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Game 4 of the AHL North Division semifinals: Syracuse Crunch vs. the St. John’s IceCaps

The Syracuse Crunch has the chance to close out the 5-game series tonight at home in Game 4 of the North Division semifinals.

Scott Thomas

The long and the short of it

The Syracuse Crunch leads the St. John’s IceCaps by a 2-1 series lead. The Crunch can close out the 5-game series tonight with a win. If the IceCaps are victorious, then the final game of the series will be tomorrow night in Syracuse.

The series so far

The series so far has been one of the most intense fans have had the chance to witness. The games have been physical, the tempers have been high, and the pride of both teams is clearly on the line.

This is the last playoff run the IceCaps may ever have: the Montreal Canadians are moving their farm club from St. John’s to Laval next season, and St. John’s will be without an AHL team for the foreseeable future. St. John’s has been pressing hard for their fans, and the Crunch can count on their opponents to be ready to force a game 5 tonight.

Syracuse has been reaching backwards in time, building a sense of urgency in their history. The team has repeatedly referenced both the incredible season the Crunch had and their awesome run to the Calder Cup final four years ago in 2013 in their promotional materials for their current run, with an emphasis on “finishing what we’ve started.”

Game 3 gallery with photos by Scott Thomas:

Keys to tonight

The Crunch have found their playoff netminder in Mike McKenna. Although it took McKenna, who was traded to the organization at the deadline in exchange for Adam Wilcox, a few games to get his legs under him, he’s now taken off and proven that the team can count on him. McKenna was a force in game 3, and the team played with confidence in front of him. That synergy will need to continue tonight.

Potential lines and scratches

Scratches from Wednesday night: Connor Ingram, Jonathan Racine, Dylan Blujus, John Kurtz, Boris Katchouk, Kevin Lynch, Dennis Yan, LIbor Hajek, Mike Halmo, Adam Comrie, Mitchell Stephens and Daniel Walcott.

Potential injury: Adam Erne left the game mid-way through with what appeared to be an upper-body injury. He did not return. Nothing has been said about his status for tonight.

Line rushes during warmups Wednesday:

Yani Gourde-Gabriel Dumont-Cory Conacher

Adam Erne-Byron Froese-Michael Bournival

Tye McGinn-Matthew Peca-Erik Condra

Henri Ikonen-Brett Howden-Joel Vermin

Defensive pairings during warm ups Wednesday:

Matt Taormina-Dominik Masin

Slater Koekkoek-Jake Dotchin

Ben Thomas-Mathieu Brodeur