It came down to the final game of the season before both teams were able to solidify their post-season berths in the North Division.
The St. John’s IceCaps clinched the final playoff spot with a win over the Toronto Marlies, while the Syracuse Crunch locked down first place with a win over the Utica Comets.
The divisional rivals met a total of eight times during the regular season, with each side claiming four victories. Each meeting this year was high-energy, hot-tempered, and utterly unpredictable. Our sister site, Raw Charge, was kind enough to give us the answers to five questions we had about the Crunch.
You can also check out their preview as well, where we answered their IceCaps questions.
EOTP: What worries you the most in a five-game series against St. John’s?
Raw Charge: Toronto was the one team that I did not want to see the Crunch open up post-season play against. Coming in at a close second was St. John's. Other than the goaltending situation, I worry about obvious scoring threats likes Charles Hudon and Chris Terry, who is really having a fantastic year.
The last potentially troubling statistic is that the Crunch are the most penalized team in the league. The meetings between these two teams this year were less than friendly. Guys like Bobby Farnham, and possibly even David Broll, are sure to get under the skin of the 'Cuse players. Staying out of the penalty box will be key.
Can Kristers Gudlevskis and Mike McKenna be consistent enough to hold the line against two of the AHL’s elite scorers, Hudon and Terry?
I think both teams have a bit of a question mark lingering over their goaltending situations heading into Friday's contest. Kristers Gudlevskis has been real good as of late but has never had any real experience in the playoffs.
Over on The Rock, the same thing applies. Charlie Lindgren is a talented goalie, but the rookie is getting his first taste of the post-season at the professional level. Yann Danis and Mike McKenna are the club's two veteran netminders and, in my mind anyway, the two most viable choices between the pipes this weekend (although I still would assume Lindgren gets the nod for obvious reasons.)
I know Syracuse was banged up for most of this season. What is the injury situation like now?
Syracuse comes into the post-season relatively healthy. Byron Froese and Tanner Richard have just returned from injury; two guys that instantly make their team better. The only injury to report is defenseman Daniel Walcott, who is nursing a broken hand and is still a few weeks away from returning.
Approximately how many points will former IceCaps Gabriel Dumont and Michael Bournival have in this series?
Gabriel Dumont and Michael Bournival are studs. They were often on the same line when the season started as well as this past weekend. We all know the kind of chippy and blue-collar game they bring to the table. I won't wager any guesses as to how many points they will tally, but I will say that their hard work in the corners, on the forecheck, and in front of the net will give the IceCaps a fit.
Can Yanni Gourde even grow a playoff beard?
Gourde doesn't need to grow a beard. Our new ice scraper guy, and former captain, Luke Witkowski has him covered.
Many thanks to Raw Charge and Brandon Curtis (@CrunchSyracuse on Twitter) for taking the time to answer our questions, and may the best team win in round one!
The series will start with games one and two at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s before shifting back to Syracuse for the remainder of the five-game series. Game One is scheduled for Friday April 21, with puck drop at 7:30 PM NDT (6:00 PM EDT).