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Crunch drop two-of-three, fall to second in East

by Jamie Kelly / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Syracuse Crunch started the week strong, but couldn’t generate a victory on the road as they went 1-2-0 this past weekend. After the weekend slate, the Crunch fell to second in the Eastern Conference with a 14-6-1-2 record.

The Crunch started the three-game stretch with a home tilt against a familiar foe in the Hamilton Bulldogs. The Crunch dictated the play in the first period and sent the Bulldogs a message as they tallied three times, all within the first 14 minutes of the game, to hold a comfortable cushion heading into the second period.

After the Bulldogs countered late in the first period, the Crunch sealed the victory with two third period goals to send the fans home happy from the War Memorial Arena with a 5-1 victory.

Crunch forwards Brett Connolly, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn were the three stars of the game as they combined for six points in the win.

Riku Helenius turned aside 19 shots as he earned his sixth win of the season for the Crunch.

After a huge victory Friday night, the Crunch had to re-focus their efforts to a Saturday night match-up against the Adirondack Phantoms.

The Crunch started the game well as they held a 1-0 lead going into the second period off a Brett Connolly snipe. After a low-scoring first frame, the flood gates opened in the second period as both teams traded multiple goals to leave the game tied at 3-3 heading into the third period.

With both teams failing to score in the third period and the extra overtime frame, the game had to be settled in a shootout where Phantoms netminder Scott Munro made the eventual game-winning save on Crunch forward Tyler Johnson in the fifth round to preserve a 4-3 victory for the Phantoms.

JT Brown awaits a face-off during a power play against the Adirondack Phantoms on Saturday (Photo: Scott Thomas Photography)

Dustin Tokarski made 31 saves in a losing effort as the Crunch managed to pick up one point in the loss, as they moved on to Bridgeport for a matinee against the Sound Tigers on Sunday.

Playing three games in three nights proved to be too much for the Crunch, as they fell behind, 3-0, early in the first period against the Sound Tigers, eventually losing the contest, 7-2.

Sound Tigers forward Colin Macdonald gave the Crunch nightmares all afternoon as he collected two goals and two assists to pace his squad.

Alex Killorn and J.T Brown were the lone goal-scorers for the Crunch.

Though he failed to score a goal this weekend, Tyler Johnson has proved to be the league’s premier sniper as he ranks first for goal-scoring with 15 goals in 23 games. Johnson also ranks fourth for points with 25 in 23 games.

The Crunch rank 15th overall in power-play percentage this season as they have converted on 16.3 percent of their chances. The Crunch also sport a 86.4 percent success rate on the penalty kill, ranking them fifth overall in the league and making them one of the league’s best defensive squads.

Despite back-to-back losses on the road, the Crunch have soared to the top of the Eastern Conference in large part to their magnificent road record (10-3-0-2). The Crunch fell from first to second place in the Eastern Conference this weekend, but they still sport a very respectable 14-6-1-2 overall record.

The Crunch have yet to lose back-to-back regulation contests this season.

Coming off a tough weekend, the Crunch will look to regroup thisweek when they host the Binghamton Senators Wednesday evening. The Crunch will finish off the weekend with match-ups Friday against the Phantoms and Saturday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

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