The Grand Rapids Griffins sealed their second Calder Cup in four years with a 4-3 victory over Syracuse Crunch at Van Andel Arena on Tuesday, winning the series 4-2. Their last triumph came in 2012-2013 when they beat the same opposition by the same margin.
Goals from Matthew Ford, Mitch Callahan, Tyler Bertuzzi and Martin Frk helped the Griffins, who came back from a goal down on three occasions, claim the title. Bertuzzi, the nephew of former NHL bad boy Todd, now holds the Griffins franchise record for playoff goals with 23.
This was the Griffins’ second attempt at wrapping the series up. They held a 3-1 lead going into Game 5 but a dominant showing from the Crunch saw them claim a 5-1 victory on home ice. The Crunch also seemed determined to spoil the party on Tuesday, taking a 1-0 lead at the 14:09 mark of the first period. Cory Conacher forced a turnover behind the net and fed Yanni Gourde to bury his eighth of the playoffs.
The Griffins responded thanks to a carry-over power play 0:18 into the second period. Tomas Nosek found Matthew Ford at the edge of the right circle for his sixth power-play goal of the postseason. Syracuse retook the lead at 7:51 thanks to a rebound goal from Matt Taormina. The lead would last less than four minutes, Grand Rapids leveling thanks to a mistake from Crunch goalie Mike McKenna. His pass from behind the goal line was intercepted by Ben Street. He moved the puck to Mitch Callahan who had a simple task of tapping home. Syracuse again took the lead at 18:10, and again it was Yanni Gourde with the goal. The Crunch applied pressure and it was Gourde who eventually tucked home a rebound from below the left circle.
Tyler Bertuzzi, who was awarded the Jack A Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP, leveled the game for a third time 3:50 into the third period. His ninth goal and 19th point of the playoffs came when he banged home a rebound off a Martin Frk shot. Frk, who has twice been waived by NHL teams this year (Detroit and Carolina), then cemented his place in Griffins history by scoring the game, series, and championship winning goal. He ripped a laser by McKenna at 12:41 for his fifth of the playoffs. Despite their best efforts, Syracuse could not find a way past Jared Coreau and the Griffins goalie finished the game with 29 saves and a 15-4 playoff record.
The Griffins ended the playoffs with a perfect 10-0 record on home ice and were the only team to record a road victory over the Crunch (3-2 Game 4) in the postseason.
1) Martin Frk (GWG, Assist)
2) Tomas Nosek (Three Assists)
3) Yanni Gourde (Two Goals)