Leclaire Leads Crunch Over Hershey

By Jeff Parzych
Records First AHL Win in 5-3 Victory

Flashback to the preseason. A group of reporters huddle around the desk of Head Coach Gary Agnew. The topic of conversation is goaltending and all the scribes in attendance have gloom and doom on their minds.

How is this team, a club favored to repeat as Central Division Champions and also contend for the Calder Cup, going to replace last season’s savior Jean-Francois Labbe, they wondered. How will this current edition of the Syracuse Crunch fare with a rookie as their number one netminder?

If last night is any indication, they will do just fine. Bolstered by Leclaire’s 32 save performance, the Crunch would come from behind and then hang on to down Hershey 5-3 en route to their first win of the 2002-03 season.

Right from the onset, it seemed to be anything but Leclaire’s night as the Bear’s would take the lead with just over a minute gone in the opening period. Cail Maclean, with the Bear’s on a five on three power play, would corral the rebound of his own shot and roof the puck over the shoulder of Leclaire for a 1-0 Hershey lead.

Syracuse would get on the board a little before the halfway point of the first period when Mathieu Darche would notch his second goal of this young season. Darche, on the receiving end of a pretty Brad Moran pass, would fail to slide a backhand past Hershey netminder Phil Sauve, but with nice extra effort banged home the rebound to tie the game at one.

After another Hershey tally, the Crunch would again find themselves down a goal. This time it would be Radim Bicanek, who would find the back of the net with a vicious slapper from the blue line to even the score at two heading into the second period.

That is when the Pascal Leclaire show would begin. A huge glove save at the 3:10 mark would get the ball rolling and it would culminate with two big saves on Hershey winger Rob Voltera in the final six seconds of the period. In between there was a big stop of Steve Moore on the doorstep with around six minutes gone. He would follow that up with a big time kick save on Eric Bertrand and another super glove save on Brett Clark with just under four minutes to play in the second.

Leclaire’s play would not go un-noticed by his Crunch teammates. By this point everyone in the Crunch locker room know they have something special in Leclaire. They also knew that he was a major reason they left the ice with two-points under their belts tonight.

“Pas made a couple big saves on the power play to keep it at 2-2 and another big save when were four on four and that’s why he is getting paid the big bucks,” said Crunch forward David Ling. “He is a great goalie and it is good to see him get a win under his belt because he is playing well.”

All and all Leclaire would stop 13 Hershey shots in the period, as he would do exactly what he is supposed to do, keep his team in the game.

“That is what I an trying to do, make some good saves and keep my team in the game,” stated the 19 year old Leclaire. “After that you hope the team can get one of our own.”

That is exactly what transpired. With the Crunch on the power play, Darrel Scoville would send a weak shot on the Hershey goal that Matt Davidson would control on its way to the net. He would then slide a nifty pass to Kent McDonell who easily found the open side for a 3-2 Crunch lead.

Matt Davidson would sandwich a couple of goals, the second of the empty net variety, around a lone Hershey marker for the final score of 5-3.

After Davidson’s final tally, the young goaltender from Quebec would take a long skate to each corner of the rink, giving a mild Tiger Wood’s fist pump to mark the occasion.

“It was just fun,” said Leclaire. “And obviously a two-goal lead is better than a one-goal lead, but the crowd was into it and it was just fun.”

Hershey at Syracuse - Boxscore
Hershey        2     0     1   --3
Syracuse       2     1     2   --5

FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: 1, Hershey, Cail Maclean 4 (Jordan
Krestanovich, Brett Clark), 1:10. 2, Syracuse, Mathieu Darche 2 (power
play) (Brad Moran, David Ling), 10:29. 3, Hershey, Charlie Stephens 5
(Jordan Krestanovich), 11:09. 4, Syracuse, Radim Bicanek 2 (David
Ling, Trent Cull), 19:23.  Penalties: B Bellefeuille, Syr
(interference), 0:23; T Cull, Syr (tripping), 0:37; J Krestanovich,
Her (slashing), 4:12; S Moore, Her (hooking), 5:13; M Davidson, Syr
(slashing), 5:34; M Svatos, Her (interference), 8:51; S Tremblay, Her
(tripping), 14:10.

