SYRACUSE Two rounds down, two rounds to go – that’s the Syracuse Crunch, in hot pursuit of the Calder Cup, as it’s reached the final four for just the second time in its 20-year history.
Back on Wednesday evening Crunch returned home with a 2-0 lead in its conference semifinal against the Springfield Falcons and moved one step closer in advancing to the third round of the AHL playoffs.
Syracuse posted its sixth consecutive victory, knocking off struggling Springfield 3-0 in front of a disappointingly small crowd of 3,135 spectators inside the War Memorial.
The Crunch's offense relied upon short-handed opportunities to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Andrei Palat and Tyler Johnson scored those goals to put things away. In addition, the Crunch's defense preserved another shutout, as it blocked 13 shots and delivered 15 hits, as net-minder Cedrick Desjardins posted 24 saves.
Following that up, the Crunch won its franchise-best seven games in a row and completed its second straight sweep by defeating Springfield 5-2 Friday to close out that best-of-seven series.
Before the season had even started, the Crunch was projected to have a deep playoff run and a very respectable shot at winning the Calder Cup, a milestone that most of the returning players accomplished with Norfolk last season.
“Our expectations were always to be here,”said Syracuse forward J.T. Wyman, who scored twice in Game 4. “It was very clear from the start of the season. I think we're happy that we have reached this far. But we're not satisfied.”
Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler has done a tremendous job directing the team. He took over from Jon Cooper who left to join the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning with 20 games left in the regular season.
“I think about the foundation that Jon Cooper built in Syracuse and what was expected of the players,” Zettler said .