The bottom line: Syracuse Crunch vs. Grand Rapids Griffins, game 6
The Crunch and the Griffins found themselves in familiar territory this past Saturday. Grand Rapids had the chance to claim the Calder Cup on Syracuse’s ice, an eerily familiar scene from the previous time these two teams faced each other in the final round. In 2013, Grand Rapids won the Calder in game 6, celebrating their win on the ice at the Onondaga County War Memorial. It created a moment most Crunch fans may not ever be able to forget.
The story ended differently this time around. Syracuse prevailed in game 5, their last on their home ice for this season, winning the game soundly 5-1. Now the Crunch heads back to Grand Rapids for the final two games of the series, down 2-3 overall.
Two games left. Two victories needed.
The Crunch had a great start Saturday. Head coach Ben Groulx described it as “opportunistic.” That same kind of start will be needed tonight (and tomorrow).
Enough credit can’t be given to Syracuse goalie Mike McKenna. He’s been absolutely phenomenal between the pipes, and his calm demeanor has been lauded by both the players and Groulx. McKenna and the team has been really great at being realistic about the challenges ahead of them, and it doesn’t seem like that has changed at all despite the momentum that Syracuse has gathered from their past three games:
Much has been made of the revelation that about half the team was suffering from the flu at the start of the series, during which Syracuse dropped into a 0-2 hole. However, Yanni Gourde was quick to insist Saturday night that the team’s game wasn’t really changed by that many players being affected by illness. The message, instead, was for everyone to not expect to be automatically better at playing hockey this time just because they’re healthy now. The team still has more things to clean up to be able to move forward:
Pre-game reading, listening, and viewing:
- Previous previews: game 1, game 2, game 3, game 4
- Brandon’s game recap: game 1
- Instead of a recap for game 2, Brandon and I discussed game two and all of its implications from the perspective of two passionate fans.
- Geo handled the recap for game 3.
- Matt pitched in for the recap for game 4.
- Justin helped out with the recap for game 5.
- Be sure to check out the photo gallery from games 3 and 4.
- The Crunch’s SoundCloud is a great place to go for player interviews and tidbits.
- ESPN Syracuse has an Audio Vault that has a lot of quality Crunch stuff from the past few days.
- Be sure to check out Syracuse’s YouTube channel if you’re looking for highlights, interviews, and recaps.
- You can find more coverage from the team’s beat writer and others, including our friend Brent Axe, over at Syracuse.com.
- Speaking of Brent, his game report from game 5 can’t be missed.
- He also listed 3 things the Crunch needs to do to keep their hopes alive and beat history.
- Have you cried yet today? Here, let me help: This season’s Crunch wants Syracuse to never forget them.
- A neat stat from Saturday:
The #SyrCrunch are the first team to score 5 goals in a period in the #CalderCup Finals since Chicago in Game 3 of the 2008 series vs. WBS— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) June 10, 2017
- Crunch forward Cory Conacher has earned a place in the team’s record books:
With 1g, 1a in the first period, Cory Conacher has set a #SyrCrunch franchise record for points in a postseason (27) #CalderCup— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) June 10, 2017
- Just how loud was the War Memorial Saturday? Well....
First period maxed out at 111.4 decibels. 5 goals will do that to you. Can @SyracuseCrunch fans top that? #FIN15H— Mike Lozito (@Lozito44) June 10, 2017
- Yanni Gourde is good at the hockey:
.@SyracuseCrunch forward Yanni Gourde leads all scorers with 2-6-8 in the first five games of the #CalderCup Finals pic.twitter.com/N7hVbjKL5O— AHL (@TheAHL) June 12, 2017
Game night essentials:
- The pre-game radio broadcast with Dan D’Uva will start at 6:45 EST on ESPN Syracuse. You can stream the game in its entirety for free.
- Puck drop is at 7:00 ET in Syracuse.
- AHL Live has an amazing special deal this round: watch for free!
AHL Fans: Stream the 2017 #CalderCup Finals between @griffinshockey & the @SyracuseCrunch for free at https://t.co/H4S6BaaGAM! pic.twitter.com/2r9XZmraL3— AHL (@TheAHL) May 28, 2017
- The game will also be broadcast on Sirius XM:
Game 6 of the #CalderCup Finals between @griffinshockey and the @SyracuseCrunch will be aired on @SiriusXMNHL tomorrow. Puck drops at 7pm ET pic.twitter.com/TqIekc76sN— AHL (@TheAHL) June 12, 2017
- Tullys on Erie in Syracuse will be hosting more watch parties:
The @SyracuseCrunch will host #CalderCup viewing parties at @TullysGoodTimes for Game 6 and 7 https://t.co/sVCDW6l24C— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) June 12, 2017
Potential lines and pairings for Syracuse:
Tye McGinn - Yanni Gourde - Cory Conacher
Joel Vermin - Matthew Peca - Byron Froese
Michael Bournival - Gabriel Dumont - Kevin Lync
Adam Erne - Anthony Cirelli - Daniel Walcott
Potential defensive pairings:
Matt Taormina - Dominik Masin
Slater Koekkoek - Jake Dotchin
Ben Thomas - Mathieu Brodeur
-Crunch captain Erik Condra is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. Has not played since game two of this round. His status is still up in the air for tonight, though he did travel with the team.
Potential lines and pairings for Grand Rapids:
Tyler Bertuzzi - Tomas Nosek - Martin Frk
Eric Tangradi - Ben Street - Mitch Callahan
Evgeny Svechnikov - Kyle Criscuolo - Matt Lorito
Matthew Ford - Dominic Turgeon - Colin Campbell
Potential defensive pairings:
Brian Lashoff - Robbie Russo
Nathan Paetsch - Joe Hicketts
Dan Renouf - Dylan McIlrath