Depleted Crunch Fall to IceCaps in Overtime

By Jeremy Houghtaling

It wasn’t the result he hoped for, but Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx liked his team’s effort.

The Crunch — depleted by injuries and call-ups — tied the score early in the third period but fell to the St. John’s IceCaps, 3-2, in overtime at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“You know what? Hat’s off to our players,” Groulx said. “It was a great effort. You’re losing Matt Peca last night. We’re losing (Cory) Conacher tonight — couldn’t play. We had a few more guys banged up and we came up with that great effort. It’s a well deserved point.”

Byron Froese and Tye McGinn each scored once for Syracuse, Joel Vermin had a pair of assists, and Matt Taormina and Henri Ikonen each had one helper.

Crunch goalie Mike McKenna finished with 28 saves in the loss.

“I thought he was good,” Groulx said. “He gave us a chance to win. This is what we expect from both of our goalies.”

Froese opened the scoring 12:49 into the contest on a feed from Ikonen, but the lead was short-lived. The IceCaps’ Chris Terry netted the equalizer less than four minutes later.

Jacob de la Rose put St. John’s ahead with 5:31 left in the middle stanza, but McGinn’s tip on the power play brought the Crunch back to even 2:30 into the third.

“We came out and knew what we had to do in the third,” McGinn said. “We needed to get at least one and we did that. I’m proud of the guys. They worked hard and fought right to the end to tie it up.”

McKenna made a save on Daniel Audette early in overtime, but the Crunch turned the puck over again, Audette sprung Charles Hudon for a breakaway, and the IceCaps forward scored the game-winner 1:40 into the extra session.

“We turned the puck over, but it’s a three-on-three,” Groulx said. “When you’re losing an edge out there, it becomes tough to recover. Our goalie stopped the first breakaway, but when you give a chance to Terry and Hudon, at one point you know you’re going to pay for it.”

The Crunch, who iced a lineup with three players on tryout deals, earned three out of a possible six points this week, but only one out of four on the weekend.

“It’s disappointing we only got one out of a possible four points … but we had a late scratch and I thought the guys that got a lot more ice time stepped up,” McGinn said. “The effort was there. Guys played a really good game. It was just their lucky night tonight.”

Syracuse (30-20-6-5) has some time to rest before it travels to Lehigh Valley Wednesday.

“We’re going to take the day off tomorrow and see how our players feel,” Groulx said. “Let’s try to get healthy a little bit here, and see how it plays out and what type of team we have.

“For tonight, I’m very, very happy with the way we competed.”

Pictured: Crunch forward Tye McGinn accepts a pass during a game against the IceCaps at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

For more pictures from the game, visit the BoltProspects Facebook page.

To listen to postgame interviews, go to this SoundCloud page.