Game 74 Preview: Crunch vs. Bruins



With their playoff berth secured, the Crunch return home to open their season-ending, three-game homestand tonight against the Providence Bruins.

The Crunch (39-25-7-2) clinched their playoff spot, and completed a three-in-three sweep with a 5-3 win over the Hershey Bears on Sunday.

On the flip side, the Bruins (36-23-4-6) lost all three games of their three-in-three weekend to fall into third place in the Atlantic Division.


The Crunch scored four third-period goals and defeated the Hershey Bears, 5-3, Sunday at Giant Center. The win capped the Crunch’s first three-in-three sweep since March 2015.

After a scoreless opening period, the Bears grabbed the first goal on a power-play strike by Brett Leason at 4:57 of the second. Simon Ryfors answered back for the Crunch later in the period, slipping a puck five hole with 6:05 left in the period.

The Crunch pulled away in the third period, and they took their first lead of the game on a power-play bullet from Charles Hudon at 1:52, good for his 30th goal of the season. Remi Elie scored the first of his two goals at 5:10, and after the Bears got back within one, Gemel Smith immediately answered for the Crunch to make it 4-2. Hershey briefly pulled within one again before Elie hit the empty net to give the Crunch their 5-3 win.


The Crunch currently sit second in the North Division with a 39-25-7-2 record. Syracuse has been the hottest team in the Eastern conference of late, winning four straight games while picking up points in nine of their last ten (8-1-1-0). Their four-game winning streak is tied for their longest this season (Dec. 15-Jan. 8).

Since returning from a 17-game absence due to injury, Remi Elie has been dominant, posting three points (2g, 1a) in his past three games. At 27 points (16g, 11a) in 45 games, he is one point shy of his career high (28), which he set in 53 games with the Texas Stars during the 2016-17 season.

The Crunch currently have six players on a point streak of at least three games. Nick Perbix (2g, 2a), Alex Barré-Boulet (6a), Gabriel Dumont (2g, 3a), and Charles Hudon (6g, 1a) each have at least one point in their last four games. Meanwhile, Simon Ryfors (1g, 4a) and Riley Nash (2g, 2a) have added their names to the scoresheet in each of the past three games.


The Bruins own a 36-23-4-6 record this season and they are locked into third place in the Atlantic Division. Tonight’s game marks the first time since Feb. 1, 2020, that the Bruins have played at Upstate Medical University Arena.

The team is starved for goals, after scoring just two total in a three-game weekend sweep last week. Cameron Hughes leads Providence in points, racking up 45 (14g, 31a) in 59 games with the team.

Rookie Johnny Beecher joined the Bruins after his season at Michigan ended. The Elmira native, who skated as a “future star” at the 2016 AHL All-Star Game in Syracuse, has four points (2g, 2a) in six games with Providence.

In net, the workload has been almost perfectly split between Troy Grosenick and Kyle Keyser. Grosenick leads the AHL in goals-against average (1.99) and save percentage (.933) through 29 games this season. Keyser has been solid as well, posting a 2.81 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.


The Crunch have officially secured their spot in the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs; the Crunch have been involved in the playoffs each season they’ve been held since Ben Groulx took over as head coach ahead of the 2016-17 season.

They can finish second, third or fourth in the division; if they finish either second or third they would face Laval or Belleville in a best-of-five North Division Semifinals. If they fall to fourth, they’ll match up with either Toronto or Rochester in a best-of-three series.


For the first time in his AHL career, Charles Hudon has scored 30 goals; the Quebec native’s previous AHL career high was 28. The last time the 27-year-old hit the 30-goal plateau was in 2012-13 when he played with the Chicoutimi Saugeneens of the QMJHL.

The Crunch forward joins a group of 11 AHL players to score at least 30 goals this season. This is the 18th instance of a player reaching 30 goals with the Crunch and his teammate Gabriel Dumont is at 29 goals.

With one more point, Hudon will also tie a career high for points in a season (57), a total he set in 2014-15 with the Hamilton Bulldogs.


Since joining the Crunch 21 days ago, defenseman Nick Perbix has made an immediate impact on both ends of the ice.

He’s made his presence felt on the offensive end and rides a four-game point streak (2g, 2a) into tonight, registering 10 shots on goal during that stretch. Perbix’s current point streak is his longest in either professional or collegiate competition.

The Minnesotan has been a stalwart on defense, posting a +4 rating over the last four games. He has six points (2g, 4a) in nine Crunch games this season, and he has picked up a point in six games.


Crunch goaltender Max Lagace has been one of the most dominant goalies in the AHL since early March. He is 15-2-2 with a 1.74 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage, with four shutouts, in that span. He is 21-9-2 this season and sits one win shy of his career-high (22), which he achieved when he played for the opposing Bruins in 2019-20.

That year Lagace posted five shutouts and 22 wins, both of which stand as career highs. Lagace just reached 200 career AHL appearances last week.

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