06/05/2013 7:56 PM
Calder Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Finals – Game 7 – Grand Rapids Wins Series, 4-3
Oklahoma City Barons 4 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5
June 5, 2013
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Tomas Jurco finished off a wild, back-and-forth contest by scoring the game-winning goal with 6:12 remaining on Wednesday, as the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Oklahoma City Barons 5-4 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals at Van Andel Arena.
Grand Rapids advances to face the Syracuse Crunch in its first Calder Cup Finals and its first championship series appearance since the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Finals. Games 1 and 2 will take place in Syracuse this Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., before the series shifts to Van Andel Arena on Wednesday, June 12 for as many as three straight games. Tickets for all home games will go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday at griffinshockey.com.
The Griffins needed only 54 seconds to get on the board, as Jan Mursak redirected Adam Almquist’s wrister from the point past Yann Danis. But the Barons’ quick-strike offense scored twice in a span of 25 seconds later in the frame to move ahead 2-1. Chris VandeVelde picked up the puck at center ice, split a pair of defenders as he drove down the slot and buried a shot between Petr Mrazek’s pads at 13:07, before Teemu Hartikainen skated around Nathan Paetsch in the left circle and blistered a shot into the far corner.
Tomas Tatar knotted the score at two with a power play goal at the 15:55 mark, finding the puck in the slot and ripping it over Danis’ left shoulder. Tatar’s 11th goal tied the franchise record for a single postseason (Kevin Miller in 2000) and set a team Calder Cup Playoff mark, eclipsing the 10 tallied by Stacy Roest in 2003.
The Griffins used another power play to take a 3-2 lead midway through the second, when Gustav Nyquist whipped a shot through traffic from atop the right circle at 9:47 for his first of the playoffs. But the Barons benefitted from a lucky break with 2:58 remaining in the frame, as the rebound of an Antti Tyrvainen shot was inadvertently knocked into the net by the skate of a hard-backchecking Triston Grant.
Oklahoma City lit the lamp again just 1:21 into the third, with Taylor Fedun doing the damage from the bottom of the left circle to again give the visitors the lead. Mursak’s second goal then forged the fourth tie of the night at 4-4, connecting on a sharp-angle backhand from near the left corner at 6:32, before Jurco finished off a near cost-to-coast rush by beating Danis cleanly from the slot at 13:48, igniting the Van Andel Arena crowd.
The Barons refused to go quietly, forcing the Griffins to withstand several last-minute faceoffs in their zone, including one during a 6-on-4 advantage with Danis pulled and 13 seconds remaining, but to no avail.
Mrazek stopped 35 of 39 on the night, while Danis turned aside 28 shots.
Notes: The 11 playoff wins earned by the Griffins and Mrazek represent new records for both the team and an individual goalie in a single postseason. Grand Rapids won 10 games during its 2003 and 2000 runs, which were backstopped by Marc Lamothe and Jani Hurme, respectively…June 5 matched the latest game date ever for the Griffins, who fell to Chicago in Game 6 of the IHL Turner Cup Finals exactly 13 years ago…The Griffins improved to 11-13 all time and 4-9 at home when their opponent faces elimination, 8-10 overall and 5-5 at Van Andel Arena when facing elimination themselves, and 2-2 in Game 7s…In the three games since Joakim Andersson and Nyquist returned from Detroit, Grand Rapids has gone 6-for-14 on the power play. Over the series’ first three games, the Griffins went 0-for-9
Three Stars: 1. GR Jurco (game-winning goal); 2. GR Mursak (two goals); 3. OKC Tyrvainen (goal, assist)