02/25/2006 10:10 PM
SYRACUSE, NY Ever since the 7-1 win over Syracuse on Feb. 4th, the Crunch have awaited this rematch with much anticipation. But the Griffins silenced the crowd and prevailed with a 5-4 shootout win over Syracuse at the Onondaga County War Memorial. With the win, the Griffins now have 40 on the season and made their mark in the record books as the only team in AHL history to have 7 consecutive seasons with 40+ wins (Cleveland, 6 consecutive, 1947-1953).
The Griffins power-play struck first at 7:54 of the opening period when Darryl Bootland shot a bouncing rebound past Mike Ayers for his 17th of the season. Tomas Kopecky and Valtteri Filppula drew assists on the play. The Syracuse goaltender bounced back with several great saves until the Griffins power play connected again at 17:18 of the period. Brian Helmer sent the puck to Kent McDonell who was robbed on the initial shot, but Donald MacLean was on the doorstep to bang it home. With the goal the AHL leading goal scorer has 42 and only needs 4 to match the franchise record for goals in a season set by Michael Picard during the 96-97 season.
The Griffins came out strong in the second by out-shooting the Crunch 13-0 and finding the back of the net at 6:41 of the period when Kopecky slid the puck past Ayers with assists from Filppula and Bootland. Momentum soon shifted as the Crunch scored two goals within two minutes of one another late in the period. Andy Delmore blasted a shot past the glove of Jimmy Howard from 50 feet away at 15:37 on assists from Mike Sgroi and Joakim Lindstrom. Goeff Platt then brought the Crunch within one at 17:19 of the period when he tipped a rebound past Howard. Mike Sgroi and Ben Simon assisted on the play.
The Griffins looked to gain the upper hand once more in the third when Jiri Hudler forced a turnover in the neutral zone and skated to the top of the circles and ripped a shot over the glove of Ayers at 4:42 of the period. The goal marks his 29th of the season. But the insurance soon expired as Mark Hartigan pulled the Crunch within one at 7:37 on an assist from Aaron Johnson. The physical battled continued and proved too much for the Griffins late in the third as the newest member of the Crunch playing in his first game with the club, Mike Sgroi, forced a wrist shot from the side of the net past Howard to tie the game at 15:36 ultimately forcing overtime.
Despite intense action on both sides of the ice during overtime neither team found the back of the net resulting in a shootout. Jimmy Howard stood his ground stopping all 4 shoots he faced while Kopecky and Filppula both scored to give the Griffins the monumental win. The Griffins conclude their road trip tomorrow night in Hershey as they prepare to take on the Bears for a 5 p.m. start.
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