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Crunch top Checkers, 5-3

The Syracuse Crunch topped the Charlotte Checkers, 5-3, Friday night at Bojangles’ Coliseum.

The victory advances the Crunch to 7-9-2-1 on the season and starts the team at 1-0-0-0 in the four-game season series against the Checkers.

Goaltender Max Lagace earned the win stopping 33-of-36 shots in net for the Crunch before being relieved by Amir Miftakhov in the final minutes of the game. Miftakhov turned aside both shots he faced. Checkers netminder Antoine Bibeau blocked 16-of-20. Syracuse went 1-for-3 on the power play, while Charlotte was 2-for-3.

The Crunch were quick to open scoring just 57 seconds into the game when Andrej Sustr sent home a right-point shot. Syracuse doubled their lead at 9:09 when Simon Ryfors tipped Cole Koepke’s centering feed.

The Checkers stole one back on the power-play 5:12 into the second period. Lagace blocked the initial shot, but Kole Lind was there to chip in the rebound.

Syracuse responded with two goals just 27 seconds apart to build up a 4-1 lead by the end of the middle frame. At 11:02, Alex Barre-Boulet fired the puck just under the cross bar from the right circle while on the power play. Seconds later, Ryan Jones netted his first goal with the Crunch with a wrister.

Charlotte scored another on the power-play halfway through the third period. Alexander True missed the net wide, but the puck ricocheted off the glass and back into the crease for Lind to pot his second of the night. The Checkers came back within one at the 15:06 mark when Grigori Denisenko lit the lamp with a slap shot.

With 1:06 remaining in the game, Jones hit the empty net to lock in a Crunch win with his second of the game.

The Crunch and Checkers rematch Saturday night at 6 p.m.