Brett Connolly's Hat Trick Lifts the Crunch
Syracuse, NY - The Syracuse Crunch clinched home ice in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs by defeating the Rochester Americans 5-1 in front of a sold-out crowd at the War Memorial Arena tonight.
The victory was Rob Zettler's first home win in his third game in the War Memorial since being named head coach of the Crunch on and improved Syracuse's overall record to 41-21-6-5 and 17-11-4-3 at home. Syracuse continues to lead the East Division and holds the third spot in the Eastern Conference with 93 points.
Brett Connolly wasted no time making his presence back in the Crunch lineup known since being returned from the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday, blasting a wrist shot from above the glove side circle past David Leggio just 1:37 into the first period. Vladislav Namestnikov and Dmitry Korobov picked up the assists on Connolly's first goal of the night.
Syracuse didn't score again until the first half of the second period, when the Crunch netted two quick power-play goals. Connolly scored his second tally of the game at the 8:28 mark of the period. With traffic in front of the net, Connolly beat Leggio from the stick side of the crease. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat picked up their first points of the night on the power-play goal. Syracuse added a second power-play goal less than two minutes later. After a scramble in front of Leggio, Johnson grabbed the loose puck and stuffed it past the Rochester netminder. Palat and Matt Taormina assisted on the play.
J.T. Wyman extended the Crunch lead to 4-0 with 27 seconds left in the second period by tipping in a shot by J.P. Cote. Mike Angelidis started the play with a cross-ice pass to Cote.
Connolly opened the third period by completing his first, and the Crunch's fifth, hat trick of the season at the 2:08 mark of the period. Connolly's shot from the right side was assisted by Philippe Paradis and Brian Lee. The Americans got on the scoreboard and ended Cedrick Desjardins' shutout bid 4:53 into the final frame.
Mark Mancari grabbed the puck from behind the net and passed to Matt Ellis who sent the puck to Alex Biega for the one-timer.
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