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.”

Conacher registered four points for the second straight game. Yanni Gourde, his linemate, also had one goal and three assists.

Michael Bournival scored twice, Ben Thomas and Matt Taormina each had one goal and one assist and Tye McGinn recorded two helpers. Gabriel Dumont scored once, and Jake Dotchin, Erik Condra, Byron Froese and Joel Vermin each had one assist.

“We have so much depth in this locker room and that’s probably one of our strengths,” Gourde said. “Its fun to see everyone contributing offensively. Everybody is chipping in and it’s great to see that.”

Thomas took a drop pass and opened the scoring with a shot from the blue line 3:57 into the contest. Providence’s Jordan Szwarz tied the score, but Taormina converted on a 5-on-3 with 11 seconds left in the first period to retake the lead for Syracuse.

“It was important,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said of the power play goal. “If you score, it gives your team momentum. If you don’t, it gives the other team momentum. It gave us momentum and confidence to play the right way.”

Bournival scored his first of the night 33 seconds into the second. The Crunch then rattled off three more goals after Danton Heinen scored for the Bruins to give Syracuse a 6-2 lead heading into the final frame.

Conacher put the exclamation point on the game with the lone goal in the third period.

“Tonight we kept pushing and playing the right way,” Gourde said. “That’s how we won tonight. It was pretty convincing.”

The Crunch have a chance to put the Bruins away in Game 5 Saturday, but they know it won’t be easy. Groulx gave Providence credit for its character in the previous two rounds of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

“You have to respect a team that overcame a 2-1 deficit against Wilkes-Barre and a 3-2 deficit against Hershey,” Groulx said. “Even in Game 6 against Hershey they were down by two goals and they rallied back.”

Pictured: Crunch forward Cory Conacher smiles as he approaches teammates celebrating a goal against the Bruins at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

For more pictures from the game, visit the BoltProspects Facebook page.

To listen to postgame interviews, go to this SoundCloud page.