By Scott Kinville/315 Hockey
The Syracuse Crunch and Rochester Americans face off against each other on Saturday night at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse for a winner take all game five in their Calder Cup Playoffs North Division Semifinal series. The winner will advance to face the Toronto Marlies in the North Division Final, as the Marlies earned their spot by defeating the Utica Comets on Friday night. The loser of Saturday night’s game will see their season end.
It’s fitting that the Crunch and Americans have come down to season deciding playoff game, given how evenly matched the regular season and playoffs have been between the teams. In the regular season, they faced each other twelve times with each team winning six times. In the playoffs, each team has won two games (all on their home ice), and have identical percentages on both the power play and penalty kill. Both the Crunch and Americans have a shutout in this series as well.
Taking the similarities further, each team scored three goals in the first and second periods respectively. The Americans do have the goals scored advantage in the third period, netting eight to four by the Crunch. Syracuse has scored the lone overtime goal in the series.
Saturday night is the biggest game of the season for both Syracuse and Rochester. Here are the keys to game five for the Crunch along with a statistical breakdown.
🚨 The Syracuse Big Three
Alex Barré-Boulet, Simon Ryfors, and Gage Goncalves led the Syracuse Crunch in scoring during the regular season, and they are doing it once again in the playoffs. Barré-Boulet is building on an MVP-caliber regular season by leading the Crunch in points with seven (one goal and six assists) and is currently tied for fifth in the AHL. Goncalves and Ryfors lead Syracuse in goals scored with three each, which tied them for third overall in the Calder Cup Playoffs to this point.
Despite losing game three, all three were tremendous in that contest. They, along with the rest of the Crunch, were held off the scoresheet in game four by Malcolm Subban and the rest of the Amerks. If the Syracuse big three can get going again in game five, it will vastly improve the chances the Crunch are able to advance to the next round.
🚨 Scheduling Quirk
A scheduling quirk in this series may have an overall effect on both teams. With this series going to its maximum five games, it has now entered its third weekend of play. Athletes and especially hockey players are creatures of habit, so having extended delays between games is not easy to deal with. It has been six nights since the teams last played, whichever one gets their legs first could be a difference-maker on Saturday night.
Syracuse’s Max Lagace and Rochester’s Malcolm Subban have been mainstays in their respective team’s nets for the entire series. Both have two wins and one shutout, but Subban has been the busier of the two. He has made 120 saves to Lagace’s 80 and has the better save percentage (0.923 to 0.879). As good as Hugo Alnefelt was in the regular season, he has yet to see any action in the playoffs so one would have to assume Coach Groulx with stick with the veteran Lagace in game five.
🚨 Stay Disciplined
The Crunch and the Americans are both operating at 25% on the power play, but the Crunch has given the Americans four more chances with the man advantage than they have received. Syracuse has the third most PIM in the Calder Cup Playoffs (Rochester is thirteenth), staying disciplined in game five will be key to keeping the other team’s dangerous power play units off of the ice.
Statistics are for the Calder Cup Playoffs only and based on 23 teams instead of the entire league.
Syracuse Crunch Team Records
- Overall Record: 2-2.
- Home Record: 2-0.
- Away Record: 0-2.
- Goal Differential: -3.
- Head Coach: Ben Groulx.
Rochester Americans Team Records
- Overall Record: 2-2.
- Home Record: 2-0.
- Away Record: 0-2.
- Goal Differential: +3.
- Head Coach: Seth Appert.
Syracuse Crunch Team Offense
- Goals For: 11.
- Goals Per Game: 2.75 (13th in the AHL).
- Shots: 131.
- Shots Per Game: 32.75 (5th in the AHL).
- Power Play: 25% (3 for 12 – 7th in the AHL).
Rochester Americans Team Offense
- Goals For: 14.
- Goals Per Game: 3.50 (8th in the AHL).
- Shots: 94.
- Shots Per Game: 23.50 (22nd in the AHL).
- Power Play: 25% (4 for 16 – 6th in the AHL).
Syracuse Crunch Top Five Scorers = Individual Leaders
1.) Alex Barré-Boulet: 1 goal + 6 assists = 7 points. Barré-Boulet is tied for 3rd in the AHL in assists and tied for 5th in points.
2.) Gage Goncalves: 3 goals +2 assists = 5 points. Goncalves is tied for 3rd in the AHL in goals.
3.) Simon Ryfors: 3 goals + 2 assists = 5 points. Ryfors is tied for 3rd in the AHL in goals.
4.) Cole Koepke: 0 goals + 3 assists = 3 points.
5.) Four tied with two points each.
- Shots Leader: Declan Carlile and Cole Koepke with fourteen each.
- Power Play Goals Leader: Alex Barré-Boulet, Declan Carlile, and Felix Robert with one each.
- Power Play Points Leader: Cole Koepke with two (two assists).
- Shorthanded Goals Leader: None.
- Game Winning Goals Leader: Ryan Jones and Philippe Myers with one each.
- +/- Leader: Gage Goncalves and Philippe Myers at +3 each.
- PIM Leader: Trevor Carrick with sixteen. Carrick is 9th in the AHL in PIM.
Rochester Americans Top Five Scorers + Individual Leaders
1.) Michael Mersch: 3 goals + 2 assists = 5 points. Mersch is tied for 3rd in the AHL in goals.
2.) Brett Murray: 1 goal + 3 assists = 4 points.
3.) Linus Weissbach: 1 goal + 3 assists = 4 points.
4/5) Four-tied at three points each.
- Shots Leader: Michael Mersch with sixteen.
- Power Play Goals Leader: Jiri Kulich with two.
- Power Play Points Leader: Four with two each.
- Shorthanded Goals Leader: Mason Jobst with one.
- Game Winning Goals Leader: Jiri Kulich and Michael Mersch with one each.
- +/- Leader: Jeremy Davies at +4.
- PIM Leader: Joseph Cecconi with fourteen. Cecconi is 14th in the AHL in PIM.
Syracuse Crunch Team Defense
- Goals Against: 14.
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.50 (14th in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 94.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 23.50 (3rd in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 75.0% (12 for 16 – 17th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: None.
Rochester Americans Team Defense
- Goals Against: 11.
- Goals Against Per Game: 2.75 (8th in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 131.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 32.75 (19th in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 75.0% (9 for 12 – 16th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: One.
Syracuse Crunch Goaltenders
- Max Lagace: Record: 2-2 / GAA: 2.75 / Save Percentage: 0.879 / Saves: 80/ Shutouts: 1. Lagace is tied for 7th in the AHL in wins and 15th in GAA.
- Hugo Alnefelt: No playoff statistics.
- Jack LaFontaine: No playoff statistics.
Rochester Americans Goaltenders
- Malcolm Subban: Record: 2-2 / GAA: 2.51 / Save Percentage: 0.923 / Saves: 120 / Shutouts: 1. Subban is tied for 7th in the AHL in wins, 9th in save percentage, and 11th in GAA.
- Michael Houser: No playoff statistics.
Saturday night’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 pm EDT. Radio coverage will be on ESPN Radio Syracuse, and the television broadcast will be on AHLTV. For more information on the Syracuse Crunch including ticket purchases, visit https://syracusecrunch.com.
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