Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Grand Rapids Griffins head to AHL’s Conference Finals; Frk’s hat trick paces Mooseheads at Mem Cup

Updated w/ a Frk-centric highlight clip at 3:38 AM: Disclaimer/warning: Yarr, an auto-play highlight clip lurks within: The Grand Rapids Griffins needed to take out the Toronto Marlies to avoid a winner-take-all Game 7 situation in their second-round AHL playoff series. The Griffins did things the hard way, rallying from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits by scoring 3 goals over the final 9:56 of the 3rd period and advancing to the AHL's Western Conference Finals via a 4-3 victory.

The Grand Rapids Griffins' website provides a recap of the game's events...

The Grand Rapids Griffins scored three times within a 5:53 span of the third period – capped off by Luke Glendening’s series-clincher with just 4:03 remaining – to stun the Toronto Marlies and advance to the Western Conference Finals with an incredible 4-3 victory on Tuesday in Game 6 at Ricoh Coliseum.

The Griffins will now face the Oklahoma City Barons for the right to play for the Calder Cup. Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series will be staged at Van Andel Arena this Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25. Both games will be at 7 p.m., and tickets are available at griffinshockey.com.

In a scene eerily reminiscent of their parent club’s infamous Game 7 collapse against the Boston Bruins, the Marlies were primed to force a Game 7 on their home ice tomorrow night before squandering a 3-1 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining. Less than four minutes after Triston Grant’s crushing hit on Jerry D’Amigo at center ice seemed to turn the momentum to the Griffins, Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar scored just 28 seconds apart to tie the game, stun the crowd and set the stage for Glendening’s heroics.

The Marlies scored on their first shot of the night 4:15 into the contest. On a rush into the Grand Rapids zone, Carter Ashton wound up for routine a slap shot from the right side that Petr Mrazek came out for and got a piece of, but the puck deflected off and underneath his arm and slipped into the net.

Soon after, consecutive penalties to Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans gave the Marlies 3:47 of power play time, including 13 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage, but the Griffins’ penalty killers and Mrazek did their jobs to keep the deficit at one.

Grand Rapids looked to be headed to the locker room without any further damage until Toronto struck for a similar goal just 2.4 seconds before the buzzer. Off a faceoff to the right of Mrazek, Mike Zigomanis won the draw back to Paul Ranger, whose shot bounced through the netminder’s pads before barely trickling across the goal line.

The Griffins lit the lamp exactly four minutes into the second period on the first of Tatar’s two goals, as he carried the puck up the right side and swooped around defenseman Mike Mottau before lifting a shot over Drew MacIntyre’s left shoulder. However, Toronto re-established its two-goal cushion at 3-1 just 37 seconds later, when a turnover below the goal line led to D’Amigo centering a pass to a wide-open Will Acton for a blistering one-timer from between the circles.

Just past the midpoint of the third, Mursak darted down the slot to scoop a backhand past MacIntyre at 10:04 to make it 3-2, before Francis Pare found a rebound on the doorstep and quickly fed a blind pass to a crashing Tatar for an easy goal at the left post with 9:28 remaining, knotting the score.

The Griffins continued to apply fierce pressure around the Marlies’ net and were rewarded at the 15:57 mark when Glendening popped home the rebound of Adam Almquist’s shot while positioned at the top of the crease.

Mrazek earned his seventh playoff victory and second series win by battling back with 15 saves, while MacIntyre stopped 27 in the loss.

The Griffins, who closed out a 2006 series against the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum on the way to playing in their most recent conference final, improved their all-time playoff mark in Toronto to 5-1 and earned just the second playoff upset in their history.

Notes: Tatar’s eight goals are now tied with Michel Picard and Petr Schastlivy (both 2000) for the third-most ever by a Griffin in a single playoff year. Kevin Miller tallied a record 11 goals in 17 games during the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Playoffs, while Stacy Roest set the team’s Calder Cup Playoff mark with 10 goals in 15 games in 2003…Grand Rapids improved to 10-12 all-time all time when its opponent faces elimination, including 7-4 on the road.

Three Stars: 1. GR Tatar (two goals); 2. GR Glendening (game-winning goal); 3. GR Mursak (goal, assist).

And while the Canadian Press's recap is quote-less and the Marlies website's recap is brief, the Toronto Star's Mark Mitchell told the Marlies' side of the story...

Toronto Marlies coach Dallas Eakins never changed anything when his team went up 3-1 heading into the third period.

“Why would you?” Eakins said. “We wanted to continue the forecheck. We wanted to play aggressive. We looked like we had everything under control. But a couple of missed assignments and a bad bounce and everything turned the other way.”

So instead of forcing a Game 7, the Marlies’ bid for a Calder Cup title ended on Tuesday night when the Grand Rapids Griffins stormed back from two goals down midway through the third period to earn a 4-3 victory before an announced crowd of 2,811 at the Ricoh Coliseum.

The Griffins took the best-of-seven AHL Western Conference semifinal 4-2 and now play the Oklahoma City Barons for the conference championship.

