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Grand Rapids wins Calder Cup, defeats Syracuse in Game 6

Red Wings affiliate scores twice in third period to earn AHL championship

by Patrick Williams / Correspondent

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan -- The Grand Rapids Griffins are American Hockey League champions for the second time in five seasons after they defeated the Syracuse Crunch 4-3 in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals at Van Andel Arena on Tuesday.

Forward Martin Frk scored the game-winning goal with 7:19 remaining in the third period. Grand Rapids tied the game three times and finished 10-0 at home in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Grand Rapids forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who had 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 19 games, won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.

"We knew we had a chance to make a run," Bertuzzi said. "We did it and came together."

Grand Rapids, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, won the Calder Cup in 2013, also against Syracuse.

"The brotherhood [makes this team special]," said Grand Rapids captain Nathan Paetsch, who was a member of the 2013 team. "We're so close. We do everything together.

"[Grand Rapids coach Todd Nelson] created the atmosphere. Guys will go through the wall for him."

Nelson has won the Calder Cup three times, including once as a player and once as an assistant.

"I came here for one reason, and that's the Calder Cup," he said.

Mitch Callahan and Matt Ford scored for Grand Rapids, and Jared Coreau made 26 saves.

Mike McKenna made 22 saves for Syracuse, the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yanni Gourde had two goals, and Matt Taormina scored. Cory Conacher had an assist and led the AHL in playoff scoring with 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists).

Grand Rapids tied the game 3-3 with a goal by Bertuzzi 3:50 into the third period.

Gourde gave Syracuse 1-0 lead 14:09 into the first period and a 3-2 lead with 1:50 left in the second.

Taormina made it 2-1 at 7:51 of the first. Grand Rapids tied the game with goals by Ford at 18 seconds and Callahan at 11:50.

The AHL set a playoff attendance record of 457,672, including 10,834 on Tuesday.

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