By Jason Iacona | PPPShow.net Corespondent | On Twitter: @nafsnep
SYRACUSE, NY — The Grand Rapids Griffins finally took the advice of the Syracuse Crunch.
The Crunch said, down 3-0, “don’t let us win (Game 4)”
The Griffins didn’t listen. The Crunch won 3-2.
The Crunch said, “Don’t let us win Game 5”
The Griffins didn’t listen. The Crunch won 5-2.
Finally, the message got through.
Buoyed by a two goal performance by Tomas Tatar and backstopped by a 24 save by Petr Mrazek, the Grand Rapids Griffins are the Calder Cup Champions, winning in Game 6 5-2 over the Syracuse Crunch.
Radko Gudas made his Calder Cup Finals debut, taking the place of Evan Oberg in the only lineup change for Game 6.
The Crunch break the ice late in the first. Richard Panik scores on a broken play. Grand Rapids tries to clear the zone. Tyler Johnson knocks the puck away from a Griffins defender. The puck finds its way to Matt Taormina, who shoots, the puck bobbles around with bodies flying in the crease of Mrazek and Panik scores a goal with the Griffins netminder out of position. This was the fifth goal in as many games for Panik.
In the second, Mitch Callahan was setup for the Griffins tying goal by Landon Ferraro at 2:23 into the period. The pass was ahead of him, with Crunch defender Mark Barberio standing in front of him. Callahan fished the puck between Barberio’s legs and roofed a shot in close over the glove of Desjardins.
Griffins continued to press. Nathan Paetsch with a shot off the pipe for the Griffins. Referee Terry Koharski looked at it on replay and confirmed no goal.
Then, Radko Gudas takes his second penalty of the game. Grand Rapids makes quick work and scores when Tatar takes a cross point pass from Gustav Nyquist to push the Griffins out ahead 2-1.
But the Crunch weren’t ready to concede things just yet.
In the third period, Andrej Sustr unleashes a firecracker from the blue line that tied the game at two.
The tying goal seemed to infuse life into everyone involved at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena. The 6,375 in the stands as well as the ten skaters on the ice. The action opened up after that. with teams getting their fair share of chances.
Finally, Brennan Evans unties the game with a low shot from the point from Mitch Callahan from below the goal crease and the Griffins were up 3-2 with 10:06 left.
Grand Rapids were content to, at this point, block all the shots they could and ice the puck whenever they had the opportunity.
Then a sequence that will be remembered when they read about how the Grand Rapids Griffins won their first Calder Cup for years to come.
Richard Panik has a chance to tie the game with about 7:30 left. Petr Mrazek stabs his pad out. A rebound. Panik again. A better shot, but Mrazek an improbable save with his stick to preserve the 3-2 Griffins lead.
It would be all the magic the Griffins would need.
A late Panik slash on Nyquist, a delayed call with the Griffins playing keep away. Finally a power play with 2:13 left.
Tomas Tatar pots empty net goal on power play with 48.5 left. Then Joakim Andersson pots a meaningless empty netter with 5.2 left and the celebration was on for the Griffins, celebrating their first ever league championship after seventeen years of existence.
Post Game Audio:
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