Crunch Look Forward to Playoffs After Dropping Season Finale

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Although the teams will meet in the playoffs, the Syracuse game against Rochester Saturday wasn’t much of a preview.

Looking to rest many of their regulars since they already clinched home ice in the first round, the Crunch had a lineup with 11 players who spent time in the ECHL this season and two more who joined the team after the conclusion of their junior seasons.

Alexander Volkov scored twice and Olivier Mantha made 39 saves in his AHL debut, but Syracuse fell to Rochester, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The North Division Semifinal between the Crunch and Americans starts in Syracuse Friday.

“We’ll see what kind of team we’re going to have next week,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “For me, I expect our team to be ready to play next Friday.”

Olivier Archambault recorded two assists, while Carter Verhaeghe and Matthew Spencer each assisted on one of Volkov’s goals.

“He was great. He was great last night. He was great tonight,” Groulx said of Volkov. “Like I mentioned last night, I’m very happy to see those guys like (Volkov), Verhaeghe, (Archambault), (Daniel Walcott) were very good players for us this weekend.”

Volkov opened the scoring by jamming in a rebound on the power play 11:13 into the contest, but Justin Bailey evened the score less than two minutes later and Alexander Nylander gave Rochester a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

Garret Ross added to the Americans’ lead 3:22 into the second period, but Volkov cut the Rochester lead to one 2:33 later. The Americans’ Sean Malone sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minutes.

The Crunch may be without one of their regulars to begin the playoffs. Archambault took a spill into the boards and headed directly to the dressing room. Groulx didn’t have an update on his status.

“It’s very disappointing,” Groulx said. “With less than five minutes left in the game, the guy got hurt. It’s tough to take.”

Syracuse wraps up the regular season with a 46-22-3-5 record to place second in the North Division.

“It’s been a great season, especially when you start 4-9-3. We have a pretty good record after that,” Groulx said. “It shows, I believe, consistency and good habits, good effort. Credit to the players, because it’s not an easy thing to turn around after 16 games when you’re dead last.”

Now the Crunch look forward to the postseason and another matchup against the Americans.

“We have two days off to recharge the battery,” Groulx said. “Then we come on the ice Tuesday with good practices.”

Pictured: Crunch goalie Olivier Mantha makes a save against the Americans at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

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