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101318 Crunch vs Checkers Sosunov

Crunch defenseman Oleg Sosunov looks to make a pass against the Checkers at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

SYRACUSE — Benoit Groulx certainly didn’t sugarcoat his thoughts.

The Crunch head coach watched his team lose 4-1 to an undefeated Charlotte Checkers team in Syracuse’s home opener at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The adjectives flowed.

Not playing hard enough.

The penalty kill was “atrocious.”

The defense had “one of the roughest nights” Groulx has seen in Syracuse.

“Charlotte is a good team. For long, long minutes I thought they were men and we were boys,” Groulx said. “Our goalie was very solid. I think he’s the positive point of tonight. He was real solid, but it’s a disappointing night.”

Crunch goalie Connor Ingram made 24 saves in the loss. Syracuse’s Oleg Sosunov recorded his first pro goal in the third period, with Jonne Tammela and Boris Katchouk collecting their first assists of the season.

Charlotte’s Julien Gauthier opened the scoring 4:46 into the contest and Janne Kuokkanen gave the Checkers a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Clark Bishop added to the Charlotte lead with a power play goal 11:10 into the second period, and Patrick Brown finished off a 2-on-0 shorthanded chance to give the Checkers a 4-0 advantage through 40 minutes.

“They came out strong, and they’re a good team,” Crunch alternate captain Andy Andreoff said. “They’ve had a good start and I guess they’ve been rolling. I think they’re 4-0 right now. We’re struggling a little bit. We won our first game but it’s a learning process right now. We’ve got to learn from our mistakes and move forward.”

Sosunov, who was serving a too many men penalty, joined the rush out of the box and fired a low shot into the net to put the Crunch on the board with 4:42 let, but that’s the closest Syracuse’s comeback came.

“I don’t think anyone’s happy right now,” Andreoff said. “There’s a couple good shifts. At the end of the day, it’s our third game. It’s a learning process. We learn from our mistakes and it’s a long season. Obviously, we want to have a good start, but we’ve struggled the last two games. Moving forward, it’s a long season — 76 games — we’ve just got to learn from our mistakes and be ready for next weekend.”

Syracuse (1-2-0-0) travels to Binghamton Friday before hosting Utica on Saturday.

“When you look at tonight’s game, we’re far behind,” Groulx said. “We have a lot of work in front of us.”

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Sports writer Jeremy Houghtaling can be reached at 315-282-2256 or at jeremy.houghtaling@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenHough.

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