Syracuse Crunch Swept by Toronto in Calder Cup Second Round

Published on May 13, 2018

Story and photo by Corey Crisan

Syracuse, N.Y. — The Syracuse Crunch’s Eastern Conference title defense ended on Tuesday at the hands of the Toronto Marlies. Following a 7-1 beatdown of the Crunch on Sunday, the Marlies capped the series off with a 2-1 win on Tuesday in Syracuse. It was somewhat of a revenge series for the Marlies, as Syracuse beat Toronto in seven games in the second round of last year’s playoffs.

Toronto used two Syracuse penalties to jump ahead to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period. Syracuse’s Ben Thomas went off for holding with 15:40 remaining in the period. It took 32 seconds from that point for the Marlies to get on the board with its first power play goal of the game. Marlies left winger Dmytro Timashov rifled one past Crunch goaltender Connor Ingram, with help from right winger Ben Smith and center Chris Mueller, to give Toronto a 1-0 lead with 15:08 to play in the period.

Converting the Power Play

The Crunch squandered its second power play opportunity a few minutes later, attempting just one shot on goal in the two-minute span. Less than a minute after Toronto was back at full strength, Syracuse’s Alex Gallant laid a big hit on Marlies defenseman Justin Holl, ensuing a small scrum in the right corner of Toronto’s end.

Gallant was assessed a five-minute major penalty and was given a 10-minute game misconduct penalty in addition. Toronto took advantage.

With 1:31 left on the power play, Marlies left winger Andreas Johnsson netted a slap shot from inside the blue line to give Toronto a 2-0 lead with 5:04 left in the period. Defenseman Timothy Liljegren and left winger Pierre Engvall assisted on the goal.

Toronto converted both of its power play chances in the period. Syracuse went 0-for-2 on such chances. Toronto out-shot Syracuse, 10-9, in the first.

The second period was quite the opposite of the first period for the Crunch. Right winger Mathieu Joseph was whistled for hooking at the 13:01 mark, but that was the only advantage the Marlies were given throughout the second. Even so, Toronto could not get a shot on goal during the power play.

A 4-on-4 chance came by 16 seconds after Joseph’s penalty ended. Syracuse’s Dominik Mason and Toronto’s Carl Grundstrom were called for incidental roughing penalties. Toronto put two shots on goal against Syracuse, but Ingram gloved one and smothered the deflection of the other.

Toronto out-shot Syracuse, 9-4, in the second, but no goals were scored in the period.

Syracuse killed a Toronto power play chance with 14:37 to play. Shortly after, Syracuse missed on a breakaway opportunity by center Mitchell Stephens. He threw a shot attempt to the top right shelf of the net, but Marlies goaltender Garret Sparks made the shoulder pad save.

Time to Rally

Syracuse was rewarded later in the period.

Defenseman Reid McNeill buried a slap shot from between the circles to cut Toronto’s lead to 2-1 with 9:31 to play in regulation. Centers Kevin Lynch and Carter Verhaeghe assisted on the goal.

Syracuse pulled goaltender Connor Ingram with 1:40 left in regulation. The Crunch attempted two shots on goal following, but Sparks did not allow Syracuse to tie the game.

Sparks stopped 21 of 22 Crunch shots en route to the Marlies’ 2-1 victory. Toronto completed the 4-0 sweep of the Crunch and will face the winner of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Charlotte Checkers series in the Calder Cup’s Eastern Conference Final.

Syracuse finishes the 2017-18 season with a 24-12-2-1 record at the War Memorial and finished second-place in the AHL’s North Division. They finished in fourth-place overall in the Eastern Conference. Syracuse swept the Rochester Americans, 3-0, in the first round of the playoffs before being swept 4-0 by the Marlies.