Griffins draw first blood in Finals

SYRACUSE, N.Y. ( … The 2013 Calder Cup Finals opened with a hard-fought battle in front of a raucous crowd, but the Grand Rapids Griffins disappointed the home fans with a 3-1 victory over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 1 on Saturday night.

A standing-room-only crowd of 6,333 packed the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena for the first Finals game in Syracuse since 1938.

Grand Rapids scored the first goal of the series when Mitch Callahan, stationed in front, redirected Chad Billins‘ shot from the right point past Cedrick Desjardins at 6:45 of the opening period.

Petr Mrazek kept the Griffins in front with several key saves, including a point-blank stop on Richard Panik early in the second period.

Syracuse had an apparent goal waved off with 1:02 left in the second period after a Crunch player was in the crease, and the Griffins took their 1-0 lead into the locker room for the second intermission.

Riley Sheahan gave the Griffins some breathing room with exactly 8:00 left in the third period as he stepped across the blue line and fired a 40-foot laser past Desjardins to make it 2-0 in favor of the Western Conference champions.

Game 1

Syracuse answered 1:19 later when Jean-Philippe Cote sent a wrister from the high slot over the blocker of Mrazek, cutting the deficit to 2-1. It was Cote’s second goal in 53 career Calder Cup Playoff games, and was the first goal allowed by Mrazek on the road in his last 214:27 of play.

Gustav Nyquist‘s empty-net goal with 14.7 seconds remaining iced the win for the Griffins.

Mrazek (12-7) made 28 saves on the night for Grand Rapids, while Desjardins (11-2) stopped 18 of 20 shots for Syracuse, which also lost Game 1 of their conference final series with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before winning four straight.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven AHL championship series is set for Sunday evening in Syracuse (6 p.m. ET, watch free on AHL Live).

2013 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E3-Syracuse Crunch vs. W3-Grand Rapids Griffins
Game 1 – Sat., June 8 – Grand Rapids 3, SYRACUSE 1
Game 2 – Sun., June 9 – Grand Rapids at Syracuse, 6:00
Game 3 – Wed., June 12 – Syracuse at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., June 14 – Syracuse at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 15 – Syracuse at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Tue., June 18 – Grand Rapids at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., June 20 – Grand Rapids at Syracuse, 7:00
  *if necessary… All times Eastern