Calder Cup champions: Grand Rapids Griffins beat Syracuse, 4-3

The Grand Rapids Griffins are your 2017 Calder Cup champions!

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - The Grand Rapids Griffins are bringing home the hardware -- they're Calder Cup champions.

In front of some 10,000 screaming fans at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins rallied and led for the first time in the third period against the Syracuse Crunch.

The Griffins won, 4-3, fending off a Game 7 in the Calder Cup Finals.

The Calder Cup is returning to Grand Rapids for the second time in Griffins' franchise history. In 2013, they beat Syracuse for the trophy in 2013.

More: Fans show their support for Grand Rapids Griffins

Reporting from the Detroit Free Press' Helene St. James follows: 

The Grand Rapids Griffins spent two periods playing catch-up hockey. Then they played close-out hockey.

Detroit Red Wings prospect Tyler Bertuzzi electrified a sold-out Van Andel Arena tonight when he scored early in the third period to give his Grand Rapids Griffins a tie game. Soon after, the Griffins took their first lead of Game 6 thanks to Martin Frk.

“We want the cup, we want the cup,” chants broke out as the Calder Cup final match crescendoed.

The Griffins clinched the 2017 Calder Cup championship with a hard-fought 4-3 victory. Goaltender Jared Coreau made 28 saves as the Griffins never lost at home throughout the playoffs.

Bertuzzi, who recorded his 19th point of the playoffs in his 19th game, scored from just outside the right post at 3:50 of the third period, part of a Griffins surge. Frk delivered the Griffins their first lead at 12:41. Tomas Nosek assisted on both those goals, along with the Griffins’ first one. 

The Griffins got into special teams trouble in the first period: First they had to kill two straight, stifling their offense. Then Coreau misplayed the puck and that enabled Yanni Gourde to give the Crunch a 1-0 lead at 14:09. The Griffins had a golden opportunity to grab momentum when they earned a 37-second two-man power play, but they ended up squandering the entire 3:23 minute stretch. The Griffins got another power play with 1:16 left in the period, and outshot the Crunch, 9-8.

After looking nervous in the first period, the Griffins got a bit of a balm when they converted 18 seconds into the second period, with Matt Ford scoring off a setup by Nosek. But the Crunch retook the lead at 7:51 on a bad rebound, with Matt Taormina making it 2-1. It helped when Syracuse goaltender Mike McKenna misplayed the puck behind his net, as Mitch Callahan took advantage to tie the game back up at 11:50 of the second period.

The Crunch were back to playing catch-up hockey when Gourde scored on a rebound with less than 2 minutes to play in the second period. 

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