Crunch Down Bears for Fifth-Straight Win

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After allowing the first goal late in the opening frame, the Syracuse Crunch fired back.

Mike Angelidis tied the score to start the annual teddy bear toss early in the second, Syracuse netted three goals in the third period, and Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 29 saves, as the Crunch beat the Hershey Bears, 4-1, to win their fifth straight at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

For Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler, the big third period came down to the team creating traffic in front of Hershey netminder Philipp Grubauer.

"The bottom line was I thought we had a lot of chances -- especially in the first and second period -- but I thought (Grubauer) saw everything," Zettler said. "That goal, that power play goal, Joel Vermin was right in front of him, it went off of him and he didn't see it."

The Bears' Stanislav Galiev opened the scoring on the power play with less than five minutes left in the first period. It was the only goal Vasilevskiy has allowed in the last three games.

"I thought he played a really strong game tonight," Zettler said of Vasilevskiy. "He swallowed a lot of pucks, not a lot of rebounds. I think he's starting to get comfortable with his game."

Angelidis jammed in a rebound from the blue paint a little more than four minutes into the second period. The teddy bears, which are donated to local children, immediately started to fly toward the ice.

"It's a good cause," Angelidis said. "Hockey has been doing this for a long time now. It's a good thing."

Despite having most of the chances and outshooting the Bears 14-8 in the second period, the Crunch couldn't find the go-ahead goal.

After a hooking call gave Syracuse a power play with 6:34 to play, Joel Vermin tipped a one-timer from Dylan Blujus to give the Crunch the lead with 4:57 remaining.

"I just saw that Blujus was probably going to shoot because he had a really good lane," Vermin said. "So all I tried to do was get out of the corner and get in front of the net. I was lucky it hit my stick and went in."

Dalton Smith added a goal 76 seconds later and Henri Ikonen sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.

For Angelidis, the team was inspired by a third period bout between Smith and Liam O'Brien.

"I think they had a little more momentum at the start of the third," Angelidis said. "We couldn't get a shot, and we kept sticking with it. Dalton Smith's fight really got us going on the bench. Guys were fired up. It was good to see him get rewarded with the third goal."

Blujus, Ikonen, Jonathan Marchessault, Mike Blunden, Slater Koekkoek and Vladislav Namestnikov each had one assist.

Syracuse (15-7-3-0) looks to keep rolling when it travels to Utica Saturday.

"The guys are confident, they feel really good about themselves," Zettler said. "As a coach, you always caution that this game has a way of humbling you if you get ahead of yourself. The passion, the energy still has to be there."

Pictured: Crunch captain Mike Angelidis celebrates his goal against the Bears at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.