Tomas Tatar, with his second goal of the game, and Jan Mursak scored 56 seconds apart midway through the final frame to tie the game before Luke Glendening fired the winner with just 4:03 to go.

Carter Ashton, Paul Ranger and Will Acton scored for Toronto, who were outshot 31-18 and were dominated for long stretches after taking a 3-1 lead.

“When they scored that third goal you could feel it coming,” said Eakins, who told his players how proud he was of their effort this season. “I told them how proud I was to be their coach. How we had to battle every night to get points and how we somehow managed to stay in it. We’ve built this organization with good young men.”

As did the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby:

Tuesday’s collapse began with a thundering third-period hit by Triston Grant on Jerry D’Amigo, which left the steady playoff performer staggering to the bench. The Marlies didn’t threaten on the ensuing minor penalty and the hard-charging Griffs rolled over the Toronto defence. Mike Mottau, Dylan Yeo, Paul Ranger, Korbinian Holzer were caight flat-footed and forwards such as Joe Colborne and Spencer Abbott, who had good games, couldn’t contain their men.

Like Randy Carlyle against Boston, Eakins hoped to ride it out and didn’t think the lineup and system that brought him so far would spring so many holes at once. But having used his timeout after a hard penalty kill earlier in the game, Eakins had no time to re-organize.

The Grand Rapids Press's Dean Holzwarth spoke with East Grand Rapids' Luke Glendenning about his game-winner, and the rest of the Griffins about their big win:

"I’m glad I could do it and I’m glad there are (local) kids that have been watching and hopefully they realize that their dreams can come true and anything is possible,” said Glendenning, who in June became the first Grand Rapids area player to sign with the Griffins. "But, really, this win was about far more about the team than anything I did."

The Griffins will play Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals – their first conference finals since facing Milwaukee in 2006. The first two games will be played in Grand Rapids, at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Oklahoma City, which was fifth in the Western Conference, eliminated No. 1 Texas 4-1. Grand Rapids, which eliminated Houston in the first round, was third in the conference.Glendening's goal, coming with 4:03 remaining, came off a rebound after Adam Almquist’s shot was kicked out by goalie Drew MacIntyre.

"(Jan) Mursak had a great pass to Adam and his shot just came out right to me,” said Glendening, an undrafted signee from Michigan who had eight goals and 26 points during the regular season after recalled from Toledo on Dec. 17. “I’m getting all the attention, but, really, I did the least amount of work.”

"I think someone like Luke represents what our team is - and that's a lot of character and a lot of perseverance," said coach Jeff Blashill. "I think that's what he has and has done, and I think that's also what our team's all about."

The Marlies' website posted a 6-minute highlight clip...


(Sportsnet provides a shorter 49-second highlight clip if you wish to watch a little less of the game)

And employed the Marlies' broadcasters to speak to Jeff Hoggan, Tomas Tatar, Luke Glendenning and coach Jeff Blashill:

The Griffins' website also posted a photo gallery rom the game, and the team released the team's schedule for their Western Conference Semifinal:

After upsetting the second-seeded Toronto Marlies 4-2 in the conference semifinals – wrapping up with tonight’s dramatic 4-3 win in Game 6 at Ricoh Coliseum – the third-seeded Grand Rapids Griffins have advanced to the Western Conference Finals to face the fifth-seeded Oklahoma City Barons.

Oklahoma City, which toppled top-seeded Texas 4-1 in impressive fashion in round two, will visit Van Andel Arena for Games 1 and 2 of the 2-3-2 format this Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25, before the series switches to the Sooner State on Wednesday, May 29 for the first of as many as three straight games at the Cox Convention Center. The complete schedule is as follows:

2013 Calder Cup Playoffs - Western Conference Finals - Best of Seven

Game 1  Fri., May 24  Barons at GRIFFINS  7 p.m. (Game G)
Game 2  Sat., May 25  Barons at GRIFFINS  7 p.m. (Game H)

Game 3  Wed., May 29  GRIFFINS at Barons  8 p.m.
Game 4  Fri., May 31  GRIFFINS at Barons  8 p.m.
*Game 5  Sat., June 1  GRIFFINS at Barons  8 p.m.
*Game 6  Tue., June 4  Barons at GRIFFINS  7 p.m. (Game I)
*Game 7  Wed., June 5  Barons at GRIFFINS  7 p.m. (Game J)

* If necessary    All times Eastern and subject to change.    All games on Newsradio WOOD 106.9 FM & 1300 AM.

Tickets for Games 1 and 2 at Van Andel Arena are now on sale. They may be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets locations, by phone at (800) 585-3737, or through http://www.griffinshockey.com All h.ome playoff games will continue to feature $2 beers and $2 hot dogs from 6-8 p.m.

This will mark the first Calder Cup Playoff meeting between Grand Rapids and Oklahoma City. The Griffins and Barons met four times during the 2012-13 regular season, with each team winning twice on its home ice. Grand Rapids prevailed on Jan. 4 (5-2) and Jan. 23 (5-4 SO) at Van Andel Arena, before Oklahoma City answered with victories on Feb. 8 (3-4) and Feb. 9 (5-7) at the Cox Convention Center.

