Volkov Scores First Pro Goal, But Crunch Fall to Marlies


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Alexander Volkov received the drop pass and quickly fired it from the top of the right wing circle past Garrett Sparks.

The rookie’s first professional goal brought the Crunch to within one midway through the second period but the Marlies goalie finished with 29 saves, as Syracuse was topped by Toronto, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

“I scored my first goal, but I’m not happy because my team lost the game,” Volkov said. “I scored a goal, but it’s a bonus for me.”

Volkov, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s second round pick in 2017, was held without a point in his first seven game. The goal earned him the second star of the game.

“Hopefully it’s going to take pressure off his shoulders,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said of Volkov. “I think he was very frustrated having chances and not producing. Hopefully that’s going to help him out.”

Mitchell Stephens scored Syracuse’s other goal, while Dennis Yan, Erik Cernak and Adam Erne each recorded an assist.

Crunch goalie Connor Ingram made three saves on five shots but was pulled midway through the first period. Michael Leighton made 18 saves in relief.

“I thought he made some tough, tough saves and kept us in the game,” Groulx said of Leighton. “He was good. He’s in tomorrow.”

The Crunch opened the scoring 48 seconds into the game. Yan made a stretch pass to Stephens, who broke down the left wing all alone and snapped a shot past Sparks.

“I wanted to go right away in the zone, but I took my time and I saw (Stephens) go in with speed,” Yan said. “It was a little risky, but I saw the lane and luckily it went through.”

Miro Aaltonen scored off a turnover to even the score less than four minutes later, and Ingram was puled after allowing a wraparound goal by Colin Greening 10:27 into the contest.

The Crunch’s power play created multiple chances on the power play, but Sparks made dazzling stops to rob Mat Bodie and Cory Conacher on the goal line.

“That’s frustrating, especially when we get chances and it’s a huge save that should have been a goal,” Yan said. “We needed a big goal on the power play.”

Greening added to the Marlies’ lead 3:28 into the second. Volkov’s goal cut Syracuse’s deficit to one a little more than five minutes later, and Toronto went into the third period with a 3-2 advantage.

The Crunch struggled to create quality chances in the final frame, and Andreas Johnsson capped the Marlies’ win with an empty-netter with 2:34 remaining.

Overall, Groulx was not pleased with his team’s performance.

“You can’t play hockey when you have no structure and you give the puck away like we did tonight,” Groulx said. “I thought our compete was very, very low.”

Syracuse (2-5-1-0) looks to get back on track in Rochester Saturday.

“Tonight was a disaster for me,” Groulx said. “So hopefully we’re going to be better tomorrow.”

Pictured: Crunch rookie Alexander Volkov scores his first pro goal 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.