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Syracuse Crunch

Crunch Hang On to Top Bruins, Take 2-1 Series Lead


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The first period showed how good the Syracuse Crunch can be when they play their game.

The final six minutes showed how relentless the Providence Bruins can be.

The Crunch built up a 4-1 lead by the four minute mark of the third period but had to survive a late Bruins flurry, as Syracuse hung on to top Providence, 5-4, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.

The Crunch lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Friday in Syracuse.

“I thought we played a solid first period. Then we stopped playing in the second and they were all over us. Our goalie was phenomenal in the second period,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Then we came back and played a solid 14 minutes in the third, and then we stopped playing again.

“I don’t think we can stop playing at this part of the year.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-24-17 Bruins at Crunch

Wild finish to otherwise dominant performance by the Crunchning Death Star.

PRO-4
SYR-5

Syracuse Leads the Series 2-1

Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 39 shots for the victory. Goal support: McKenna has it.

First Period
8:19 SYR Conacher (5), (Taormina, Gourde)(PP)
14:18 SYR Bournival (4), (Brodeur, Thomas)

Second Period
4:48 SYR Taormina (3), (Conacher)
17:35 PRO Heinen (7), (Simpson, Szwarz)

Third Period
3:59 SYR Gourde (4), (Dotchin, Conacher)
16:49 PRO Blidh (1), (Grant, Fitzgerald)
17:11 PRO Heinen (8), (Szwarz, Simpson)
17:52 SYR Conacher (6), (Dumont, Dotchin)(EN)
19:09 PRO Fitzgerald (1), (Porter)(SH)

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

Syracuse's dominance on home ice in these playoffs remains in tact. 6-0 thus far on home ice is a serious edge with the next two games in Syracuse. Am I in love with the fact the Crunch allowed Providence to get the false hope goal in the Third Period twice? No, but it's called the false hope goal for a reason. When you stake yourself to a three goal lead in the final frame, it's a death sentence for the opposition seemingly 99.9% of the time, and those odds were reconfirmed again tonight.

At this hour, the directive for Game Four for the Crunch is clear: stomp on the Bruins' playoff throats. A win in Game Four puts them in a 3-1 hole and squarely up against the ropes. The Crunch allowed Toronto to stick around longer than they probably should've in the last round. This round? Finish them.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-21-17 Crunch at Bruins

Crunch lose a Game Two goaltending duel.

SYR-1
PRO-2 (OT)

Series Tied 1-1

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the OT loss. Probably wishes they saved him a couple of goals from the previous two 6 goal outbursts.

First Period
1:26 SYR Thomas (2), (Brodeur, McGinn)

Second Period
16:47 PRO Szwarz (4), (Heinen, Cross)(PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
8:28 PRO Szwarz (5), (Simpson, Heinen)

Ben Thomas was the game's third star.

Mixed emotions from this opening two game set in Providence. The Crunch accomplished what they needed to by wrestling home ice away from the Bruins and they came within an eyelash of grabbing the series by the throat tonight in an airtight Game Two. Rationally, they're in great shape, but momentum may be sitting on Providence's bench heading into an absolutely critical Game Three after an emotional OT victory. Luckily, with such a veteran laden team, I expect Syracuse to have a strong response in Game Three. They need it. That's not a must-win contest, but it's one you desperately want to have.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-19-17 Crunch at Bruins

Crunchning Death Star continues to maraud its way through Calder Cup playoff run.

SYR-6
PRO-3

Syracuse Leads the Series 1-0

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. He might want one of the goals back that he allowed to make the game close for a moment in the Third Period, but life remains good when you bathe in sweet, sweet goal support.

First Period
3:57 SYR McGinn (4), (Condra)
12:20 SYR Bournival (3), (Conacher, Gourde)

Second Period
4:37 PRO Grant (2), (unassisted)
6:56 SYR Vermin (5), (Peca, Taormina)(PP)

Third Period
4:13 SYR Dumont (4), (Vermin, Erne)
12:56 PRO DeBrusk (6), (Grzelcyk, Grant)
13:09 PRO Heinen (6), (Simpson, Cross)
18:25 SYR Gourde (3), (Dumont)(EN)
19:38 SYR Froese (4), (unassisted)(EN)

Joel Vermin and Yanni Gourde were the game's first and second stars.

After failing to take a road win in their entire 7 game series against the Marlies, the Crunch got one right off the jump tonight thanks in large part to the play of their veterans. The P-Bruins should be sweating that outcome because the Crunch have to feel very loose right now knowing they've been very good holding serve at home and they've already taken away home ice advantage for the series. Heading into Game Two, the pressure is squarely on Providence's shoulders and the Crunch are playing with a tall stack of the house's chips.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Top Marlies, Advance to Eastern Conference Finals


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Despite trailing 3-1 in the second period, Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx liked his team’s composure.

The Crunch evened the score before the second intermission, went ahead eight seconds into the final frame and finished with five unanswered goals to top the Toronto Marlies, 6-3, in Game 7 of the North Division Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.

