Bounce Gives Crunch OT Win Over Bears, 3-2

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Jon DiSalvatore's objective was to just jab the puck toward the net.

With nearly two minutes gone in overtime, the Syracuse Crunch forward took a whack at a loose puck a few feet from the net. In a stroke of luck, the puck went off a Hershey Bears defenseman, fluttered up over the goalie, kissed the crossbar and fell just over the goal line to give the Crunch a 3-2 win at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

"I'll take it," DiSalvatore said with a grin.

The Bears opened the scoring midway through the first period on the lone power play of the game. Chris Brown one-timed a feed from Kris Newbury, and the puck slid under Crunch goalie Kristers Gudlevskis' right pad.

Syracuse answered a little more than four minutes later, when defenseman Charles Landry notched his first American Hockey League goal.

"The puck was coming off the board and I was coming from the side, and I just put the puck on net," Landry said. "It went in."

The goal was Landry's first in 56 AHL contests.

"(Landry) has been playing really well for us in crunch time, as far as a lot of minutes and penalty killing," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler.

Dalton Smith put Syracuse ahead with a goal off a face-off less than three minutes into the second, his first with the Crunch and fifth of the season. But Matt Watkins netted the equalizer with 10:47 remaining in regulation.

DiSalvatore provided the game-winner 1:50 into the extra frame, but Zettler believes the play was started by Brett Connolly.

"Great play by Connolly," Zettler said. "He forced a turnover behind the net -- aggressive, good stick."

Gudlevskis finished with 31 saves, while Philipp Grubauer made 34 saves at the other end.

"He had probably five or six chances against where it was point blank in front of the net," Zettler said of Gudlevskis. "I thought he was good there. The rest of it was a lot of perimeter stuff."

Evan Rankin, Max Parent, Connolly, and Philippe Paradis each recorded an assist.

Yanni Gourde also registered a helper in his Crunch debut. He spent most of the game on a line with DiSalvatore and Cedric Paquette.

"I thought he made a lot of little plays in tight areas," Zettler said. "He brings a lot of speed to that line, which is nice, and he's creative."

"I think he's a crafty little player," DiSalvatore said. "I think he's going to be another valuable asset to this organization."

Jean-Philippe Cote, playing in his first game since Feb. 14 due to a lower body injury, left the game early in the second period and did not return. Zettler didn't have an update after the game.

"We step up as a group, and we just play hard and keep it simple," Landry said of playing with five healthy defensemen.

Syracuse (24-26-4-5) hosts Hamilton in the second game of a three-game weekend Saturday.

"It's a huge win for us tonight and we're happy right now," Landry said. "But we're going to refocus on the game tomorrow and play the same way we did tonight. If we do the same thing, we're probably going to have a good result."

Pictured: Crunch captain Mike Angelidis, right, celebrates a goal by Charles Landry at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.