Crunch Use Second Period Rally To Top Phantoms, 5-2

By Jeremy Houghtaling

JT Brown described his team as having a good feeling going into the first intermission Saturday.

Leading 1-0 over the Adirondack Phantoms, it only got better for the Syracuse Crunch, who scored four times in the first 12 minutes of the second period en route to a 5-2 victory -- their second straight -- at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

"Our team has been playing well the past few games, and that's just the kind of thing we needed," Brown said. "We needed to put together a few good games to get ourselves rolling."

Four players registered multiple points for Syracuse. Cory Conacher and Brett Connolly each registered a goal and an assist, while Brown and Mark Barberio each recorded a pair of assists.

"Everybody did what they should do," said forward Richard Panik, who scored his fifth goal of the season in the second period. "We played our system. If we play the system, you're going to get chances and score goals."

Looking to put on an encore after his two-goal performance Friday, Pierre-Cedric Labrie opened the scoring in the first period.

Conacher got the ball rolling in the second when his long range slap shot found the back of the net on the Crunch power play less than two minutes into the frame.

Six minutes later, Ondrej Palat found one of Brown's rebounds and promptly backhanded it past Phantoms goalie Cal Heeter.

"I was just going hard to the net and I got a rebound," Brown said. "It ended up going right to (Palat). Good thing he buried it."

After a brief intermission for fisticuffs -- the second of three occasions on the night -- Brown was rushing the puck up the ice.

"Their D was trying to make a play on the puck and I poked it away," he said. "Me and Connolly went on a two-on-one. I was looking pass the whole way…It wasn't open, so I threw the shot off his far pad and it went right to Connolly."

After Connolly's fifth of the season, Panik put the icing on the Crunch rally. In one smooth motion, the Slovakian forward grabbed the puck out of the air, set it down and pushed it into the net before Heeter could make a sliding save.

"I was going from the right side across the net," Panik said. "I don't know who shot the puck, but it went up and nobody knew where the puck was. I grabbed it with my hand and put it down and tapped it in."

Panik's power play goal chased Heeter from the game. The rookie netminder stopped 17 of 22 shots before being replaced by Scott Munroe, who turned away all 13 shots he faced.

Crunch goalie Riku Helenius let in a pair of goals, a power play marker by Brayden Schenn in the second period and a point shot by Erik Gustafsson in the third, on his way to 24 saves.

Syracuse, who had lost three straight at home coming into the weekend, left immediately after the game for a Sunday rematch in Hershey. The East Division-leading Crunch (9-2-1-1) topped the Bears, 6-1, at home Friday.

"We have a good feeling going into the next game, but we can't stay too high above how we did the last few games," Brown said. "But for us, it was good to finally come home and show our fans a good time."

Pictured: Crunch players congratulate Pierre-Cedric Labrie after his first period goal against the Phantoms at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.