Syracuse advances to play Providence, who also won a Game 7 Wednesday, in the Eastern Conference Finals starting Friday in Providence.

“I like the composure we had on our bench tonight,” Groulx said. “The guys always believed. I’m very happy for them. They did a great job. Credit to our guys.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-17-17 Marlies at Crunch

Five unanswered goals, and the Crunchning Death Star sets course for the Eastern Conference Finals.

TOR-3
SYR-6

Syracuse Wins the Series 4-3

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 17 shots for the victory. Sweet, sweet goal support!

First Period
6:26 SYR Dumont (3), (Thomas, Brodeur)
17:37 TOR Griffith (2), (Moore, O'Reilly)
18:57 TOR Leipsic (4), (Oleksy)

Second Period
11:03 TOR Johnsson (6), (Kapanen)
13:30 SYR Taormina (2), (Peca, McGinn)
15:14 SYR Erne (3), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)

Third Period
0:08 SYR Peca (4), (Dotchin, Koekkoek)
18:19 SYR Conacher (4), (Gourde, Condra)
19:29 SYR Gourde (2), (unassisted)(EN)

Matthew Peca, Gabriel Dumont, and Jake Dotchin were the game's three stars.

Syracuse's playoff life was in doubt for about a three and a half minute span of the Second Period tonight. Down 3-1, the team looked to be in potentially dire straits. Then the comeback started, and five goals later the Crunch had made their statement. This team may just win it all. How'd they do it? After leaning heavily on their veterans for most of this run, the Crunch youth have started to chip in on the scoresheet, making an unbelievable deep team even more lethal.

Matthew Peca is starting to build a legacy in these playoffs as a big goal, big game player. If you're wondering how we celebrated his game winning goal, assisted by fellow Bolt Prospects Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek: Chad had to go take a cold shower, I smoked a cigarette, and Tim demanded the misses, "Now go fix me a sammich!" We were happy/excited.

Syracuse will play the Providence Bruins for the AHL Eastern Conference crown. Providence was actually the fourth seed in a very deep and very talented Atlantic Division. It'll be a very tough series for the chance to advance to the organization's third Calder Cup Final of the Yzerman/BriseBois regime.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-15-17 Crunch at Marlies

Squeaker loss forces series to go the distance.

SYR-1
TOR-2

Series Tied 3-3

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
2:09 SYR Bournival (2), (Froese, Koekkoek)(SH)
7:24 TOR Grundstrom (3), (O'Reilly, Griffith)(PP)

Third Period
11:33 TOR Nielsen (1), (Griffith, O'Reilly)(PP)

It's been a homer series, and if the Crunch are to advance they'll just have to win the decisive Game Seven on home ice. Very simple.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Score Five Unanswered Goals, Push Marlies to Brink


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch held serve on home ice and pushed the Toronto Marlies to the brink of elimination.

The Crunch quickly answered after the Marlies opened the scoring in the first period and rattled off five unanswered goals, as Syracuse beat Toronto, 5-1, in Game 5 of the North Division Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

Syracuse leads the series 3-2, as the series shifts back to Toronto for Game 6 Monday.

“I don’t think we have any changes to make,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said heading into Monday. “We played our game, and our challenge is to play our game Monday in Toronto.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-13-17 Marlies at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star thrives on imperial home ice.

TOR-1
SYR-5

Syracuse Leads the Series 3-2

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory in the kind of bounceback game you need from your goaltender in playoff time after the odd rough outing (which happens in a long playoff run).

First Period
8:26 TOR Oleksy (1), (Findlay, Clune)
11:24 SYR Peca (3), (Condra, Racine)

Second Period
3:18 SYR Vermin (4), (Conacher, Gourde)
9:25 SYR Lynch (1), (Walcott)

Third Period
1:35 SYR Racine (1), (Gourde)(SH)
16:22 SYR Dumont (2), (Condra, Bournival)(EN)

McKenna, Slater Koekkoek, and Gabriel Dumont were the game's three stars.

With the chips down the Syracuse Crunch brought their best effort to the rink tonight in an absolutely critical Game Five tilt in a tied up series. Mind you, this series should be over right now were it not for the Crunch's late game collapse in Game Three, but that contest is water under the bridge at this point. Now Syracuse gets Jake Dotchin back from suspension heading into a potential closeout game. It's never easy to finish off a good opponent on the road at playoff time, but champions typically find a way.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-10-17 Crunch at Marlies

All square in the battle for the North Division.

SYR-2
TOR-3

Series Tied 2-2

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 15 shots for the loss before being pulled at the First Intermission. Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 14 shots he faced the rest of the way to give his team a chance.

First Period
4:45 SYR Erne (2), (unassisted)
5:51 TOR Clune (1), (Rychel)
8:05 TOR Rychel (2), (Kapanen)(PP)
16:24 TOR Moore (2), (O'Reilly, Griffith)(PP)

Second Period
2:23 SYR Thomas (1), (Koekkoek, Dumont)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Syracuse got outshot 29-19 in the contest and momentum is now firmly in the camp of the Marlies with the Dotchin suspension still with 1 game left to burn.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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