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Griffins draw first blood, take Game 1

Mrazek made 28 saves, Sheahan collects game-winning goal

Sunday, 06.9.2013 / 1:04 AM ET / Recap
By Randy Cleves  - Griffins Senior Director of Public Relations
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Griffins draw first blood, take Game 1

Griffins forward Jan Mursak battles Crunch defenseman Andrej Sustr for the puck in Game 1 of the Calder Cup finals on Saturday in Syracuse. (Photo by Mark Newman)

SYRACUSE, N.Y.Petr Mrazek made 28 saves and Riley Sheahan scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with eight minutes remaining as the Grand Rapids Griffins took Game 1 of the Calder Cup finals by a 3-1 count over the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.

For the Crunch, it marked just their second loss in 13 games this postseason. And for their core group of 10 players who won the 2012 Calder Cup as members of the Norfolk Admirals, it was only their second defeat in their last 23 playoff contests.

Game 2 will be Sunday at 6 p.m. in Syracuse before the series shifts to Van Andel Arena on Wednesday, June 12 for the first of as many as three straight games. Tickets are available at griffinshockey.com.

After successfully killing off a too-many-men penalty in the opening minute, the Griffins began to apply pressure on the other end and broke through for the game’s first goal at 6:45. Moments after Jeff Hoggan rang a shot off the right post and then was robbed by Cedrick Desjardins on the doorstep, Chad Billins fired a shot from the point that was put home by Mitch Callahan.

The Griffins carried the play for the majority of the period, almost taking a 2-0 lead midway through when a puck bounced past Landon Ferraro’s stick as he was staring at an open net. But the fast-paced period passed without any more scoring and finished with the Crunch holding a slim 11-10 shot margin.

In the early minutes of the second period, Tyler Johnson missed his own try at a wide-open cage thanks to a tie-up in the crease by Adam Almquist, and Mrazek bailed out Danny DeKeyser by making a spectacular save on Johnson after he picked off DeKeyser’s pass from behind the net.

The chances continued for each team. Just over eight minutes in, Jan Mursak chased down a loose puck in the Syracuse zone and blasted a shot off the crossbar, then Mrazek made another tremendous save during a Crunch power play with eight minutes left, getting his left pad on a point-blank try by Dan Sexton.

Syracuse looked to have tied the game during its fourth power play opportunity with 1:02 remaining before intermission, but the goal by Richard Panik was immediately waved off due to Brett Connolly being in Mrazek’s crease.

Exactly 12 minutes into the third, off a turnover at the Syracuse blue line, Sheahan teed up a cannon that zipped under Desjardins’ left arm. But Grand Rapids’ two-goal advantage was pruned back to one just 1:19 later, when J.P. Cote connected on a long shot that sailed into the top of Mrazek’s net.

A slashing penalty to Panik with 2:01 remaining dimmed the Crunch’s chances of a comeback, and Gustav Nyquist scored into an empty net during that power play with 15 seconds remaining to seal the win.

The Griffins converted one of four power plays on the night while denying the Crunch on each of their five tries.

Desjardins finished with 18 saves.

GAME NOTES: The win was the first for the Griffins in a league final since June 3, 2000, when they posted a 6-4 win at Chicago in Game 5 of the IHL Turner Cup finals. … In its history, Grand Rapids won all previous six best-of-seven series in which it won Game 1, including each of its last two playoff rounds…The sellout crowd of 6,333 was the largest in the Crunch’s postseason history.

THREE STARS: 1. Petr Mrazek, GRG (W, 28 saves); 2. Riley Sheahan, GRG (GWG); 3. Ondrej Palat, SYR.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80