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Wild Second Period Sinks Crunch, Griffins Take 2-0 Lead in Finals

By Jeremy Houghtaling

It was an emotional chain of events that rival most blockbusters.

After demanding a review, the Syracuse Crunch were credited with the game-tying goal. Moments later -- 26 seconds on the amended scoresheet despite more than two minutes mistakenly being added to the clock -- the Grand Rapids Griffins scored a power play goal that stood as the game-winner.

While the Griffins' Francis Pare provided the movie-like twist with a goal in the closing minutes of the six-goal, 20-plus minute second period, Jan Mursak gave the curtain call with a breakaway goal late in the third, as the Griffins topped the Crunch 6-4 in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Sunday.

"To me, that was the game," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler of the turn of events in the second. "That was huge. We had a lot of momentum, the building was rocking, fans were into it, the players were into it. There was a lot of excitement on the bench."

Syracuse trails the series 2-0, as it travels to Grand Rapids Wednesday for Game 3. Game 4 is set for Friday.

"There was a high point and then followed by a quick low," said Syracuse forward JT Brown, whose goal went through the net and wasn't credited until the review. "We've just got to try to stay consistent, instead of getting too high or too low, just kind of ride it out in the middle."

"When we've got the momentum like that we've got to hold on to it," said Crunch captain Mike Angelidis. "We can't give it up so fast. We have to stay even keel, and keep our emotions in check and just keep playing hockey."

After jumping out to a two-goal lead on tallies by Tomas Tatar and Tristan Grant, Grand Rapids had an answer to every Syracuse goal.

Andrej Sustr's first playoff goal brought the Crunch back to within one before first intermission, but the Griffins' Landon Ferraro scored six minutes into the second period. When Richard Panik responded with the first of two Syracuse power play goals midway through the second period, Tomas Jurco again gave the Griffins a two-goal lead.

Brett Connolly's power play tally with less than four minutes remaining in the second brought the Crunch back to within one, and Brown's reviewed goal set off the wild chain of events minutes later.

"It's one thing we've got to work on from here on out is working on that shift after a goal and making sure we keep the pressure on," Brown said.

Despite making some outstanding saves, Cedrick Desjardins finished with 23 saves on 29 shots. At the other end of the ice, Petr Mrazek made 30 saves.

"You give up six, it's not good enough," Zettler said. "We scored four. Four should win you a hockey game."

"We haven't played our best, I don't think," Angelidis said. "We've shown it, but we haven't consistently played a solid 60 minutes."

With the next two -- three if necessary -- games at Grand Rapids, the Crunch are hoping to keep their perfect playoff road record alive.

"The good part is, we're the best road team in the league," Zettler said, admitting the team was in a big hole.

"It's what every coach is going to tell you now -- one game at a time, one shift at a time," he added. "That's literally the way we've got to approach it."

Pictured: The Griffins' Triston Grant and Mitch Callahan celebrate a goal against the Crunch at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.