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Penalty Kill Leads Dramatic Shootout Win

December 8, 2012

A Saturday night battle against the Syracuse Crunch at the Glens Falls Civic Center turned into one of the most exciting and dramatic games of the season as the Adirondack Phantoms pulled out a heart-stopping 4-3 victory in their first shootout of the season.

Garrett Roe had the game-winner in the shootout while Brayden Schenn scored two goals in regulation and Tye McGinn's tip accounted for the other. But the big story of the game was the hard-working and unbreakable penalty kill that held the high-octane offense of the Crunch to 0-for-11 on the power play.

"It's a funny game out there sometimes. There's a lot of special teams out there tonight. Maybe too much," Phantoms head coach Terry Murray reflected. "But it ends up being the difference in the game. We had some very good penalty killing early. They had three in a row. 15 shots about midway in the first period. The goaltending was good, the penalty killing was sharp. And then we get our opportunities on the power play and capitalize on it."

Syracuse had two power plays late in the third and another in overtime as the highest scoring team in the league felt poised to snag the road-game. But Adirondack's penalty killers came up large over and over while goalie Scott Munroe also made several key saves.

And sometimes it also takes a little help from Lady Luck. Syracuse's Ondrej Palat rushed in during the overtime and beat Munroe over his glove-hand but his shot rang off the underside of the crossbar ad somehow stayed out as the Phantoms stayed alive.

"Schenn hit the crossbar too, could have won the game in regulation," Murray said. "You have to earn the right to get a bounce. And I thought the hard work was poured into it here tonight. We played hard, they did also. And at the end of the night that's all it ended up being the difference. A puck going in off the post and a puck going out off the post. Two teams playing hard here tonight.

And back-and-forth it went. An exciting and high-paced game with both teams generating big chances on goalies Dustin Tokarski and Scott Munroe.

Syracuse fell out of first place in the conference with the shootout loss as their record moved to 14-5-3 on the season. Adirondack improved to 10-12-0 with the thrilling and potentially momentum-building win.

29 out of 30 AHL teams had played in at least one shootout this season. Adirondack was the last to do so but appeared ready for the new challenge.

"We've got some skilled players. There's no question," Murray said. "I thought Roe made a heckuva move there to win the game today."

Schenn scored in the first round and Roe in the fourth as Adirondck went 2-for-4. Syracuse clanged two of the shootout tries of the posts as well.

The Phantoms are 2-0 in games decided past regulation this year, both against Syracuse. Adirondack won their only overtime decision of the season on October 28 at Syracuse 4-3. And then won the Saturday night shootout verdict. Adirondack improved to 2-2 against the Syracuse team that operated out of the Norfolk last year and won the Calder Cup.

Brett Connolly opened the scoring for Syracuse late in the first period picking up the rebound of his own shot kicked out by Munroe and tucking it around the Adirondack goalie's left skate. The initial save made by Munroe was his 4,000th as a Phantom, second most in franchise history. The goal was Connolly's ninth in the AHL after spending all of last season in the NHL with Tampa Bay.

Adirondack would get back-to-back 5-on-3 goals to begin the second period. Sean Couturier's shot from center-point was deflected by Tye McGinn for the big forward's seventh of the year and third against Syracuse. The goal was initially credited to Couturier but was later properly changed to McGinn who also scored a large percentage of his goals last year against this same team when they were Norfolk (5 out of 12).

Brayden Schenn blasted a one-timer from the right-circle on a give by Sean Couturier to give Adirondack the 2-1 lead.

Syracuse came back to tie it later in the second period with Pierre-Cedric Labrie picking up the rebound of a shot that was blocked off the leg of Sean Couturier. Labrie got to it quickly in the slot and found the opening to wrist it past Munroe to tie the score at 2-2 about 14 minutes into the second.

Jason Akeson's quick faceoff win in the Syracuse zone gave the Phantoms the lead again as he took a quick step forward and slid the puck across to Schenn on the back-door. If you blinked, you missed it. Schenn's second of the game and 11th of the year made it 3-2.

Adirondack's lead lasted for only 50 seconds when Syracuse prevented the Phantoms from clearing the zone and reigning league MVP Cory Conacher scored his 10th of the year from the slot.

The Phantoms almost retook the lead just a few seconds later when Shane Harper had an opening for a backhand wrap-around. But his attempt went too far out to the middle and he stuffed it into the left leg-pad of Tokarski.

And 3-3 the game would remain through an edge-of-your-seat final period with tremendous chances from both sides.

Zac Rinaldo elbowing at 10:43 of the third then Garrett Roe holding at 14:55 followed by a roughing call against Munroe at 0:45 of overtime allowed the Crunch three big chances to end their power play drought and come away from the North Country with the victory.

