SYRACUSE, NY (CRUNCH) – The Syracuse Crunch clinched the East Division title by defeating the Worcester Sharks in a shootout 4-3 tonight at the War Memorial.
With 97 points the Crunch currently sit third in the Eastern Conference with a record of 43-21-6-5. The Crunch will host Game 1 and Game 2 of the Calder Cup playoffs on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28 against an opponent yet to be determined.
The Sharks overcame a three goal deficit in the third period to force overtime. After neither team could score in the sudden-death period, the game went to a shootout. JT Wyman’s shootout goal secured the Crunch’s second division title and first since 2001-02. Brett Connolly and Dan Sexton also scored in the skills competition while Cedrick Desjardins stopped all three Worcester attempts.
The Crunch set a strong tone to begin the first period as Connolly netted his 28th goal of the season at the 11:49 mark. After a shot on goal, Connolly cleanly handled a rebound rewarding Sexton and Mark Barberio with assists on the play.
Syracuse extended its lead with goals by Philip-Michael Devos and Tyler Johnson in the second period. Beating defenders through the offensive zone, Devos wristed a shot past opposing goalie, Alex Stalock, assisted by Vladislav Namestnikov and Connolly. Less than two minutes later, Johnson deflected a JT Brown Shot at the 5:40 mark of the second period, J.P. Cote had the secondary assist on the play. The Crunch retained a healthy 3-0 lead as the second period came to a close.
Worcester battled back from the 3-0 deficit in the third, scoring three unanswered goals of their own. With 12:23 remaining in play, Curt Gogol scored the first Sharks goal of the night, assisted by Chris Crane and Dylan Demelo. Soon after, the Sharks cut the Crunch lead to one after a sharp wrist shot by Eriah Hayes from the top of the point. The play was assisted by Daniil Tarasov and Adam Comrie at the 8:20 mark of the third. Tarasov then netted one of his own off a Syracuse turnover to tie the game at three.
Syracuse finishes off the regular season against Binghamton on Sunday with a chance to clinch the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Tyler Johnson extended his goal-streak to three games since returning from Tampa Bay… The Crunch have successfully killed 10 consecutive power plays… This is the fourth shootout win for the Crunch this season… The last crunch shootout win was March 8 at St. John’s.