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AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-3-17 Crunch at Griffins

Pressure on Syracuse after a pair of tough 1 goal losses.

SYR-5
GR-6 (2OT)

Grand Rapids Leads the Series 2-0

Mike McKenna allowed 6 goals on 51 shots for the OT loss.

First Period
5:27 GR Frk (4), (Ford, Nosek)(PP)
10:37 SYR Gourde (6), (unassisted)
12:29 GR Street (5), (Tangradi)

Second Period
4:30 SYR Vermin (7), (unassisted)
5:41 SYR Condra (5) ASST: Matthew Peca (9), Michael Bournival (4)
12:53 GR Svechnikov (5), (Callahan, Frk)(PP)

Third Period
0:24 GR Nosek (10), (Street, Frk)(PP)
7:47 SYR Conacher (10), (Gourde, Erne)(PP)
13:36 GR Bertuzzi (7), (Paetsch, Hicketts)
15:15 SYR Bournival (7), (Dotchin, Condra)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Double Overtime
7:02 GR Street (6), (Tangradi)

Cory Conacher was the game's third star.

If the Crunch are looking for silver linings after a pair of painful one goal losses, consider the old adage that it isn't a series until a home team loses a game. Syracuse failed to do the trick and get one of the first two in Michigan, so now they've got the pressure to hold serve in three straight coming up at home. That's difficult, but not impossible, and if there's any other good news it's that Grand Rapids looks a lot more leaky in this Final that the last time when Mrazek was in net and had a forcefield over it.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-2-17 Crunch at Griffins

Penalty problems cost Crunch a Game One heartbreaker.

SYR-2
GR-3

Grand Rapids Leads the Series 1-0

First Period
4:56 GR Nosek (8), (Callahan, Bertuzzi)
9:25 SYR Lynch (2), (Conacher)(SH)

Second Period
0:54 SYR Vermin (6), (Gourde, Dotchin)
17:12 GR Paetsch (2), (Campbell, Bertuzzi)

Third Period
19:46 GR Nosek (9), (Ford, Lorito)(PP)

Syracuse nearly executed the Game One theft despite never getting into much of an offensive flow due to unforced penalties, but a late too-many-men call finally did them in. It's a shame. They got a lot of timely saves by McKenna and a couple of great individual efforts to generate goals by Conacher and Gourde, but they couldn't quite manufacture the third goal to get out of the rink with the win. They did start to grow into their game a bit in the Third Period and hopefully they'll build on that and put forth a truer effort in Game Two.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Look to Capitalize on Opportunity Against Griffins in Finals


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The feeling is one that Matt Taormina reluctantly remembers.

The Syracuse Crunch fell behind 3-0 in the Calder Cup Finals in 2013, but became the first team to win back-to-back road elimination games to send the series back to the Onondaga County War Memorial.

But then the disappointment of coming up short, with American Hockey League president Dave Andrews handing the cup to Grand Rapids Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan after Game 6.

For Taormina, the only current member of the Crunch who was on that 2013 playoff run, Syracuse needs to capitalize on the opportunity in front of them as the teams meet again in the Calder Cup Finals starting Friday in Grand Rapids.

"They came in and won it in front of our fans, and that was really hard to deal with," Taormina said. "You don’t really get this opportunity too often to make it all the way to the finals and have a chance of winning. You just have to take advantage of it.”

Lightning Trade Rights to Boko Imama to Kings

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft from the Los Angeles Kings today in exchange for unsigned forward prospect Bokondji Imama, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Imama was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round, 180th overall, of the 2015 NHL Draft.

Memorial Cup Game Night: 5-28-17

Windsor Spitfires 4 vs Erie Otters 3

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Memorial Cup: 5 GP, 0-2-2, E, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 22 GP, 1-8-9, +17, 10 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 8/17 FO
Memorial Cup: 5 GP: 1-7-8, +2, 0 PIM
Playoff Totals: 22 GP, 15-16-31, +18, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Memorial Cup: 4 GP, 5-6-11, +2, 0 PIM
Playoff Totals: 22 GP, 12-19-31, +16, 18 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Windsor won the 2017 Memorial Cup Sunday with a 4-3 victory over the OHL champion Otters, completing a remarkable week for the host team. The Spits were beat out of the first round of the OHL playoffs by London despite leading the Knights 3-1 in the series. The Knights later were beaten in seven games by Erie, so the difference in talent level among the three clubs was close.

