Late push sends Monsters to clincher over Crunch

Photo: Scott Thomas

Luca Del Bel Belluz scored the go-ahead goal with 2:18 to go in regulation and the Cleveland Monsters used a four-goal third period to earn a 6-4 win over the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night, completing a three-game series sweep.

The Monsters advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, their first conference final appearance since 2016. They will take on the Hershey Bears beginning next Thursday.

Cleveland led 1-0 and 2-1, but entered the final period of Game 3 trailing by a goal after Syracuse rallied to score twice late in the second. Alex Whelan and Josh Dunne put the Monsters back in front, 4-3, and after Alex Barré-Boulet brought the Crunch back even with just 3:28 to go, Del Bel Belluz won an offensive-zone faceoff and then buried the rebound of Trey Fix-Wolansky’s shot for his first goal of the playoffs.

Jake Gaudet, Stefan Matteau and Roman Ahcan added goals for the Monsters, and Malcolm Subban made 25 saves in his first appearance of the playoffs in place of an unavailable Jet Greaves.

Barré-Boulet scored twice for the Crunch and Cole Koepke and Jordy Bellerive added single goals. Matt Tomkins made his first playoff start and stopped 21 of 26 shots.

(Cleveland wins series, 3-0)
Game 1 – Thu., May 16 – CLEVELAND 1, Syracuse 0
Game 2 – Sat., May 18 – CLEVELAND 4, Syracuse 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 22 – Cleveland 6, SYRACUSE 4