SYRACUSE, N.Y – Big time players live for big time games. Yanni Gourde and Jonathan Marchessault are big time players for the Syracuse Crunch. The Crunch played the best team in the North Division and second in the Western Conference, the Utica Comets. This game was easily the toughest that Syracuse has played this season and it was on the biggest stage in all of professional hockey. The Carrier Dome broke the indoor attendance record last night with a showing of 30,715 people.

Playoff game or not, there was a buzz in the air and a roar from the Carrier Dome crowd that can only be heard at college basketball games when the Orange go up against Duke or rival Georgetown. It was a magnificent scene seeing an NHL sized rink where the basketball court usually stands. A lot of magic has happened on that court, and Gourde and Marchessault would provide the magic for the Crunch in the first ever professional hockey game played at the Dome.

Gourde, Marchessault and captain Mike Angelidis have all been on fire during the current hot streak the Crunch have had over their past 10 games. During that stretch the Crunch have earned at least one point in nine of those games with a record of 7-1-2. It seems that Coach Rob Zettler has found a good combination of lines and that those guys have become more comfortable with one another. No one has benefited more than the three leaders of the Syracuse offense.

Gourde has especially been on a tear since November 8th. The left-winger was on a six game point streak from the 8th until the 19th of November and those points came at the most opportune times at the biggest stage of the games. During his point streak, Yanni had a game winning goal, a game tying shootout goal, and a game tying power play goal. The Quebec City native has a flare for the dramatic and has been playing his best hockey since his 124 point season in his final year with the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Add another accolade to his credit this season, another game winner against a great team in the Frozen Dome Classic.

This season is Gourde’s first full year in a Crunch uniform and he has made the best of it so far. In 18 games last season for Syracuse, Gourde had only 2 goals and 6 assists. He has played the same amount of games this year for the Crunch but his numbers have seen a considerable increase. In 18 games this year, Yanni Gourde has eight goals and five assists and the left-winger is just getting started.

So is his linemate Jonathan Marchessault, who leads the entire roster in points with 17 so far this year. He benefited with the assist on Gourde’s game winner against the Comets. Marchessault is just as much of a big time player as Gourde. Jonathan also played in the QMJHL around the same time that Yanni did and led the Quebec Remparts to a semifinal appearance in 2010-11 with 33 points in 18 playoff games. Marchessault is also in his first full season with the Crunch, and the Lightning and Syracuse are expecting big things from the winger.

Overall the game went well for the Crunch. The team looked a little shaky in the first period after allowing an early goal and going down first. The Utica Comets were 11-0 when scoring first so far this season so it was not an easy task for the Crunch to score two unanswered goals and win the game. But, Syracuse broke the Utica streak and brought home the victory in front of the record-breaking crowd. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 consecutive shots after allowing the first goal to steal the show and preserve the Crunch lead.

The Frozen Dome Classic was a great experience and the community of Syracuse showed its support for the big time event. In return, the Crunch got big time performances out of two of its youngest stars. The Syracuse Crunch hopes that they gained more fans from the community with its exciting victory over the 12 win Utica Comets.

These two teams will face off again in Utica on Wednesday night. The game will be a tough road challenge for the Crunch. The Comets are 6-1-1 at home and the Crunch won’t have 30,000 fans cheering them on. But, Syracuse is playing well and this next game will be a true testament to how well the Crunch can play under high pressure situations.

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