Crunch Look to Turn Page After Being Overwhelmed by Marlies

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After the final horn, the Syracuse Crunch were ready to put the game behind them.

The Crunch didn’t score on an early power play and went into a tailspin, as Syracuse lost to the Toronto Marlies, 7-1, in Game 3 of the North Division Finals Sunday.

Toronto, who topped Syracuse in double overtime Saturday, leads the series 3-0 and will go for the sweep on Tuesday.

“You’ve got to turn the page,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “It’s one of our worst games of the year. But again, you’ve got to give credit to Toronto. They won a big game last night and carried the momentum over. They jumped on us and we weren’t ready to play.”

Groulx said after the game he didn’t think the turnaround between games — which was less than 24 hours — was a factor.

“That goes for both teams, and obviously Toronto was ready tonight. We weren’t,” Groulx said. “It’s my job to prepare the team, so it’s disappointing.”

Erik Cernak had the lone Syracuse goal late in the second period to cut the Crunch deficit to 4-1. Carter Verhaeghe and Kevin Lynch had the assists.

Connor Ingram, who turned aside 55 shots in the double overtime loss Saturday, made 23 saves on 30 shots.

“He was great yesterday and he’s certainly not to blame tonight,” Groulx said.

The Marlies overwhelmed the Crunch for almost the entire game. Toronto outshot the Syracuse 11-3 in the first period and took a 2-0 lead, tacked on two more goals in the second and added three more insurance markers in the third.

“It was everything. Execution. Effort. Will,” Crunch forward Kevin Lynch said. “Just all over the ice in all three zones they were beating us to loose pucks. They were outworking us and just outsmarting us. It was not good enough.”

Crunch captain Erik Condra hopes the rough loss will give Syracuse a needed jolt.

“The good thing about playoffs is it doesn’t matter if you lose 7-1 or if you lose 2-1 in triple overtime,” Condra said. “Maybe that 7-1 loss is a wake-up call for us, and I hope it is.”

Condra said he didn’t address the team after the game. The Crunch has a rest day on Monday, and will be back at it against the Marlies on Tuesday.

“Sometimes you need to let a beating like that sink in, and wake up tomorrow and address it,” Condra said.

Pictured: Crunch captain Erik Condra looks to make a pass against the Marlies at the Onondaga County War Memorial Sunday.

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