Crunch Claim North Division Title with 5-2 Win over Comets
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Syracuse Crunch claimed the North Division title with a 5-2 win over the Utica Comets tonight at the War Memorial Arena.
Henri Ikonen was first on the board for the Crunch followed by Brett Howden, John Kurtz, Joel Vermin and Adam Erne. The win gives the Crunch a 38-24-7-7 record on the 2016-17 season and the Galaxy Cup title after going 7-4-1-0 in the 12-game series against the Comets.
Kristers Gudlevskis turned aside 23-of-25 shots in victory for the Crunch, while Thatcher Demko stopped 25-of-29 for the Comets. Syracuse went 1-for-4 on the power play and a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The Crunch jumped out to a quick two-goal lead just 10 seconds apart in the first period. At the 5:24 mark, Jonathan Racine fired a shot from the right circle that was stopped by Demko. The rebound dropped down into the crease for Ikonen to sweep in across the goal line. Byron Froese recorded the secondary assist. Seconds later, Vermin pick up a loose puck in the left circle before cutting across the slot to backhand one on net. Howden followed behind to score on the second chance opportunity. Mathieu Brodeur picked up a point on the play.
Syracuse made it 3-0 three minutes in the middle frame. Ikonen crashed the net and sent a backhander for Kurtz to redirect in from the crease. Tanner Richard earned the secondary helper.
The Comets stole one back on the breakaway at the 4:07 mark. Nikolay Goldobin received a pass from Colby Robak and got ahead of the defense to beat Gudlevskis top shelf.
Halfway through the middle frame, Vermin built back a three-goal lead for the Crunch while on the power play. Froese ripped a shot from the left wing side that caught Vermin's stick and flew into the net. Dylan Blujus assisted on the goal.
With 1:14 remaining in the second, Utica pulled within two for the second time. Goldobin deked left to pull Gudlevskis out of position before tucking the puck around his left foot. Jake Virtanen and Ashton Sautner recorded the helpers.
Erne added an empty-netter with 2:32 remaining in the game with the help of Froese and Richard to secure the win.
The Crunch will face the St. John IceCaps in the first round of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Syracuse Crunch single game and season tickets for the 2016-17 season are on sale now and can be purchased either in person at the Crunch office located in the War Memorial Arena at 800 S. State St. in Syracuse or by calling the office at 315-473-4444. For the latest Crunch news, visit www.syracusecrunch.com or follow the club on Facebook (www.facebook.com/syracusecrunch), Twitter (@SyracuseCrunch) and Instagram (@syracusecrunch) using #SyrCrunch, #WeAreOne and #BLUnited.
Crunchables: The Crunch are on their first four-game win streak of the season...Adam Erne has scored in three consecutive games against the Comets...The Crunch have a 12-goal margin on victory in their last three game against the Comets.
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