Jeff Hoggan set up the game-winning goal with remaining and scored an insurance tally
with left to put the Grand Rapids Griffins within one win of a Calder Cup championship.
Wednesday’s 4-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch – the Griffins’ fourth straight and sixth in their last seven games – set up a potential title-clinching contest on Friday, when
ESPN 96.1 has tickets for Friday night's Game 4 that you can win -- listen Thursday afternoon to "It Is What It Is" with Sean Baligian starting at 3:00pm for details.
The Crunch scored first in controversial fashion into the contest. With Adam Almquist crumpled and motionless in the right corner after taking a hard hit from Richard Panik, the referees allowed play to continue in the Griffins’ end for 11 seconds before Panik himself cashed in on
Two Griffins had great initial chances to put their team back on top in the third period, but Cedrick Desjardins robbed Tomas Jurco with a right pad save seven minutes in and stopped a partial breakaway by Gustav Nyquist with remaining. But with left, Hoggan circled out from behind the net and muscled his way to the bottom of the left circle before turning and whipping a shot on net that Jan Mursak tipped into the far corner, lifting the roof off Van Andel Arena in celebration.
Not finished for the night, Hoggan put the victory away when he swooped around a defender down the right side and drove hard to the net before popping the puck past Desjardins. The netminder tried to unleash his frustration by pounding Hoggan, but the Griffins’ captain quickly escaped the scrum to celebrate with his teammates.
Mrazek earned his 14th win of the postseason with 26 saves, while Desjardins finished with 25 stops. Both teams went 0-for-4 on the power play.
Notes: The crowd of 10,102 was the largest in the Griffins’ AHL playoff history, crushing the previous mark of 5,529 set on
Three Stars: 1. GR Hoggan (goal, assist); 2. GR Mursak (game-winning goal, assist); 3. Tatar (goal).