Holland debuts big as Crunch top Norfolk

Former first-round draft pick Peter Holland capped off an impressive professional debut by notching the game-winning goal with 5:11 left in regulation, sending Syracuse to a 5-3 win over visiting Norfolk on Thursday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.

Holland, drafted 15th overall by parent-club Anaheim in 2009, assisted on a pair of power play goals by Patrick Maroon earlier in the game before also nabbing his own on the man advantage at 14:49 of the third period.

The 20-year-old, who increased his goal and point production in all four years of his junior career at Guelph (OHL) – capped by a 37-goal, 88-point effort this season – was assisted on the game-winner by fellow rookies Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri, the latter also an ex-first-round selection.

Syracuse finished the night 4-for-6 on the power play after coming in with the AHL’s 18th-ranked unit (17.5 percent). Palmieri also registered a power play goal for the Crunch, and Nicolas Deschamps sealed the victory with a late empty-netter.

Deschamps (1-2-3) and Bonino (0-3-3) joined Holland in registering three-point efforts on the night. Meanwhile, goaltender Igor Bobkov had his own debut to remember, as the rookie earned the win with 43 saves on 46 shots between the pipes.

The Crunch, who will miss the playoffs when the regular season ends on Sunday, halted a brief two-game losing skid and improved to 9-3-0-0 in their last 12 contests.

Admirals forward Paul Szczechura reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his four pro seasons, and Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Marc-Antoine Pouliot also scored in the loss.

Norfolk, which is already assured of its first playoff spot since 2007, will get another crack at Syracuse when the clubs conclude their season series on Friday in upstate New York.