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Crunch finally dispel Phantoms

Refreshed after a week off while the American Hockey League All-Star game was played, the Syracuse Crunch returned to the ice last weekend winning a rare two games in a row.

On Friday, Feb. 4, the Crunch finally dispelled the Adirondack Phantoms, shutting them out 5-0 at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The elusive Phantoms - the worst team in the entire AHL - had inexplicably beaten Syracuse in each of their five previous games this season.

Then, on Saturday, Feb. 5, the Crunch whipped the best team in the league's Eastern Division, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, at the Onondaga County War Memorial by a score of 4-2.

It was the first time the struggling Syracuse squad has enjoyed back-to-back victories since New Year's Day.

Facing the Phantoms Friday in Glens Falls, Crunch left winger Patrick Maroon stung his former team with two goals, and goalie J.P. Levasseur made 31 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.

Three of Syracuse's five goals came on power plays, and the team's penalty-kill was extremely effective, not allowing a man-up goal during eight Adirondack opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Crunch took aim at Phantoms' goalie Johan Backlund with 25 shots, resulting in goals by Kyle Palmieri, Matt Beleskey and Mark Mitera along with Maroon's deuce.

Saturday at the War Memorial, the Crunch scored three power play goals for the second straight night to beat first-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-2.

Crunch center Nick Bonino popped in two goals including a late-game empty-netter, courtesy of a pinpoint pass from rookie Kyle Palmieri. Center Maxime Macenauer also scored along with left winger Matt Beleskey who notched the game-winner plus an assist. Netminder Levasseur stopped 36 of 38 shots en route to his second victory in 24 hours.

Syracuse's next home games are set for Feb. 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m., as the team faces off at the War Memorial against the San Antonio Rampage and the Rochester Amerks, respectively. Ticket prices range between $13 and $22; 473-4444; syracusecrunch.com.

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