CRUNCH HEAD INTO CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS
The Crunch wrapped up the regular season, secured second place in the North Division and now leap into the Calder Cup Playoffs starting Friday in Syracuse.
The Crunch earned wins Wednesday and Friday over Providence and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to lock up home ice advantage in the North Division Semifinals. Their loss in the regular season finale set up the first ever playoff match up with the Laval Rocket. The best-of-five series opens with a pair of Crunch homes games Friday and Saturday.
Syracuse has now qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs in four consecutive seasons in which the playoffs were held (2016-19, 2021-22); the playoffs were cancelled in 2020 and 2021. This is now the longest streak in franchise history.
Goaltender Max Lagace won his two starts in Week 29 to help secure home ice advantage for the Crunch, and in the process he closed the regular season on a personal eight-game winning streak. He allowed two or fewer goals in his last seven appearances to finish the season with a career high 23 wins. He ended 23-9-2 with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
Lagace was named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Month of April after notching a 9-1-1 record with a 1.56 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. He became the first Crunch goaltender since Andrei Vasilevskiy in December 2014 to win that award.
The Crunch finished the regular season in second place in the North Division with a 41-26-7-2 record. It’s the eighth season with 40 or more wins for the Crunch, three of which have come under current head coach Ben Groulx (2017-18 and 2018-19). Along the way, Groulx became the winningest head coach in franchise history with 221 wins (set April 29 vs. W-B/Scranton); Groulx is 221-126-28-23 (0.619) in his six seasons in Syracuse.
Down the stretch, the Crunch set a new franchise record with a 12-game home winning streak (March 13-April 29), eclipsing the 11-game mark set at the end of the 2007-08 season. Max Lagace started and won all 12 games during the streak, logging a 1.40 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage in those games.
Syracuse dominated on home ice in 2022, going 21-5-1-1 (0.786) at Upstate Medical University Arena starting in January. The Crunch ended with a 24-11-1-2 record at home, the fifth-best home record in the Eastern Conference.
The Crunch finished the season with a pair of 30-goal scorers in Charles Hudon and Gabriel Dumont, the first time either of those players scored 30 goals. It was the 18th and 19th instances of a player scoring 30 goals for the Crunch. It’s the seventh time in franchise history the team has had at least two 30-goal scorers; it’s the first time since Alex Barré-Boulet and Carter Verhaeghe both scored 34 in the 2018-19 season.
UPCOMING: NORTH DIVISION SEMIFINALS VS. LAVAL
The Crunch square off against the Laval Rocket in the North Division Semifinals, a best-of-five series that begins with a pair of home games this weekend. The Crunch host Game 1 on Friday, May 6 and Game 2 on Saturday, May 7. The series shifts to Laval for Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary); if the series goes the distance, Game 5 is scheduled for May 17 in Syracuse.
The Rocket won five of the eight regular season meetings between the teams, but their series-clinching win came in the final game of the season, with the Crunch resting multiple key players. That was the only game won by the road team during the regular season series; the match up features two of the top home teams in the AHL. Although the series was close, the games weren’t, with six of the eight decided by three or more goals.
Gabriel Dumont led the Crunch with six goals in seven games against Laval. Nate Schnarr ended the season with 11 points in 12 games against the Crunch, playing for both Utica and Laval.
WEEK 29 RESULTS
Wednesday, April 27 | Game 74 vs. Providence | W, 2-1 (OT)
Providence 1 0 0 0 – 1 Shots: 9-10-7-3-29 PP: 1/5
Syracuse 1 0 0 1 – 2 Shots: 12-19-14-3-48 PP: 1/5
1st Period-Raddysh 7 (Ryfors, Walcott), 4:48. Overtime-Nash 10 (Perbix, Barré-Boulet), 2:17 (PP). . . . Lagace 22-9-2 (29 shots-28 saves) A-4,333
Friday, April 29 | Game 75 vs. W-B/Scranton | W, 4-1
W-B/Scranton 0 1 0 – 1 Shots: 9-4-8-21 PP: 0/4
Syracuse 1 2 1 – 4 Shots: 8-14-15-37 PP: 1/3
1st Period-Elie 17 (Carlile, Green), 12:48. 2nd Period-Ryfors 11 (Elie), 7:57. Dumont 30 (Barré-Boulet, Hudon), 16:48 (PP). 3rd Period-Green 5 (Unassisted), 19:41. . . . Lagace 23-9-2 (21 shots-20 saves) A-4,763
Saturday, April 30 | Game 76 vs. Laval | L, 5-1
Laval 2 2 1 – 5 Shots: 9-7-15-31 PP: 1/4
Syracuse 1 0 0 – 1 Shots: 11-9-5-25 PP: 0/2
1st Period-Goncalves 17 (Perbix, Cajkovic), 8:03. . . . Alnefelt 10-7-4 (31 shots-26 saves) A-5,461
|Category||Average/Total||AHL Rank (Prev)|
|Power Play||18.6% (48-for-258)||22nd (22nd)|
|Penalty Kill||80.0% (208-for-260)||20th (21st)|
|Goals For||3.18 GFA (242)||12th (12th)|
|Goals Against||3.01 GAA (229)||15th (T-15th)|
|Shots For||32.34 SF/G (2458)||6th (6th)|
|Shots Against||26.67 SA/G (2027)||3rd (3rd)|
|Penalty Minutes||11.58 PIM/G (880)||24th (22nd)|
|North Division||GP||W||L||OTL||SOL||PTS||PCT||GF||GA||PIM||HOME||ROAD||LAST 10||STREAK||S/O|
|1. y Utica||72||43||20||8||1||95||0.660||246||206||812||23-8-4-1||20-12-4-0||4-4-2-0||1-0-0-0||2-1|
|2. x Syracuse||76||41||26||7||2||91||0.599||242||229||880||24-11-1-2||17-15-6-0||8-2-0-0||0-1-0-0||1-2|
|3. x Laval||72||39||26||5||2||85||0.590||246||231||871||24-8-3-1||15-18-2-1||5-3-2-0||2-0-1-0||2-2|
|4. x Belleville||72||40||28||4||0||84||0.583||219||218||902||19-15-2-0||21-13-2-0||7-3-0-0||2-0-0-0||5-0|
|5. x Rochester||76||37||29||7||3||84||0.553||254||270||942||20-13-3-2||17-16-4-1||5-3-2-0||1-0-0-0||3-3|