But the penalty kill fought and scrapped and battled through one disadvantage after another. Erik Gustafsson earned number three Star of the Game honors partly for all of his blocked shots and defensive work. Harry Zolnierczyk and Danny Syvret among others also got key interceptions and blocks as well as clears. The fans hung on with every play and cheered more and more for each valuable clear. And somehow Adirondack kept hanging on against the highest scoring offense in the league.

On Adirondack's side, they went 2-for-9 on the power play with both of their scores coming 5-on-3. Syracuse also had a number of quality kills and both teams easily could have claimed victory in the third period or in overtime with just a slightly friendlier bounce.

One of Adirondack's best opportunities came as Zac Rinaldo returned from the penalty box late in the third period setting up a 3-on-1 rush. Couturier tried to drop it back to Rinaldo and then a flurry of chances from both of them plus Eric Wellwood ensued but Syracuse was somehow able to survive and eventually clear the zone when they appeared on the verge of breaking.

The wild excitement of the third period and overtime eventually led to the shootout when Schenn and Roe's goals made the difference while the AHL's top goal scorers from last year AND this year, Cory Conacher and Tyler Johnson, both came up empty. Johnson hit the post in the fifth round allowing the Phantoms to clinch the win.

Adirondack concludes their three-in-three weekend Sunday afternoon at 4:05 at the Providence Bruins.

The Phantoms are back home next weekend beginning with a Friday rematch against Syracuse it what is certainly anticipated to be another exciting battle. Friday's game is Teddy Bear Toss night with fans getting to throw their Teddy Bear donations onto the ice after Adirondack scores their first goal with all the donations going to benefit the Greater Glens Falls Salvation Army. Saturday's weekend finale is against the Manchester Monarchs, AHL affiliate of the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.

Terry Murray Post-Game - Dec 8, 2012

Pictures courtesy of Andy Camp and Suzanne Levack:

Garrett Roe scores the game-winner in the shootout around Syracuse goalie Dustin Tokarski.

Syracuse Crunch 3 at Adirondack Phantoms 4 (SO) - Status: Final SO
Saturday, December 8, 2012 - Glens Falls Civic Center

Syracuse 1 2 0 0 - 3
Adirondack 0 3 0 0 - 4

1st Period-1, Syracuse, Connolly 9 (Brown), 17:47. Penalties-Killorn Syr (holding), 0:47; Zolnierczyk Adk (interference), 8:14; Bordson Adk (delay of game), 10:07; Eddy Adk (cross-checking), 12:18; Aulie Syr (interference), 19:59.

2nd Period-2, Adirondack, McGinn 7 (Couturier, Schenn), 1:56 (PP). 3, Adirondack, Schenn 10 (Couturier, Gustafsson), 4:54 (PP). 4, Syracuse, Labrie 5 (Wyman), 13:51. 5, Adirondack, Schenn 11 (Akeson), 18:12. 6, Syracuse, Conacher 10 (Aulie, Brown), 19:02. Penalties-Gudas Syr (high-sticking, high-sticking), 1:30; Cote Syr (high-sticking), 4:31; Wellwood Adk (hooking), 5:40; Manning Adk (slashing), 8:12; Killorn Syr (tripping), 8:59; Schenn Adk (interference), 11:00; Gudas yr (fighting), 14:08; Eddy Adk (fighting), 14:08; Labrie Syr (roughing, roughing), 16:51; McGinn Adk (roughing, roughing), 16:51.

3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Munroe Adk (roughing), 0:45; Rinaldo Adk (charging), 0:52; Aulie Syr (high-sticking), 4:51; Rinaldo Adk (elbowing), 10:43; Roe Adk (holding), 14:55; Angelidis Syr (interference), 17:24.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Munroe Adk (roughing), 0:45; Connolly Syr (interference), 1:53.

Shootout - Syracuse 1 (Conacher NG, Connolly NG, Panik NG, Palat G, Johnson NG), Adirondack 2 (Schenn G, Akeson NG, Couturier NG, Roe G).
Shots on Goal-Syracuse 15-6-6-5-0-32. Adirondack 9-13-11-1-1-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Syracuse 0 / 11; Adirondack 2 / 9. Goalies-Syracuse, Tokarski 8-4-2 (34shots-31 saves). Adirondack, Munroe 7-5-0 (32 shots-29 saves).
Referees-Jon McIsaac (45).


Sunday, December 9 (4:00) - Adirondack Phantoms at Providence Bruins

Monday, December 11 (7:00) - Phantoms Power Hour LIVE on Q101.7 at 7:00 PM with player guests Erik Gustafsson and Oliver Lauridsen.

Friday, December 14 (7:00) - Syracuse Crunch at Adirondack Phantoms. Annual Teddy Bear Toss Night to benefit the Salvation Army. Bring your Teddy Bear donation and throw it on the ice after the Phantoms score their first goal. It will be raining Teddy Bears inside the GFCC!

Saturday, December 15 (7:00) - Manchester Monarchs at Adirondack Phantoms. Boy Scouts Night. Pregame Pasta Buffet ($12)

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