Syracuse Crunch vs. Grand Rapids Griffins preview: AHL Calder Cup Final Game 6

Two wins to go.

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:

There’s so much fight in this team, we didn’t play 76 games in the regular season and all the playoff games up until now to lay down.” - Kevin Lynch

Pre-game reading, listening, and viewing:

  • Crunch forward Cory Conacher has earned a place in the team’s record books:/
  • Just how loud was the War Memorial Saturday? Well..../
  • Yanni Gourde is good at the hockey: /

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! /
  • The game will also be broadcast on Sirius XM: /
  • Tullys on Erie in Syracuse will be hosting more watch parties: /

Potential lines and pairings for Syracuse:

Starting netminder:

Mike McKenna

Potential lines:

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

Injury updates/news:

-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:

Starting netminder:

Jared Coreau

Potential lines:

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