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Griffins clinch their first Calder Cup

Three-goal third period lifts Grand Rapids to 5-2 win in Game 6

Tuesday, 06.18.2013 / 10:09 PM ET / Recap
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Griffins clinch their first Calder Cup
Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan hoists the Calder Cup over his head to begin Tuesday's on-ice celebration in Syracuse. (Photo courtesy of the American Hockey League)

The Grand Rapids Griffins have won their first Calder Cup.

Brennan Evans broke a 2-2 tie 9:54 into the third period and Petr Mrazek made 24 saves as the Griffins claimed the American Hockey League championship with a 5-2 victory against the Syracuse Crunch in Game 6 of the Calder Cup finals at Onondaga County War Memorial Arena on Tuesday night.

Grand Rapids raced out to a 3-0 lead in this best-of-7 series before Syracuse responded with back-to-back victories to get the series back to Syracuse. The road team won five of the six games in the series.

"We'll do it wherever," Griffins coach Jeff Blashill told Time Warner Sports. "We knew it was going to be a real hard series. We knew Syracuse had the heart of a champion. Those are tough close-out games, for sure. Our fans will enjoy this just as much. I know our guys are obviously enjoying it. It's well deserved by our guys – just a great group of character guys."

The Crunch had the only goal of the first period, as Richard Panik beat Mrazek at 17:15 for his ninth goal of the playoffs to give the Crunch a 1-0 lead. But Grand Rapids, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, tallied a pair of goals in the second as Mitch Callahan scored at 2:23 off a feed from Landon Ferraro before Tomas Tatar beat Cedrick Desjardins (20 saves) via the power play at 12:41.

Grand Rapids Griffins - Calder Cup Finals
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Syracuse, the top minor-league affiliate for the Tampa Bay Lightning, evened the score at 2-2 at 5:14 of the third period on Andrej Sustr's second goal of the postseason.

Tatar sealed the championship for Grand Rapids with an empty-net goal at 19:11 of the third. Joakim Andersson added another empty-net goal with six seconds left.

Tatar, Detroit's second-round pick (No. 60) at the 2009 NHL draft, finished the Calder Cup playoffs with 16 goals and 21 points and was named the Most Valuable Player of the AHL's postseason.

Only three teams in AHL history have rallied to win a playoff series after losing the first three games. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins became the third when they did it against the Providence Bruins in the second round this year. It has never been done in the Calder Cup Final.

"There was definitely some scary moments, going home and not being able to close it out in front of the home fans," Evans said. "But this is the way we've done things all year – the hard way. It's just a testament to the character of these guys and the great job the coaches did."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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