05/21/2013 7:45 PM
Calder Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Semifinals – Game 6 – Grand Rapids Wins Series, 4-2
GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4 at Toronto Marlies 3
May 21, 2013
TORONTO – The Grand Rapids Griffins scored three times within a 5:53 span of the third period – capped off by Luke Glendening’s series-clincher with just 4:03 remaining – to stun the Toronto Marlies and advance to the Western Conference Finals with an incredible 4-3 victory on Tuesday in Game 6 at Ricoh Coliseum.
The Griffins will now face the Oklahoma City Barons for the right to play for the Calder Cup. Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series will be staged at Van Andel Arena this Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25. Both games will be at 7 p.m., and tickets are available at griffinshockey.com.
In a scene eerily reminiscent of their parent club’s infamous Game 7 collapse against the Boston Bruins, the Marlies were primed to force a Game 7 on their home ice tomorrow night before squandering a 3-1 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining. Less than four minutes after Triston Grant’s crushing hit on Jerry D’Amigo at center ice seemed to turn the momentum to the Griffins, Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar scored just 28 seconds apart to tie the game, stun the crowd and set the stage for Glendening’s heroics.
The Marlies scored on their first shot of the night 4:15 into the contest. On a rush into the Grand Rapids zone, Carter Ashton wound up for routine a slap shot from the right side that Petr Mrazek came out for and got a piece of, but the puck deflected off and underneath his arm and slipped into the net.
Soon after, consecutive penalties to Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans gave the Marlies 3:47 of power play time, including 13 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage, but the Griffins’ penalty killers and Mrazek did their jobs to keep the deficit at one.
Grand Rapids looked to be headed to the locker room without any further damage until Toronto struck for a similar goal just 2.4 seconds before the buzzer. Off a faceoff to the right of Mrazek, Mike Zigomanis won the draw back to Paul Ranger, whose shot bounced through the netminder’s pads before barely trickling across the goal line.
The Griffins lit the lamp exactly four minutes into the second period on the first of Tatar’s two goals, as he carried the puck up the right side and swooped around defenseman Mike Mottau before lifting a shot over Drew MacIntyre’s left shoulder. However, Toronto re-established its two-goal cushion at 3-1 just 37 seconds later, when a turnover below the goal line led to D’Amigo centering a pass to a wide-open Will Acton for a blistering one-timer from between the circles.
Just past the midpoint of the third, Mursak darted down the slot to scoop a backhand past MacIntyre at 10:04 to make it 3-2, before Francis Pare found a rebound on the doorstep and quickly fed a blind pass to a crashing Tatar for an easy goal at the left post with 9:28 remaining, knotting the score.
The Griffins continued to apply fierce pressure around the Marlies’ net and were rewarded at the 15:57 mark when Glendening popped home the rebound of Adam Almquist’s shot while positioned at the top of the crease.
Mrazek earned his seventh playoff victory and second series win by battling back with 15 saves, while MacIntyre stopped 27 in the loss.
The Griffins, who closed out a 2006 series against the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum on the way to playing in their most recent conference final, improved their all-time playoff mark in Toronto to 5-1 and earned just the second playoff upset in their history.
Notes: Tatar’s eight goals are now tied with Michel Picard and Petr Schastlivy (both 2000) for the third-most ever by a Griffin in a single playoff year. Kevin Miller tallied a record 11 goals in 17 games during the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Playoffs, while Stacy Roest set the team’s Calder Cup Playoff mark with 10 goals in 15 games in 2003…Grand Rapids improved to 10-12 all-time all time when its opponent faces elimination, including 7-4 on the road.
Three Stars: 1. GR Tatar (two goals); 2. GR Glendening (game-winning goal); 3. GR Mursak (goal, assist)