On Sunday, Erie had leads of 2-1 and 3-2, but both were relinquished within about two minutes. Windsor scored early in the third period to break a 3-3 tie and the rest is history.

For the Lightning prospects, Anthony Cirelli is already signed and will turn pro next year. He’ll be a key cog in Syracuse’s season, as will Erik Cernak, who is also signed. Taylor Raddysh will return to Erie if he doesn’t make the Lightning out of camp (possible, but not probable) and he’ll be expected to be among the OHL leaders in scoring again. Keep an eye on free agent puck-moving defenseman Darren Raddysh, who could be signed by the Lightning or any other NHL club. He was the conference's top defensive-defenseman last season and offensive-defenseman this season. Taylor’s brother could join Syracuse next season if Tampa Bay signs him.

Crunch Beat Bruins, Advance to Calder Cup Finals


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The puck went right from the pad of Malcolm Subban to the tape of Cory Conacher.

Conacher quickly rifled the rebound into the net, the Crunch focused on keeping play out of their end for the final five minutes and Conacher sealed the win with an empty-netter, as Syracuse topped the Providence Bruins, 3-1, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday

The Crunch win the series 4-1, and advance to take on the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Calder Cup Finals.

“I kind of blacked out,” Conacher said of the game-winning goal. “All I remember is seeing the puck come right to me in the slot there — I was kind of on the right side — and I couldn’t even tell you who shot the puck, to be honest with you. It was just one of those moments where you see the puck, you see the net and you just try to get everything you can on it. Luckily it found the back of the net.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-27-17 Bruins at Crunch

Syracuse punches their ticket for another trip to the Calder Cup Final.

PRO-1
SYR-3

Syracuse Wins the Series 4-1

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. Without the usual aid of gobs of goal support, McKenna came up big to finish off the B's.

First Period
0:41 SYR Thomas (4), (Bournival, Condra)

Second Period
13:27 PRO Porter (5), (Fitzgerald)

Third Period
14:54 SYR Conacher (8), (Thomas, Taormina)
19:01 SYR Conacher (9), (Gourde, Dumont)(EN)

Cory Conacher, McKenna, and Byron Froese were the game's three stars.

Providence put up the kind of effort you'd have expected to see in Game Four, but they eventually met the same fate at the hands of Cory Conacher and the veteran-heavy Crunch. Up next? It'll be a rematch in the Calder Cup Final with the Grand Rapid Griffins, who defeated Syracuse in the 2012-2013 Final. Four years later, only Matt Taormina is on Syracuse's roster from that original squad, but it's still an opportunity for the Crunch and the Lightning organization to settle up with Grand Rapids.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Memorial Cup Game Night: 5-26-17

Saint John Sea Dogs 3 vs Erie Otters 6

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Memorial Cup: 4 GP, 1-2-3, E, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 18 GP, 8-7-15, +17, 22 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Memorial Cup: 4 GP, 2-3-5, E, 0 PIM
Playoff Totals: 18 GP, 13-19-32, +20, 14 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 4 SOG
Memorial Cup: 4 GP, 0-2-2, +1, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 22 GP, 1-8-9, +17, 10 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 5/17 FO
Memorial Cup: 4 GP: 1-7-8, +3, 0 PIM
Playoff Totals: 22 GP, 15-16-31, +18, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 2-0-2, E, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, *First Star*
Memorial Cup: 4 GP, 5-6-11, +2, 0 PIM
Playoff Totals: 22 GP, 12-19-31, +16, 18 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Taylor Raddysh scored twice on the power play Friday to lead Erie to a 6-3 win over Saint John and earn a spot in the Memorial Cup Final Sunday. Taylor actually scored three times, but a delayed penalty call on Erik Cernak erased the goal. Anthony Cirelli assisted on both Taylor Raddysh goals. Erie will face Windsor in the Final.

