SYRACUSE — Dennis Yan saw the opportunity and took advantage,
The Crunch rookie gathered the puck behind his own net, rushed up the right side of the ice, charged past the last defender and beat Americans goalie Linus Ullmark blocker side to lift Syracuse to a 6-5 overtime win over Rochester in a back-and-forth battle at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.
“I didn’t plan to go all the way to the net, but once I took the puck I saw a huge space and I put the jets on,” Yan said. “I had space there and tried to get to the net as fast as I could.”
For Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, it was good to see his team rewarded after a pair of losses in Toronto over the weekend.
“I’m so happy for our guys,” Groulx said. “I think they’ve been working real hard the last month or so — since the beginning of the year, but especially the last month — and we were not rewarded. Tonight we had a great start but were still down 2-1 after one period. We could have been discouraged, but we came back in the second and were up 4-3 and they scored a late goal. … Again, it was tough to take … but we stayed focused, we stayed on our game and stuck with it.”
Matthew Peca paced the Syracuse offense with three points, including his first goal of the season. The Crunch center, who was held to five assists in 16 previous games, had 84 points in 133 games over the past two regular seasons.
“I feel like I’ve been playing well and getting chances. They just haven’t been going in,” Peca said. “Hopefully this will be the beginning of something different.”
Syracuse’s Dominik Masin recorded a goal and an assist. Jamie McBain, Mat Bodie and Alexander Volkov each scored once, while Reid McNeill, Anthony Cirelli, Kevin Lynch, Michael Bournival, Daniel Walcott and Cory Conacher each had one assist.
Louis Domingue, acquired in a trade last week, registered 30 saves to earn his first win in a Crunch uniform.
“I thought (Domingue) was very good. Maybe one goal he’d like to have back,” Groulx said. “As much as we played a solid game, we had some breakdowns and he had to make some stops. In overtime he made two great stops to keep the game alive for us.”
Volkov opened the scoring 1:18 into the game, but Zach Redmond evened the score and Kevin Porter gave Rochester a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission despite Syracuse having an 18-8 advantage in shots on goal.
Peca took advantage of a turnover on the penalty kill to tie the score 7:39 into the second period, but Sean Malone put the Americans back ahead less than four minutes later. McBain and Masin scored back-to-back goals to give Syracuse the lead, but Nicholas Baptiste tied the score with 10 seconds left in the frame.
Bodie scored off a faceoff to put the Crunch back ahead midway through the third, but Conor Allen knotted the game at 5-5 with 6:49 left in regulation.
Yan’s end-to-end goal 1:48 into overtime lifted Syracuse over Rochester.
“It feels good, especially against a team that’s kind of had our number this year,” Peca said. “I thought we played well all game, and we were rewarded for it in the end.”
Syracuse (5-9-1-2) begins a home-and-home series by hosting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday night.
“They’re a really good team and they gave us a hard time the last time we played them, so we have a little something to prove to them and to ourselves,” Peca said. “I think we’re on the right track with a win like that tonight.”