SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Syracuse Crunch defeated the Providence Bruins, 3-1, in Game 5 to claim the Eastern Conference Championship and advance to the Calder Cup Finals tonight at the War Memorial Arena.
Ben Thomas put Syracuse on the board just 41 seconds into the game, but the Bruins knotted it late in the second period. Cory Conacher capitalized on a second-chance opportunity with five minutes remaining in the game before adding an empty-net insurance goal to steal the Eastern Conference Finals series, 4-1.
Mike McKenna put up another solid performance in net, turning aside 27-of-28 between the pipes for the Crunch. Malcolm Subban stopped 29-of-31 for the Bruins. Syracuse was unable to convert on two power play opportunities, but went a perfect 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Thomas opened scoring for the second consecutive night. It only took 41 seconds for the rookie defenseman to find the back of the net on the team's first shot of the game from the top of the right circle. Michael Bournival and Erik Condra picked up the assists.
The Bruins evened things up with 6:33 remaining in the middle frame. Chris Porter got his stick on a rebound as he fell to the ice and swept it in behind McKenna. Ryan Fitzgerald earned the helper.
With 5:06 remaining in the game, Conacher chipped in a rebound from the right circle to put the Crunch back on top. Thomas and Matt Taormina recorded the helpers. The forward went on to put in an empty-netter with the help Yanni Gourde and Gabriel Dumont to secure victory.
The Crunch will face the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Calder Cup Finals. The series starts in Grand Rapids for Game 1 on Friday at 7 p.m.
Crunchables: Ben Thomas has surpassed his regular season goal production with four in the postseason. This is the first time he has consecutive multi-point games in his career…Cory Conacher leads the league with 20 points (9g, 11a)…The Crunch are outscoring opponents 15-6 in the first period at home…The Crunch are 9-0 at home in the playoffs.