While the forwards got off to a hot start, the Syracuse Crunch defense proved to be the difference.
Syracuse opened the scoring 69 seconds into the game and Rochester answered with a pair of goals in the next 1:24, but three Crunch defensemen registered their second goal of the season in a 6-4 win over the Americans in the first game after the all-star break at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
"Bottom line is we've been working on in practice to get our D more involved in the offense, just get them up in the rush so they're in there for shots, more people at the net and D being more active," said Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler. "They were tonight."
Despite falling behind in the opening minutes of the third period, the Syracuse Crunch found a way to rally.
Mike Blunden scored shorthanded for his second goal of the night, Mike Angelidis added the go-ahead goal on the power play two minutes later, and Andrei Vasilevskiy shut the door on multiple scrambles in the final minutes, as the Crunch topped the Hartford Wolf Pack, 3-2, to take the Northeast Division lead heading into the all-star break at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"Mike Blunden was unreal tonight, (Mike) Angelidis was good tonight," said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. "All the guys you count on night in and night out really stepped up."
Syracuse takes the division lead heading into the AHL All-Star Break.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 32 shots for the victory. As with last night's game, solid stat line and key saves at key moments.
SYR Blunden, (12) (Koekkoek, Corrente), 1:29
HFD Allen, (6) (Mueller, Vaive), 5:17 (PP)
HFD Hrivik, (5) (Bodie, Kristo), 2:31
SYR Blunden, (13) (Namestnikov), 7:47 (SH)
SYR Angelidis, (14) (Blunden, Mormina), 9:48 (PP)
The win allows Syracuse to move 1 point ahead of Springfield into first place in the Northeast Division, 1 point back of Manchester for the conference lead. Almost as important, it allowed the Crunch to expand their lead over the Wolf Pack to 4 points in the ultra-competitive Northeast race, as the Crunch's division might be the toughest in the league this season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Yanni Gourde accepted the pass, saw the empty net and looked to finish off the hat trick.
The Crunch forward, who had his father and 11 other friends and family watching, guarded the puck against the Phantoms defender but had the stick slashed in half before he could finish the backhand motion. Gourde finished with a pair of goals, as Syracuse scored three unanswered goals to top Lehigh Valley, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
"I was waiting for those goals for a while," Gourde said. "I've been working hard and they didn't come. Tonight they did. It's special to always score, especially in front of your family."
Vasiy and Gourde spook the Phantoms.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 32 shots for the victory. It's a solid stat line, but the real key was making big saves at key junctures of the game, like any really good goaltender does.
SYR Kunyk, (6) (Lynch, Dodero), 7:21
LV Goumas, (2) (Delisle, Comrie), 17:00
LV Straka, (10) (Goumas, Comrie), 17:24
SYR Gourde, (14) , 3:23
SYR Ikonen, (5) (Angelidis, Corrente), 17:45
SYR Gourde, (15) (Richard, Vermin), 4:00
With Springfield falling to Hartford tonight, Syracuse moves back to just 1 point back in the division with 1 game in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.