Crunch Fall Victim to Missed Opportunities

By Jeff Parzych
Power Play Power-less in 4-2 Loss to Wolves

It’s official. The Syracuse Crunch are now in for a real battle in their quest to hoist that elusive Calder Cup sometime in late May. After last night’s 4-2 loss to the Chicago Wolves in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals, Syracuse now holds a 2-1 lead in the series.

That is a far cry from what the alternative might have been. The Crunch had the chance to put a stranglehold on the series with a win, but now face the fact that they have two more games in hostile territory and anything can happen at this point.

A quick look at the boxscore and one stat jumps right out at you, Syracuse 1-8 on the power play. The Crunch received plenty of opportunities, but failed to capitalize, especially during an important stretch in the second period when they had six consecutive minutes with the man-advantage.

Often, it was the Crunch receiving a taste of their own medicine, as Chicago netminder Pasi Nurminen would come up large with some big stops to keep the Wolves in the game. He finished the evening with 28 saves en route in winning his fourth game for Chicago this postseason.

Once again the Wolves would come out of the gates with some high energy. They are a club that likes to start fast and doing that successfully on Monday evening was critical considering how important this contest was to the Wolves.

Not unlike Saturday’s tilt, Chicago’s strong play early would pay off, as they would open the scoring at the 7:57 mark of period number one. Andreas Karlsson would take advantage of a Duvie Westcott turnover at the blue line and break in alone on J.F. Labbe. His shot would elude Labbe for his first of the playoffs and a 1-0 Chicago lead.

The Crunch would not only answer the Wolves goal with a tally of their own, but they would take the lead by scoring twice in a little over three minutes. Sean Pronger’s deflection of a Derrick Walser slap shot knotted the game at one and Martin Paroulek’s first goal of the postseason would give the Crunch a one-goal advantage.

After a scoreless second period, one that saw the Crunch go 0-4 with the man advantage, Syracuse found themselves in a pretty comfortable situation. After all, they were leading by one heading into the third period, a period that they have outscored their opponents 11-0 in the postseason. It seemed to be an ideal situation for the Crunch.

That is until they actually played the third period. The Wolves would erupt for three goals in the third to grab control of the game and put themselves right back into the series. Kamil Piros would start the rally with a power play marker at the 4:46 mark of the period. His goal would tie the contest and break a 0-15 streak by Chicago with the man advantage.

J.P. Vigier would follow with the game-winner late in the third. After taking a centering feed from center Dan Synder, Vigier would beat Labbe to the glove side for his second of the series and his fourth of the playoffs. Steve Maltais would ice the game with an empty-net tally for the final score of 4-2.

The loss snaps the Crunch’s streak of five straight wins in the postseason. Syracuse will look to get back on track Wednesday evening in Game Four. The puck is dropped at 8:00 PM.

Syracuse at Chicago - Boxscore

Syracuse       2     0     0   --2
Chicago        1     0     3   --4

FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: 1, Chicago, Andreas Karlsson 1 (Brad Tapper,
Steve Maltais), 7:57. 2, Syracuse, Sean Pronger 5 (power play)
(Derrick Walser, David Ling), 9:46. 3, Syracuse, Martin Paroulek 1
(Brad Moran), 12:57.  Penalties: A Sryubko, Syr (high sticking), 0:57;
Y Butsayev, Chi (tripping), 1:30; J Dipenta, Chi (slashing), 8:28; G
Exelby, Chi (roughing), 13:49; D Eakins, Chi (high sticking), 16:06; R
Brown, Chi (unsportsmanlike cond), 18:07; J Reich, Syr
(unsportsmanlike cond), 18:07.

SECOND PERIOD -- Scoring: None.  Penalties: D Ling, Syr (interference), 0:49; B Tapper,
Chi (slashing), 3:45; M Paroulek, Syr (elbowing), 6:43; G Exelby, Chi
(slashing), 6:45; S Pronger, Syr (hooking), 8:01; B Tapper, Chi (cross
checking, unsportsmanlike cond), 10:57; G Larose, Chi (high sticking),
14:38; A Borzecki, Syr (hooking), 17:16.

THIRD PERIOD -- Scoring: 4, Chicago, Kamil Piros 5 (power play)
(Andreas Karlsson, Rob Brown), 4:46. 5, Chicago, J.P. Vigier 6 (Dan
Snyder), 16:32. 6, Chicago, Steve Maltais 7 (empty net) (Dan Snyder),
19:06.  Penalties: D Scoville, Syr (hooking), 3:20.

Shots on goal:
Syracuse           12   12    6   --30
Chicago            11    8   14   --33

Power-play Conversions: Syracuse - 1 of 8, Chicago - 1 of 5. Goalies :
Syracuse, Jean-Francois Labbe (32 shots, 29 saves; record: 5-1-0).
Chicago, Pasi Nurminen (30 shots, 28 saves; record: 4-3-0). A: 2,411.
Referees: Wes Mccauley. Linesmen: Al Stensland, Jay Jacobs.


SYRACUSE                               CHICAGO
                G   A   +/-  Shots                   G   A   +/-  Shots
J Heward        0   0   -1      5    D Eakins        0   0   +2      5
S Pronger       1   0   -3      2    Y Butsayev      0   0   even    2
C Nielsen       0   0   even    1    G Larose        0   0   even    0
D Walser        0   1   even    6    B Tapper        0   1   +1      0
A Nedorost      0   0   -2      0    K Piros         1   0   -1      2
D Scoville      0   0   -1      1    D Mackenzie     0   0   -1      2
D Westcott      0   0   -2      1    A Karlsson      1   1   +1      1
M Davidson      0   0   even    1    D Snyder        0   2   +2      2
D Ling          0   1   -3      3    R Brown         0   1   even    1
A Sryubko       0   0   even    1    J Vigier        1   0   +2      2
A Borzecki      0   0   even    1    K Safronov      0   0   +1      4
M Darche        0   0   -1      2    J Dipenta       0   0   even    1
P Traynor       0   0   even    0    B Simon         0   0   -1      3
P Mizzi         0   0   even    0    M Weaver        0   0   +1      0
J Reich         0   0   +1      1    K Foster        0   0   even    0
M Paroulek      1   0   +1      1    B Nardella      0   0   -1      4
B Moran         0   1   even    4    G Exelby        0   0   +1      2
J Schill        0   0   even    0    S Maltais       1   1   +3      2

***Three Stars of the Game***

1. Pasi Nurminen: He kept the Wolves in the game with some big saves. Finishes the evening with 28 saves.

2. Andreas Karlsson: Put the Wolves on the board with his first period tally en route to a two-point night (1g,1a).

3. Kamil Piros: Notched the game-winner late in the third period.

Crunch One-Timers:

Scratches for last night were Dan Watson (healthy), Blake Bellefeuille (injured), Martin Spanhel (ribs), Matt Dzieduszycki (healthy), and Kent McDonell (leg). Bellefeuille and McDonell did not take the flight to Chicago with the rest of the team. Prior to the game the Crunch brought back Matt Dzieduszycki. He played four games in Syracuse at the tail end of the regular season after finishing his season with the University of Western Ontario.

Boxscore courtesy of