Crunch win, secure playoff spot

The Syracuse Crunch scored two late third period goals to come-from-behind and beat the Hamilton Bulldogs, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter on Saturday night.

Crunch center Geoff Platt started the come back by tying the game at two with his 26th goal of the season at the 16-minute mark of the third period. The goal was assisted by Andy Delmore and Peter Sarno.

Joe Motzko would become the hero 2:07 later, scoring the game winner on his 21st goal of the season to lead Syracuse to the win. Platt and Sarno were credited with the assists.

Syracuse opened the scoring when Andy Canzanello scored 9:40 into the first period. The lead would be short lived as the Bulldogs answered back with a goal of their own on Jean-Francois Jacques‘s 20th of the season 2:39 later.

The game remained deadlocked at a goal apiece until Hamilton’s Brad Winchester scored midway through the third period, setting the stage for the late game heroics for the Crunch.

With the win the Crunch (43-21-4-2, 92 pts.) have become the second team in the North Division, along with Grand Rapids, to secure a spot in the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Bulldogs (30-38-0-4, 64 pts.) remain in sixth place in the North Division, 15 points behind Toronto for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Elsewhere on Saturday:

  • Brad Leeb and Colin Murphy each scored a pair of goals in Toronto’s 6-5 win over Cleveland.
  • Michael Garnett made 20 saves to shut out San Antonio 4-0 and give the Wolves their fourth straight win.
  • Morgan Cey stopped all 37 shots he faced to earn a shutout in his first AHL start in Springfield’s 3-0 win over Lowell.
  • Jason Jaffray scored a goal and two assists in Manitoba’s 4-1 win over Milwaukee in front of 13,351 at the MTS Centre.
  • The Pirates scored four unanswered goals, including two by Ryan Shannon, en route to a 5-3 win over Norfolk.
  • Iowa beat Houston, 4-3, extending the Aeros’ winless streak to six games.
  • Bridgeport exploded for four goals in the first period and never looked back, beating Hartford 6-3.
  • Mike Zigomanis registered a goal in regulation as well as a shootout goal to help Peoria to a 3-2 victory over Omaha.
  • Tomas Kopecky scored twice and added an assist to help Grand Rapids to a 4-1 victory over Rochester.
  • Erik Christensen, Krystofer Kolanos and Kenny Corupe scored consecutively in the shootout to secure the 2-1 victory for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over Albany.
  • Shawn McEachern tallied a goal and an assist in Providence’s 3-1 win over Manchester.