Syracuse Crunch

Crunch Swept By Penguins in First Round


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Down to the final buzzer, the Syracuse Crunch couldn't find a way out of their slump.

The Crunch tied the score late in the first period but the Penguins finished with three power play goals and goalie Matt Murray shut the door with 33 saves, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton beat Syracuse, 5-2, in Game 3 the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.

The Crunch lost 12 of their final 13 games and was swept 3-0 in the series.

"I thought we had a great run up until the last three weeks of the season," said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. "I didn't see a lot of ups and downs. I saw a pretty consistent hockey team that won a lot of games and worked extremely hard and played really well."

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-29-15 Penguins at Crunch

Too little, too late.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Game Three

WBS-5
SYR-2

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Wins the Series 3-0

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 23 shots for the loss. He finishes the playoffs with the ugly 0-3 mark and an .833 save percentage after seeing his regular season save percentage slip to .900 at the finish line. He's a prospect at a crossroads.

First Period
WBS Wilson, (1) (Sheary, Ebbett), 7:53 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (1) (Witkowski, Peca), 16:53

Second Period
WBS Sheary, (1) (Kostopoulos, Pouliot), 2:39

Third Period
WBS Sheary, (2) (Wilson, Dumoulin), 1:59 (PP)
WBS Pouliot, (1) (Kapanen, Chorney), 4:30 (PP)
SYR Richard, (1) (Koekkoek, Gourde), 5:36
WBS Ebbett, (1) (Uher), 18:42 (EN)

Yanni Gourde was the game's second star.

This team accomplished a lot of good things this season, particularly when you look at the development of their young defensemen. It's a shame they just ran out of gas at the end of the season, because they showed amazing resiliency and the ability to really fight above their weight class all season long. There are some reinforcements coming in the way of some top Lightning prospects like Erne and DeAngelo next season, but it'll be critical for the team to find the right mix of veterans and semi-veterans to form the heart of the team next year.

We'll see which prospects go up top to join Tampa Bay as Black Aces. For the ones that do, it'll be a great opportunity to see what the big time is like up close.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-25-25 Crunch at Penguins

One of the worst nights in Lightning organization history.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Game Two

SYR-0
WBS-4

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Leads the Series 2-0

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss. He played ok, from all indications, but the Crunch really need a goaltender to win a game for them right now.

First Period
WBS Megna, (1) (Ebbett, Sheary), 2:32 (PP)
WBS Rowney, (2) (Archibald, Harrington), 16:32 (PP)
WBS Kostopoulos, (1) , 19:59 (PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
WBS Kapanen, (3) (Sheary, Ebbett), 16:10

Zettler went with some wholesale lineup changes, but unfortunately that didn't lead to any offensive production. The good news, I suppose, is that the shot totals were nearly even at 29-27 in favor of the Pens. With that said, the Crunch continue to look like a team without much life, and Game Three may only offer an opportunity for players who will need to be key contributors in Syracuse next season, like Matthew Peca to get a little more seasoning.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-24-15 Crunch at Penguins

Can't stop the bleeding.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Game One

SYR- 1
WBS- 5

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Leads the Series 1-0

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 20 shots for the loss before giving way to Adam Wilcox, who allowed 1 goal on 15 shots the rest of the way. Coach Zettler is tasked with the impossible task of choosing between a streaky goaltender who appears to have gone completely cold and a rookie ATO who has never won a professional game for Game Two. Flip a coin.

First Period
WBS Uher, (1) (Kuhnhackl, Rowney), 16:52

Second Period
WBS Kapanen, (1) (Megna), 6:03
WBS Rowney, (1) (Goers, Uher), 6:34
WBS Kapanen, (2) (Goers, Megna), 7:43
SYR Peca, (1) (Angelidis, Vermin), 14:00

Third Period
WBS Syvret, (1) (Rowney, Sheary), 12:32

Syracuse entered the playoffs having won just 1 of their last 10 down the stretch, and they got dominated tonight. It's not just that they didn't get the goaltending, but they also got outshot 35-23 as well, which gives you an idea of run of play. There's a small silver lining with Matthew Peca getting his first pro playoff goal, but it's super, super small. The Pens pinned a -4 on Syracuse's offensive bell cow, Jonathan Marchessault, and if Marchessault's line can't win their shifts, then Syracuse likely has no prayer.

Honestly, I've got no helpful suggestions or tweaks that I can suggest at this juncture. I kept waiting for this team to gel with all the roster changes and ATO additions down the stretch, and it simply hasn't happened.

Game Two is tomorrow night.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Goalie Wilcox Adjusting to Pro Game


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Adam Wilcox understands there’s still a lot to learn.

After finishing his junior season at the University of Minnesota, Wilcox played a pair of games between the pipes for the Syracuse Crunch. The 22-year-old goalie, signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning to an entry level contract earlier this month, has begun to make the adjustments necessary to be successful at the professional level.

“We’re looking at two things for the rest of the year, and the first is traffic and screened shots,” Wilcox said of what he was working on with Crunch goaltending and video coach David Alexander. “There are a lot bigger bodies in this league and it goes a lot faster and the shots get off quicker. That’s probably one of the biggest adjustments. Number two is just continuing to have good rebound control so you don’t have so many broken plays and scramble plays.”

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