The Connecticut Whale concluded its 2011-12 regular season with a game in Syracuse, NY, against the Crunch. It was a goaltenders duel until the very end between Connecticut’s Cam Talbot (37 saves) and Syracuse’s Iiro Tarkki (43 saves), but four extra saves in the shootout sent two points to the Crunch’s record, as they won 2-1.
Syracuse opened the scoring at 12:56 of the first period, on a goal by forward Riley Holzapfel—his 16th of the season. The play started with Crunch winger Kyle Palmieri carrying the puck into the offensive zone, and firing a wide-angled shot at Whale goaltender Talbot. Palmieri’s shot bounced off Talbot and found a trailing Holzapfel in the slot, and the centerman buried his opportunity in an open net to give his club the 1-0 lead.
The Whale pushed back, and fired 19 shots at Syracuse’s Tarkki during the first period. Tarkki turned away each chance to preserve the Crunch’s 1-0 lead.
But in period 2, the Whale received its third power-play opportunity of the game after Gabe Guentzel was called for interference. After a shorthanded chance for Syracuse was broken up by an errand pass, Whale MVP Kris Newbury jumped on the loose puck and skated into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 with Jonathan Audy-Marchessault. Newbury slid a pass over to Audy-Marchessault, who fired a shot past Tarkki for his 24th goal of the season; tying the game, 1-1.
The third period was evenly played with no man-advantages, and the shots for the frame going to the Whale, 11-10. Overtime was required for the 25th this season (for the Whale), and after a scoreless frame, the game went to a shootout.
Connecticut failed to score on each of its four shootout chances, but Syracuse received goals from Patrick Maroon and Holzapfel, leading them to a 2-1 win.
The three stars of tonight’s tilt were Maroon (3), Holzapfel (2) and Tarkki (1)…notable performances from the Whale side included Talbot’s 37 saves, and Audy-Marchessault’s 1-0-1, three shot game…Christian Thomas led the Whale in shots-on-goal tonight with six, followed by Marek Hrivik who had five. Steve Moses and Casey Wellman both collected four shots in the game…the Whale scoring leaders for the season were Newbury and Audy-Marchessault, as both finished with 64 points on the year…the Whale begins its Eastern Conference Quarterfinal’s series this coming week with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Game 1 is Thursday in Bridgeport at 7pm (ET)…the Whale power-play was 1-for-3 tonight, and its penalty-killing was 2-for-2…
Final score: Crunch 2, Whale 1 (in a shootout)
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