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Syracuse Crunch Weekly Release – May 14, 2024

Credit: Syracuse Crunch

CRUNCH ADVANCE TO NORTH DIVISION FINALS  

The Crunch won Game 5 of the North Division Semifinals last Friday in Rochester in a winner-take-all game to earn their spot in the North Division Finals.

Syracuse Crunch players celebrate winning their American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup Playoff Series win over the Rochester Americans at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York on Friday, May 10, 2024. Syracuse won 5-2. Photo credit: Syracuse Crunch.

Felix Robert picked up two points and Cole Koepke delivered a pair of goals as the Crunch led the whole way in front of over 10,000 fans. It was the Crunch’s third-ever win in a winner-take-all game and their first on the road since 1996 vs. Baltimore.

Rochester Americans goalie Devon Levi (27) makes a save against Syracuse Crunch Felix Robert (36) in American Hockey League (AHL) playoff action at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York on Friday, May 10, 2024. Syracuse won 5-2. Photo credit: Syracuse Crunch.

The Crunch picked up their first series win since 2018 and now move on to the North Division Finals, where they’ll face the Cleveland Monsters, who won the regular season division title on the final day of the season. The best-of-five series begins this Thursday at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

TOP PERFORMERS

Cole Koepke delivered a two-goal performance in Game 5 to help the Crunch earn a 5-2 win in the series clincher. He is the first Crunch player since Cory Conacher in Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals versus Providence to score two goals in a series-clinching game.

Syracuse Crunch Cole Koepke (45) beats Rochester Americans goalie Devon Levi (27) with a shot over the glove for a goal in American Hockey League (AHL) playoff action at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York on Friday, May 10, 2024. Syracuse won 5-2. Photo credit: Syracuse Crunch.

Koepke finished the series with three goals over the final two games, tying for the team lead in goals against Rochester. He has five goals and nine points in 15 career Calder Cup Playoff games for the Crunch.

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Waltteri Merelä scored his second game-winning goal of the series in Game 5 against the Amerks. His tally gave the Crunch a 3-1 lead in the second period and held up as the winner; Merelä also scored the double-overtime winner in Game 3. He had two game-winning goals in 55 regular season games.

Syracuse Crunch Tristan Allard (14) skating with the puck against Rochester Americans Isak Rosen (18) in American Hockey League (AHL) playoff action at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York on Friday, May 10, 2024. Syracuse won 5-2. Photo credit: Syracuse Crunch.

The Finnish forward rides a three-game goal streak into the division finals, making him the first Crunch player since Mathieu Joseph (2018) to score a goal in three straight playoff games.

Merelä is in his first season in North America after claiming back-to-back championships in Finland the last two seasons. He scored nine goals and had 22 points in 29 playoff games over the two years. 

MOVING ON

The Crunch earned their first playoff series victory in six years with their Game 5 win against Rochester. Their previous series win came against the Amerks in the 2018 North Division Semifinals. The Crunch had lost four straight series starting with the 2018 North Division Finals versus Toronto.

Syracuse Crunch Cole Koepke (45) shoots the puck past Rochester Americans Tyson Kozak (44) for a goal in American Hockey League (AHL) playoff action at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York on Friday, May 10, 2024. Syracuse won 5-2. Photo credit: Syracuse Crunch.

The Crunch have won 12 playoff series in team history. The last time they won more than one in a season was in 2017, when they advanced to the Calder Cup Finals.

CRUNCH MEET MONSTERS IN THIRD ROUND  

Game 1 – Thu., May 16 – Syracuse at Cleveland, 7:00

Game 2 – Sat., May 18 – Syracuse at Cleveland, 1:00

Game 3 – Wed., May 22 – Cleveland at Syracuse, 7:00

*Game 4 – Fri., May 24 – Cleveland at Syracuse, 7:00

*Game 5 – Sun., May 26 – Syracuse at Cleveland, 3:00

*if necessary

The Crunch face off against the Cleveland Monsters in the North Division Finals. It’s the second playoff series between the clubs; the Monsters defeated the Crunch in four games during the 2019 North Division Semifinals. That was Cleveland’s most recent playoff series win until they bested the Belleville Senators in this year’s division semifinals.

Syracuse Crunch Declan Carlile (72) battles for the puck with Rochester Americans Linus Weissbach (13) in American Hockey League (AHL) playoff action at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York on Friday, May 10, 2024. Syracuse won 5-2. Photo credit: Syracuse Crunch.

The teams met four times in the regular season with both teams winning twice. The final two meetings – both in Syracuse – required overtime. The teams have not met since the Crunch’s 3-2 shootout win on Jan. 13.

UPCOMING WEEK

Thursday, May 16 at Cleveland | 7 p.m.            

The Crunch and Monsters begin their North Division Finals Thursday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Both the Crunch and Monsters rallied in their respective division semifinals despite dropping Game 1s to Rochester and Belleville. The Crunch’s win over the Amerks was their first series win when losing Game 1 since the 2017 North Division Semifinals versus St. John’s; they are 5-9 in series when losing the first game.

Syracuse Crunch and Rochester Americans players in one of the many scrums after the whistle during an American Hockey League (AHL) playoff game at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York on Friday, May 10, 2024. Syracuse won 5-2. Photo credit: Syracuse Crunch.

The Monsters are 6-2 all-time in Game 1s; they are 5-1 in series when winning the first game and 1-1 when losing the opening game of a series. 

Saturday, May 18 at Cleveland | 1 p.m.              

The Crunch and Monsters contest Game 2 of the North Divison Finals at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Saturday afternoon. The teams met twice in Cleveland during the regular season. The Crunch spoiled the Monsters’ home opener with a 5-0 win on Oct. 20, but Cleveland responded with a 4-2 win the next day to earn a split of the weekend series. 

The Crunch have a 4-2-2-2 record at Cleveland over the last five seasons.

WEEK 31 RESULTS

Friday, May 10 | NDSF Game 5 at Rochester | W, 5-2

Syracuse        2 1 2 – 5     Shots: 8-8-4-20            PP: 0/3

Rochester      1 1 0 – 2     Shots: 4-7-7-18            PP: 1/3

1st Period-Carlile 1 (Crozier, Goncalves), 2:28. Koepke 2 (Lilleberg, Barré-Boulet), 9:43. 2nd Period-Merelä 3 (Robert), 8:35. 3rd Period-Koepke 3 (Barré-Boulet, Stephens), 14:50. Robert 1 (Goncalves, Crozier), 16:49 (EN). . . . Halverson 3-1-1 (18 shots-16 saves) A-10,758

CategoryAverage/TotalAHL Rank (Reg)
Power Play6.7% (1-for-15) 20th (T-9th)
Penalty Kill70.0% (3-for-10)T-20th (T-8th)
Goals For3.20 GFA (16)5th (T-17th)
Goals Against2.60 GAA (13)7th (T-9th)
Shots For39.40 SF/G (197)2nd (23rd)
Shots Against30.40 SA/G (152)14th (3rd)
Penalty Minutes5.20 PIM/G (26)23rd (19th)
Category Leader
Points6Goncalves
Goals2Koepke|Merelä
Assists5Goncalves
PIM6Walcott
Plus/Minus+5Carlile
Wins3Halverson
GAA2.23Halverson
Save %.914Halverson
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