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Crunch to the Eastern Conference Finals

Crunch to the Eastern Conference Finals

For the second year in a row, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate is running rough shod through the AHL playoffs. Last year, it was the Norfolk Admirals, winning 15 out of 18 games on their way to the Calder Cup championship.

This year, it’s the Syracuse Crunch, who have clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals by winning seven in a row, a franchise record, en route to two consecutive sweeps to start the postseason.

The line of Tyler Johnson-Ondrej Palat-Richard Panik has led the way for Syracuse in the postseason, scoring 37 of the team’s 79 points in the playoffs, according to the official website of the Syracuse Crunch.

The team hasn’t had much trouble so far, disposing of the Portland Pirates in 3 games in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, winning 4-3, 4-2 and 4-3. On Friday night, they finished off a four-game sweep of the Springfield Falcons, who had the second-best record in the AHL during the regular season.

Syracuse took the first two games on the road, 5-2 and 5-3, before needing only two home games to close out the Falcons. Cedrick Desjardins picked up a shutout in Game 3, winning 3-0 — Desjardins has stopped 163 of 178 shots in the playoffs for a .916 save percentage.

Crunch to the Eastern Conference Finals

Rob Zettler, who is now the head coach of the Syracuse Crunch, stands behind the bench in an October game against the Hershey Bears. The AHL season got underway well before the lockout ended at the NHL level.
(AP/Dick Blume)

He also carries a 2.02 goals-against average into the Eastern Conference Finals.

On Friday night, it was a 5-2 victory with two goals from JT Wyman that ended the series. Mark Barberio, Matt Taormina and Dan Sexton also scored in the game.

It’s amazing that the Crunch are so good while the Lightning were so bad. Maybe I’ll just move to Syracuse…

The Crunch will await the winner of the series between the Providence Bruins and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Providence holds a 3-1 series lead entering Saturday night’s game five.

Taylor Gaines
Tampa Bay Lightning fan pursuing a career as a journalist at the University of Florida.
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