Syracuse Crunch

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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