SYRACUSE, N.Y. - After letting up a two-goal lead in the second period, the Syracuse Crunch held on and defeated the St. John's IceCaps, 3-2, in Game 3 tonight at the War Memorial Arena.
Joel Vermin was first to light the lamp for the Crunch followed by Erik Condra, who doubled the lead in the first period. The IceCaps rallied back to even the score with back-to-back goals just 28 seconds apart, but Byron Froese potted a marker late in the middle frame to put the Crunch ahead through the end of 60 minutes. The win gives Syracuse a 2-1 lead in the five-game North Division Semifinals series.
Mike McKenna recorded his second consecutive victory stopping 26-of-28 shots on goal. His counterpart, Charlie Lindgren, turned aside 22-of-25 for the IceCaps. Syracuse was unable to convert on five power play opportunities, but shut down 2-of-3 St. John's man-advantages.
The Crunch opened scoring with 8:30 remaining in the first period. Henri Ikonen started the play with a shot from the left boards. Brett Howden cut across the slot and redirected the puck back through his legs for Vermin to chip in. With 6:32 remaining in stanza, Condra sent home a slap shot from the top of the right circle off assists from Tye McGinn and Matt Taormina.
The IceCaps started a short rally halfway through the middle frame. McKenna was screened down low while Zach Redmond ripped one from the blue line on the power play. Charles Hudon and Nikita Scherbak picked up points on the tally. Just seconds later, Stefan Matteau tied it up when he jumped out ahead of the defense and netted a wrister from the right hash marks on a breakaway. Max Friberg and Brett Lernout assisted on the equalizer.
At the 16:05 mark of the second, Froese put Syracuse back on top with an unassisted goal from the right circle. He picked up a loose puck at the top of the zone and breezed right around a defender to earn pot his first of the postseason.
The Crunch battled to stave off an IceCaps comeback in the third period and earned their second win in the best-of-five series.
The Crunch and IceCaps return to the War Memorial Arena for Game 4 on Friday at 7 p.m.
Crunchables: Brett Howden is on a six-game points streak (3g, 3a)…Erik Condra scored his first Calder Cup Playoffs goal since June 4, 2011.