Crunch Sweep Phantoms From Post-Season

By Jeff Parzych
Take Series With 3-1 Win

After Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over the Phantoms in Game 2, a contest that saw the Crunch explode for four goals in the third period for the win, this reporter was in the process of completing an interview with Syracuse forward David Ling by asking one last question. Having won the first two at home, I asked, would you like to go down to Philly and win the first one to keep the Phantoms from building any momentum in the series. At the time it seemed like a good question. In hindsight, especially after Linger deadpanned “why wouldn’t you” with a sly grin, I realized different.

Either way, dumb question or not, that is exactly what transpired. The Crunch, after falling behind by a goal early, came from behind to defeat the Phantoms 3-1 and advance to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. The contest proved to be another classic example of this team’s formula for success. Night after night, game after game, someone new steps to the forefront to lead this club and when they do receive the lead, Jean-Francois Labbe is there to preserve it.

The Phantoms, as you would expect from a club teetering on elimination, came out of the gates with conviction. They carried the play early and would open the scoring at the 5:49 mark of the first period when John Slaney banged home the rebound of a Mark Greig shot. Greig’s shot had rung off the post right to a waiting Slaney for the put back.

With the opening period winding down, it seemed the Phantoms would head into the first intermission holding a one-goal lead. Lady luck would have other ideas. Syracuse would even the score when David Ling, from behind his own net, sent a pass out front that would deflect off the leg of a Philly defender and find its way into the back of the net. The goal, Ling’s first of the playoffs, occurred with only 18 seconds left in the period.

The score would remain deadlocked at one heading into the final period. Enter today’s hero Blake Bellefeuille. He’s been one player who has seemingly benefited from the Blue Jackets late season raid on the Crunch’s roster. With a multitude of players in Columbus, Head Coach Gary Agnew was forced to practice with a skeleton of a team that necessitated the use of some unlikely players to work on special teams. Bellefeuille was one of those players and since that time he has become a fixture on the power play. That is where he would notch the eventual game-winner.

Off a feed from Derrick Walser, Bellefeuille would beat his man and find the upper right hand corner with a gorgeous shot to give the Crunch a 2-1 with just over fifteen minutes left to play.

The Syracuse defense, along with the best goaltender in the AHL hands down, would do the rest. They would hold off the Phantoms until Sean Pronger’s empty-net tally would seal it at the 19:25 mark of the third.

Syracuse now heads into the second round to face the Chicago Wolves in a best of seven series. Chicago advances after going the distance in their two previous playoff series. They outlasted the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 2-1 in the play-in round and then upended the Grand Rapids Griffins three games to two in round one. The series should open with a couple of home dates for the Crunch this upcoming Friday and Saturday evening. Game times will be 7:30 PM.

Syracuse at Philadelphia - Boxscore
PLAYOFFS

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Syracuse       1     0     2   --3
Philadelphia   1     0     0   --1
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FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: 1, Philadelphia, John Slaney 3 (Mark Greig,
Mark Freer), 5:49. 2, Syracuse, David Ling 1 (power play) (Brad Moran,
Derrick Walser), 19:42.  Penalties: P Vandermeer, Phi (interference),
1:03; D Walser, Syr (roughing), 2:01; G Lefebvre, Phi (elbowing),
8:21; M Greig, Phi (hooking), 18:44; P Vandermeer, Phi (roughing),
18:44; D Westcott, Syr (roughing), 18:44.

SECOND PERIOD -- Scoring: None.  Penalties: A Borzecki, Syr (roughing), 8:41; Y
Sarault, Phi (interference), 10:37; D Walser, Syr (slashing), 12:48; A
Sryubko, Syr (tripping), 13:40; J Vandermeer, Phi (slashing), 16:51.

THIRD PERIOD -- Scoring: 3, Syracuse, Blake Bellefeuille 2 (power play)
(Derrick Walser), 4:28. 4, Syracuse, Sean Pronger 2 (empty net) (Chris
Nielsen), 19:25.  Penalties: P Vandermeer, Phi (slashing), 2:38.

Shots on goal:
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Syracuse            8    7    9   --24
Philadelphia       10   13    5   --28
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Power-play Conversions: Syracuse - 2 of 6, Philadelphia - 0 of 4.
Goalies : Syracuse, Jean-Francois Labbe (28 shots, 27 saves; record:
3-0-0). Philadelphia, Neil Little (23 shots, 21 saves; record: 2-3-0).
A: 3,619.  Referees: Chris Lee. Linesmen: Robert Fyrer.

                   INDIVIDUAL PLAYER STATISTICS

SYRACUSE                               PHILADELPH
                G   A   +/-  Shots                   G   A   +/-  Shots
J Heward        0   0   -1      0    D Harlock       0   0   -1      2
S Pronger       1   0   even    3    M Greig         0   1   +1      1
C Nielsen       0   1   even    1    K Kudroc        0   0   even    3
D Walser        0   2   even    2    Y Sarault       0   0   even    2
A Nedorost      0   0   -1      2    G Lefebvre      0   0   even    1
D Scoville      0   0   +1      3    M Watt          0   0   -1      2
D Westcott      0   0   +1      1    G Koehler       0   0   -1      3
M Davidson      0   0   even    0    B S Jacques     0   0   +1      1
D Ling          1   0   even    2    J Slaney        1   0   even    3
A Sryubko       0   0   even    0    K Law           0   0   -1      0
A Borzecki      0   0   -1      0    M Lephart       0   0   -1      1
M Darche        0   0   even    1    P Brendl        0   0   even    3
P Traynor       0   0   even    0    P Vandermeer    0   0   +1      1
K McDonell      0   0   even    1    D Peters        0   0   even    1
J Reich         0   0   even    1    M Freer         0   1   +1      2
M Paroulek      0   0   even    0    J Vandermeer    0   0   even    2
B Bellefeuille  1   0   even    4    E Betournay     0   0   even    0
B Moran         0   1   +1      3    M Zultek        0   0   even    0

***Three Stars of the Game***

1. J.F. Labbe: Stopped 27 of 28 shots en route to his third win of this post-season.

2. Blake Bellefeuille: He scored the game-winner early in the third period. He also took a game high four shots on the evening.

3. Derrick Walser: Wally had two assists on the night.

Crunch One-Timers:

Scratches for last night were Tyler Sloan (healthy), Dan Watson (healthy), Martin Spanhel (hip), and Jonathon Schill (healthy). Matt Davidson saw his first action last night of the post-season after clearing waivers on Wednesday. Kent McDonell was injured in the second period last evening. He left the game and did not return. His status at press time was unknown.

Boxscore courtesy of www.theahl.com