By David F. Pendrys (Eyewitness account checked against official release.) (Editor’s note: Went to this game as a fan, tried to write up the report objectively though.)
HARTFORD, CT- In the first two periods of the game, it looked like the Syracuse Crunch had the advantage offensively and defensively, as the visitors had gotten two goals past recently returned Wolf Pack goaltender Mackenzie Skapski in a short period of time. Joel Vermin and Yanni Gourde were the culprits for the Crunch. Even after Ryan Haggerty cut the lead to one with a well placed shot in the second as he was part of an opportunistic 2 on 1 but didn’t need to pass. Ryan Martindale of the Crunch responded nearly immediately surprising Skapski with another light of the lamp. This was in spite of the Wolf Pack threatening often, but not seeming to be able to connect their passes or line up the right shots given all their chances.
Period 3 however changed the entire equation as multiple penalties gave the Wolf Pack a lot of power play to work with. Marek Hrivik scored falling down in front of the net to cut the lead again but the Crunch’s Martindale came up with a short handed chance and beat Skapski to keep the lead at 4 to 2. One penalty was on the verge of expiring when the Crunch committed another and Justin Vaive scored nearly instantly from far back in the zone. With the momentum of the game clearly changing, Chris Bourque was passed the puck up ice, giving him a break away and he shot past Kristers Gudlevskis to tie up the game. It looked like the game was in danger of going to overtime, though late Syracuse had to make a goalie change and in came Allen York. He had barely gotten settled when Hrivik provided a ricochet of a slap shot in his direction knocking it past stunning everyone. The Crunch tried to respond but got called for a penalty with just over two minutes left in the game. This forced the Crunch to pull York to just get back to even strength. In the scrum for control, Chris Mueller got the puck at center ice, sped far ahead of the pursuing defense and lightly dropped the puck into the empty net to secure the ultimate 6-4 victory.
Gudlevskis made 25 saves on 29 shots before departing. York faced 2 shots and let 1 in. Skapski had 33 saves on 37 shots, and despite the rough start robbed several opponents of goals with his quick action.
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