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Crunch Time: Syracuse clinches 2015 Calder Cup Playoff position

by Doug Spencer / Tampa Bay Lightning
Crunch Clinch

The Syracuse Crunch are going to the dance. The team recently punched its ticket to the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs despite going 0-2-1 last week. Syracuse currently occupies the third spot in the Eastern Conference with a record of 40-21-9 and would square off against the Hartford Wolf Pack (38-23-5) if playoffs were to start today.

The Crunch did not get the result they wanted to start the final month of the regular season as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Binghamton Senators in overtime. The team secured a much-needed single point in the losing effort. Captain Mike Angelidis and Ryan Martindale tallied for the Crunch. Kristers Gudlevskis started his fifth-straight game and stopped 29 of 32 shots.

Syracuse officially clinched its playoff position Friday night when it visited the Hartford Wolf Pack despite losing 6-4. The third period was one full of fireworks as both teams combined for six goals. The Crunch received goals from Joel Vermin, Yanni Gourde and two from Martindale.

While Syracuse will want to move on from Saturday’s 3-2 loss at the hands of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, newcomer Matthew Peca will always remember the game as he recorded his first career point in professional hockey. Peca assisted on Kevin Lynch’s tally with Jonathan Marchessault recording the other goal for the Crunch. Allen York was between the pipes after relieving Gudlevskis with five minutes to go in Friday’s game.

A Wink to Martindale

Ryan Martindale was brought in to add some much-needed depth at center for the Syracuse Crunch. Since his arrival at the end of February, Martindale has been able to contribute in more ways than anticipated. His offensive production has been a pleasant surprise as he has recorded seven goals and 10 points in 14 games with the Crunch. Recently, Martindale has put together his best stretch of the season as he has scored five goals and six points in the Crunch’s last six games. His defensive play has also shown improvement in Syracuse with Martindale being a plus-3, the first time he has been a positive plus/minus player in the AHL. With the playoffs looming, expect to see Martindale deployed in a defensive role, but he will still be counted on to contribute offensively.

Fight to the finish

With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, Syracuse will be looking to better position itself in the playoffs. The schedule will not be any easier for the Crunch however with another three games in three nights. The team will host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (26-36-6) Friday at the War Memorial Arena. Syracuse then will host the Springfield Falcons (36-27-8), who are fighting for their playoff lives as they currently sit in ninth place. The Crunch will end their week with one last stop in Utica to face the Western Conference leading Comets (43-19-6).

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