The Calder Cup finals have been heated to say the least. Last night was no different. The Syracuse Crunch were able to keep hope alive as they defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-2 in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
It was Grand Rapids who would strike first blood, with a goal by center Joakim Andersson at 3:34 in the first period. However, just a minute and a half later at 5:04, the Crunch would strike back with a goal from Brett Connolly.
The Crunch would not hold onto the lead for very long. Just after the halfway point in the first period, the Griffins would strike back with a goal from right wing Jan Mursak. The score would now be 2-1 Griffins.
The second period was all about the Crunch, who scored two goals that period.
The first of those goals came at 14:01 when left wing Ondrej Palat fired one past Mrazek, with the assist to Richard Panik. The second, and ultimately the game winner, was at 16:52 when Richard Panik found the net off of a redirect from Mark Barberio and Jean-Phillippe Cote.
Unfortunately, penalties have been the name of the game for both sides during this series.
Thankfully, the Crunch penalty kill was spot on.
There were a total of 19 penalties called in last night’s encounter; 10 for Syracuse and 9 of Grand Rapids. The words ‘hooking’ and ‘roughing’ were tossed around a lot in this game, but that was not the worst of the night.
The scariest moment in the game came at 19:38 in the second period, shortly after the goal by Richard Panik, Griffins right win Gustav Nyquist was called for a 5 minute major, and subsequently ejected from the game after spearing Panik.
Panik was slow to get up, but did make it off the ice under his own power, and did return to the game.
The Crunch have got to get the penalty situation under control if they want to stay alive in this series. Being a man down due to falling into a penalty trap has cost the Crunch plenty of opportunities during this series.
Thankfully, between the speed of the defense and the 26 saves put up by goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, they were able to hold off an assault from the Griffins.
This game was very close to going into overtime. With just 18 seconds left on the clock, the goal horn sounds as there is a huge pile up in front of the net. Everyone thought that this game would be heading into overtime at this point.
Then things got ugly. There was a ton of pushing and shoving, and even some fists flying behind the play. This accounted for another 4 minutes in penalties; one to Luke Glendening of the Griffins, and the other to Desjardins for roughing. Upon review of the play, they deemed the goal to be no good. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the quick reaction time of Desjardins, this may have been a very different game.
Things did not get any more civil as the final seconds ticked off of the clock. At 19:51 Griffins defenseman Chad Billens was called for 2 minutes for Hooking. Subsequently unable to control his emotion, Crunch center Mike Angelidis was assessed a 10 minute misconduct for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
However, as the final seconds did indeed tick off of the clock, the Crunch were able to maintain possession of the puck and send this series to a Game 5.
The Crunch have a solid chance of taking this series all the way. They have fire power to spare, and plenty of speed on the defense. All they need to do is keep themselves out of the penalty box.
Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals is set to take place tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. You can watch the game for free on AHL Live. If you have not registered already, details can be found here.
Do you think the Crunch can hold off the Griffins and bring this series back to Syracuse? What do you think needs to happen to keep the Crunch on the right path? Sound off in the comments below and let us know.