Walser scores overtime winner as Marlies beat Crunch 4-3 in overtime

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TORONTO - Derrick Walser made sure the Toronto Marlies' resiliency was rewarded.

Walser scored in overtime as the Marlies beat the Syracuse Crunch 4-3 in American Hockey League action Saturday.

"Walser's competitive level in the last two weeks has been outstanding," said Marlies coach Greg Gilbert. "That's what we need from him day in and day out whether it be practice or games. He's a veteran guy who knows the game really well."

Jeremy Williams, Chris Harrington and Alex Foster scored in regulation for the Marlies in front of 3,927 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.

Justin Pogge made 27 saves for the Marlies, who blew a third-period lead before forcing overtime late.

"We didn't give up. We scored that first goal and we got sloppy, and took some unfortunate penalties," Walser said. "When we played our game they couldn't get out of their zone and got away from that with the penalties. That changed the momentum."

Derek Mackenzie, Clay Wilson and Joakim Lindstrom replied for the Crunch in the third period and Tomas Popperle made 25 saves.

Toronto improved to 13-3-0-2 on the season, while Syracuse fell to 7-13-0.

Toronto was 1-for-7 on the power play, while Syracuse went 1-for-8 with the man advantage.

The Marlies led 1-0 heading into the third period as Williams's goal stood as the difference through 40 minutes.

"We showed a little bit of a resiliency. We lost a couple of guys in the first few minutes of the game but we went out there and gutted it out for the win," Gilbert said.

After being shut out in Hamilton the night before, the Marlies came out with a determined effort. They outshot the Crunch by a 6-3 margin in first ten minutes when Williams potted his sixth of the season to open the scoring at 10:48 of the first period. Williams pounced on a rebound in the slot, shooting it into an open goal when Popperle was tangled up with Kris Newbury at the side of the Syracuse goal.

Toronto outshot Syracuse 12-4 overall in the first, taking a 1-0 lead into the dressing room.

Pogge stopped seven shots in the second, including a magnificent toe save through a scrum of players in his crease as the Marlies killed off a two-man advantage, to preserve a 1-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

"Pogs (Pogge) came up big when he needed to," Gilbert said. "Its good to see his confidence level rise and the guys confidence level in him rise when they play in front of him. They know if they make a mistake he'll be there to bail them out, as does Clemmensen."

In a penalty-filled third period, Mackenzie came out of the penalty box and scored to tie the game 1-1. Harrington replied for Toronto, scoring his first of the season from the top of the left circle with the man-advantage to restore the one-goal lead.

"Syracuse is a hard-working team. We had the lead going into the third period and they weren't going to back down or play a soft game. They were going to come at us hard."

Crunch defenceman Wilson scored a power-play goal to tie the game 2-2 followed up by Lindstrom 90 seconds later to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.

"We lost Harrison in the second period on, and lost Foster for four or five shifts and Robbie Earl in the first period, but everyone else was stepping up filling in and doing their job," Gilbert said.

Foster returned after receiving stitches and replied to tie the game at 3-3 with just less than five minutes in the third.

"We were in a little bit of a skid with things not going our way and I hope this puts us back on the winning track," Walser said.

The Marlies host the Grand Rapids Griffons on Wednesday morning with a special 11:30 a.m. ET start time.



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