The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were back for Game 2 against the Syracuse Crunch tonight. Unfortunately, they managed to fall behind early and never caught up, losing 3-2 and tying the series 1-1. They head back to WBS to await Game 3 on Wednesday and Game 4 on Friday. So we have a few boring days ahead now, as the NHL Penguins are not set to start Round 3 until the West teams finish up, Tuesday at the earliest maybe not until Thursday.
The 1st Period was all Syracuse. You know how people complained about the Islanders dominating possession? Well that was nothing, this game was literally all Syracuse. The first period Syracuse out shot us 15-1. The Pens were willing to sit back, play D, and wait for an opportunity to break out. But that opportunity never came. However, the defensive effort was commendable, and Brad Thiessen was standing on his head for most of the period. But with just over a minute left in the period, Warren Peters went to the box for hooking and Syracuse managed to score on the PP, taking a 1 goal (and 14 shot) lead into intermission.
The 2nd Period started off with Syracuse still dominating the puck, but Thiessen was doing his best to keep them in the game. Unfortunately, 7 minutes in and a turnover led to an odd man rush that went in to give Syracuse a 2 goal lead. The Pens battled back though, and a minute later drew a penalty and managed to connect on the PP goal, Joey Mormina assisted by Brian Dumoulin and Chad Kolarik. WBS caught a head of steam and was getting opportunities, even managing to draw another penalty, but they gave the puck away and Syracuse went up 3-1 on a shorthanded goal. They still kept up the pressure, and snagged another PP opportunity with a double minor at the end of the period. But then managed to negate most of it from a Hold by Brian Gibbons just as time expired. The shots were a much more reasonable 14-11 Syracuse that period, but now stuck in a 3-1 hole.
The 3rd Period started with 2 minutes of 4-on-4 and then a very short WBS PP. They barely got a chance to get going though before it was over. The game went fairly back and forth for most of the period, until 12 minutes in when they managed to draw another penalty and get a much needed PP chance to catch up. But of course a minute in to the PP they take another PP and negate the advantage. However, they did connect on the ensuing 4-on-4, Rileu Holzapfel assisted by Alex Grant, bringing them within 1 to make it a 3-2 game. But even with a few good chances and pulling the goalie to go up a man, they were unable to tie it up. Shots in the third were 8 to 6 Syracuse.
Overall, Syracuse outshot us 37 to 18. Wow, just over double our total, and nearly half of those in the 1st period. Thiessen's 3 goal night will affect his GAA, but stopping 34 of 37 is still a respectable .919 Save%. And 1 of those was on the PP, 1 shorthanded, and 1 a turnover giving them an odd man rush. Conversely, Cedric Desjardins gave up 2 goals on only 18 shots (.889 Save%), so it wasn't really that their goaltending was so good that we couldn't crack them, its just our offense didn't manage to generate many scoring opportunities. The Pens went 1 for 5 on the PP and were 2 for 3 on the PK.
Other interesting tidbits from the game... Chad Kolarik, our #2 scorer, collided with league MVP Tyler Johnson, they wound up hitting pretty much knee on knee, and both went to the locker room. Kolarik came back to finish the game, but Johnson did not. Radko Gudas, blaming Kolarik for the injury, got the 3rd period roughing penalty for trying to give him some payback.
Also, early in the game Christiaan Minella, our 6'2" 205lbs 4th line winger from the Wheeling Nailers fought and took down massive 6'8" 225lbs Andrej Sustr. Sustr you may remember from the Penguins Rookie Development Camp way back in July, he came along with fellow UNO teammates Josh Archibald (Pens prospect) and Jayson Megna (signed to a pro contract after rookie camp and sent down to WBS). Sustr was also one of the big name undrafted college free agents when UNO's season ended, winding up signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning. But the fight was like David and Goliath out there, crazy.