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Griffins Can't Get By Crunch or Officiating in 3-2 Loss
Mursak notches 11th in loss...
By Jason Kasiorek
June 14th, 2013

It was probably too much to expect the defending Calder Cup Champions to lay down and die in four straight games, especially with the officiating turning a blind eye on their thuggery. Joakim Andersson gave Grand Rapids an early lead with his second of the playoffs before Connelly tied things up a few minutes later. Mursak (11) restored the lead but the Crunch rallied back again scoring the tying and winning goals late in the second. The Griffins spent the first part of the third period killing off a major for Spearing assessed to Nyquist. The two teams will meet again Saturday night for Game five.

The Griffins having trouble in their own end right out of the gate, can't clear the puck. Tatar ended up taking a bad penalty and the Crunch had an early powerplay. Andersson picked up a pass from Evans, walked in and wired a shot in under Desjardins Blocker for an early lead. The lead was short-lived however as less than a minute and a half later Connelly picked up an errant pass went in alone and put it under Mrazek five-hole to tie the score at one. The fourth line made their presence known in their first shift of the game with a couple of big hits. Hoggan fired a shot on net using the defenseman as a screen and Mursak followed up and stuffed the loose puck into the net before Desjardins could react. Jurco stole the puck in a crowd of players, worked his magic and ended up with a shot from the high slot. Syracuse ran Mrazek and a big scrum broke out. Incredibly Evans ended up with the extra two minutes leaving GR short a man. The officials reviewed something on the screen in the video booth. Shots on Goal: GR 10 - SYR 8.

Glendening and Mursak with a shorthanded two on one to set up a great scoring chance, but the official prematurely blew the whistle and the play died with Mursak trying to stuff the loose puck in the crease. More scrumming after the whistle. Mrazek came way out to play the puck and turned it over, but Dekeyser had gotten back and blocked the shot at the vacated net. Syracuse getting away with a lot behind the play holding and getting extra whacks on Griffins players with out a call. Mursak stole the puck on an attempted clear by Desjardins, had a great scoring chance and drew a penalty. The Griffins number one powerplay put up an abysmal effort. Skinner showing rust has no confidence to carry the puck, circling back and dropping it off. Palat scored with a blast from the circle to tie things up again. Nyquist stole the puck in deep and hit Andersson who couldn't get the puck over Desjardins' pad. Dekeyser with a monster hit at the line. The Griffins got running around in their own end and couldn't get the puck out and Panik at the edge of the crease, popped in a cross ice pass to give the Crunch their first lead. The interplay between Nyquist and Panik boiled over and Nyquist speared him in the groin, earning him a major penalty and a game misconduct. Shots on Goal: GR 7 - SYR 6.

The Griffins PK was up to the task killing off several minutes of the 5 minute Syracuse man advantage. Sustr took a penalty, negating two minutes of his teams powerplay. DeKeyser coughed up the puck right by the net, leading to a Crunch scoring chance. Jurco came out of the box and was hit for a breakaway but was taken down from behind with no call. DeKeyser smoked Connelly with a big hit along the boards. Angelidis went by the net behind the play and pulled Mrazek's feet out from under him, ala Slapshot, leaving the netminder helmetless and on his back. Incredibly they penalized Mrazek for Diving, drawing the ire of the crowd yet again. Jurco tried to gain the line at the zone and a Crunch player put the stick between his legs and spun him around and down but of course no call. Jurco took the puck behind the net and just missed scoring on a wraparound. Mrazek stopped a breakaway at the other end when Barberio got behind the defense. Mrazek to the bench for the extra skater with 1:32 left. Jurco apparently scored in a goalmouth scramble with 17.4 seconds left, but after review the play was ruled no goal. A hooking call to Billins was all she wrote and the Griffins fall to Jean Hebert, Graham Skilliter (the refs) and the Syracuse Crunch 3-2. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - SYR 10. For the Game: GR 28 - SYR 24.

Tatar - Andersson - Nyquist/Jurco
Jurco - Sheahan - Pare
Hoggan - Glendening - Mursak
Grant - Ferraro - Callahan

Lashoff - Skinner
Evans - Billins
DeKeyser - Paetsch

Starter: Mrazek
Backup: McCollum

Almquist - Concussion

Nyquist - Andersson - Tatar/Jurco
Paetsch - Ferraro

Pare - Sheahan - Jurco
Skinner - Billins

Andersson - Ferraro
DeKeyser - Paetsch

Glendening - Mursak
Evans - Lashoff

Sheahan - Ferraro


Where to start? The first thing is that except for a few stretches, the Griffins carried play and had the majority of the scoring chances. This was not a case of Syracuse outplaying us. It felt like at any moment Mursak or Jurco was going going to bury one of the ridiculous chances they had and take control back.

There were two big areas the Griffins do need to shore up in a hurry, the first is the powerplay. Last night they were out of sync and trying to be fancy and did not generate anything. They need to establish a shooter and put some pucks on the net.

The other area was in the defensive pairings. The Griffins really missed Almquist on the backend last night as Skinner's rustiness was apparent, and DeKeyser is still a work in progress. Both of these players had a hard time clearing the zone and a hard time moving the puck up ice. Skinner looked petrified as the puck carrier and circled back several times killing a rush. If he is not in a place to carry the puck, he needs to be paired with someone who is, or heaven forbid, one of the other scratches like Fournier should come in. I will cut both of them some slack, but Syracuse did not.

Nyquist's undisciplined penalty did not help matters, but Jurco did look really good with tatar and Andersson and gave that line a new look.

I continue to be mystified with the way the games are being called. Last night Syracuse was allowed to slash, trip, take down and generally beat up on the Griffins with no calls, and even some of the blatant things that were called they would assess a phantom penalty to GR to negate the advantage. The Griffins have to also stop taking the bait and re-establish their hitting game, a component that was not much in evidence last night.

Official Game Sheet