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Crunch fall two wins short of a Calder Cup championship

The Syracuse Crunch fought hard until the end but came up just short of capturing the Calder Cup.

Photo by Scott Thomas

Unfortunately for the Syracuse Crunch, they were again on the losing end of a hard fought battle with the Grand Rapids Griffins, and lost Game 6 with a score of 4-3. The ‘Cuse put forth a valiant effort and dominated most of Tuesday’s match, but ended up falling short of the AHL’s most coveted prize by just two wins.

After a decisive game five win back in Syracuse on Saturday, the boys in blue looked poised to continue their winning ways at Van Andel Arena. The first goal of the game came at the 14:09 mark of the first period courtesy of Yanni Gourde. Griffins’ starting goaltender Jared Coreau misplayed the puck behind his own net and the dynamic duo of Cory Conacher and Gourde were able to link up to net the easy goal for an early 1-to-0 lead.

Syracuse took three minor penalties in the opening frame and while the Griffins didn’t capitalize on them in the first period, a tripping call on Kevin Lynch that carried over into the middle stanza would prove to be costly. Just 18 ticks into the period, a loose puck found the stick of Matthew Ford in the high-slot, and he placed a precision shot over the right shoulder of Crunch goalie Mike McKenna to tie the game at one.

Seven minutes later, despite the heightened pulse of the crowd, Syracuse was able to turn up the pressure and quiet the arena once again. 2017 Eddie Shore award-winning defenseman and Crunch catalyst Matt Taormina crashed the net after a Michael Bournival bid and pushed home the rebound to gain a one goal lead.

As was the theme all night long, the Griffs bounced back, and in quick fashion. Four minutes after Taormina’s tally, gritty forward Mitch Callahan capitalized on a mistake by Mike McKenna behind the Crunch goal that was very similar to the play Yanni Gourde scored on to start the contest.

Getting sick of going back and forth yet? Oh well, the Crunch would do it one more time.

In the waning moments of the second period, Yanni Gourde was able to inject one final shot of life into the organization when he collected a rebound off of a Dominik Masin point-shot and shoveled it into the twine to regain the lead for what would be the last time in the 2016-2017 season.

From that point on, it was all Grand Rapids. The Griffins knotted the game at three when Tyler Bertuzzi netted his ninth goal of the post-season and then nine minutes later, Martin Frk sealed the deal to send the state of Michigan into an absolute frenzy.

And with that, the Syracuse Crunch closed the final chapter of their Cinderella story season on Tuesday night. The story had its ups and downs and while this one didn’t necessarily end on a happy note, the future looks bright enough in the Salt City that a sequel is sure to be written in 2017-2018.