SYRACUSE, NY – Joel Vermin potted two goals for the Syracuse Crunch as they took down the Grand Rapids Griffins, 5-3, to earn their first victory of the Calder Cup Finals tonight at the War Memorial Arena.
Syracuse came out strong and opened the scoring early in the first period off a second-chance goal by Byron Froese. Grand Rapids quickly tied it up, but Vermin’s two markers 57 seconds apart put the Crunch back on top before the first intermission. Both sides added two in the middle frame as Syracuse held on to secure their 10th win on home ice. The Crunch now trails the Griffins, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series.
Mike McKenna recorded the win with 32 saves for the Crunch. Jared Coreau stopped 27-of-32 for the Griffins. Syracuse special teams were outstanding, going 2-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
The Crunch were first to score seven minutes into the game when Froese snuck a rebound behind Coreau from the goal line. Slater Koekkoek and Michael Bournival earned the assists on the opening tally.
The Griffins evened the score less than three minutes later. Martin Frk dug out a centering fee for Tyler Bertuzzi to go bardown from between the circle with a one-timer.
Vermin gave Syracuse a two-goal lead late in the first period with back-to-back markers 57 seconds apart. At 15:31, he threw a shot from the blue line that redirected through traffic and into the net. Matt Taormina and Adam Erne tallied the helpers. Vermin then cleaned up the rebound from Matthew Peca‘s shot from the right circle on the power play. Ben Thomas assisted on the goal.
Seven minutes into the second period, Grand Rapids stole one back. Robbie Russo passed over for Colin Campbell to flip a shot on net. His attempt was blocked, but Dominic Turgeon snuck the rebound in short side.
The Crunch continued to build their lead with two more goals in the middle frame. Tye McGinn tipped Taormina’s rip from the point at the 13:22 mark while on the power play. Cory Conacher picked up the secondary assist on the goal before netting one of his own at 15:18. He crashed the net to tap in the rebounder after McGinn fired a wrister from the right hash marks. Yanni Gourde pushed ahead a six-game point streak with the secondary helper. In the last six games, Yanni Gourde and Cory Conacher have combined for 25 points (10g, 15a).
After some give-and-go passing, Bertuzzi fed Kyle Criscuolo down low to flip into the net with 3:22 remaining in the second period and make it a two-goal game.
Syracuse was able to hold on to their lead through the third period and secured their first win of the Calder Cup Finals series.
Syracuse earned its first home win in the Calder Cup Finals since the Syracuse Stars defeated the Providence Reds on April 10, 1938. With the win, the Crunch are 10-0 at home this postseason.
The Crunch host the Griffins for Game 4 this Friday at 7 pm ET.