The Griffins have done it!
Your Grand Rapids Griffins are Calder Cup Champs after defeating the Syracuse Crunch 5-2 in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
After being up a commanding three-games-to-none, then losing Games 4 and 5 at home over the weekend, the Griffins went on the road for what could have been two games ... but they only needed one to capture the franchise's first Calder Cup.
Brendan Evans scored the game-winning goal -- his first of the Finals -- with 10:06 left in the third to put the Griffins up 3-2.
Tomas Tatar, who scored twice in the Game 6 clincher, won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player in the Calder Cup Playoffs after totaling 21 points -- including a league-best 16 goals -- in 24 games.
Team captain Jeff Hoggan, the only Griffins player to previously play in a Calder Cup final series, was the first to hoist the Cup.
A tightly contested opening period that featured few scoring chances for either team saw the Crunch cash in once to take a lead into the intermission. At the mark, Petr Mrazek moved to his right to make a save, but after he slid too far out of his crease, Brennan Evans tried in vain to keep a point-blank whack by Richard Panik out of the net.
The Griffins tied it into the second period. Mitch Callahan took a pass from Landon Ferraro low in the left circle and, while being knocked to the ice, chipped the puck over
Cedrick Desjardins and into the top of the net.
A four-minute high-sticking penalty to Nathan Paetsch on Ondrej Palat with just 28 seconds left in the period presented the Crunch with a great opportunity to tie or take the lead, something they mostly squandered 1:09 into the first penalty when Brett Connolly tripped Ferraro early in the third.
sailed past a screened Mrazek at the mark, igniting the overflow crowd of 6,375.
The partisan throng was decidedly less enthusiastic later, when Evans’ wrist shot from the left point found its way through a sea of bodies and into the back of Desjardins’ net, putting the Griffins ahead once again at 3-2. Mrazek then made that lead hold with a pair of spectacular saves with less than eight minutes showing on the clock.
Tatar and Joakim Andersson added empty-net goals in the final minute to seal the 5-2 victory.
Mrazek won his 15th game of the postseason by stopping 24 shots. Desjardins made 20 saves.
Notes: Today’s game date marked the latest in the 77-year history of the AHL ... Hoggan, Evans and Chad Billins each played in his 100th game of the season ... The last Detroit Red Wings affiliate to win the Calder Cup was the 1991-92 Adirondack Red Wings.
It's the first championship in the Griffins’ 17 seasons, as well as the 27-year history of professional hockey in
If the Griffins win their first Calder Cup, unfortunately it won't be in Grand Rapids.
The Syracuse Crunch took Game 5 from the Griffins with a final score of 5 to 2. Grant and Tatar added goals for the Griffins, who had it tied 2-2 in the second, but the Crunch proved too tough to handle in Game 5.
Still holding a 3-2 series lead, the Griffins have a chance to claim their first Calder Cup in Syracuse. Game 6 will take place Tuesday the 18th, and can be heard on WOOD Radio with a pregame starting at 6-40.
(Courtesy of The City of Grand Rapids Facebook page)
Major Stephanie A. Miner of Syracuse wanted to have a little fun during the Calder Cup Finals. She sent an email to Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, making a bet on the series.
Click here to see what the majors said.
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).
The Griffins are heading home to
Six Griffins scored goals and Petr Mrazek made 30 saves on Sunday to give
The Griffins, who have yet to trail in a game this series, will host Games 3 and 4 at Van Andel Arena this Wednesday, June 12 and Friday, June 14. Tickets are available at griffinshockey.com. Game 5 would be in
For the second straight night, the Griffins tallied the game’s first goal early in the opening period. Seconds after a delayed penalty was signaled against the Crunch, Brennan Evans sent a pass out front from behind the net that Tomas Tatar smacked past Cedrick Desjardins at the mark. Tatar’s 12th goal of the playoffs set a franchise record for a single postseason, eclipsing the 11 scored by Kevin Miller during the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Playoffs.
Triston Grant made it a 2-0 game with his first goal of the playoffs at , crashing the net
from the right side to bang home the rebound of a Landon Ferraro shot from the slot.
The Crunch answered less than three minutes later, as Andrej Sustr’s wrister from the point found its way through a maze of bodies and into the top of Mrazek’s net at the mark.
Both teams had additional chances before the first 20 minutes wound down, but a Gustav Nyquist shot deflected off iron with remaining, and Mrazek denied a point-blank chance by a wide-open Richard Panik two minutes later.
