SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WOOD) — In Syracuse as the Calder Cup Finals continue, the Grand Rapids Griffins held a light practice on Tuesday.
The Griffins beat the Syracuse Crunch in the first two games of the series in front of raucous crowds at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins are unbeaten on home ice this playoff series.
But so are the Crunch, and the series just moved to their house. Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals is scheduled for Wednesday evening.
“They’re going to play probably their best game of their careers,” said Griffins goaltender Jared Coreau, who spent nearly half of the regular season between the pipes for the Griffins’ NHL affiliate, the Detroit Red Wings, and helped the Griffins steal Game 2 in overtime.
“This is a huge opportunity for us and them. They can get back in the series, or we can do our part and put a stranglehold on it. So they know what’s at stake, we know what’s at stake. It’s going to be an extremely good game tomorrow. Game 3 could be one of the most important games of a seven-game series,” Coreau continued.
The crowd at Oncenter War Memorial Arena is expected to be loud and brutal on the visitors. The Griffins say they don’t mind.
“I like coming into a hostile environment,” Griffins head coach Todd Nelson said. “It’s going to be loud in here. People are going to be booing us. It’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere. …. You play the game like your back’s up against the wall. It’s a fun feeling.”
“I think when everyone is yelling at you, it kinds of brings out the best,” said Griffins defenseman Joe Hicketts. “It’s a lot of fun when you’re the visiting team.”
“We just got to make sure we play a certain way early because the crowd will be an impact early on in the hockey game,” added Griffins left wing Eric Tangradi. “There will definitely be some momentum changes because of that. I think it’s part of the game we all enjoy. It’s nice to play at home, but at the same time it’s nice to get booed on the road, as well.”
The Grand Rapids Griffins last won the Calder Cup in 2013. They faced the Crunch then, too, and beat them at War Memorial Arena to win it all. The Crunch is looking to even the score.
“I expect them to come out flying,” Nelson said. “We’re going to have to fight fire with fire. We’re going to have to be ready right at the start. We’ve got to match their work ethic.”