The Crunch scored three unanswered goals in the third for a 4-2 road victory over Toronto in American Hockey League action Saturday night.
“The first 8-10 minutes went fairly well, but after that I didn’t recognize how we played,” said Marlies coach Greg Gilbert, who saw his club open the scoring just 29 seconds into the game. “The turnovers, the hooking and holding penaltiesaI honestly didn’t recognize how we played.
“We got outworked and outcompeted and Syracuse ended up with two points,” Gilbert said.
Finnish centre Janne Hauhtonen also scored for the Crunch in his AHL debut. Defenceman Ryan Caldwell added with two assists.
Centre Alex Foster and defenceman Chris Harrington scored for the Marlies in front of 3,316 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.
The victory was just the second in the past seven games for the Crunch, which improved to 6-15-1 but remained in last place overall in the AHL.
For the Marlies, it was their first regulation loss since Nov. 18 – a 5-0 shutout at Manchester – as Toronto fell to 9-11-3.
Syracuse netminder Tomas Popperle stopped 23 of 25 shots for the victory. At the other end, rookie Justin Pogge made 31 saves on 34 shots.
“It’s tough winning games in the AHL,” Pogge said. “It’s a tough time for me right now, but I’m feeling good and just have to learn from this.”
Gilbert supported his young goaltender after the loss.
“He shouldn’t be down,” Gilbert said. “He’s got to keep it on an even keel, and deal with the good times and the bad times. That’s part of being a pro.”
Syracuse was 2-for-11 on the power play, while Toronto was 1-for-7.
Foster opened the scoring 29 seconds into the first period to give the Marlies a 1-0 lead.
The teams traded power play markers in the second period, with Hauhtonen scoring at 3:34 while Harrington was in the penalty box for tripping.
Harrington made amends less than four minutes later when the rookie blue-liner blasted a high slapshot from the point that beat a partially screened Popperle.
Pineault tied the game 2-2 when he poked a loose puck past Pogge during a goalmouth scramble at 7:38 of third period.
The Marlies had a golden opportunity to regain the lead when Syracuse players Joe Motzko and centre Ben Simon were called for tripping three seconds apart, but Toronto couldn’t get one past Popperle.
The Marlies found themselves down two men for 26 seconds after wingers Boyd Devereaux and Tyson Nash were whistled for tripping. Syracuse cashed in when Walser fired the game-winner, a slapshot from the blue-line that eluded Pogge.
“One (third-period goal) was deflected off my mask and they put it in on the rebound and the other one just beat me,” Pogge said.
The Marlies play their third game in three days – and fourth in five days – when the they host the Milwaukee Admirals today at 4 p.m.
Notes: Left winger Tyson Nash, obtained in a midweek trade by the Toronto Maple Leafs that sent goalie Mikael Tellqvist to the Phoenix Coyotes, made his home debut for the Marlies on a line with centre Erik Westrum and right winger Boyd Devereaux. . . . Toronto captain Marc Moro got hit in the mouth with an accidental high stick by a Syracuse forward midway through the first period and was bleeding as he left the ice. No penalty was called on the play and Moro didn’t miss a shift. . . . The Marlies dressed 10 forwards and seven defencemen as several players are out with injuries, including blue-liners Brad Brown, Dominic D’Amour and Tyson Marsh and forwards Jeremy Williams, Ben Ondrus, Jeff Corey and Brad Leeb. Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo, who returned Nov. 29 after missing the first seven weeks of the season with post-concussion syndrome symptoms, didn’t dress but was expected to play Sunday against Milwaukee. . . . The game was marketed as “Degrassi: The Next Generation” Night, with several actors from the current TV show, as well as a few from the original series, on hand.