Crunch Comeback Spoiled By Falcons in Overtime

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Trailing 4-2 heading into the final period, the Syracuse Crunch started to play desperate hockey.

The Crunch, who dropped eight out of the nine contests coming into the game, needed a rally. Syracuse outshot Springfield 19-2 in the third period and scored three times to force overtime.

But a shot tipped in front of goalie Allen York spoiled the Syracuse comeback, as the Falcons topped the Crunch, 6-5, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The one point for forcing overtime provided little solace for Syracuse.

"One point is better than nothing," said Crunch defenseman Joey Mormina. "(We) played hard, just too many mental lapses, miscues defensively. When you score five goals, you should win the game. There's some positives for sure, but we really need to get on a roll here."

"I thought we played great in the third," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "We brought some energy, we rallied, we battled. The second period it wasn't there and it cost us."

Springfield's Dalton Prout opened the scoring at the 3:19 mark of the first, but Philippe Paradis' slap shot tied the game less than three minutes later. Jack Skille netted a power play goal to put the Falcons ahead heading into the first intermission.

Jean-Francois Jacques and Alex Aleardi padded the Springfield lead with goals midway through the second, but Dana Tyrell's power play goal on a back-door pass from Tanner Richard brought the Crunch back to within two heading into the third.

Rankin scored on another Richard feed midway through the third, but Tim Miller put Springfield back up by three with 5:25 remaining, when his shot squirted past York and into the net.

Crunch captain Mike Angelidis scored while being knocked over with 4:14 remaining, and Mormina -- on Richard's third primary assist of the night -- netted the equailizer less than two minutes later.

"I just got hit, and I landed on my back and I saw the puck," Angelidis said. "I just tried to come around him and whacked it in behind him."

With 1:08 remaining in the extra frame, Prout scored again to win the game for the Falcons.

"We battled back, five minutes left we scored two goals," Angelidis said. "It shows character. It's something we can build off of."

York, on a tryout with both Kristers Gudlevskis and Cedrick Desjardins on recall to the Tampa Bay Lightning, finished with 17 saves.

"He had six goals, I think four of them were tips in front of the net," Zettler said. "What are you supposed to do? That's our D's job to box out and eliminate sticks. We didn't do it."

With the loss, Syracuse has dropped nine out of the last 10 games and slipped to 12th in the Eastern Conference.

"The last two weeks have been pretty sour, to be quite honest," Mormina said. "Not just tonight, but tonight was another opportunity for us to get a win, and we didn't deliver."

The Crunch head into the AHL All-Star Break with a 18-21-3-5 record. Syracuse returns to action with a two-game set in Norfolk Friday and Saturday.

"We still have a lot of work ahead of us," Zettler said. "What I told them was the third period is the way we have to play for 60 minutes. Not 20, not 50, not 10, but for 60 minutes."

"We don't have an opportunity to coast any more," Mormina said. "We need to win every game pretty much, and we need to dominate the play just like that."

Pictured: Crunch forward Brett Connolly looks to make a pass against the Falcons at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.