The Syracuse Crunch defeated the Hershey Bears 5-3 Sunday night, with two goals in 54 seconds proving to be the difference. Five different Crunch players scored on the evening, while Syracuse goalie Dustin Tokarski made 16 saves on 19 Hershey shots on goal. Jeff Taffe, T.J. Syner and Zach Hamill recorded goals for Hershey.
“There a good team, there’s a lot of good teams right now,” Bears coach Mark French said postgame. “We give them what they got to a degree. We fed them. Every team has strengths, if the opponent feeds their strengths it’s a good thing.”
The Crunch took the early 1-0 lead in the first period, striking on a bomb from the point by Radko Gudas. Gudas’s goal was his first of the year and Richard Panik recorded his sixth assist of the season on the opening marker.
Hershey battled back on the power play later in the period, with Jeff Taffe cashing in on the power play. Taffe pushed home a rebound past Crunch goalie, Dustin Tokarski following a point shot by Tomas Kundratek.
Syracuse padded their lead to a 2- 1 advantage later in the first stanza, with the goal pulling Hershey net minder, Dany Sabourin from the game. Crunch defenseman, Matt Taormina recorded his second goal of the season with assists credited to Syracuse forwards Brett Connolly and J.T. Brown. Sabourin recorded five saves on the opening seven shots, before departing the crease as Holtby took over in the net.
“It was one of those things where maybe a momentum shift quickly,” said French of pulling Sabourin. “Both point shots and we wanted to see if we could seize an opportunity to give ourselves a chance.”
The Bears evened the score at two in the second period, cashing in on an even strength rush. T.J. Syner flipped a puck past the Crunch blue line, caught up to it and in attempt to dish it off to Zach Hamill, deflected the puck off a Syracuse defenseman to tie the game.
“I think [Mathieu] Beaudoin or [Zach] Hamill made a nice chip,” said T.J. Syner. “I tried to chip it behind and I ended up beating the [defense] and I actually tried to past it across. Lucky bounce and I’ll take it.”
The Crunch would hit pay dirt again, taking a 3-2 lead 12:21 into the second period. Syracuse forward, Richard Panik recorded his sixth goal of the season and second point of the game, ripping a wrist shot past Holtby.
Syracuse extended their lead in the third period, scoring two goals in a 52 second span. Brett Connolly collected his sixth goal of the season, followed by Tyler Johnson’s tenth of the year 8:54 into the third frame.
“We have to play as a unit of five when we’re on the ice,” said Bears defenseman, Kevin Marshall. “Apply the system, apply the game plan and once everybody goes the same way I think you’re gonna see a major change.”
Hershey got a goal back with 5:39 remaining in the period, cashing in on a scramble in front of Tokarski. Zach Hamill recorded his fourth goal of the year, assisted by Alex Berry and Boyd Kane.
Hershey takes on Wilkes-Barre Scranton Wednesday night at Giant Center.
“We have to be on our game for sixty minutes,” said Marshall. “It’s going to be good to come in Tuesday and have a good practice.”
1. Attendance: 8,006
2. Ryan Stoa and Jonathon Kalinski remained out of the Hershey lineup due to injury
3. Bears healthy scratches: Patrick McNeill, Stanislav Gailev, Barry Almeida, Matt Pope and Julien Brouillette
1. Radko Gudas (one goal, two assists, plus three, three shots on goal)
2. Brett Connolly (one goal, one assist, plus one, two shots on goal)
3. Richard Panik (one goal, one assist, plus two, one shot on goal)