Monsters pounce on Syracuse mistake again to crunch Crunch, 4-1

May 18—When one team scores an unassisted goal, it is usually because a player from the opposing team made a sloppy mistake.

Score the AHL North Division finals two major mistakes for the Syracuse Crunch and a 2-0 series lead for the Monsters.

The Monsters, after beating the Crunch, 1-0, on May 16 on an unassisted short-handed goal by Justin Pearson, took command of the best-of-five series on May 18 when they beat the Crunch, 4-1, in front of 10,570 fans at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The best-of-five series moves to Syracuse for Game 3 on May 22. Game 4 if necessary will be in Syracuse on May 24.

Pearson scored his game-winner in Game 1 when he intercepted a soft backhand pass from a Crunch defender and seconds later put the puck into the Syracuse net 4:49 into the third period.

Hunter McKown talks about his goal to break a 1-1 tie in the first period. Final: #Monsters 4, #Crunch 1

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) May 18, 2024

The score was 1-1 in the first period May 18 when Hunter McCown took advantage of a bad clearing pass by Crunch goalie Brandon Halverson and gave the Monsters the lead for good, 2-1, with 4:42 left in the first.

"Teams are so tight defensively, and they (the Crunch) are one of the best at it," Coach Trent Vogelhuber said. "When you get those opportunities, you have to take advantage.

"Hunter was in a good spot on the forecheck. The goalie fumbled it. You have to put it away. Realistically, that's the difference in the game — get those two goals early and you're comfortable holding the lead when they try to chase a little bit."

The Crunch got on the scoreboard first when Syracuse defenseman Devante Stevens beat Monsters goalie Jet Greaves through a screen on a shot low in the right faceoff circle 8:07 into the first period.

Billy Sweezey tied the game without realizing he scored. He targeted a shot from the right circle low just inside the left post. Halverson appeared to freeze the puck with 8:21 left in the period. The P.A. announcer called, "Official timeout" and the crowd dutifully responded in unison "What officials?"

While that was happening, Monsters fiery forward Trey Fix-Wolansky skated to the Syracuse net and adamantly pointed with his gloved left hand, indicating to the referees that the puck had crossed the goal line.

Officials took more than eight minutes watching the play on video review — 8:34 to be exact. In the end, they agreed with Fix-Wolansky and changed their original call from Halverson freezing the puck to a goal for the Monsters.

There was no doubt about McCown's clutch goal.

The play began when Halverson skated behind his net to retrieve the puck. He tried to pass it to Stevens as Stevens was turning up ice, but Halverson partially fanned on the pass. McCown intercepted the pass in front of a diving Stevens and wristed the puck into the net before Halverson could get fully back into position.

Neither team scored in the second period. The Monsters made it 3-1 on a power play goal by Jakub Zboril at 4:37 of the third period and then removed all suspense when Alex Whelan scored into an empty net with 4:46 remaining.


Monsters 4, Crunch 1