- The Crunch are Eastern Conference Champions and will play in the Calder Cup Finals for the first time.
- Ondrej Palat's 20 points (5g, 15a) are most in the AHL this postseason and third in Crunch playoff history.
- Syracuse hosts either Oklahoma City or Grand Rapids Saturday and Sunday to begin the Calder Cup Finals.
Calder Cup finals
(3) Syracuse Crunch vs. TBD - Best-of-seven series
Game 1 - Sat., June 8 - TBD at Syracuse - 7 p.m.
Game 2 - Sun., June 9 - TBD at Syracuse - 6 p.m.
Game 3 - TBD - Syracuse at TBD
Game 4 - TBD - Syracuse at TBD
*Game 5 - TBD - Syracuse at TBD
*Game 6 - TBD - TBD at Syracuse
*Game 7 - TBD - TBD at Syracuse *if neccessary
Calder Cup Finals bound, Crunch await Western Conference Champion
The Syracuse Crunch will play in the Calder Cup Finals after capturing a conference championship for the first time in club history Saturday. Before a crowd of 5,615 at the War Memorial Arena, the Crunch defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 7-0, to win the best-of-seven series in five games. For winning the Eastern Conference title, the Crunch will be awarded the Richard F. Canning Trophy prior to Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals, June 8 at the War Memorial. Syracuse is 11-1 during the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs, having swept the Portland Pirates, 3-0, and Springfield Falcons, 4-0, in the first two rounds. Next in line for Syracuse is the winner of the Western Conference Final series, either Grand Rapids or Oklahoma City.
The Grand Rapids Griffins, the three seed in the Western Conference, won the Midwest Division with 92 points, the fewest of any division winner in the AHL. The Griffins beat the Houston Aeros in five games in the first round and eliminated the Toronto Marlies in six games in the Western Conference Semifinals. They currently hold a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals. The Crunch and the Griffins did not play during the regular season. In the playoffs, the Griffins are led by Tomas Tatar (10g-5a-15p), Luke Glendening (5g-6a-11p), and Tomas Jurco (5g-6a-11p). The Griffins have added center Joakim Andersson and forward Gustav Nyquist from Detroit since the Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Former Crunch forward Nathan Paetsch has five assists in 16 playoff games for the Griffins. In goal, Petr Mrazek has a 10-6 postseason record, with a 1.95 goal-against average and a .927 save percentage, along with four shutouts.
The Oklahoma City Barons are the five seed in the Western Conference, finishing third in the South Division with 91 points. They beat the Charlotte Checkers in five games in the opening round of the playoffs and eliminated the top seed Texas Stars in five games in the second round. They won two of the first three games against Grand Rapids, but have lost the last two. The Crunch and Barons have not played during the regular season. The Barons are led by Mark Arcobello (10g-7a-17p), Teemu Hartikainen (6g-8a-14p), and Toni Rajala (3g-11a-14p). Arcobello is tied with Tyler Johnson for second in playoff scoring. Rajala is the leading rookie scorer. Former Crunch forward Josh Green has 12 points (4g, 8a) in 15 playoff games for the Barons. Goaltender Yann Danis is 9-6 with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage, with one shutout.
Eastern Conference final
(3) Syracuse Crunch vs. (5) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins - Syracuse wins, 4-1
Game 1 - Sat., May 25 - W-B/S at Syracuse - L, 4-2
Game 2 - Sun., May 26 - W-B/S at Syracuse - W, 3-2
Game 3 - Wed., May 29 - Syracuse at W-B/S - W, 2-0
Game 4 - Fri., May 31 - Syracuse at W-B/S - W, 4-2
Game 5 - Sat., June 1 - W-B/S at Syracuse - W, 7-0
WEEK IN REVIEW
ECF Game 3: Syracuse takes Conference Final series lead
Vladislav Namestnikov scored his first professional playoff goal and Cedrick Desjardins stopped all 22 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton shots as the Crunch beat the Penguins 2-0 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Crunch grabbed a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series.
After a scoreless first frame, Namestnikov scored 7:29 into the second period to give the Crunch a 1-0 lead. Ondrej Palat forced a turnover in the Crunch defensive zone and transitioned the other way. Palat's shot was saved by Brad Thiessen, but Namestnikov picked up the rebound at the right goal line and curled all the way to the high slot before slapping one past Thiessen. Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins held the Pens at bay, and J.T. Brown potted an empty netter with five seconds left in the third period for a 2-0 win.
The Penguins went 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Crunch were 0-for-4. Of the game's 15 penalties, 11 were assessed in the first, four in the second and none in the third. Desjardins stopped 22 shots, facing only five in the third period. The shutout was his second of the playoffs and third in his Calder Cup Playoff career. It was the first road shutout for the Crunch since Riku Helenius blanked the Pens, 3-0, Feb. 17.
ECF Game 4: Comeback Crunch power past Pens
The Crunch overcame a pair of one-goal deficits to beat the Penguins, 4-2, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre. The Crunch take a three games to one lead in the series and are one win away from a trip to the Calder Cup Finals.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton grabbed the lead with a power-play goal from Scott Harrington, playing in his first professional game, on a shot from the high slot that beat Cedrick Desjardins who had lost his stick earlier in the play. Brendan Mikkelson answered back for the Crunch 1:17 later on a one-timer from the right point to knot the game, 1-1, with 5:03 left in the first period.
The Penguins took another one-goal lead on a Jayson Megna goal with 3:20 to go in the second period, capitalizing on a Crunch turnover. But again, that lead was short-lived. Just 1:32 later, Brett Connolly deflected a Mark Barberio shot past Brad Thiessen to even the score at 2-2. The Crunch would grab their first lead just 1:50 into the third on Tyler Johnson’s one-time shot on a feed from Palat from behind the net. The Crunch then survived a late Penguins power play, and J.T. Wyman, coming out of the penalty box, scored the empty-net goal to make it a 4-2 final.
