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Crunch Complete Comeback In Hershey

Crunch Complete Comeback In Hershey

HERSHEY, Pa. – The Syracuse Crunch and Hershey Bears had not met in nearly two full years going into Wednesday’s tilt in Giant Center, and their matchup did not fall short of expectations. The Crunch eliminated a 2-0 Bears lead and completed the comeback with a goal in overtime off the stick of Charles Hudon, and tallied twice on the power play en route to the win.

One of the major factors in the win for Syracuse was the strong effort of goaltender Amir Miftakhov, who made his AHL debut in this game. It didn’t start off so well for him, as the Bears scored on their first shot off the stick of Axel Jonsson-Fjallby off the rush. The puck appeared to take a piece of Miftakhov on the way but hit the twine for the home team.

To his credit, Miftakhov settled in and played well after the first goal, making a few key saves including a partial breakaway stop on Garrett Pilon that seemed to get his confidence going.

However, it would be a very veteran goal for Hershey that extended the lead to 2-0. The Bears strung a few solid shifts together, and it would be Brian Pinho finding a pass to the point to Cody Franson. The veteran defenseman, celebrating his 900th professional game in this one, found another veteran in Matt Moulson at his office in front of the net. Moulson deflected Franson’s shot perfectly past Miftakhov to extend the lead, which the Bears held after one.

A theme that’s emerged at times throughout Hershey’s first five games is penalty trouble, and that ended up playing a role in this game.

Going into action, the Bears had largely been able to bail themselves out of penalty trouble, killing off every penalty since the season opener versus the Charlotte Checkers. Syracuse’s power play made Hershey pay in this contest, striking in the second with a beautiful baseball-type swing by Jimmy Huntington swatting a rebound out of midair and past Pheonix Copley to cut into Hershey’s lead.

Syracuse got their second power-play goal early in the third on a gritty goal in the slot that Gabriel Dumont was able to stash past Copley that eventually led to some overtime on a weekday in Hershey.

The Crunch tallied twice on six attempts while the Bears came up empty on three tries, with special teams play being the difference in the game. Hudon won the game with only 14 seconds left in overtime as the teams traded chances off the rush, again seeing Miftakhov making a few important saves on Mike Sgarbossa, playing in his 500th professional game, and Pilon again. Hudon was able to find himself on a breakaway and stashed the puck past Copley for the extra point.

“I thought we were solid for the first 20 minutes tonight,” Bears head coach Scott Allen said after the game. “Then I thought it fell off. We did have some scoring chances in the second and third, but credit them, they stuck to their guns and played much harder, diligent game for 60 minutes and got the win.”

Although the Bears got a point, it was the first time in the last 13 games dating back to last season that the visiting team walked away with a win at Giant Center. Copley earned the game’s second-star status for making 37 saves in the loss, a solid bounce back after suffering a loss last weekend in Charlotte, while Miftakhov made 29 stops in earning his first AHL win.

Hershey will remain home to host the Cleveland Monsters in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday, while the Crunch will return home to host the Monsters on Friday night.

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