(SYRACUSE CRUNCH) — The Syracuse Crunch fell to the Cleveland Monsters, 5-3, in Game 1 of the North Division Semifinals series tonight at the War Memorial Arena.
Carter Verhaeghe paced the Crunch with a goal and two assists, while Cory Conacher tallied a goal and a helper in the Game 1 loss.
Goaltender Eddie Pasquale turned aside 23-of-27 shots in net for the Crunch. Brad Thiessen earned the win with 16 saves in net for the Monsters. Syracuse went 2-for-2 on the power play and 1-for-3 on the penalty kill.
After a scoreless first period, the Monsters were first on the board halfway through the middle frame. Sonny Milano skated the puck into the zone and dropped it for Mark Letestu to fire home from the top of the right circle. Dan DeSalvo tallied the secondary helper. Less than two minutes later, Ryan MacInnis beat Pasquale on a breakaway.
The Crunch finally solved Thiessen on the power play with 2:05 remaining in the second period. Verhaeghe threw a cross-slot feed for Alex Volkov to one-time from the right faceoff dot. Cameron Gaunce also earned a point on the goal.
Syracuse evened the score with another power-play goal 10:49 into the third period. Gaunce dished a feed for Conacher to one-time from the right circle. Verhaeghe made it a multi-point night with the secondary assist.
The Monsters went back up by two with back-to-back goals 53 seconds apart starting at the 13:09 mark. Kevin Stenlund redirected a backdoor feed from Kole Sherwood on the man-advantage. Garret Cockerill recorded an assist on the play. Zac Dalpe then found a loose puck in the slot to make it 4-2 with the help of MacInnis and Sam Vigneault.
The Crunch pulled back within one with 1:52 remaining in the game when Verhaeghe netted a wrister from the left circle off assists from Alex Barre-Boulet and Conacher.
Cleveland stifled a comeback with Dillon Simpson’s empty-netter in the final minute.
North Division Semifinals – Series “C” (best-of-5)
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 19 – Cleveland 5, SYRACUSE 3
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 20 – Cleveland at Syracuse, 7:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 23 – Syracuse at Cleveland, 7:30
*Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 25 – Syracuse at Cleveland, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Cleveland at Syracuse, 7:00