SECOND PERIOD -- Scoring: 5, Syracuse, Kent Mcdonell 1 (power play)
(Darrel Scoville, Matt Davidson), 16:58.  Penalties: D Scoville, Syr
(double minor tripping, unsportsmanlike cond), 1:16; B Thompson, Her
(slashing), 9:18; D Watson, Syr (holding), 12:39; D Scoville, Syr
(unsportsmanlike cond), 13:51; B Thompson, Her (hooking), 14:59.

THIRD PERIOD -- Scoring: 6, Syracuse, Matt Davidson 2 (power play)
(Radim Bicanek, David Ling), 9:24. 7, Hershey, Steve Moore 1
(Unassisted), 17:08. 8, Syracuse, Matt Davidson 3 (empty net)
(Unassisted), 18:56.  Penalties: S Moore, Her (hooking), 6:09; B Muir,
Her (holding stick), 7:36; E Bertrand, Her (tripping), 8:43; B Muir,
Her (major high sticking), 10:01; E Bertrand, Her (major fighting
misconduct), 19:07; D Westcott, Syr (major fighting game misconduct),

Shots on goal:
Hershey            12   13   10   --35
Syracuse           12    9   15   --36

Power-play Conversions: Hershey - 1 of 7, Syracuse - 3 of 10. Goalies
: Hershey, Philippe Sauve (35 shots, 31 saves; record: 2-2-0).
Syracuse, Pascal Leclaire (35 shots, 32 saves; record: 1-2-0). A:
5,137.  Referees: Scott Hoberg. Linesmen: Dan Murphy, Mike Emanatian.


HERSHEY                                SYRACUSE
                G   A   +/-  Shots                   G   A   +/-  Shots
B Muir          0   0   even    4    C Nielsen       0   0   -1      3
S Tremblay      0   0   even    0    R Bicanek       1   1   +1      5
B Clark         0   1   -2      4    D Scoville      0   1   even    5
R Hahl          0   0   even    2    B Moran         0   1   -1      0
S Moore         1   0   +1      2    M Davidson      2   1   +1      2
J Krestanovich  0   2   -1      1    D Westcott      0   0   even    3
B Willsie       0   0   even    1    D Ling          0   3   +1      1
E Bertrand      0   0   even    6    T Jackman       0   0   -1      1
R Voltera       0   0   even    1    D Watson        0   0   -1      1
T Wedderburn    0   0   +2      1    J Reich         0   0   -1      1
C MacLean       1   0   even    3    M Pandolfo      0   0   even    1
A Saviels       0   0   -1      0    M Paroulek      0   0   even    0
C Stephens      1   0   -1      3    K McDonell      1   0   even    3
M Svatos        0   0   even    2    P Manning       0   0   -1      1
P Emond         0   0   even    0    T Cull          0   1   +1      2
M Kuleshov      0   0   even    3    M Darche        1   0   +1      4
B Thompson      0   0   +1      2    B Bellefeuille  0   0   +2      3

***Three Stars of the Game***

1. Pascal Leclaire: Registered 32 saves on the evening and kept his club alive with an outstanding effort in the second period.

2. Matt Davidson: Finished the night with two goals and one assist. Was also a +1 on the evening.

3. Radim Bicanek: Notched game-tying goal as first period was coming to a close. Also had a two-point evening while leading the Crunch with five shots on net.

Crunch One-Timers:

The only player scratched for Syracuse last night was winger Jonathon Schill. It was the second straight scratch for Schill after skating on opening night.

Earlier in the week, the Crunch announced that the Blue Jackets have sent forward Ben Knopp to Dayton of the ECHL. Knopp, who has been hampered by a rib injury, had yet to play in any games for the Crunch this season.

Boxscore courtesy of www.theahl.com