For Saint John, Boko Imama had two minutes in penalties when he shoved a player into the boards away from the play. Taylor Raddysh scored on the ensuing power play to give the Otters a 2-1 lead. Mathieu Joseph was dangerous again all night and had the primary assist on Julien Gauthier’s goal that made it 2-2 late in the second period. Joseph had the puck at the side of the net and delivered a pass into the slot that was slammed home.

The loss marks the end of a terrific season for Saint John, the QMJHL champs. They come up short in their bid to win the Memorial Cup, but the season will be remembered for a dominant playoff run through the Q, finishing 16-2. The junior careers of Imama and Joseph end with the loss as both will turn pro next season. Joseph is already under contract with the Lightning and will likely start in AHL Syracuse. Imama has to be signed by June 1 or the Lightning lose his rights. If no other team signs him to an NHL deal, he could be signed to an AHL contract if the Lightning or another team chooses. He made tremendous strides this season.

Crunch Send Bruins to Brink of Elimination With Big Win


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch had contributions all over the ice, and pushed the Providence Bruins to the brink.

Eleven different Crunch players recorded a point and goalie Mike McKenna finished with 33 saves, as Syracuse routed Providence, 7-2, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

The Crunch lead the series 3-1 with a chance to advance to the Calder Cup Finals in Game 5 Saturday in Syracuse.

“We gave a full 60 minutes tonight,” Crunch forward Cory Conacher said. “Obviously, we won the last game, but some of those minutes we didn’t play our best. Tonight we stayed on them. It was 6-2 going into the third period, and one of our best periods was probably the third period. It shows character. We knew how important it was in the third period to stick it to them because we have a game tomorrow night. Hopefully that carries into the game tomorrow night.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-26-17 Bruins at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star decimates Bruins in a must-win game for Providence.

PRO-2
SYR-7

Syracuse Leads the Series 3-1

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 35 shots for the victory. I imagine McKenna doing snow angels on the floor of the locker room screaming "GOAL SUPPPPOOOORRRRT!" after all of these games.

First Period
3:57 SYR Thomas (3), (Gourde, Conacher)
7:07 PRO Szwarz (6), (Simpson, Cave)
19:49 SYR Taormina (4), (Gourde, McGinn)(PP)

Second Period
0:33 SYR Bournival (5), (Conacher, Thomas)
1:55 PRO Heinen (9), (Fitzgerald, Simpson)(PP)
4:31 SYR Gourde (5), (McGinn, Conacher)
16:00 SYR Bournival (6), (Condra, Dotchin)
19:13 SYR Dumont (5), (Taormina, Vermin)

Third Period
4:31 SYR Conacher (7), (Gourde, Froese)(PP)

Yanni Gourde, Michael Bournival, and Cory Conacher were the game's three stars.

Wow. As noted, this was a game the Bruins absolutely had to have. On paper, they should've been the hungrier team and should've been a considerable test for the Crunch tonight. Am I surprised Syracuse prevailed tonight? Not at all. But I'm a little shocked at how savagely they dismantled Providence under these circumstances. I'd say this proved Syracuse is developing a killer instinct, but that underplays what they accomplished tonight.

Coming into this season the Crunch had the potential to be this kind of team on paper. They had a veteran-laden group with an extreme amount of depth at the forward position. But, with struggles and injuries up top in Tampa Bay, they never really got to gel as a group. Those who stayed behind in Syracuse were plagued with inconsistency, leaving the regular season North Division crown to go all the way down to the final game of the year. And, it wasn't until the very end of the regular season that this group of players got together with the return of a large contingent of quality guys from Tampa Bay.Because of that, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised the longer this team survives and advances in the playoffs the stronger they seem to be getting. They've started to figure out their roles and responsibilities, get used to their lines and pairings, and now they're starting to mow opponents down like a well oiled machine. It's easy to get excited about this club's crescendo toward a possible berth in the Calder Cup Final.

Heading into Game Five on home ice, it's important to stress the importance of being expeditious when opportunities to close out arise. As impressive as Syracuse's depth is at many positions, the fact of the matter the pro hockey playoffs remain, partially, an extended exercise in the art of managing attrition. Syracuse needs to finish this off now. Don't waste energy on having to go back to Providence to try to close this out. Don't let this series extend one minute longer than it has to and risk the stray factor of injuries. Finish this, advance, and prepare to play for the big prize.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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