The Grand Rapids Griffins won their first Calder Cup by defeating the Syracuse Crunch in 6 games. Their battle to the cup wasn’t a walk in the park. Here, I will lay out a breakdown of the final series against the Crunch and what it means to have won the cup.
In game one, the Griffins dominated the ice, defeating Syracuse 3-1. Scoring came from Mitch Callahan, Riley Sheahan, and Gustav Nyquist. The alternate captain Jean-Philippe Cote scored for Syracuse. Game two ended about the same, disappointing for the Crunch fans. The Griffins rallied up a 6-4 victory. The game saw 10 different goal scorers. For the Griffins, they had Tomas Tatar, Triston Grant, Landon Ferraro, Tomas Jurco, Francis Pare, and Jan Mursak. For the Crunch, they were Andrej Sustr, Richard Panik, Brett Connolly, and J.T. Brown.
Syracuse opened up the scoring in game three. It would be the only goal in the first period. Richard Panik was the goal scorer. Tatar scored a goal 2 minutes into the second period that lifted the Griffins. After almost three minutes had passed, the Griffins’ Luke Glendening scored to regain the lead. Dan Sexton of the Crunch tied it up and the second period ended, but the third period was all Grand Rapids. Jan Mursak scored the tie-breaking goal, and Jeff Hoggan got the insurance goal. The sweep looked imminent.
Game four should have been won by the Griffins. Joakim Anderssonscored only 3 and a half minutes into the first. Brett Connolly tied up the game in less than two minutes. Exactly six minutes after Connolly’s goal, Mursak scored the tie-breaking goal. Syracuse dominated the second period by scoring with Ondrej Palat and Panik. Game four was won by the Crunch 3-2. Game 5 was a brutal beating for the Griffins. The team who once had a 3-0 series lead has lost game four and then massacred in game 5. The first period saw Palat, Connolly, and Grant score. Syracuse led 2-1 after 1. The second period was Tatar and Panik. The Crunch led 3-2 after 2. Syracuse’s Tyler Johnson scored 36 seconds into the final period. Dan Sexton scored the empty-net goal to put away the win.
Syracuse opened up the scoring in game 6, with Panik scoring his 9th of the playoffs before the end of the first. Callahan and Tatar regained the lead by scoring in the second period. The lead gave them the confidence they needed. Syracuse’s Sustr scored 5 minutes into the third to tie it up. Over four minutes later, the Griffins’ Brennan Evans scored the game-winning goal. Tatar and Andersson got empty-net goals at 19:11 and 19:54 of the third period to ensure their first Calder Cup win.
The boys played a great year, and even though their Detroit Red Wings couldn’t celebrate with a cup, at least some the younger players got to play with the Griffins and win the Cup there.
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