AHL North Division semifinals game 3: Syracuse Crunch at Rochester Americans

Syracuse is searching for the sweep, Rochester is looking not to get swept.

The down and dirty

Best-of-five series are intense. Two teams racing to three wins is crazy enough, but it gets even more so when two teams that are similar in style and physicality go at it. Such has been the story of the Syracuse Crunch’s first round match up with the Rochester Americans.

The Crunch hasn’t missed a chance to pour on the offense, scoring 12 goals over two playoff games. Rochester has been a bit behind that pace, scoring seven goals in the same span. However, five of those seven came this past Saturday, so it seems as though they’ve started clicking, too.

The Crunch, up 2-0 in the series, is going for the sweep tonight in Rochester. No longer able to count on as much support from their hometown fans - Rochester and Syracuse are close enough that many of the Crunch faithful will make the trip, but obviously it won’t be in numbers near a home game - the Crunch will need to find motivation in themselves to battle through. The contest is bound to get slightly contentious, as the last thing the Amerks want is get swept by their in-state rivals in front of their own fans.

Of course, the agony and excitement of a five game series is that one win gets that team exponentially closer to the ending goal than it does in a seven game series. Rochester will be right back in the thick of things if they win tonight, and any little whiff of potential to come back in this series will keep their fires burning hot. By no means does the Crunch have an easy job ahead of them.

What you may have missed

How to follow the Crunch tonight

  • The pre-game radio broadcast with Lukas Favale will start at 6:45 EST on ESPN Syracuse. You can listen to the game in its entirety for free.
  • AHL Live has special playoff pricing deals for every game of the AHL playoffs, as well as team-specific packages. There’s also a pay-per-view option.
  • Be sure to follow the team on Twitter and Instagram for updates if you’re away from other options.
  • Look for pre-and-post-game interviews on the Crunch’s YouTube./

Other game information

Going into tonight’s contest, it can be assumed that Syracuse won’t make many changes at forward. The Crunch’s lines have been rolling, and contributions are starting to come from more than just the vets.

The Crunch might look to change up some of their defensive pairings, especially considering the five-spot Rochester put up against them Saturday night. Then again, coach Ben Groulx and his staff might just decide to leave well enough alone. The goals against in that contest were more of a case of the Crunch poorly managing their momentum than of defensive lapses.

There are two known roster changes going into tonight, one on each side of the ice. Amerks defenseman Andrew MacWilliam has been suspended by the league for three games as a result of his actions during this past Saturday’s game, which means that he will miss the rest of the series regardless of how long it goes. Keith Wozniak at Let’s Go Amerks broke down what losing MacWilliam means to their team:

MacWilliam has been a key to the Amerks success all season as a big defensive defenseman. That leaves an opening on defense for game three on Wednesday night and the two healthy defensemen are Nathan Paetsch and Will Borgen.

On the Syracuse side, the coaching staff announced yesterday that they are making a change in net. Rookie netminder Connor Ingram will be starting tonight, taking over for veteran Eddie Pasquale. Pasquale played the first two games of the series. According to Syracuse.com, this is not a case of concern about Pasquale, who has stopped 48 of 55 shots so far this series, but more of making sure neither goalie sits for too long:

Syracuse goalie coach Karl Goehring said the switch is more a factor of Groulx’s desire to keep a rotation than any displeasure with Pasquale’s play.

”Both goaltenders were a key part of us down the stretch here. Both guys are more than capable here to do the job,’’ Goehring said. “We believe in both of them.’’

Ingram went 2-0-1, with a 1.34 GAA and a .947 SV% vs. Rochester this past season.