AHL: North Division Finals Game 3 Preview l Syracuse Crunch vs Cleveland Monsters

Donald Carlson/InsideTheRink

Games 1 & 2

In a best-of-5 series, the Cleveland Monsters delivered an impressive performance in front of their hometown crowd during the first two games of the AHL North Division Finals as they continue their “Countdown to Calder.” In Game 1 last Thursday, the Monsters secured a narrow 1-0 victory over the Syracuse Crunch in a sold-out Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Justin Pearson’s shorthanded goal, showcasing incredible skill, and Jet Greaves’ 28-save shutout, his first career AHL Playoff shutout, were the highlights of an intense battle. Game 2 saw the Monsters dominate with a convincing 4-1 win over the Crunch on Saturday night in Cleveland, OH. Jet Greaves once again stood out with an impressive 17 saves out of 18 shots, while Jakub Zboril’s goal and strong offensive play led the team to victory. Cleveland controlled the majority of the play throughout, limiting the Crunch’s time in the offensive zone.

Game 3 (Wednesday, May 22nd)

The Monsters will head into Syracuse with a commanding 2-0 series lead in a best of 5, which means the Crunch must win three games in a row to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals. This is an uphill battle for the Crunch, but not impossible. Cleveland will have to bring their A-game against a desperate Syracuse team playing at home with their crowd behind them. If the Crunch want a chance, they must increase their shots on goal and play tougher defense against Cleveland’s potent offense. It will be a challenging task for the Monsters, as Syracuse’s arena will be packed, and the home crowd will be raucous, adding to the pressure.

In the Eastern Conference, the Hershey Bears are leading the Hartford Wolf Pack 2-0 in the Atlantic Division Finals series. While it seems likely that Hershey will face Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals, surprising comebacks have occurred in the past, so anything is possible. Nonetheless, a Hershey vs Cleveland matchup would certainly make for an exciting series.

Players to Watch (Syracuse)

Brandon Halverson (Goalie): 3-4 record, 0.916 Save %, 2.19 GAA (2024 Calder Cup Playoffs) -Struggled in Game 2, allowing four goals, and will aim for a strong comeback performance in Game 3.
Gage Concalves (Forward): 1 Goal, 5 Assists (2024 Calder Cup Playoffs) – Looking forward to seeing a more offensive performance from him, especially after being held off the scoresheet in the last two games against Cleveland.

Players to Watch (Cleveland)

Jet Greaves (Goalie): 5-1 record, 0.951 Save %, 1.39 GAA (2024 Calder Cup Playoffs) –
1-0 (28 save) shutout victory in Game 1 against the Crunch

Justin Pearson (Forward): 2 Goals, 3 Assists – Scored lone shorthanded goal in 1-0 victory in Game 1

The “Countdown to Calder”

Where to Listen:

Cleveland (Away Audio): Fox Sports 1350 The Gambler – All Bets Are On (iheart.com)
Syracuse (Home Audio): ESPN Syracuse (securenetsystems.net)

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Matthew Buhrmann

Writer at Inside the Rink l Covering Cincinnati Cyclones l Student @uofcincy l @Mbuhrmann61 on socials

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