Despite amazing comeback bid, Syracuse’s season ends far too soon.
Rochester Wins the Series 3-2
Max Lagace was lifted in the Second Period after allowing four goals on 15 shots. Hugo Alnefelt allowed one goal on 10 shots the rest of the way for the backdoor loss. Lagace, who had an .888 sv% in the regular season finished the postseason with a .858 sv% after a momentous collapse statistically in the last three games. Yes, in fairness, he was better in Game Four than the stats may show, but the Achilles heel of the Syracuse Crunch this season (and last) isn’t hard to diagnose.
11:08 ROC Kozak (2), (Rosen, Malone)
9:46 ROC Pilut (2), (unassisted)
13:59 ROC Kulich (3), (Rousek, Prow)
14:14 SYR Carlile (2), (Robert)
14:59 ROC Mersch (4), (Cecconi, Jobst)
19:46 SYR Ryfors (4), (Dumont, Barre-Boulet)(PP)
9:36 SYR Dumont (1), (Carrick, Myers)
19:30 SYR Carrick (1), (Ryfors, Barre-Boulet)
11:35 ROC Pilut (3), (Rosen, Mersch)(PP)
Shawn Element was the game’s third star. Note that Rochester netminder Malcolm Subban was the first star and was absolutely the difference in the series.
I can’t say this was a choke. Syracuse outshot Rochester 48-25 in the game including 32-8 over the final 40 minutes of regulation. This sport is incredibly frustrating when disparate goaltending makes it twice as hard for your team to score a goal than the opponent. And, ultimately, that’s what happened the final two games of this series. Glass half full, the peculiar playoff format had Syracuse playing de facto playoff games since March so I think they got a lot of good developmental games in. Glass half empty, this was a deep and good roster with several kids who were blossoming who fought their butts off to get the game into OT by scoring a late Second Period PP marker they had to have and a late Third Period goal they really needed to have to erase the three goal hole they were left in who have had their season prematurely cut short.
I look up and down the Syracuse roster and I see positive stories from veterans like Phil Myers and Alex Barre-Boulet, who may have played themselves back into the discussion in Tampa Bay. More importantly, I see a lot of kids who really matured this season. Guys starting to knock on Tampa’s door like Simon Ryfors and Gage Goncalves and younger players who are also starting to make noise like Jack Thompson, Lucas Edmonds, and Declan Carlile. It makes me sick for Jack Thompson that a delay of game call, fluke of flukes, was what sent Syracuse to the golf course. He deserved better and the club deserved a better fate, IMO.
The Lightning organization really needs to take stock of their goaltending evaluations and development because top to bottom it failed them this season, to be blunt. Even their future HOF goaltender looked like the dog’s breakfast down the stretch of the campaign. Corrections need to be made. Vasilevskiy and Alnefelt both need to be better next season and upgrades from Elliott and Lagace need to be found, IMO, and training and management as a whole need to be better. It really feels like both up top and in the AHL the Lightning organization left way too much on the table this season, and they need to be honest with themselves starting with goaltending to make it right.
Box score from TheAHL.com.