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Crunch Stumble Against Penguins, Lose First Playoff Game 4-2


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Already down by two with less than nine minutes remaining, a pair of penalties 20 seconds apart seemed to stifle any potential Syracuse Crunch rally.

But the Crunch's Mike Angelidis, Jean-Philipe Cote and Brendan Mikkelson shut down a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins power play that had already converted twice, giving Syracuse a glimmer of hope during the final stretch.

"I thought our guys did an unbelievable job of getting into the shooting lanes and blocking shots, I thought it was awesome," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "I was hoping for some momentum off that, it just never really came."

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held on during a 6-on-4 in their own end during the closing minutes, topping Syracuse 4-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. The loss snaps a streak of seven straight postseason wins for the Crunch, and 17 straight playoff wins for the Tampa Bay Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate.

Namestnikov Elevating Game In Postseason


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Vladislav Namestnikov dipped his shoulder, turned the corner on the defenseman and drove right to the net.

The Crunch forward plowed through Springfield Falcons goalie Curtis McElhinney, creating a rebound for Mark Barberio to bury less than a second later to give Syracuse a two-goal lead in the fourth game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals last week. It was Namestnikov’s first of two assists on the night, his first professional postseason points.

"Not a lot of players make that play," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "A lot of players go behind the net instead of going to the front of the net. He's got the courage and the speed to make those plays."

For Zettler, it’s just one example of the recent development in Namestnikov’s game.

"Over the last two or three weeks, his play has really elevated," Zettler said of the 20-year-old. "He's really skating well, he's battling for pucks and going to the hard areas."

Connolly Quietly Collecting Postseason Points

By Jeremy Houghtaling

For a 30-goal scorer, Brett Connolly is essentially flying below the radar.

Overshadowed by the success of the Syracuse Crunch's top line, Connolly has quietly continued his nearly one point per game pace in the Calder Cup Playoffs. He has five points in seven postseason games, having already notched 31 goals and 32 assists in 71 games in the regular season.

World Championships Game Day: 5-19-13

Bronze Medal Match
Finland 2 vs. USA 3 (SO)
Ben Bishop, USA, DNP
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 3-2-0, 0 SO, 2.83 GAA, .876 sv%

Matt Carle, USA, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 10 GP, 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM

Nate Thompson, USA, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 10 GP, 1-2-3, +1, 8 PIM

Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk scored in the 4th round of the shootout to lift USA to a 3-2 win over Finland and a Bronze Medal at the IIHF World Championships. USA held a 2 goal lead heading into the Third Period on markers by Nashville's Craig Smith and Colorado's Paul Stastny, but Lauri Korpokoski scored a pair of goals in the final frame to force extra hockey. Ben Bishop sat backup for Team USA. The result is an excellent one for USA, which has often struggled in international tournaments outside the Olympics and World Cup, but is slightly bittersweet after their loss to Switzerland in the Semifinals.

In the day's other match, Sweden pummeled Cinderella Switzerland 5-1 to win the Gold Medal Match.

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