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Crunch Postseason Aims For Calder Cup Goal

The Crunch are one step closer to Calder Cup glory.

The War Memorial during a Crunch hockey game. Michael Davis photo

A quick Syracuse professional hockey lesson:

On April 11, 1937, the Syracuse Stars of the American Hockey League won the first Calder Cup championship over the Philadelphia Ramblers. But the actual Calder Cup, arguably the most prized trophy in minor-league sports, was donated to what was then called the International-American Hockey League.

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And the Syracuse players never got to raise the actual cup nor did the team get its name engraved on it. Instead, the list on the cup starts with the Providence Reds, who won the title in 1938 by defeating — you guessed it — the Syracuse Stars.

Flash ahead 90 years and the Syracuse Crunch is on a mission to formally right those wrongs.

Syracuse, which returned to the AHL in 1994 as the Crunch, checked one box off the list as they defeated the Providence Bruins 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Crunch dominated the franchise that prevented Syracuse from winning the Calder Cup in 1938 by outscoring the P-Bruins 22-12. In fact, Providence never skated with a lead in the series as its only win came in overtime.

The Crunch will now face the Western Conference champion Grand Rapids Griffins in the Calder Cup finals starting Friday, June 2, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Since 1994, the Crunch has played in one Calder Cup finals and lost to — you guessed it again — Grand Rapids in 2013.

So, with four more wins Syracuse can avenge that loss as well as raise the Calder Cup for the first time in Syracuse professional hockey history.

After playing Friday and Saturday, June 3, in Grand Rapids, the teams will play Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) on Wednesday, June 7, Friday, June 9, and Saturday, June 10 at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena in Syracuse. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be played June 13 and June 14 in Grand Rapids.

Led by second-year coach Ben Groulx, the Crunch advanced to the finals by defeating Providence 3-1 May 27 at the War Memorial Arena. Center Cory Conacher, who won the Calder Cup with Norfolk in 2015 and lost in the finals with Utica last year, scored the go-ahead goal with 5:06 remaining in the third period and then added an empty netter for the final margin.

Conacher leads all AHL playoff scorers with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists). Syracuse goaltender Mike McKenna made 27 saves in Game 5 against Providence as he and the Crunch improved to 9-0 at home in the playoffs.

Grand Rapids was equally dominant in the Western Conference finals as it dispatched San Jose in five games and outscored the Barracuda 19-11. Grand Rapids is affiliated with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, while the Crunch is an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tickets for the home games can be purchased at the Crunch office inside the War Memorial Arena, 800 S. State St., by phone at (315) 473-4444, or through Ticketmaster. The Crunch office is open Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Single-game ticket prices are $33, $35 and $37, increasing to $36, $38 and $40 on game day. Tickets for children 12 and under are priced at $33 and go to $36 on the game day. Discounted tickets are available for groups of 15 or more. Prices are subject to additional fees.

For the latest Crunch news, visit syracusecrunch.com or follow the club on Facebook (facebook.com/syracusecrunch), Twitter (@SyracuseCrunch) and Instagram (@syracusecrunch) using #SyrCrunch and #FIN15H.

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