CRUNCH 4, SOUND TIGERS 0
The Sound Tigers lost the first of two against the Syracuse Crunch this season by a final score of 4-0. Crunch goalie Kristers Gudlevskis was the story of the night, making 31 saves on 31 shots to hand the Sound Tigers just their second shutout of the season.
Special teams let the Sound Tigers down in a penalty filled game, unable to convert any of their six power play opportunities on the night. While the penalty kill has been one of the best in the league at just over 86%, they did let up a power play goal on Mike Blunden’s second goal of the game late in the second period.
The Crunch struck first with just over four minutes gone in the first period. Mike Blunden sent a wrister between defenseman Ryan Pulock’s legs and just over Williams’ glove. The goal was Blunden’s fourth of season, Matthew Peca and Nikita Nesterov earned the fifth and second assists respectively.
Even with three power play opportunities in a row the Sound Tigers couldn’t break through in the first. The best chance came when Taylor Beck snuck a pass through the defense to Mike Halmo, who nearly buried the backhand shot past a sliding Gudlevskis. The offense stayed alert and almost tied the game with one second to go when a failed clear attempt by Syracuse gave Beck the puck right in front of the net, but Gudlevskis blocked the backhand attempt.
Early in the second period the two teams traded penalties back and forth, which saw the Sound Tigers gain the man advantage twice. Alan Quine showcased his playmaking ability with two brilliant passes from the right corner. His first feed found Bracken Kearns posted on the left side of the net, but he couldn’t sneak the one-timer through. The second was to Joe Whitney, who looked to build upon a three goal Saturday with a wrister from the left circle, but Gudlevskis sent the shot wide.
With 4:19 remaining in the second, the Crunch doubled their lead when Philippe Paradis got his fourth goal of the year. Williams stood tall against consecutive Syracuse slap shots, but Paradis found the puck in front of the net and was able to send his own rebound into the net. Defenseman Joey Mormina earned his second assist of the year on the play, and Tanner Richard grabbed his seventh.
The Sound Tigers woes didn’t end there when the Crunch padded the lead again with just over a minute left in the period. Blunden ripped a one-timer from the right faceoff circle and beat Williams’ glove-side yet again. Nesterov set Blunden up for his second assist of the game, while Anthony DeAngelo got his team leading 10th assist.
Despite outshooting the Crunch 15-5 in the third, the home team could not break through. Late in the third Bridgeport had a chance to put one on the board when Ben Holmstrom whipped a backhand shot at Gudlevskis. They pulled out all the stops when Williams came off the ice after dual penalties with four minutes remaining in the game to create the man advantage opportunity. The strategy nearly paid off for the Sound Tigers when Pulock fired a slapshot from the blueline, but had it deflect just over the top of the goal.
With just over a minute until the final buzzer Yanni Gourde scored an empty net goal to stretch the lead to 4-0. Tanner Richard got his second assist on the night, while Paradis got his second point on the secondary assist.
The Sound Tigers now sit at 14-7-1-0 on the season, and will get almost a full week off before they face the Springfield Falcons at the MassMutual Center on Friday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m.
Whitney – Kearns – Collberg
Vaive – Quine – Beck
Halmo – Wright – Holmstrom
Johnston – Gomes – Florek
Pelech – Mayfield
Czuczman – Pulock
Finn – Carkner