Nyquist was stopped on a partial breakaway into the second period, but the Griffins rebuilt their two-goal cushion at . After winning a race to a loose puck in the Crunch zone, Jeff Hoggan quickly fired a chance that Desjardins saved, but Ferraro swooped in to pop the puck into the top of the net before the goalie could rise from his sprawled position.
quickly respond with one of their own. First, Mrazek tried to cover the puck after making a save, but Panik worked it free from the netminder and slipped a backhand inside the right post at . Tomas Jurco then scored later to put
The Crunch’s strategy of knocking the puck from Mrazek’s grasp while covering up after a save paid dividends once again during a power play with 3:48 remaining in the frame, as Johnson knocked it free to Brett Connolly for a tap in from the right side to make it 4-3.
Then things really got interesting.
The two teams played several continuous minutes until a stoppage with one minute left, at which time the referees reviewed the video of a play from a few minutes earlier and determined that a shot by J.T. Brown somehow passed unnoticed through the net’s mesh. Awarding the goal to make it 4-4, they erroneously reset the game clock to show 3:50 – meaning that, for at least a while, Syracuse’s fourth goal (at 16:10 of the period) was scored two seconds before its third goal (at 16:12).
The Crunch barely had time to celebrate their tying marker and good fortune when the Griffins struck again, with Francis Pare scoring from the left side at to make it a 5-4 contest. Mercifully, the 22-minute and 50-second period expired without further drama, and during the third period, the AHL adjusted the official times of the Brown and Pare goals to and , respectively.
The Griffins’ penalty killers came up huge by killing off a four-minute high-sticking penalty to Jurco with left in the third, and then with just over five minutes remaining, Hoggan and
Jan Mursak combined to give
Like in Game 1, the Crunch took a late penalty to short-circuit their comeback hopes, as Vlad Namestnikov was whistled off for roughing with four minutes left, and the clock soon ran out on
Each team converted twice on the power play, with
Desjardins made 23 saves on the night.
Notes: The Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate had not lost consecutive playoff games since the 2011 East Division semis, when the Norfolk Admirals dropped the last four games of the series (April 19-23) in a 4-2 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton … The Crunch began this postseason 11-1 before this weekend’s two losses, and their core group of 10 players who won the 2012 Calder Cup as members of the Admirals were on a 21-1 playoff streak prior to the Calder Cup Finals … In its history, Grand Rapids won all three previous best-of-seven series in which it held a 2-0 lead.
Three Stars: 1. GR Ferraro (goal, two assists); 2. GR Pare (power play goal); 3. SYR Connolly (power play goal, assist).
Petr Mrazek made 28 saves and Riley Sheahan scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with eight minutes remaining as the Grand Rapids Griffins took Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals by a 3-1 count over the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
For the Crunch, it marked just their second loss in 13 games this postseason. And for their core group of 10 players who won the 2012 Calder Cup as members of the Norfolk Admirals, it was only their second defeat in their last 23 playoff contests.
Game 2 will be Sunday at in
After successfully killing off a too-many-men penalty in the opening minute, the Griffins began to apply pressure on the other end and broke through for the game’s first goal at .
Moments after Jeff Hoggan rang a shot off the right post and then was robbed by Cedrick Desjardins on the doorstep, Chad Billins fired a shot from the point that was put home by Mitch Callahan.
The Griffins carried the play for the majority of the period, almost taking a 2-0 lead midway through when a puck bounced past Landon Ferraro’s stick as he was staring at an open net. But the fast-paced period passed without any more scoring and finished with the Crunch holding a slim 11-10 shot margin.
In the early minutes of the second period, Tyler Johnson missed his own try at a wide-open cage thanks to a tie-up in the crease by Adam Almquist, and Mrazek bailed out Danny DeKeyser by making a spectacular save on Johnson after he picked off DeKeyser’s pass from behind the net.
The chances continued for each team. Just over eight minutes in, Jan Mursak chased down a loose puck in the Syracuse zone and blasted a shot off the crossbar, then Mrazek made another tremendous save during a Crunch power play with eight minutes left, getting his left pad on a point-blank try by Dan Sexton.
Exactly 12 minutes into the third, off a turnover at the
A slashing penalty to Panik with remaining dimmed the Crunch’s chances of a comeback,
and Gustav Nyquist scored into an empty net during that power play with 15 seconds remaining to seal the win.
The Griffins converted one of four power plays on the night while denying the Crunch on each of their five tries.
Desjardins finished with 18 saves.
Notes: The win was the first for the Griffins in a league final since
Three Stars: 1. GR Mrazek (W, 28 saves); 2. GR Sheahan (game-winning goal); 3. SYR Ondrej Palat.