ECF Game 5: Syracuse wins Eastern Conference Championship on home ice
Philippe Paradis registered a hat trick and Cedrick Desjardins posted his second shutout of the series as the Crunch beat the Penguins 7-0 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final Saturday at the War Memorial. The largest win in Crunch playoff history clinched a spot in the Calder Cup Finals for the first time in club history, winning the series, 4-1. Four players had three points: Barberio (3a), Paradis (3g), Sexton (1g, 2a) and Sustr (3a).
Vladislav Namestnikov started the scoring 16:04 into the first period, chopping home a fluttering puck after an Andrej Sustr shot was deflected by goalie Jeff Zatkoff. Then, just 52 seconds later, just after an offensive zone draw with J.T. Wyman setting a screen, Radko Gudas wristed a right-point shot past Zatkoff for a 2-0 lead. The Crunch did not relent in second period, and Philippe Paradis scored his first goal in a Crunch uniform with a wrap-around goal. Dan Sexton and Ondrej Palat scored later in the middle stanza to bump the lead to 5-0.
In the third period, Paradis continued his offensive explosion by scoring his second of the game on a snap shot from the right circle. Less than five minutes later, he completed the hat trick with a sniper wrist shot. It was his first career hat trick and his second multi-goal game as a pro. Cedrick Desjardins stopped 23 shots for his third shutout of the playoffs, and his second of the series, as the Crunch rolled to the 7-0 win and the Richard F. Canning Trophy as Eastern Conference Champions.
- With two assists in Game 5 against W-B/Scranton, Ondrej Palat extended his league lead in postseason scoring at 20 points. Palat's 15 postseason assists are also tops in the league.
- Now third on the Crunch all-time postseason scoring list behind Brad Moran (28 points in 22 games, 2000-04) and Lonny Bohonos (26 points in 19 games, 1995-97), Palat holds the Crunch single playoff scoring record, having played only 12 games. Denny Felsner and Scott Walker previously held the Crunch single playoff scoring record with 17 points each in 1996, playing 14 and 16 games, respectively.
- Tyler Johnson is tied with Oklahoma City’s Mark Arcobello for second in postseason scoring with 17 points each. Johnson leads Syracuse with nine goals, one short of the league lead. Johnson is tied for the league lead in game-winning goals, notching one in each series thus far.
- Mark Barberio owns the AHL lead for postseason scoring among defensemen at 10 points (3g, 7a). His three helpers in Game 5 of the Conference Final (his first multi-point game of the playoffs) tied a Syracuse postseason record. Barberio had three assists in a game twice during the regular season: Dec. 7 vs. Hamilton and Feb. 1 at Springfield. He had nine points (2g, 7a) in 18 playoff games last season.
- Andrej Sustr also had three assists Saturday in Game 5, his first career three-point effort. A feat not accomplished since May 5, 2008 when Zenon Konopka registered three assists (and a goal), the 2013 Crunch have five times equaled the franchise record of three assists by one player in a playoff game: Palat, Apr. 27; Taormina, May 2; Palat, May 11; Barberio and Sustr, June 1.
- With a plus-2 in each of the last three games, Matt Taormina leads the AHL in postseason plus-minus at plus-15. Tyler Johnson (+13), J.P. Cote (+12) and Ondrej Palat (+12) have the next highest marks on the Crunch roster. Taormina has nine points (2g, 7a), second most in the league among defensemen.
- With a goal and two assists in Game 5, Dan Sexton had a multi-point performance for the third time in his AHL playoff career. The other two instances came in 2010 for the Manitoba Moose. Sexton, who now has 10 points (4g, 6a) in the playoffs, is third in Crunch scoring, tied with Mark Barberio.
- Vlad Namestnikov has a three-game scoring streak (2g, a) for the first time in his professional career. He scored his first playoff goal to open the scoring in ECF Game 3, May 29 in Wilkes-Barre. That marker stood as the game-winner, the first of Namestnikov's pro career. The rookie had 21 points (7g, 14a) in 44 regular season games.
- Phil Paradis's hat trick in Game 5, the first of his pro career, is the second in Crunch playoff history. Tyler Johnson had the first earlier this postseason, May 11, in ECSF Game 2 at Springfield. Paradis had recorded one goal in 44 regular season games between Rockford and Syracuse. With Paradis's hat trick, the first three postseason points of his career, every Crunch skater has multiple points except Brian Lee and Cedric Paquette.
- Cedrick Desjardins has six shutouts in 26 games with the Crunch (including three in the postseason). His previous six shutouts spanned 78 AHL games and three different teams (Norfolk, Lake Erie, and Hamilton) and three different regular seasons.
- Desjardins's three shutouts this postseason breaks a Crunch record, as Mike Fountain and J.F. Labbe had two each in 1996 and 2002, respectively. Desjardins now has four shutouts in his Calder Cup Playoff career.
- With 11 wins against one loss, Desjardins is the winningest goalie in Crunch postseason history. Karl Goehring was 9-8 in 18 career Crunch playoff appearances (a club record) while Mike Fountain was 8-9 in 17 Crunch playoff games. Desjardins's 1.86 goals-against average this postseason is fourth in the league, and below the Crunch single playoff low of 2.02 set by Corey Hirsch in 1998.
- The Crunch's Game 5 victory was their 43rd playoff win, and with an all-time Calder Cup Playoffs record of 43-42, Syracuse is over .500 in the for the first time since 1996, their first postseason appearance, when they lost in the Southern Conference Final.