Twice Is Nice - Griffins Late Rally Claims Calder Cup|
Frk's late goal stands as the series clincher in 4-3 win...
By Jason Kasiorek
Jun 13, 2017
Martin Frk capped off a third period rally to give the Grand Rapids Griffins their second Calder Cup in five years, defeating the Syracuse Crunch 4-3 in game six to take the series 4-2. The home team either trailed or was tied for nearly 53 minutes of the game, continuing the trend that saw them win in overtime in game two and with 13.9 seconds left in game one. The Griffins also got goals from Matt Ford (8), Mitch Callahan (6) and Tyler Bertuzzi (9) as well as three assists from Tomas Nosek. Netminder Jared Coreau recovered from a shaky outing in game five to record his 15th win, making 29 saves. Tyler Bertuzzi was named the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy winner as playoff MVP for the Griffins.
Physical start to the first period of game six, lots of banging early, particularly by the Griffins. Syracuse found some space and ripped a shot that beat Jared Coreau but hit the pipe and went out the other side. A too many men penalty put the Griffins down a man early. Nice play and Turgeon cut in front for a shot on McKenna. The penalty killers were up to the task and killed off that penalty and a slashing call on Joe Hicketts shortly thereafter. Coreau came out to play the puck and got caught as his clearing attempt ended up right in front of the net and on the stick of Gourde for an easy empty netter and a 1-0 lead. Matt Ford with a dangerous chance got open and fired a big shot that hit McKenna. As play went the other way, Ford was crosschecked to the ice setting up a Griffins man-advantage. As Tyler Bertuzzi forced his way into the zone at the line, he was high-sticked, setting up a 5-on-3. GR didn't have much to show for it, but ended up with another powerplay right after the last penalty expired. Shots on goal: GR 9 - Syr 8.
The Griffins finally broke their powerplay drought, just 18 seconds into the period. Ford with great patience in front, took his time, picked a corner, and sniped a shot in over McKenna for his 8th of the post-season. Martin Frk to the box for goaltender interference and the Griffins penalty killers were called on again. Ford very determined, forechecking like mad and really causing havoc to the Crunch powerplay. Svechnikov stepped up with a huge hit at the line as he stood up the puck carrier. Taormina restored the Crunch lead midway through the period. A bad pass led to a turnover and Taormina put it past a screened Coreau, before the netminder even saw it. Frk unloaded a cannon of a shot that hit McKenna and got caught up in his equipment, leading to a stoppage in play. Dylan McIlrath with a big hit along the end-boards and he ended up going to the box. Tangradi followed McKenna behind the net, surprised him and stole the puck, sending it out in front. Ben Street had a swipe at it and Callahan buried it for a goal to tie things at two. Matt Lorito set up Evgeny Svechnikov all-alone in the slot, and he fanned on the shot. The pace really picked up at this point as the Griffins really started to pressure McKenna, eventually drawing a penalty. Right off the face-off, Lorito jumped through and had a great chance. Grand Rapids got caught in their own end and couldn't clear. As they tired they dove to block shots until three were on the ice and there was nobody to clear the puck, allowing Gourde to pot his second of the night and restore a one goal lead for Syracuse. Shots on goal: GR 10 - Syr 11.
Colin Campbell and Cory Conacher collided with the Crunch veteran getting the worst of it and going down. Tyler Bertuzzi jumped on a loose puck in front and whipped it in over McKenna to tie the game again, sending the arena crowd into a frenzy. Incredible glove save by Coreau to stop what looked like a sure goal. Ford got open and put a big shot on McKenna who dove and just stopped it at the goal line. Play back the other way and GR turned the puck over right in front but the shot just missed the net. Tangradi and Callahan give and go around the net with a couple of decent scoring chances. Martin Frk gave the Griffins their first lead of the game late in the period when he unloaded his slapper from the circle and into the net before McKenna could react. Ford all alone in the slot and fired a shot that deflected off a defenders stick and up into the net. McKenna to the bench for an extra attacker. Tangradi in on the empty net but was driven wide and couldn't get a good angle. Faceoff at center ice brings McKenna back in, but he returned to the bench with possession. Coreau with a couple of huge saves as the clock ran down and when it reached zero, the Griffins bench erupted. Evgeny Svechnikov was the first person off, but the rest of the team joined him as they all gathered behind the Griffins net and confetti began to rain down on the newly minted Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapids Griffins. Shots on goal: GR 7 - Syr 13. For the Game: GR 26 - Syr 32.
12 forwards - 6 defense
Bertuzzi - Nosek - Frk
Tangradi - Street - Callahan
Svechnikov - Criscuolo - Lorito
Ford - Turgeon - Campbell
Lashoff - Russo
Paetsch - Hicketts
Renouf - McIlrath
#11 Cleary - Veteran
Ford - Nosek - Lorito
Frk - Street
Tangradi - Criscuolo/Callahan - Svechnikov
Bertuzzi - Russo
Turgeon - Campbell
Lashoff - Paetsch
Ford - Nosek
Renouf - McIlrath
The Griffins again managed turn it on when they needed too. We were discussing game seven during the second intermission as it did not seem that Grand Rapids would be able to pull off the win. When the third period started they threw the switch and were able to get the win. This was a facet of this team that we saw all throughout the postseason. They seemed to play with icewater in their veins, no panic and they just worked the process until they scored enough to win. I was amazed several times at how they just kept after it and were able to pull out a game in the third. A lot of that has to do with the fabulous veteran leadership team assembled this season, but this team really seemed to exert their will unlike any team I have seen in Grand Rapids.
While Tyler Bertuzzi was an easy and deserving recipient of the playoff MVP (Butterfield) trophy, he was certainly not the only candidate. Team leading scorer Tomas Nosek got it done at both ends of the ice and added three assists in the deciding game to finish with 10 goals and 22 points in 19 games. Overtime hero Ben Street put up 8 goals and 21 points, while fellow Badger alumni Matt Ford had 8 goals and was a force on the penalty kill and his effort and work ethic were contagious for the rest of the team. He seemed to come up with a big goal when his team needed a pick me up and really impressed me as a big game player.
It is always interesting to watch the order that players hand off the cup in. Captain Paetsch handed off to Alternate Captain Matt Ford who handed off to former college teammate Ben Street. watching those two win together again was something I won't soon forget. It was also interesting that Dan Cleary was suited up for a turn with the cup after talking to him in between the second and third periods while he was wearing the suit while hanging out with Shawn Horcoff and other Red Wings brass.