By Jason Iacona | PPPShow.net Corespondent | On Twitter: @nafsnep
Syracuse NY – The Syracuse Crunch are 11-1 in the playoffs and have a large majority of players that won the championship last season with the Norfolk Admirals.
The Crunch have two players in the top three in AHL playoff scoring including the league MVP, Tyler Johnson.
Syracuse was the highest scoring team in the AHL this season. They have scored at least two goals in the playoffs this postseason.
Someone forgot to tell Grand Rapids goaltender Petr Mrazek.
Mrazek and his Grand Rapids Griffins take Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals by a score of 3-1.
The Crunch did not have the services of Radko Gudas, who was injured in the Game 5 clincher vs. Wilkes-Barre / Scranton in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Early Crunch power play as the Griffins were called for too many men. The kill for the Griffins really charged them as the line of Jeff Hoggan, Mitch Callahan and Landon Ferraro buzz buzz buzz, hit a post, Syracuse goaltender Cedrick Desjardins a ten bell save after another and finally jammed in by Callahan on the doorstep at 6:45 of the first period.
That goal took the air out what had been a raucous, standing room only sellout crowd of 6,333 at the Onondaga County War Memorial War Memorial and seemed to take the charge out of the Eastern Conference Champion Crunch, who looked tentative in the approach vs. an unknown opponent in the Western Conference Champion Griffins.
The Crunch dodge a bullet when Ferraro has a puck skip on him on the Griffins power play. He had a wide open net to shoot at had the pass connected.
Shots 11-10 Crunch after one. Crunch were not using home ice advantage and it looked alot like the Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. Wilkes-Barre last round.
In the second, the Crunch nearly score when they have Mrazek flopping on the ice but Ondrej Palat was unable to lift it past the fallen Grand Rapids netminder.
Syracuse really hemmed the Griffins in their defensive zone looking for the tying goal early in the second.
Jan Mursak had a mini break away about half way through the second, beat Desjardins clean, but the puck hit the post and went out of play.
Mrazek kept the Crunch off the scoreboard all period, a toe save on a Crunch offering here, constantly cutting down all angles of Syracuse forwards coming up the ice.
Grand Rapids did not do themselves any favors in the special teams department, giving up three straight power plays to the Crunch in the second. Bullet dodged in the third power play as Richard Panik scores but Brett Connolly was in the crease and referee Mark Lemelin waved the goal off immediately because of the crease violation, much to the dismay of Crunch fans everywhere.
Syracuse outshot the Griffins 11-5 in the second, but it was clear that Petr Mrazek was in the zone and he was not going to let anything past him.
Back and forth action in the third period until the 12:00 mark when Riley Sheahan steps up and into the Crunch zone and lets go a slap shot that eludes Cedrick Desjardins and puts his Griffins up 2-0.
Then, 1:19 later, J.P. Cote lets go a harmless wrister that finally breaks the Mrazek magic to make it 2-1 Griffins. Prior to this, the Griffins netminder had gone 214:27 without allowing a goal.
Crunch had to kill a late penalty. Syracuse Head Coach Rob Zettler pulls Cedrick Dejardins then calls time out. Gustav Nyqvist scores an empty net goal to make it 3-1 Griffins and seal the fate of the Crunch, at least for Game 1.
The three stars were, 3) Ondrej Palat (even, -1) 2) Riley Sheahan (game winning goal, +1) and 1) Petr Mrazek (27 saves on 28 shots)
Game 2 is Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m.
Post Game Audio:
- Griffins Head Coach: Jeff Blashill – MP3
- Crunch Head Coach: Rob Zettler – MP3
- Brett Connolly – MP3
- JP Cote – MP3
Check out over 140 pictures from tonight’s game 1 match-up on our Facebook page here.