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Griffins Banish Barracuda - Advance to Calder Cup Finals
Coreau backstops Griffins to 4-2 win with 39 saves to closeout the series...
By Jason Kasiorek
May 27, 2017

Jared Coreau was the difference for Grand Rapids in game five of the AHL Western Conference Finals, making 39 stops to lead his team to a series ending 4-2 win over the San Jose Barracuda. The Griffins got timely scoring from Brian Lashoff (1), Matt Ford (7) and Matt Lorito (6,7), but it was Coreau that held them in despite being badly out-chanced and outshot at times. Special teams again played a big role in the outcome as the Griffins penalty killers stopped all 4 San Jose powerplay attempts, and the GR powerplay clicked for one goal in three chances. The Griffins will move on to face the Syracuse Crunch on Friday June, 2nd in game one of the Calder Cup Finals, a rematch of the 2013 finals in which Grand Rapids won it's first Calder Cup Championship.

Grand Rapids got off to a great start, just 24 seconds in Brian Lashoff fired a rocket from the point that that got by Grosenick for a 1-0 lead. This seemed to spur o the Barracuda as they upped the pressure and spent a lot of time in the Griffins zone trying to get shots to the net. Scramble around the net, Lorito got knocked into the netminder and Evgeny Svechnikov put the puck in the net after the whistle, which drew a crowd. Criscuolo found some room on a partial break and fired a quick shot that just missed. Two-on-one Barracuda, Lashoff took one player and Coreau steered the shot away. The ice has really been tilted in Barracuda's favor as they have an 11-3 shot advantage and have spent most of the period in the Griffins end. Great chance in front by Callahan and then Eric Tangradi just fanned on the rebound in the slot. Grosenick dove way out of the net to cover the puck in the slot. Late in the period Campbell won a battle in the corner and came out with the puck hitting Ford in front. Ford went down on one-knee and one-timed the puck behind Grosenick for a 2-0 lead. The griffins got a late powerplay, but it was negated by a penalty to Martin Frk. Four-on-four, Nosek got away and went in alone on net for a rising shot that just missed (the goal light went on). Shots on goal: GR 9 - SJ 12.

Joe Hicketts turned the puck over twice on the same shift and the second one proved costly as Meier picked it up and put it behind Coreau to cut the lead to one. The Griffins had another abysmal powerplay, spending the whole time trying to set up Frk for his big shot, but he was covered by San Jose who had figured that strategy out. Good shorthanded chance by Tomas Nosek and then Ford made a play and got knocked down along the boards. Frk broke a stick on a point shot, Nosek had two pokes at it, then Lorito swooped in and buried it to push the lead to 3-1. Bad clearing attempt on the PK and COreau was forced to make a huge save. Ford with bad angle shot on net and Svechnikov batted at the rebound, but Grosenick just made the stop. Shots on goal: GR 10 - SJ 12.

Grand Rapids trying to weather the storm in the early going as San Jose is bringing everything they have to try and get back into the game. Evgeny Svechnikov along the boards, beat his check, spun and hit Lorito all alone in the circle. Lorito sniped a shot in over the netminder for a 4-1 lead. Lorito blocked a shot in front and then Campbell backchecked his man all the way back into his own zone. Grand Rapids with a pair of chances right on the doorstep on a bang-bang play as they have started to pick up the pace. Robbie Russo fell down trying to stay with his man around the net and Coreau made another crucial save. Grand Rapids running around in their own zone unable to clear and San Jose got a lucky bounce and deflection that just went in over Coreau's shoulder. Grosenick to the bench for the extra attacker with 3+ minutes left on the clock. Ford tried for the empty netter but missed for an icing call. Tangradi with a steal and a shot, but it was blocked before reaching the net. Two more octopus came out during the stoppage in play. Tangradi had another marvelous chance in the dying seconds, right off the faceoff that Grosenick just got a piece of. Time ticked down on the end of the Western Conference Finals as the Griffins now advance to play Syracuse next weekend. Shots on goal: GR 7 - SJ 17. For the Game: GR 26 - SJ 41.

12 forwards - 6 defense
Bertuzzi - Nosek - Frk
Tangradi - Street - Callahan
Svechnikov - Criscuolo - Lorito
Ford - Turgeon - Holmstrom

Lashoff - Russo
Paetsch - Hicketts
Renouf - McIlrath

Starter: Coreau
Backup: Pasquale

#3 Cholowski
#9 Holmstrom
#11 Cleary - Veteran
#13 Hronek
#16 Santos
#21 Borkowski
#29 Sadowy
#35 Heeter
#42 Shine
#43 Smith
#44 Allen
#45 Campbell
#48 Saarijarvi

Ford - Nosek - Lorito
Frk - Street

Tangradi - Criscuolo/Callahan - Svechnikov
Bertuzzi - Russo

Turgeon - Campbell
Lashoff - Paetsch

Ford - Nosek
Renouf - McIlrath


You have to give the Barracuda credit, they came out hard and played one of their best games of the series, but Grand Rapids got some stellar netminding and were just able to capitalize better on the chances they got.

The fourth line gets another nod tonight, as Turgeon, Ford and Campbell caused San Jose headaches with their grit, speed and ability to create turnovers.

Evgeny Sevchnikov looked much more relaxed tonight after getting a goal yesterday and getting the monkey off his back. He showed better patience and made a couple of really nice plays with his regained confidence.

Official Game Sheet