Crunch Top Admirals in Shootout, 3-2

By Jeremy Houghtaling

For Mike Angelidis, one of the strengths of the Syracuse Crunch is its ability to remain positive.

Down by a goal in the third period to the Norfolk Admirals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday, the Crunch captain knew if his team poured on the pressure, it would find the game-tying goal.

Syracuse outshot Norfolk 23-4 in the third, finding the equalizer midway through the frame and and ultimately winning the game, 3-2, in the shootout. The Crunch has won five straight and seven of its last eight.

"It gets frustrating when you keep shooting the puck and missing the net or they're blocking shots," Angelidis said. "It's frustrating, but if you keep playing the game and you stay positive, good things happen."

After a scoreless first, Kyle Palmieri put the Admirals on the board with a pair of power play tallies in the second period.

The Crunch comeback started four minutes before the second intermission, with Danick Gauthier finishing off a feed from Cory Conacher for his fourth goal of the season. Alex Killorn was also credited with an assist.

"We knew we weren't playing our best game," Angelidis said. "We kept bringing the puck back in our zone and we weren't going forward with it. We're one of those teams, we knew we could come back, we just had to start playing our game."

Syracuse continued to push in the third and finally broke through to tie the game with less than seven minutes left in regulation. Angelidis' pass to the middle found Pierre-Cedric Labrie, who whipped the puck into a mostly-open net. Dmitry Korobov registered the secondary assist.

"I saw the D coming at me, so I did a quick spin and usually (Labrie) is in the middle in front of the net," Angelidis said. "I saw him wide open and gave it to him. He made a great shot."

Although the chances were plentiful, the goals were not. Despite many shots and six power plays - two in the third - the Crunch came up empty with the man-advantage.

"We had so many chances, but they didn't go in," Syracuse forward Richard Panik said. "Just bad luck, you know."

All four Syracuse shooters - JT Wyman, Ondrej Palat, Jared Nightingale and Panik - were able to put the puck in the net in the shootout, and Dustin Tokarski stopped two of the four Norfolk shots for the win.

"Guys who hadn't gone before really stepped up," Angelidis said of Nightingale and Wyman. "They don't go all the time, but they score in practice and it was nice to see them get the opportunity…And you always get a chance to win when you have Tokarski in net. He made a couple big saves for us to get the win."

Tokarski finished with 18 saves for the Crunch's first shootout win in four tries, while Admirals goalie Frederik Anderson turned away 37 shots.

Syracuse, the new affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, has won all four games against the former Lightning farm team this season.

Syracuse (24-7-2-3), which continues to pace the AHL with 53 points, hosts Rochester on Saturday. The Crunch were triumphant against the Americans at the Blue Cross Arena Wednesday.

"We know a lot about them, and we know we have to bring our 'A' game," Angelidis said. "They're going to want retribution and they're a good team."

Editor's Note: According to Lindsay Kramer of the Syracuse Post-Standard, Angelidis, Labrie, Conacher, Matt Taormina, and Keith Aulie will leave tomorrow for Tampa to prepare for Lightning camp. They will not be in the lineup on Saturday. Evan Oberg will also not be in the lineup. Additional call-ups will occur after Saturday's game as the Lightning is expected to start camp on Sunday, pending the official end of the NHL lockout.

Top: Crunch goalie Dustin Tokarski freezes the puck after a shot by Admirals forward Kyle Palmieri, left, at Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
Above: Crunch forward Richard Panik dekes past the Admirals' Rod Pelley at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.