Despite the loss, the Syracuse Crunch saw plenty of positives.
The Crunch got their offensive opportunities and held the Grand Rapids' top line to an empty-netter, but had a hard time solving Griffins goalie Petr Mrazek, as they dropped Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals 3-1 at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday night. Game 2 is set for Sunday evening in Syracuse.
"When we lose, we still try and keep that good feeling about ourselves," said Crunch defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote . "We've done some really good things, that's why you can never go too low when you lose and never too high when you win."
"In less than 24 hours we've got another go at them," he added. "We showed a lot of good things."
The Crunch got off to a rocky start. Mitch Callahan struck first, giving the Griffins the lead on a goal-mouth scramble less than seven minutes into the first period.
Syracuse appeared to tie the game in the closing minutes of the second, when Richard Panik  deflected a shot past Mrazek. The referee waved the goal off because Brett Connolly  was in the crease.
"I thought that their defenseman pushed our guy into him," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "I thought it should have been a goal, but it wasn't so we move on."
"It is what it is," Connolly said. "They made a call and we have to live with it…It's tough seeing them wave it off, but we've got to move on."
Riley Sheahan provided the Griffins with a two-goal lead with eight minutes remaining, but Cote's point shot through a screen brought the Crunch back to within one a little over a minute later. Mike Angelidis  and JT Brown were credited with the assists.
Gustav Nyquist provided an empty-netter with 15 seconds remaining, sealing the win for Grand Rapids.
Mrazek finished with 28 saves, while Syracuse goalie Cedrick Desjardins  had 18.
"I thought their goalie made some big stops," Zettler said. "Especially in the second period, I thought we had some really Grade A chances…I don't think over 60 minutes we got enough traffic in front of him."
The Crunch won't have long to dwell on its second postseason loss. The only other one came in the Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Syracuse won the next four games.
"That was the message, we didn't start the way we wanted, there were times in the game I thought we were really good," Zettler said. "But the bottom line is we didn't get the win."
Pictured: Griffins goalie Petr Mrazek stops a shot from the Crunch's Richard Panik at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.