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AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-13-17 Crunch at Griffins

Crunchning Death Star runs aground in Grand Rapids.

SYR-3
GR-4

Grand Rapids Wins the Series 4-2

Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss.

First Period
14:09 SYR Gourde (8), (Conacher)

Second Period
0:18 GR Ford (8), (Nosek)(PP)
7:51 SYR Taormina (5), (Bournival, Lynch)
11:50 GR Callahan (6), (Street)
18:10 SYR Gourde (9), (Masin, Taormina)

Third Period
3:50 GR Bertuzzi (9), (Frk, Nosek)
12:41 GR Frk (5), (Lashoff, Nosek)

Yanni Gourde was the game's third star.

It's a painful way for the season to end. The Crunch were 20 minutes away from forcing a somewhat improbable Game Seven encounter before the wheels finally came off. It's been a special team and a special, likely one-off, moment in time for Syracuse. The Crunch are likely to have a youth movement next season, particularly at forward. This veteran laden team will likely move along to the NHL, in a few cases, or to other teams/leagues in quite a few others. The big upside of this run for the Tampa Bay Lightning? In my opinion, it's a lot of quality minutes in pressure situations played by defenseman prospects like Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin, Dominik Masin, and Ben Thomas.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Set Tone With First Shift, Beat Griffins in Game 5


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch’s offense set the tone on the first shift.

Kevin Lynch’s goal 17 seconds in got the Crunch rolling and the team netted five goals before the first intermission, as Syracuse routed the Grand Rapids Griffins, 5-1, in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The Crunch cut the Griffins’ series lead to 3-2, with Game 6 set for Tuesday in Grand Rapids.

“That first 17 seconds was unbelievable,” Crunch goalie Mike McKenna said. “We got the puck deep. We got four or five hits — they looked like the Hanson Brothers — and then it’s in the net. What that does for your bench and seeing Kevin’s raw emotion after scoring that goal? It’s huge, for sure. It really sets the tone.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-10-17 Griffins at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star destroys one last opponent in the home barn this year.

GR-1
SYR-5

Grand Rapids Leads the Series 3-2

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 37 shots for the victory. That's a quality performance at a moment the team really needed it with their backs against the wall.

First Period
0:17 SYR Lynch (3), (Dumont, Bournival)
4:33 SYR Brodeur (1), (Erne, Walcott)
14:05 SYR Froese (6), (Gourde, McGinn)
17:19 SYR Conacher (12), (Thomas, Gourde)(PP)
19:16 SYR Thomas (5), (Gourde, Conacher)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
5:58 GR Street (8), (Hicketts, Paetsch)

Yanni Gourde, McKenna, and Cory Conacher were the game's three stars.

It's not surprising that Syracuse was able to dig deep and have this kind of performance in an elimination, or that Grand Rapids had a slight let down after getting out to a 3-1 series lead. As an aside, this makes those three one goal losses sting all the more. Syracuse finds themselves in the position of being a solid +3 in goal differential in this series despite being down 3-2.

The bottom line for Syracuse is that if they stay out of the box and play with their best energy, they've still got a shot to win this series. The key is to not fall in the media trap/frame of thinking about "winning two games in Grand Rapids." You have to focus solely on Game Six and proving you can win one game in Grand Rapids. If you do, of course it's possible to pick off the second one. Tuesday's the day we'll see if that question gets answered affirmatively.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Late Flurry Not Enough For Crunch in Game 4 Loss to Griffins


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch’s late flurry wasn’t enough.

The Crunch cut their three goal deficit to one in the third period and created chaos in front of the Griffins’ net on a 6-on-4 near the end of regulation, but Jared Coreau finished with 31 saves to lift Grand Rapids over Syracuse, 3-2, in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. It’s the first time the Crunch have lost on home ice this postseason.

Grand Rapids leads the series 3-1, with Syracuse set to host Game 5 Saturday.

“We had a good start, then for some reason it seems they took the momentum of the game for 25, 30 minutes, and then we got it back in the third period,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We had chances. Never quit. Showed a lot of character, but their goalie was good at the end. They blocked many, many shots.

“I thought we did many good things, but they’re a good team and that’s playoff hockey.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-9-17 Griffins at Crunch

Undisciplined, frustrated Crunch on the brink.

GR-3
SYR-2

Grand Rapids Leads the Series 3-1

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the loss.

First Period
10:00 GR Street (7), (Callahan, Tangradi)
17:48 GR Renouf (1), (unassisted)

Second Period
10:33 GR Renouf (2), (Tangradi)
11:45 SYR Gourde (7), (Conacher, McGinn)

Third Period
7:29 SYR Bournival (8), (Dumont, Koekkoek)

Yanni Gourde was the game's three stars.

