Despite falling to the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Syracuse Crunch clinched their berth to the Calder Cup Playoffs on Friday night. A shootout win over Springfield by the Albany Devils gave the Crunch the opportunity to punch their ticket.
The Crunch held a two-goal lead for most of the game, until the Wolf Pack tallied four unanswered goals in the last 11:32 of regulation to seal the 6-4 victory. Newcomer Ryan Martindale was given Second Star in the loss, scoring two goals on five shots with a plus-2 rating for the Crunch. His second of the night came shorthanded, and since joining Syracuse at the beginning of March, the wing has posted 10 points in 13 games.
Since their inaugural season of play in the American Hockey League in 1994-95, the Crunch have appeared in the playoffs 11 times, and made the franchise’s first Calder Cup Finals appearance in 2012-13, falling 4-2 in the series to the 2013 Calder Cup Champions, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Forwards Jonathan Marchessault (21-38–59) and Yanni Gourde (27-27–54) rank in the top 15 in scoring in the AHL, and goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis is fifth among all AHL goalies in wins (24). Five Crunch players have made their NHL debuts this season with the Tampa Bay Lightning (Jonathan Drouin, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Nesterov, Luke Witkowski, Slater Koekkoek), and five of the top 10 scorers on the Lightning this year have spent time in a Crunch sweater (Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Drouin).
Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs. For more information and daily updates on the playoff races, check out the official AHL Playoff Primer.