Crunch Comeback Falls Short in Overtime, 4-3
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Syracuse Crunch trailed the Utica Comets three times, but came back each time off Ben Thomas's first professional goal and Matthew Peca's first professional two-goal game to force overtime. The effort fell short in the extra frame and Utica took a 4-3 win tonight at the War Memorial Arena.
Tonight's game completes the 10-game Galaxy Cup series, which Utica took, 6-4. The loss also drops the Crunch to 32-28-11-4 on the season.
Crunch goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis turned aside 29-of-33 shots in defeat. His counterpart, Richard Bachman, earned the win with 32 saves. Syracuse was unable to convert on six power-play opportunities, but the penalty kill unit was successful on all three Utica man-advantages.
The Comets opened scoring just 18 seconds into the first period when Mike Zalewski found the back of the net with the help of Brendan Gaunce and Curtis Valk. Thomas responded minutes later with his first professional goal from the right point. David Broll and Cam Darcy registered the assists.
Utica went up again with 5:50 remaining in the middle frame. Alex Friesen gained control of the puck on a breakaway during a 5-on-3 disadvantage and snuck one over the goaltender's stick from the right circle. However, Peca tied it up when he lit the lamp early in the third period. He battled Bachman in the crease and jammed in the rebound of Daniel Walcott's shot.
The Comets went back on top for the third time at the six-minute mark of the final frame when Zalewski potted his second of the game. Peca was there again to knot the contest and force overtime with 5:53 remaining with a wrist shot from the slot. Jeff Tambellini and Jonne Tammela grabbed the helpers.
The Comets quickly extinguished the Crunch's rally with a marker 33 seconds into overtime. Gudlevskis blocked a shot from Zalewski, but couldn't come back to stop Gaunce on the rebound.
The Crunch complete their 2015-16 season tomorrow when they travel to face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 5:05 p.m.
Syracuse Crunch ticket packages are on sale now and can be purchased either in person at the Crunch Box Office located in the War Memorial at 800 South State Street 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 (@officialsyracusecrunch) using #SyrCrunch and #BelieveInBlue.
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