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The Griffins Clinch the Calder Cup

Dec. 16, 2013

by Alan Cross –

Auld Lang Syne, hockey fans. As 2013 draws to a close, the Grand Rapids Griffins shelf the most successful year in franchise history, credited not only to the team’s first-ever Calder Cup Championship, but also to a year’s worth of hard work, dedication and heart, both on and off the ice. With the Griffins already on their way to another tremendous season, we take a look back at ten standout moments from 2013.

Jan. 19, 2013
The Griffins take a wild 11-6 road victory over the Rockford IceHogs in a record-setting game that was overshadowed by a bench-clearing brawl. Mitch Callahan’s third goal of the night marked the first time the Griffins ever scored 11 goals in a game, and the 17 combined goals were one off the franchise record. The teams also combined for 230 penalty minutes, the highest total in Griffins history.

Jan. 23, 2013
NHL veteran and East Kentwood High School product Mike Knuble makes his Griffins debut against the Oklahoma City Barons in a 5-4 shootout victory at Van Andel Arena. Knuble, who joined teammate Luke Glendening as the only Greater Grand Rapids natives to play for the franchise, practiced with the Griffins during the NHL lockout and picked up an assist during his first AHL game in almost 16 years. His stint in Grand Rapids was short-lived, however, as the Philadelphia Flyers would sign him to a one-year contract two days later.

April 19, 2013
The Griffins capture their first division title since 2006, wrapping up the Midwest Division crown with a 3-1 victory over the Peoria Rivermen in front of a nearly sold-out Van Andel Arena. Tomas Jurco tallied the winner with just 12.9 seconds remaining before Jan Mursak sealed the victory with an empty-net goal 10 seconds later.

May 4, 2013
Grand Rapids eliminates the Houston Aeros and advances to the Western Conference Semifinals with a 7-0 victory in Game 5 at Van Andel Arena. The seven-goal margin sets Griffins records for largest in a playoff shutout and a home playoff game and matches an AHL playoff record for the largest in a winner-take-all game. Petr Mrazek stops all 24 shots to become the first rookie in franchise history to notch a playoff shutout.

May 10, 2013
For the second straight game, the Griffins earn a 7-0 shutout victory, this time over the Toronto Marlies in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Ricoh Coliseum. Petr Mrazek makes 25 saves to become the first Griffin in history to record two playoff shutouts and backstops the team to its first-ever shutout win in Game 1 of a series. It also marks the Griffins’ second road playoff win by more than three goals, and shatters a 13-year old record of 10 unanswered playoff goals with a combined 14 unanswered tallies.

May 21, 2013
The Toronto Marlies look to be in good shape early in the third period in their effort to extend their Western Conference Semifinal series to a seventh game, but the Griffins score three times within a 5:53 span – capped off by Luke Glendening’s series-clincher with just 4:03 remaining – to stun the Marlies and advance to the Western Conference Finals. Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar also score in the final frame to lead Grand Rapids to a 4-3 victory.

May 31, 2013
With the Western Conference Finals tied at one game apiece, the Griffins travel to Oklahoma City for a three-game set against the Oklahoma City Barons. After the Barons take Game 3 by a score of 4-1, Friday’s Game 4 is cancelled due to a tornado sweeping through the city. Players, staff and fans are evacuated to the basement of Cox Convention Center for safety, and the game is rescheduled for Sunday, June 2. Grand Rapids wins the next two games in Oklahoma City and head back to Van Andel Arena with a 3-2 lead in the series.

June 5, 2013
Tomas Jurco finishes off a wild, back-and-forth contest by scoring the game-winning goal with 6:12 remaining, as the Griffins defeat the Oklahoma City Barons in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals at Van Andel Arena. Grand Rapids advances to face the Syracuse Crunch in its first Calder Cup Finals and its first championship series appearance since the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Finals.

June 18, 2013
The Griffins win the Calder Cup with a 5-2 victory over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals, marking the first championship in the 17-year history of the franchise and the 27-year history of professional hockey in Grand Rapids. Tomas Tatar scores twice and is awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player during the playoffs after totaling 21 points in 24 games. Brennan Evans, who did not score in 76 regular season games, notches the most important goal in franchise history with the Cup-clinching goal at 9:54 of the third period.

December 7, 2013
Grand Rapids defeats the Rochester Americans for the second night in a row at Van Andel Arena, securing their second seven-game winning streak of the 2013-14 season. With the previous streak running from Oct. 26-Nov. 8, the Griffins record the best start in franchise history and improve their mark to 17-4-1-1, recording an AHL-best winning percentage (0.783). Petr Mrazek improves his career-best winning streak to nine straight games, leading Grand Rapids to its eighth consecutive home victory and its seventh win in a row overall.

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