GRAND RAPIDS - It wasn't by design but perhaps it was meant to be.
The Grand Rapids Griffins bounced back after an embarrassing 5-1 loss in Syracuse for a hard-fought comeback 4-3 victory over the Syracuse Crunch to win the Calder Cup at Van Andel Arena Tuesday night.
The Griffins won the series, 4-2, and finished a perfect 10-0 at home in the playoffs.
1. Tyler Bertuzzi: Coach Todd Nelson said after the game that Bertuzzi wasn't even supposed to play because he had injured his hand during his fight in Syracuse and the cut had gotten badly infected. But there was no way Bertuzzi was going to miss the game. At 3:50 of the third period, Bertuzzi did what he often does in the playoffs, pouncing on a rebound and burying it past Syracuse goaltender Mike McKenna and tying the game at 3. It was Bertuzzi's 23rd career playoff goal, moving past Teemu Pulkkinen for most in franchise history. It was Bertuzzi's ninth goal of this postseason. Bertuzzi won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player.
Quotable: "It's been a great ride. It's a great group in our room, a lot of older guys that have carried us along the way. Obviously it's a big honor. That's what I want to do, work hard every day to try to win a championship. I couldn't have done it without the guys, especially my line mates." - Bertuzzi
Quotable II: "I've roomed with him this year and I've never met somebody more competitive. I think just seeing the same team, he gets to hate them and he's the biggest competitor I've ever met. He'll make bets on anything just because he wants to compete. Unbelievable playoffs by him. That's him. You just know he's going to show up in big moments." - Dan Renouf
2. Martin Frk: What a long, strange ride it was for Frk this past season. The Red Wings placed Frk on waivers and he was claimed by the Carolina Hurricanes. Frk played against the Wings but eventually ended up back on waivers and the Wings reclaimed him, assigning him back to the Griffins on Nov. 1. At 12:41 of the third period, Frk found a little space and unleashed his trademark rocket of a shot that McKenna never saw. The goal, Frk's fifth of the playoffs, ended up being the Calder Cup-winning goal.
Quotable: "I can't describe it. I was really happy. I couldn't breathe anymore, how much I was screaming. When I looked at the clock, there was, like, eight minutes left and I was like, oh, my God, this is going to be the longest eight minutes of my life. For sure it was." - Frk
3. Jared Coreau: One thing Coreau has demonstrated this season is resilience. Whether at the AHL level or when he was with the Wings, he has been able to quickly put bad games behind him. That's what he had to do in Game 6. Coreau was pulled from Game 5 after allowing five goals in the first period of the 5-1 loss. In Game 6, Coreau had to keep battling back as his team rallied from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits. Coreau also had to stand tall in the last few minutes as McKenna went to the bench for the extra attacker. Coreau finished with 29 saves.
Quotable: "That I can go the distance. I think we did this in 19 games, I don't know how many games total this year, but you feel it later on in the season and later on in the playoffs, you feel some mental and physical fatigue. You have to battle. You have to battle all the way along." - Coreau
Quotable II: "This is a huge step in his career. A lot of people thought that he couldn't win a championship. He said to me this morning, 'I'm going to prove to everyone that I'm a champion.' He did that tonight." - Nelson