Syracuse, NY – It was 2000 when the Portland Pirates last visited the Syracuse Crunch, and if they had their way it would have stayed that way.
The Crunch bolted out to a four goal lead and held on to a late game surge by the Pirates to win 4-3 win in front of 5,526 at the Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, New York.
The game was nearly tied with seconds remaining, but referee Chris Cozzan waived the goal off indicating time had run out.
The Pirates including head coach Kevin Dineen was clearly in dispute of this decision.
“You can see the puck go in on video,” he said. “I was told one thing and video shows another, but what can you do.”
“It’s frustrating with the way it worked out.”
Since winning 13 straight games, the Pirates have been on a snide as of late, going 3-4-1 in their last eight games.
“We didn’t play the way we did to be successful for the last couple of months and it bite us,” said Dineen.
The Pirates found themselves down early in the period after Nathan Gerbe and Marc-Andre Gragnani were sent off to the box, giving Syracuse a 43 second five-on-three.
Less than 13 seconds after Gragnani was sent off for cross-checking, Brendan Bell fired a blast from the high slot, beating Pirates’ netminder Jhonas Enroth on the inside post.
At 15:27, the Crunch made 2-0 when Nick Holden tipped a shot under the glove of Enroth.
Portland had a couple opportunities to tie the game early in the period, but they were never able to get the power play going, and the one solid scoring chance was stopped by Crunch goalie Kevin Lalande just before the puck crossed the line.
In the second period, the Pirates had the jump on the Crunch outshooting them 7-2, but on Syracuse’s third shot of the period, Brendan Bell fired a bullet from the point off, deflecting of TJ Brennan past Enroth.
It was Bell’s second goal of the game.
With six seconds left in the period, the Crunch extended their lead to 4-0 when another puck deflected by Enroth.
“It wasn’t a good game for us,” said Dineen. “It was fun to push back as hard as we did, but it wasn’t a good game and we were ripe for the pickings tonight.”
That ended the night for Enroth, who stopped 14-of-18 shots in the loss, in favor of JP Lamoureux to start the third period.
The Pirates finally got on the board midway in to the third period when Mike Weber fired a shot by Lalande at 9:39 of the third period.
Late in the game, the Pirates stormed back as Philip Gogulla scored a pair of goals with a span of 1:07.
His first came at 17:45 when his shot deflect by Lalande, followed by his second goal at 18:52 of the third period when he tapped in the rebound from Cody McCormick’s shot.
“We had a nothing -to-lose mentality,” said Pirates’ forward Nathan Gerbe. “It’s already 4-0, you don’t want it to get out of hand so you keep working, and keep plugging, get a few bounces and it’s a different game.”
NOTES: The Pirates skated 17 skaters as a result of Mancari recall to the Sabres earlier in the day. Matt Generous and Travis Turnbull will return to the ice tomorrow from their suspension… Pirates’ owner/CEO Brian Petrovek was in attendance at the game amid speculation the team could be heading to Albany next season. Also in attendance was Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier along with the Sabres pro scouting staff.