Matthew Peca’s goals in back-to-back games looked eerily similar.
The Syracuse Crunch center picked the puck off the half wall, danced through multiple defenders to the slot, and wristed a shot into the back of the net. Peca used his speed and skill to get into prime scoring areas, and was rewarded with three points in his last two games.
Peca is getting more comfortable and consistent as he continues to develop during his rookie season.
“Over the last couple weeks his game has been more consistent,” said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. “He’s skating a little more consistently, he’s starting to protect pucks down low, and you see these goals he is scoring off the half wall and moving into the high traffic areas -- that’s where he’s really good. He just needs to get there often and use his speed to his advantage.”
The special teams play proved to be the difference in the third period.
The Crunch took the lead with a power play marker early in the frame, killed off the Comets’ two-minute 5-on-3, and Kristers Gudlevskis finished with 47 saves, as Syracuse topped Utica, 2-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
“To me, the guys tonight had a lot of guts to their game, a lot of battle to their game, and got a little dirtier,” said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. “To me, that stuff gets rewarded when you do those things.”
Adam Wilcox received some reassurance from a teammate before the start of the third period.
The goalie had multiple highlight reel saves to keep the game close despite Syracuse being outshot 25-11 over the first 40 minutes. The Crunch tied the score with two power play goals in the third, Jeff Tambellini netted the game-winner in overtime and Wilcox held the Senators scoreless the rest of the way, as Syracuse rallied past Binghamton, 4-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
“(David) Broll looked at me in the locker room and ‘The boys got ya,’” Wilcox said. “I said ‘I’ll hold you guys to it.’ I shut the door for the rest of the period, and the guys sold out … The guys came out and it showed the character of the locker room.”
Adam Wilcox is moving on after his milestone victory.
The Crunch rookie netminder turned aside 25 shots to lift Syracuse to a 2-1 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for his first professional win Saturday, but was back to the regular grind at practice on Monday.
Wilcox is continuing to refine his technique as he progresses at the pro level.
“Obviously, it was a good feeling,” Wilcox said. “I was excited about it and it’s one of the hardest wins to get. It’s just getting over that, and now that the first one is out of the way, hopefully I can keep rolling here.”
Syracuse took an early lead and buckled down on defense.
Jonathan Marchessault scored twice in the first 15 minutes and Adam Wilcox recorded 25 saves for his first professional win, as the Crunch topped the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 2-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
“He was calm,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said of Wilcox. “I thought he was square to all the pucks and he saw everything, which is a good sign. It’s good for him. The games he has played so far, I actually thought he has played well but we haven’t played well in front of him. It’s nice to give him somewhat of a light workload and a W. He’s earned it.”
Rob Zettler summed it up in just a few words: very frustrating.
The Crunch battled back from a pair of deficits but the Devils’ third period goal proved to be the difference, as Syracuse fell to Albany, 4-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
“I think it was frustrating for our players,” the Crunch head coach said. “I thought the guys played hard. It wasn’t a beautiful game by any stretch, but the guys played hard, they battled, and came back from 2-0 and 3-2. Then we had a turnover in front of our net with seven or eight minutes left and it’s in the back of the net. It is what it is.”
The Crunch’s Jonathan Marchessault and Yanni Gourde each finished with a goal and an assist. Nikita Nesterov rounded out the scoring, Tanner Richard added a pair of helpers, and Anthony DeAngelo and Joel Vermin each had one assist.
Crunch comeback dissolves into Third Period disappointment.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the loss. That's not exactly the kind of triumphant return one might've hoped for in Gudlevskis first action back from Tampa Bay. Then again, some rust due to inaction was probably inevitable.
ALB Thomson, (2) (Scarlett), 16:40
ALB Blandisi, (3) (Lorito, Sislo), 1:41 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (2) (Marchessault, Richard), 11:41
SYR Nesterov, (1) (DeAngelo, Vermin), 17:45 (PP)
ALB Blandisi, (4) (Lorito, Sislo), 4:03 (PP)
SYR Marchessault, (4) (Gourde, Richard), 8:21
ALB Kujawinski, (2) (Mozik, McKelvie), 14:38
It's a shame the Crunch spend all game crawling out of their initial 2 goal deficit only to relent the winner after getting the even footing for the second time in the game. Nikita Nesterov paid instant dividends in his return to the club by potting a power play goal that was the first equalizer toward the end of the Second Period. That's good news. Nesterov's regressed a bit early this year in Tampa Bay due to lack of action and a loss of confidence. Getting the chance to get more minutes, especially on the power play, is a good way for Nikita to get his swagger back. In the mean time, I'd expect a recall on the blueline to Tampa Bay for tomorrow's game against Minnesota (Slater Koekkoek?).
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Joel Vermin has continued to evolve as a player.
In his second full season in North America, the Syracuse Crunch forward is finding a way to harness his speed and skill, as well as making a habit of going to the hard areas of the ice. The 23-year-old has registered one goal and three assists in the first eight games with Syracuse this season, and is steadily improving many facets of his game.
“I feel really comfortable, I feel really good on the ice,” Vermin said. “I think I’ve made a big step forward from last year. I hope it keeps going like that.”
Syracuse got a boost in net and with the man-advantage.
The Crunch rode the momentum from their power play work and Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 27 saves on 28 shots, as Syracuse cruised past the Hershey Bears, 4-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial on Friday.
“He’s there when you need him, that’s for sure,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said of Vasilevskiy. “He was there for us early there for us, he was there late for us. I thought our middle part was really good, but he made some big saves for us.”
No Marchessault? No problem.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. Syracuse is off until next Friday now, and in the absence of anymore games this weekend the logical conclusion is that Vasilevskiy will find his way back up to Tampa Bay pretty soon with Gudlevskis coming back down by Friday's contest. We'll see if that's how it pans out. 2-0 with a 1.04 GAA and a .965 save percentage is a pretty nice conditioning stint for a goaltender, from where I sit.
HER Gazley, (2) (Bowey), 2:46
SYR Taormina, (2) (Gourde, Tambellini), 11:36 (PP)
SYR DeAngelo, (3) (Peca, Taormina), 11:52
SYR Tambellini, (3) (Taormina), 2:28
SYR Blunden, (3) (Blujus, DeAngelo), 6:43 (PP)
Don't look now, but Anthony DeAngelo's got 7 points in his first 8 pro games. He's also averaging over 3 SOG's a game, which is symptomatic of fancy stat magic, from what I understand. Will his offensive game immediately translate from junior to pro? It appears so. Tonight was his first multi-point game with the Crunch.
Box score from TheAHL.com.