Griffins dissatisfied after Game 1 win: 'It has to be better'

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Tomas Nosek scores the Griffins' winning goal Friday night.

Grand Rapids — The Grand Rapids Griffins hope history repeats itself.

The Griffins struck first in the AHL Calder Cup Finals on Friday — and that’s usually a good thing this time of year — with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Syracuse.

Tomas Nosek scored his second goal of the game, this one on the power play with 13.9 seconds left, giving the Griffins the victory.

Nosek was stationed at the side of the net, and snuck a shot past Crunch goalie Mike McKenna after Tyler Bertuzzi (two assists) got the puck to the crease.

Syracuse was called for too many men on the ice at 19:32 of the third period.

“I just go to the net and be ready for any kind of rebound,” Nosek said. “Bert is a good tipper and he put it in his pad. I just put it in.

“It’s a huge win for us and we should be happy. You don’t have to go to overtime, (and) in overtime anything can happen.”

The teams have a quick turnaround for Game 2 at 7 p.m. Saturday at Van Andel Arena, where the Griffins are 8-0 in the playoffs, setting a team record for most home wins in a single postseason.

Heading into this series, 61 of the 80 teams that have won Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals have won the series.

But if history is to repeat, the Griffins were in agreement they have to be better than in Game 1.

“That wasn’t our best game but that was a good hockey team we played,” Griffins captain Nathan Paetsch said. “There were nerves in the first (period) and the composure wasn’t quite there with the puck. We had a couple of turnovers.

“But it’s the Calder Cup Finals and guys will have nerves.”

Paetsch tied the score in the second period, while goaltender Jared Coreau stopped 22 shots in front of a crowd of 8,857 at Van Andel Arena.

It was the first game in six days for both teams, and the first between the teams this season.

“There was a bit of a rust, and playing at home, it was a situation where this is the Calder Cup Finals, it’s a new experience for a lot of guys, and we were panicking with the puck a bit in the first period,” Griffins coach Todd Nelson said. “You have to give them (Syracuse) credit. That’s the best team we’ve faced all year. They hemmed us in quite a bit.”

Kevin Lynch (Grosse Pointe/U-M) scored shorthanded, and Joel Vermin had the other Syracuse goal.

Nosek’s winning power-play goal was the Griffins’ 12th consecutive playoff game with a power-play goal, extending a team record.

But by going 1-for-6, and allowing a shorthanded goal to Lynch in the first period, the Griffins showed they weren’t at peak efficiency.

“It has to be better,” Nelson said. “It won us the game but they got a shorthanded goal scored against us. We have to make adjustments. They did a good job of clogging things up, packing it in, and blocking shots.

“We have to find ways to spring some guys loose.”

Syracuse vs. Grand Rapids

All games at 7 p.m.

Friday: Grand Rapids 3-2

Saturday: at Grand Rapids

Wednesday: at Syracuse

June 9: at Syracuse

x-June 10: at Syracuse

x-June 13: at Grand Rapids

x-June 14: at Grand Rapids

x-If necessary