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.