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AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-27-17 Bruins at Crunch

Syracuse punches their ticket for another trip to the Calder Cup Final.

PRO-1
SYR-3

Syracuse Wins the Series 4-1

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. Without the usual aid of gobs of goal support, McKenna came up big to finish off the B's.

First Period
0:41 SYR Thomas (4), (Bournival, Condra)

Second Period
13:27 PRO Porter (5), (Fitzgerald)

Third Period
14:54 SYR Conacher (8), (Thomas, Taormina)
19:01 SYR Conacher (9), (Gourde, Dumont)(EN)

Cory Conacher, McKenna, and Byron Froese were the game's three stars.

Providence put up the kind of effort you'd have expected to see in Game Four, but they eventually met the same fate at the hands of Cory Conacher and the veteran-heavy Crunch. Up next? It'll be a rematch in the Calder Cup Final with the Grand Rapid Griffins, who defeated Syracuse in the 2012-2013 Final. Four years later, only Matt Taormina is on Syracuse's roster from that original squad, but it's still an opportunity for the Crunch and the Lightning organization to settle up with Grand Rapids.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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.

PRO-2
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.

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.

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