Late surge brings Crunch to the brink of post-season play

— The Syracuse Crunch should thank Thruway rival the Rochester Amerks for beating the Adirondack Phantoms Sunday night, April 8, by a score of 4-2. As a result, the Phantoms failed to move into 8th place in the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference to move within two points of the Crunch.

The surging Crunch deserve much credit themselves for pulling themselves up by their skate straps to bring the team to the brink of the AHL playoffs for the first time in four years. A thrilling shootout win Saturday, April 7, over the Hershey Bears improved the Crunch record to 35-28-5-5 to remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the eighth-place Manchester Monarchs. The top eight teams in the conference qualify for the postseason.

Crunch rookie forward Pete Holland scored the winning goal in Saturday’s shootout to ice Syracuse’s important 3-2 victory.

Coached by Trent Yawney, the Crunch overwhelmed the Binghamton Senators 5-1 here at the Onondaga County War Memorial on April 4 before dropping an away game to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers April 6.

The Syracuse skaters have three games left remaining in the regular 2012-12 season: one April 13 in Rochester, an April 14 home game against the Connecticut Whale and one in Albany April 15 against the Devils.

Meanwhile, Crunch hot-shot Kyle Palmieri, who scored his 33rd goal of the season Saturday, was named last week to the 2011-12 AHL First All-Star Team.

Whale of an opponent

The Syracuse Crunch plays its last regular season home game of the 2011-12 American Hockey League season, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14, against the Connecticut Whale, at the War Memorial, downtown.

The Crunch is affiliated with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, while Connecticut is the top farm club of the New York Rangers. The War Memorial is downtown at State and Harrison streets. Ticket prices for home games range from $14 to $21; 473-4444.

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