By Jason Iacona | PPPShow.net Corespondent | On Twitter: @nafsnep
Syracuse, NY: The Syracuse Crunch are heavyweights in the AHL.
They have themselves in a heck of a fight, and are behind on the cards two games in.
A three point night by Landon Ferraro, another sterling performance by goaltender Petr Mrazek and the Grand Rapids Griffins return home to Western Michigan up 2-0 in the Calder Cup Finals winners Sunday evening in Syracuse 6-4 in Game 2.
Every time the Griffins landed a shot, the Crunch countered, but the Griffins dodged and delivered the knockout.
Game 3 is Wednesday in Grand Rapids.
Lineup wise, Cedric Paquette was out for Evan Oberg was the only lineup change for Rob Zettler and the Crunch. No Radko Gudas for the second straight game for the Crunch. No lineup changes for Jeff Blashill’s Griffins.
In the first, Brennan Evans wheels around a fallen J.T Brown on a delayed Syracuse penalty and passes to Tomas Tatar at the top of the slot to open the scoring for the visitors at 4:29 of the period.
At just after the halfway point of the period, Syracuse wins a face off in the Griffins zone. The Crunch try to clear, but the puck is centered to Ferraro who shoots and Triston Grant was there crashing the net, corrals the rebound and scored to make it 2-0 Grand Rapids.
Then, 2:32 later, Andrej Sustr finds the back of the net from the right point of the blue line to make it 2-1 for his first career playoff goal. It was a long wrist shot through traffic similar to J.P. Cote’s goal for the Crunch the night before.
Late, Philippe Paradis draws two Griffins defenders, sweeps a puck to Richard Panik cutting to the net but he was unable to corral the stretch pass enough to get a good shot off on Mrazek.
Shots 13-10 for the Crunch after one. Syracuse was 0-for-8 on the power play to this point in the series.
In the second, pushing and shoving ensues early. While four on four, Gustav Nyqvist cuts to the net with two Crunch draping him. He finds a burst of speed, pulls up and manages a great wrist shot on Cedrick Desjardins but the Crunch netminder made the save.
Later, on what appeared to be a line change for both sides, Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan gets a pass from Riley Sheahan crashes the net and Landon Ferraro was there to tap the rebound past Desjardins to make it 3-1 Grand Rapids.
To prevent the wheels from falling off further, Syracuse Crunch head coach Rob Zettler calls time out to settle his club, but the Griffins continued to smell blood in the water and continued rushes and shots at Desjardins.
The Crunch get a power play about three minutes later. Tyler Johnson rips a shot from the slot, Richard Panik chips the puck off of Mrazek’s pads, stick handles around him and pots the rebound to draw the Crunch within one again.
Here’s where it started to get weird.
The Griffins get a power play of their own right after, Sheahan chips a puck off the back wall to Tomas Jurco, who backhands it top shelf over Desjardins. Referees Darcy Burchell and Mark Lemelin review the play on replay to see if the puck actually entered the net and confirmed the good goal. Only it appeared that replay actually shows the puck not fully cross the line but the goal stood anyway. 4-2 Grand Rapids.
The Crunch get another power play. :27 later, Tyler Johnson shoots from the slot and Brett Connolly slaps home the rebound to draw the Crunch within one again.
Then Riley Sheahan feeds Francis Pare ripping to the slot by the diving blocker of Desjardins to keep it a one goal game late in the second.
Here’s where it started to get really weird.
After the Pare play, with what had been just over a minute left to play in the period, the Syracuse bench were upset about something. Zettler calls over Lemelin to discuss it, and all of a sudden the referee was in the penalty box looking at a replay. It couldn’t have been the Pare shot, as the puck was no where near going in. Instead, Lemelin was reviewing a play about two minutes earlier which was a J.T. Brown shot that initially had looked to had gone wide but upon further review went through the net on the left side near the left post.
All of a sudden, just like that, Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals was tied at 4-4 with 3:50 left in the second.
But, before you could ask yourself what you just saw, the Griffins get a delay of game power play when Tyler Johnson shoots the puck out of play. :05 later, The Griffins cash when Pare deposits yet another rebound goal to push the Griffins out ahead 5-4.
Six goals in what was a wild second period.
In the third, the Crunch open with early pressure. Then Jurco clips Johnson with a high stick for a 4:00 Syracuse power play. Griffins kill it all off. Turns out this would be the turning point of the game, as the Griffins would button it up discipline wise and not take another penalty to allow the high octane Crunch another crack at the power play for the remainder of the game.
The contest went back and forth after that.
Finally, Jan Mursak scores a pretty goal sprung on a breakaway at 14:56 to put the Griffs up 6-4 and put the game away.
Three stars were, 3) Brett Connolly (goal, assist, even) 2) Francis Pare (game winning goal, -2) and 1) Landon Ferraro (goal, two assists, +2)
The teams travel to Grand Rapids Sunday night.
Check out over 130 pictures from tonight’s game 2 match-up on our Facebook page here.