DETROIT (WXYZ) - After stealing the first two games on the road in the American Hockey League Calder Cup Finals against the Syracuse Crunch, the Grand Rapids Griffins have allowed the Syracuse Crunch to return the favor. What once seemed like an insurmountable 3-0 series lead has become more tenuous, as the Crunch return home riding a two-game winning streak with a chance to clinch the title on their home ice.
The Griffins have lost two straight home games to shrink their series lead to 3-2 with the final two games scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday in Syracuse, New York. The Griffins will have their first shot to clinch the team's first league championship in Game 6 on Tuesday at 7.p.m, and if necessary, Game 7 on Thursday.
The Griffins effort mirrors what we saw from the Red Wings during the NHL Western Conference Semifinal. After losing Game 1 to Chicago, the Red Wings won three straight games to seize a 3-1 series lead and only needed one more win to punch a ticket to the Western Conference Final. The Blackhawks stormed back for three straight wins to take the series 4-3.
The Griffins are looking to avoid the same fate and history suggests they will. In 22 years of Calder Cup Finals, any team that has taken a 3-0 lead has won the championship.
The Griffins have already played two series that have gone to a winner-take-all decisive game during this postseason.
The Crunch, an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, were able to limit the Griffins up-tempo offensive attack during Games 4 and 5. Through the first three games of the finals, the Griffins averaged 4.3 goals per game behind the stellar performance of forward Tomas Tatar who leads the team with 14 goals this post season. Since then, stiff defense from the Crunch has dropped that average to 2 goals per game.
Syracuse also won the battle of the goalies in Game 5. Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins stopped 42 shots while Petr Mrazek made 17 saves for Grand Rapids.
The Crunch are looking to become the fifth consecutive Eastern Conference team to win the Calder Cup. If the defensive effort and dominating play in net continues for Syracuse, the Crunch have a real chance to force a Game 7.