- Syracuse ousted Portland 3-0 in the Quarterfinals, the fifth playoff series win (second sweep) in club history.
- Ondrej Palat leads Syracuse with seven points (3g, 4a) during postseason play, tied for third in the league.
- Syracuse begins second round play Friday, either on the road vs. 2-Springfield or at home vs. 5-W-B/Scranton.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
(3) Syracuse Crunch vs. (6) Portland Pirates - Syracuse wins series, 3-0
Game 1 - Sat., Apr. 27 - Portland at Syracuse - W, 4-3 OT
Game 2 - Sun., Apr. 28 - Portland at Syracuse - W, 4-2
Game 3 - Thu., May 2 - Syracuse at Portland - W, 4-3 OT
Crunch advance to Conference Semifinal; opponent to be determined
With a Game 3 victory Thursday in Portland, 4-3 in overtime, the Crunch eliminated the Portland Pirates in the opening round of the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With one Quarterfinal series still ongoing, the Syracuse Crunch’s second round playoff opponent is yet to be decided.
There are two possible matchups for the Crunch. If the top-seed Providence Bruins beat the eight-seed Hershey Bears Wednesday, then the Crunch face the second-seed Springfield Falcons. If the Bears beat the Bruins on Wednesday, then the Crunch’s next opponent would be East Division rival the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Syracuse would have home ice advantage against the Penguins, but not the Falcons who finished the regular season two points ahead of the Crunch.
If the Crunch play the Falcons, they'd play Fri., May 10 and Sat., May 11 at Springfield, returning home for Games 3-5 May 15, 17 & 18. Should Syracuse draw the Penguins, the Crunch would begin the series at home May 10 and 11. All home games will begin at 7 p.m.
Scouting the 2-Springfield Falcons
The Falcons beat the Manchester Monarchs in four games in their Quarterfinal, with all three of their wins coming in overtime, including two game-winners from Cody Bass. During the regular season, the Falcons and Crunch met twice. The series split began with the Falcons taking a 5-3 decision Feb. 1 in Springfield. The Crunch bounced back with a 3-0 win Feb. 23 in Syracuse. Mark Barberio led Crunch players with four points (1g-3a), including his “goal-of-the-year” marker in the Crunch win, while Cedrick Desjardins recorded a 26-save shutout. Falcons captain Ryan Craig has two goals and an assist vs. Syracuse, while and Nick Drazenovic had three assists in the Springfield win. Head-to-head, the Falcons power play went 2-for-8 and the Crunch’s power play was 3-for-10. The Crunch have never faced Springfield in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Scouting the 5-W-B/Scranton Penguins
The Penguins, the fifth seed in the conference, swept the Binghamton Senators in the opening round. The Crunch and Penguins met eight times this season, with the Crunch holding a 5-3 advantage in the series. Syracuse won the final three, with the last two being shutouts. Those two shutout wins for the Crunch (Feb. 17 and Mar. 20) were the only matches since the turn of the calendar. Former Crunch players Riley Holzapfel and Trevor Smith both had five points in the season series against the Crunch while Brett Connolly and Tyler Johnson countered with seven points apiece. Cedrick Desjardins recorded a shutout in his only start against the Penguins. Meanwhile, Chad Kolarik, one the Penguins leading scorers, only played in one game against the Crunch this season as a member of the Penguins. He was traded from the Connecticut Whale during the season. Syracuse has faced W-B/Scranton once before in the Calder Cup Playoffs, losing to the Penguins 3-2 in a 2001 first-round series.
WEEK IN REVIEW
ECQF Game 3: Crunch sweep Pirates behind Palat's dramatic heroics
Ondrej Palat scored a game-tying goal with 1:12 left in regulation then again with 16.2 seconds left in overtime to give the Crunch a 4-3 win in Game 3 over the Portland Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center. That sent the Crunch past the Pirates three games to zero in their best-of-five Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
The Pirates jumped out to a 1-0 lead with 4:03 left in the first period on an Andy Miele power-play goal, coming from the left wing circle on a feed from Alexandre Bolduc. Radko Gudas answered back for the Crunch with a power-play tally of his own at 6:57 of the second period. He ripped a one-timer past Pirates goaltender Chad Johnson moments after a face-off win by Dan Sexton and just three seconds into the power-play. The Pirates reclaimed the lead just 19 seconds into the third period. Alexandre Bolduc threw the puck towards the goal from behind the net and it found its way between the left pad of Cedrick Desjardins and the post to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Portland pushed the lead to two with a power-play goal by Nick Johnson. He got credit for a deflection on a Mark Stone one-timer from the right point.
But for the second time in three games, the Pirates couldn’t hang on to a two-goal, third period lead. Mike Angelidis scooped up the puck off a nifty pass from J.T. Wyman and wristed it past Johnson to pull the Crunch within one with 6:01 remaining in the third. The Crunch completed the comeback after pulling Cedrick Desjardins for an extra attacker. Brett Connolly gained the zone and moved down the left wing. Just before going behind the net, he back-handed a pass in front where Ondrej Palat banged it home to tie the score, 3-3.
In overtime, both teams had excellent scoring chances, including a breakaway for Portland's Chris Conner, who couldn’t tee up a shot before the puck rolled off his stick. Bolduc then had a chance later in the overtime, on a pass from Miele, but Desjardins made a sprawling save moving to his left before dropping to a snow-angel to keep the puck out. Late in the overtime Matt Taormina took a shot from the right point and Palat swooped in to cash in on a rebound to send the Crunch into the second round of the playoffs. Palat had two goals in the game and finished the series with three goals and four assists. The Crunch outshot the Pirates, 45-18, including 15-4 in overtime.
- Ondrej Palat’s two goals were a playoff career high. He has seven points in three games this postseason, after scoring nine points (4g, 5a) in 18 games last postseason with Norfolk.
- With a point in each of the three games against Portland, Dan Sexton now has points in six of his seven playoff games with the Crunch. He had one goal and two assists in four games last postseason. For his career, Sexton has 11 points (4g, 7a) in 13 playoff games.
- Tyler Johnson posted six points in the first round sweep of the Pirates and he now has 10 points in his last four playoff games. He had two goals and two assists in the Calder Cup clinching win for Norfolk last season.
- Matt Taormina recorded three assists in Game 3. It was the first time this season he had multiple assists in a game and the second time in his AHL postseason career. His last multi-assist game was Dec. 2, 2011 for the Albany Devils. In eight career Calder Cup Playoff games, Taormina has eight points (1g, 7a).
- Radko Gudas's goal in Game 3 was his first in a Crunch uniform since Feb. 13. He played in 15 AHL games (13 regular season, 2 postseason) between goals. It was his first career playoff goal (25 games). Gudas collected two NHL goals in 22 games with Tampa Bay.
- Crunch power play went 4-for-23 (17.4%) in the first round and the penalty kill was 19-for-22 (86.4%).