Syracuse takes 3-2 series lead with overtime victory over Manitoba

WINNIPEG – Derek MacKenzie’s goal 10:54 into overtime lifted the Syracuse Crunch to a 3-2 victory over the Manitoba Moose on Saturday, and a 3-2 lead in their American Hockey League North Division semifinal.

MacKenzie took a perfect pass from Brassard, raced to the front of the crease, outguessed Schneider and backhanded the puck into the net.

Brassard ended up with a goal and two assists. Nate DiCasmirro also scored and added an assist in the Crunch victory.

Greg Classen and Jannik Hansen replied for the Moose, who must now win a pair of road games in order to advance to the next round. Game 6 will be played Monday in Syracuse, with Game 7 (if necessary) going Tuesday.

Karl Goehring stopped 21 shots to earn the win for the Crunch. Cory Schneider made 30 saves in defeat for Manitoba.

The Crunch dominated play in the scoreless first period, outshooting the Moose 13-4. Syracuse came out with its intimidating physical game and forechecked the Moose, who had few scoring opportunities, to a standstill.

Schneider was solid, holding the visitors at bay as they swarmed around the net in the opening period. His outstanding puck-stopping continued throughout as he faced 28 shots in regulation time and was the main reason the teams played their fourth overtime contest in five games.

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The period was highlighted by a pair of fights, perhaps in a carry-over from the rough final minute of Game 4. Derek Dorsett of the Crunch, the most penalized team during the regular AHL season, went toe-to-toe with Moose strongman Mike Brown in a fairly even bout early in the first. Ten minutes later, Syracuse captain Zenon Konopka traded punches with Moose defenceman Nathan McIver.

Manitoba picked up the offensive pace in the second period, outshooting Syracuse 9-4 and opening the scoring at 2:37 when Hansen, from behind the net, skated out in front and backhanded the puck under Goehring’s arm on his stick side.

The lead was short-lived, as the Crunch enjoyed a power-play following a Max Fortunus holding penalty. Defenceman Duvie Westcott took a hard slap shot that was deflected by DiCasmirro to tie the game at 4:49.

Classen, on the power-play, scored his first goal of the playoffs at 1:26 of the third to stake the Moose to a 2-1 lead. DiCasmirro had taken a needless cross-checking penalty at the 20-minute mark of the second period, putting the Crunch at a disadvantage to start the third.

Brassard tied the game at 10:28, beating Schneider on the short side with a quick wrist shot from just off to the side of the net.