HERSHEY, Pa. – The Syracuse Crunch scored two quick third-period goals to put the game out of reach from the HERSHEY BEARS, as the visitors skated to a 5-3 victory on Sunday evening at GIANT Center.
Radko Gudas opened the scoring at 12:04 of the first period, firing a one-timer past Dany Sabourin from the left point. The pass came all the way from Richard Panik along the right boards.
With Brett Connolly and Jean-Philippe Cote flagged for penalties just 13 seconds apart, the BEARS earned a lengthy two-man advantage on which they capitalized. Garrett Stafford’s cross-ice pass was sent hard toward the net by Tomas Kundratek. The puck banked off of the end boards to a waiting Jeff Taffe in the right corner, and the winger hurried a shot from the goal line. The puck banked in off of Syracuse netminder Dustin Tokarski at 15:33, tying the game.
But just over two minutes later, a Matt Taormina shot from the center point slid along the ice and got past a screened Sabourin for a 2-1 Syracuse lead, ending the starter’s evening and bringing Braden Holtby on in relief. Holtby stopped one shot before the period ended.
The BEARS again clawed back and tied the game courtesy of the speed of forward T.J. Syner. The winger carried the puck down the right wing on a two-on-two rush and flew around defenseman Mark Barberio before attempting a hard centering pass. The puck caromed into the net at 10:33, giving Syner his first professional goal.
But another quick strike by the visitors restored their one-goal lead. Panik took a Dmitry Korobov pass and rifled a snap shot from the high slot past the glove hand of Holtby at 12:21.
The BEARS were every bit in the game early in the third period, but an odd-man rush created by Ondrej Palat turned into a 4-2 Syracuse lead at 8:08. Palat carried down the left wing, took a low shot that Holtby kicked out but the rebound came to a driving Connolly for the goal.
Just 46 seconds later, Tyler Johnson stationed himself to Holtby’s right and tipped down a shot from Gudas underneath Holtby’s blocker hand for a 5-2 Syracuse advantage.
With time ticking down under five minutes, the BEARS found some life when Alex Berry’s centering pass was deflected into Tokarski’s chest by Zach Hamill. Tokarski never had the puck covered, and Hamill found it while on the seat of his pants and jammed a shot into the net at 15:21, cutting the deficit to 5-3.
The BEARS would get Holtby off for an extra attacker with less that two minutes left but could not pull closer.
Holtby took the loss and falls to 4-5-0, making 17 saves on 20 shots in 40:11 of work. Sabourin started and worked 17:46, stopping five shots and earning no decision. Tokarski improved to 7-1-1 with 16 saves on 19 shots.
The BEARS ended the night 1-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The BEARS remain home to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday, November 21 at 7:00 PM. Wednesday night is Canteen Vending and Bimbo Bakeries Turkey Shoot Night, where all fans will have a chance to come to ice level post-game for a crack at winning Thanksgiving food items.