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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

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
11 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89