Syracuse Crunch

Crunch Top IceCaps in OT, Advance to North Division Finals


By Jeremy Houghtaling

A former member of the IceCaps came back to haunt the team.

Gabriel Dumont scored 2:18 into overtime to lift the Syracuse Crunch to a 2-1 overtime win over St. John’s in Game 4 of the North Division Semifinals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

The Crunch take the series 3-1 and advance to the North Division Finals, while the IceCaps’ franchise is set to move to Laval next season.

“There was two guys in front, so I didn’t really see it go in. I just heard the puck hit the middle post and the goal light go on,” Dumont said. “I was pretty excited and I didn’t know what to do.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-28-17 IceCaps at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star moves on to its next target.

STJ-1
SYR-2 (OT)

Syracuse Wins the Series 3-1

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. After an uneven close to his regular season after the trade deadline, McKenna's upped his game for the postseason.

First Period
16:41 SYR Condra (2), (McGinn, Peca)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
14:27 STJ Matteau (3), (Audette, de la Rose)(PP)

Overtime
2:18 SYR Dumont (1), (Froese, Erne)

McKenna, Gabriel Dumont, and Erik Condra were the game's three stars as the veterans continue to drive the bus for the Crunch.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Win Game 3, Push IceCaps to Brink of Elimination


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Despite letting an early two-goal lead slip away, the Syracuse Crunch found a way to pull out a win.

Byron Froese scored with 3:55 left in the second period and the Crunch held the IceCaps off the board the rest of the way, as Syracuse beat St. Johns, 3-2, in the North Division Semifinals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday. Syracuse leads the series 2-1 and hosts Game 4 of the best-of-five series on Friday.

Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx knew the series would be a physical back-and-forth battle.

“It’s been like that since day one and we don’t expect anything different Friday,” he said. “It’s a hard-fought battle and we found a way to win, so it’s good.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-26-17 IceCaps at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star on the cusp of advancing.

STJ-2
SYR-3

Syracuse Leads the Series 2-1

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the pivotal Game Three victory.

First Period
11:30 SYR Vermin (1), (Howden, Ikonen)
13:28 SYR Condra (1), (McGinn, Taormina)

Second Period
12:17 STJ Redmond (1), (Hudon, Scherbak)(PP)
12:45 STJ Matteau (2), (Friberg, Lernout)
16:05 SYR Froese (1), (unassisted)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Mike McKenna, Byron Froese, and Erik Condra were the game's three stars, as the vets continue to lead the way. That said, it should be noted that Brett Howden continues to be a contributor for the club since coming on board late in the regular season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-22-17 Crunch at IceCaps

Crunchning Death Star comes from behind to quell rebel IceCaps uprising in 2OT.

SYR-4
STJ-3 (2OT)

Series Tied 1-1

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 41 shots for the victory.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:33 STJ de la Rose (1), (Matteau, Friberg)
10:10 SYR Koekkoek (1), (Peca, Condra)

Third Period
4:46 STJ Hudon (1), (Terry, Scherbak)
8:30 STJ Matteau (1), (Friberg, Redmond)
15:43 SYR Taormina (1), (Condra, Conacher)
17:16 SYR Conacher (1), (Taormina, Thomas)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Double Overtime
10:37 SYR McGinn (2), (Peca, Taormina)

Tye McGinn and Cory Conacher were the game's first and third stars.

In these shortened best-of-five opening round series, it's not necessarily a death sentence to fall behind 2-0 on the road, but it seriously puts the favorite behind the eight ball if they do. Syracuse faced that dire prospect tonight down 2 goals with 6 minutes to go in regulation, when the Crunch veterans decided to put their stamp on this game and quite possibly change the course of this series.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-21-17 Crunch at IceCaps

Crunchning Death Star finds it harder to destroy worlds in opening playoff tilt.

SYR-1
STJ-2

St. John's Leads the Series 1-0

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 21 shots for the loss.

First Period
16:05 STJ Scherbak (1), (Hudon, de la Rose)(PP)

Second Period
2:59 STJ Terry (1), (Hudon)

Third Period
10:21 SYR McGinn (1), (Peca, Howden)(PP)

McKenna was the game's third star.

Seems like the 'ning part of the equation may need to be a little more assertive in Game Two. Among the cadre of forwards who returned from Tampa Bay at season's end, the Crunch got 0 shots on goal from Conacher and Vermin and just 1 shot on goal a piece from Dumont and Gourde. At this time of year, your best players need to be your best players.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Focused on Own Play Heading Into Playoffs


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The teams are certainly well-acquainted.

Blowout wins. Shootout losses. Rowdy games with multiple dustups.

When the puck drops in St. John’s for Game 1 of the Calder Cup Playoffs’ North Division Semifinals Friday evening, it will be the ninth meeting between the Syracuse Crunch and the IceCaps this season.

The Crunch know what to expect — they were 4-1-2-1 in the season series — but are focused on their play instead of what the IceCaps bring.

“I think there’s no secret for us, and there’s no secret for them,” Syracuse head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We know each other pretty well, and it’s going to be on us to play to our strengths.”

Crunch Beat Comets, Win North Division Crown


By Jeremy Houghtaling

In a season filled with overcoming adversity, the Crunch were able to achieve one of their goals on the final day of the season.

Syracuse, which has dealt with a barrage of injuries and call-ups all season, rested many of their top players but still managed to pull out a 5-2 win over the Utica Comets, as the Crunch clinched the North Division championship at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

Syracuse begins a best of five series against St. John’s in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs on Wednesday.

“We’re very proud of those guys. Obviously, with all the challenges we have faced this year, the way they responded is awesome,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We managed to get points in our last five games to put ourselves in position with the last two games at home with a chance to clinch the division. We did it.”

AHL Game Night: 4-15-17 Comets at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star wins North Division crown on final night of regular season.

UTI-2
SYR-5

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the victory.

First Period
5:24 SYR Ikonen (6), (Racine, Froese)
5:34 SYR Howden (3), (Vermin, Brodeur)

Second Period
3:31 SYR Kurtz (5), (Ikonen, Richard)
4:07 UTI Goldobin (18), (Robak)
10:04 SYR Vermin (13), (Froese, Blujus)(PP)
18:46 UTI Goldobin (19), (Virtanen, Sautner)

Third Period
17:28 SYR Erne (14), (Froese, Richard)(EN)

Gudlevskis, Henri Ikonen, and Joel Vermin were the game's three stars. Scary thing is, this wasn't the full Crunchning Death Star lineup with Gourde and Conacher out, and they still rolled a Utica club that was desperate to make it into the postseason.

Things get interesting now. I don't entirely know what to make of this team because it's a brand new, incredibly deep roster, that's only been together the final 4 or so games of the regular season. The North Division was obviously the weak stepsister of the Eastern Conference, so on the face of it the division title isn't super-impressive when you hold the Crunch up against clubs like Pens, Phantoms, Bears, and Bruins. BUT, the Crunch team that played the bulk of those games was often playing defensemen at forward or short of players because of injuries up top. The Crunchning Death Star absolutely has the depth and quality to compete with those teams, but they'll need to develop chemistry on the fly in the postseason in order to do so.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Groulx Likes Result But Not Effort in Crunch's Win


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx liked the result, but not the effort.

The Crunch picked up a 4-1 win over the Binghamton Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday, but Groulx believed they could have played better.

Syracuse remains one point behind Toronto for first place in the North Division with one game remaining in the regular season.

“Very average,” Groulx said of his team’s performance. “I thought we were a one effort hockey club tonight.”

“We’ve got to be a second effort hockey club in the three zones,” Groulx added. “That was not the case tonight.”

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