As I said, the Crunch struck first blood tonight with an unassisted goal by Ondrej Palat, the AHL’s lead goal scorer this post season. The opportunity came at the expense of an intercepted pass from Griffins defenseman Danny DeKeyser.
The Crunch were outshot 42-22 by the Griffins; however, as I have always said, quantity does not always equal quality, as Crunch netminder Cedrick Desjardins was able to stop all but two of the 42 shots against him.
The first of the two Griffins goals would come at the hands of left wing Triston Grant in the last 2 minutes of play in the first period. The second would come at 5:36, on a Griffins power play as Palat was serving his two minutes in the box for roughing, at the hands of left wing Tomas Tatar. This was his 14th goal of the post season.
Thankfully for the Crunch, this would be the last time that the Griffins would find the back of the net during this encounter.
The third goal by the Crunch, and ultimately the game winner, came off the stick of Crunch RW Richard Panik. This was Panik’s 8th goal of the post season. The goal was scored during a Crunch power play while Griffins center Landon Ferraro was in the penalty box for 2 minutes for Tripping.
The first of the final two goals would come at the hands of Tyler Johnson at 00:36 in the third with the assists to Palat and Taormina; the second at 17:16 in the third by Dan Sexton into an empty net with the assist from Namestnikov.
Once again, the penalties were plentiful on both sides of the ice; not quite as many as there were in Friday’s encounter, but all the same.
There were 12 infractions in Saturday’s on ice showdown; 7 against Grand Rapids and 5 for Syracuse.
In what seems like a recurring trend, in the last 2 minutes of the game chaos ensues. Griffins RW Mitch Callahan tried to get in a cheap shot on Richard Panik (which probably didn’t work out the way he planned as Panik got to his feet all smiles), and then a flurry of penalties ensued. Both Panik and Callahan, along with Griffins defenseman Brennan Evans and Crunch RW J.T. Brown were all served with 10 minute misconduct penalties, and essentially sent to their respective locker rooms. Griffins LW Triston Grant was also assessed a 5 minute major for Cross Checking.
It seems to me as if the Griffins have adopted a “If you can’t beat them, beat on them” attitude in the final minutes of the last 2 games in this series. While this may sound like fun on paper, it’s probably not the best decision when you are about to head on the road for the next game in the series. Fans remember things like this, and are not likely to be very forgiving of this Griffins team when they roll into the War Memorial Arena on Tuesday.
In any case, the Crunch have put up two solid performances in a row while in Grand Rapids. In the last two encounters, 5 different Crunch players have been able to find the back of the net; Brett Connolly (2), Ondrej Palat (2), Richard Panik (2), Tyler Johnson (1), and Dan Sexton (1).
There have also been 7 individual Crunch players to register an assist in the same timeframe; Panik, Mark Barberio (3), Jean-Phillippe Cote, Johnson, Palat (2), Matt Taormina, and Vladislav Namestnikov.
All in all, this means that 9 different Crunch players have found their name on the score sheet in one way or another over the last two encounters.
This series is now heading back to Syracuse. The Crunch will take on the Griffins in Game 6 of the 2013 Calder Cup Finals on Tuesday, June 18th at 7:00 p.m. at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse.
If you can’t make the trip to Syracuse and would still like to watch your team play, you watch the 2013 Calder Cup Finals for free on AHL Live. If you have not already registered, details on how to watch can be found here.
Do you think the Crunch have what it takes to force a Game 7 and bring home the Calder Cup for the first time in Franchise History? Who do you think has stood out in this series for the Crunch? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.