SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Syracuse Crunch exploded for a five-goal first period on their way to a 5-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 5 at the War Memorial Arena on Saturday night.
Eleven different Crunch players recorded a point in the team's last home game of the year. Yanni Gourde lead Syracuse with three assists, while Ben Thomas and Cory Conacher earned a goal and an assist each. The win keeps the Crunch alive in the Calder Cup Finals trailing the Griffins, 3-2.
Mike McKenna put up another sound performance with 36 saves. Jared Coreau allowed five goals on 12 shots before being relieved by Eddie Pasquale late in the first period. Pasquale went on to stop all 19 shots he faced. Syracuse went 1-for-9 on the power play and a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
The Crunch kicked off scoring just 17 seconds into the game. Gabriel Dumont dug the puck out of a battle on the end boards and kicked out a centering feed for Kevin Lynch to net bardown. Michael Bournival recorded the secondary assist on the opening tally. Mathieu Brodeur doubled the lead at the 4:33 mark with a shot from the top of the left with the help of Adam Erne and Daniel Walcott.
Syracuse added three more in just over five minutes to end the first period up, 5-0. At 14:05, Byron Froese's battle at the post paid off and he was able to jam in a loose puck for his sixth of the playoffs. Gourde and Tye McGinn picked up the assists. Two minutes later, Conacher one-timed a rocket from the right faceoff dot while on the power play off Thomas's feed from the slot and a secondary assist from Gourde. With 44 seconds remaining in the frame, Thomas netted the fifth Crunch goal. Gourde skated the puck down the left side as Thomas cut across the slot. He passed ahead for defenseman to easily redirect it in backdoor. Conacher earned his second point of the night on the play.
The Griffins got on the board 5:58 into the third period. Ben Street fired from the high slot while McKenna was screened down low. Assists went to Joe Hicketts and Nathan Paetsch.
The Crunch held off a comeback in the third and defeated the Griffins to force Game 6. The series will shift back to Grand Rapids on Tuesday at 7 p.m.