What a frustrating spot for the Crunch to be in, falling behind 3-1 in the series with all three losses coming by one goal margins. As with Game One, in particular, a lot of difficulty tonight was the Crunch getting into penalty trouble. That doesn't always kill you directly with goals, but it allows your opponent to build possession and momentum and it chops up your flow and ability to get on track offensively. Now, after dropping their first game of the playoffs at home, the key for Syracuse is to not try to get it all back in a single period. The old cliche of "one game at a time" applies: the mission is to pick off Game Five and extend the series back to Grand Rapids and just give yourselves a chance for the comeback.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Win Special Teams Battle, Game 3 Against Griffins


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch won the special teams battle in a crucial Game 3.

The Crunch netted a pair of power play markers and held the Griffins off the board with the man-advantage, as Syracuse topped Grand Rapids, 5-3, in Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals Friday.

The Crunch cuts the Griffins’ series lead to 2-1, with Game 4 set for Friday in Syracuse.

“I believe our specialty teams were good tonight,” Syracuse head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Our PK was solid. We had good sticks, blocked shots, our goalie was good. Our power play go had two goals. That was them the other night with three goals on the power play and a solid PK. Tonight it’s us.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-7-17 Griffins at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star greets Griffins to Syracuse home ice.

GR-3
SYR-5

Grand Rapids Leads the Series 2-1

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the victory.

First Period
7:00 SYR Froese (5), (Koekkoek, Bournival)
9:17 GR Bertuzzi (8), (Frk, Nosek)
15:31 SYR Vermin (8), (Taormina, Erne)
16:28 SYR Vermin (9), (Peca, Thomas)(PP)

Second Period
6:58 GR Turgeon (1), (Campbell, Russo)
13:22 SYR McGinn (5), (Taormina, Conacher)(PP)
15:18 SYR Conacher (11), (McGinn, Gourde)
16:38 GR Criscuolo (5), (Bertuzzi)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Joel Vermin, Tye McGinn, and Cory Conacher were the game's three stars.

There's still a lot of work to be done in Game Four and Game Five on home ice, but you get the sense the Crunch started to take the momentum of the series a little bit with their first match on home ice. After dropping a pair of painful 1-goal losses in Grand Rapids, Syracuse drew blood with the first convincing win by either team of the series. It means nothing without the follow-up effort to get the series all square, though, Like I said, still a lot of work to do.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-3-17 Crunch at Griffins

Pressure on Syracuse after a pair of tough 1 goal losses.

SYR-5
GR-6 (2OT)

Grand Rapids Leads the Series 2-0

Mike McKenna allowed 6 goals on 51 shots for the OT loss.

First Period
5:27 GR Frk (4), (Ford, Nosek)(PP)
10:37 SYR Gourde (6), (unassisted)
12:29 GR Street (5), (Tangradi)

Second Period
4:30 SYR Vermin (7), (unassisted)
5:41 SYR Condra (5) ASST: Matthew Peca (9), Michael Bournival (4)
12:53 GR Svechnikov (5), (Callahan, Frk)(PP)

Third Period
0:24 GR Nosek (10), (Street, Frk)(PP)
7:47 SYR Conacher (10), (Gourde, Erne)(PP)
13:36 GR Bertuzzi (7), (Paetsch, Hicketts)
15:15 SYR Bournival (7), (Dotchin, Condra)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Double Overtime
7:02 GR Street (6), (Tangradi)

Cory Conacher was the game's third star.

If the Crunch are looking for silver linings after a pair of painful one goal losses, consider the old adage that it isn't a series until a home team loses a game. Syracuse failed to do the trick and get one of the first two in Michigan, so now they've got the pressure to hold serve in three straight coming up at home. That's difficult, but not impossible, and if there's any other good news it's that Grand Rapids looks a lot more leaky in this Final that the last time when Mrazek was in net and had a forcefield over it.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-2-17 Crunch at Griffins

Penalty problems cost Crunch a Game One heartbreaker.

SYR-2
GR-3

Grand Rapids Leads the Series 1-0

First Period
4:56 GR Nosek (8), (Callahan, Bertuzzi)
9:25 SYR Lynch (2), (Conacher)(SH)

Second Period
0:54 SYR Vermin (6), (Gourde, Dotchin)
17:12 GR Paetsch (2), (Campbell, Bertuzzi)

Third Period
19:46 GR Nosek (9), (Ford, Lorito)(PP)

Syracuse nearly executed the Game One theft despite never getting into much of an offensive flow due to unforced penalties, but a late too-many-men call finally did them in. It's a shame. They got a lot of timely saves by McKenna and a couple of great individual efforts to generate goals by Conacher and Gourde, but they couldn't quite manufacture the third goal to get out of the rink with the win. They did start to grow into their game a bit in the Third Period and hopefully they'll build on that and put forth a truer effort in Game Two.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Lightning Trade Rights to Boko Imama to Kings

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft from the Los Angeles Kings today in exchange for unsigned forward prospect Bokondji Imama, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Imama was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round, 180th overall, of the 2015 NHL Draft.

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