Calder Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Quarterfinals – Game 5 – Grand Rapids Wins Series, 3-2
Houston Aeros 0 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 7
May 4, 2013
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Tomas Tatar scored two goals and an assist and Petr Mrazek stopped all 24 shots to become the first rookie in Griffins history to notch a playoff shutout, as Grand Rapids eliminated the Houston Aeros and advanced to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 7-0 victory in Game 5 at Van Andel Arena on Saturday.
The seven-goal margin matched an AHL playoff record for the largest in a winner-take-all game, tying Quebec’s 8-1 win over Providence in the 1969 semifinals, and set a Griffins record for largest in a postseason shutout.
The third-seeded Griffins will now face the second-seeded Toronto Marlies in the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals, which will commence with Games 1 and 2 at Ricoh Coliseum on Friday, May 10 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 11 at 3 p.m. The complete schedule for the series can be found at griffinshockey.com.
Grand Rapids clinched a playoff series on home ice for the first time since the 2006 North Division Finals against Manitoba, while Houston’s 19-year tenure in the AHL and IHL came to an end. The franchise is moving to Des Moines for the 2013-14 season to become the Iowa Wild.
The Griffins dominated the opening minutes of the game, controlling the play tenaciously in the Houston end while firing numerous shots on net and having several others blocked by the Aeros’ defense. They kept pounding away and were finally rewarded at the 12:03 mark, when Francis Pare gobbled up a rebound in the slot and slipped a shot inside Mike Condon’s right post for the only goal of the period.
Four more goals during the second period gave the Griffins a commanding 5-0 lead. Tatar rattled a shot off the post and into the net at 4:25, before Riley Sheahan ripped a try from the top of the left circle at 8:56 that deflected off and over Condon and bounced along the goal line before being swept away by a defender. Originally waved off, the goal was confirmed by a video review by referees Trevor Hanson and Jean Hebert.
Jan Mursak added to the onslaught at 13:52 for his first goal in 18 career playoff games with Grand Rapids, and a brilliant effort by Tatar closed out the period’s scoring with 6.5 ticks on the clock, as he dug the puck out of the right corner and deftly worked his way through several defenders before sliding a shot through Condon’s five hole from the doorstep.
In the third period, minutes after Tatar fought Steven Kampfer to complete his “Gordie Howe Hat Trick,” Adam Almquist made it 6-0 during a power play when he roofed a wrister from the slot at the 4:06 mark. Teemu Pulkkinen added the night cap with 2:35 remaining for his second goal of the playoffs.
Condon, who stopped 76 of 80 shots in Games 3 and 4 as an understudy for called-up No. 1 netminder Darcy Kuemper, turned aside 34 of 41 shots.
Note: Grand Rapids won a playoff series for the first time since 2009, when it defeated Hamilton 4-2 in the North Division Semifinals…The Griffins recorded their first playoff shutout in 10 years and two days, dating to Marc Lamothe’s 26-save, 2-0 series-clinching win at Chicago on May 2, 2003 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Three Stars: 1. GR Tatar (two goals, assist); 2. GR Mrazek (W, 24 saves, shutout); 3. GR Pare (goal, assist)