The Griffins have advanced to the conference finals for the third time in their AHL history and the first since 2006, when they lost to the Milwaukee Admirals in four games. Counting their five seasons in the IHL (1996-01), the Griffins have made the conference finals for the fifth time in their 17-year history, with their lone series win coming in the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Playoffs against Cincinnati.

This clash between Grand Rapids and Oklahoma City presents several storylines, including:

• The Griffins finished just one point ahead of the Barons during the regular season. Grand Rapids won the Midwest Division by virtue of its 42-26-4-4 record (92 points), while Oklahoma City finished third in an extremely competitive South Division with a 40-25-2-9 mark (91 points);

• Barons head coach Todd Nelson became the first player ever signed by the expansion Griffins franchise on July 24, 1996. The former defenseman appeared in 236 games over four seasons (1996-98;99-00;01-02) with Grand Rapids, recording 67 points (11-56--67), 123 penalty minutes and a plus-53 rating that still places sixth all time on the club. Nelson led the IHL with a plus-36 rating in 1999-00, a season in which he was named an honorable mention IHL all-star and led the Griffins to the Turner Cup Finals, where they lost in six games to Chicago. Upon retirement, he spent 2002-03 as an assistant coach with Grand Rapids, helping the team to a 48-22-8-2 record (106 points), a Central Division championship, the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs and, eventually, a berth in the conference finals;

• Oklahoma City defenseman Garrett Stafford played two seasons in Grand Rapids (2007-09), racking up 89 points (22-67--89) in 139 games. He was the Griffins' highest-scoring blueliner each season, finishing third in overall scoring in 2007-08 (11-33--44 in 69 games) and sixth in 2008-09 (11-34--45 in 70 games), when Grand Rapids reached the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs;

• Griffins left wing Triston Grant was a member of the Barons last season, when he led the team with 163 penalty minutes, finished seventh with 11 goals and totaled 15 points in 53 games;

• Barons left wing Darcy Hordichuk, who has logged 542 NHL games over his 13 pro seasons, has spoiled the Griffins' hopes of playing in a league final once before. He was a rookie on the 2000-01 Orlando Solar Bears squad that defeated Grand Rapids in six games in the IHL Eastern Conference Finals and went on to win the final Turner Cup awarded by the original IHL.


At the Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Red Wings prospect and Griffin-to-be Martin Frk punched the Halifax Mooseheads' ticket to the semifinal on Thursday, May 26th by scoring 3 goals and an assist in the Mooseheads' 9-2 victory over the London Knights.

The Canadian Press's recap notes that Frk's goals, save his hat trick marker, weren't "throwaway" markers...

Coming off Sunday’s 5-2 upset loss to Saskatoon, the determined and fresher Mooseheads scored early and often against a Knights team that seemed to be feeling the effects of the previous night’s game against Portland.

Frk stepped out of the corner and faked a shot that froze Patterson before finding Fournier wide open on the doorstep for an easy tap-in to start the onslaught at 7:43 of the first period.

Ashley made it 2-0 just 1:43 later, popping home a rebound from in close and added his second of the night at 12:02 on a nice deflection just as a Knights penalty expired.

The rout was on at 17:31 when Andrews stripped the puck from Knights defenceman Nikita Zadorov at the Halifax blue-line and moved in on a 2-on-1 before beating Patterson with a quick shot to the stickside to make it 4-0.

Frk, a second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2012, then stretched the lead to five just 29 seconds by burying a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Drouin.

On the other side, the London Free Press's Ryan Pyette explains that the Mooseheads can advance to Sunday's final if the tournament's other three teams aid their cause...

London will face Wednesday's Portland-Saskatoon loser the following night.

Halifax will go straight to Sunday's final if the Winterhawks beat the Blades.

The Halifax Chronicle-Herald's Wily Pavlov filed a recap which includes a 7-image photo gallery (including an image of Frk scoring and an image of Frk earning the game's first star award) and promises quotes from the Mooseheads later this morning...

NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale spoke to Mooseheads coach Dominique Ducharme about his team's win...

Halifax racked up 347 goals over the course of a 68-game regular season and punched home another 90 in 17 playoff matches en route to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship. Top 2013 draft-eligible prospects Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon played a big part in that offensive assault, combining for 73 goals and 180 points during the regular season.

Against London, Drouin and MacKinnon combined for six assists and a plus-5 rating. Frk, MacKinnon and Drouin were named the game's top three stars, respectively.

"I thought [Frk] was outstanding … he's got all the tools," Halifax coach Dominique Ducharme said. "He's a good skater, strong on the puck and he's got great hands and quite a pro shot already. When Marty plays that way, he's dangerous. When he's playing with [Drouin] and [MacKinnon], there's three guys with a lot of skill. When they move and are intense with puck, they make a lot of things happen."

Fucale's shutout bid ended 16:02 into the second when London's Seth Griffith scored from the slot, but Halifax had already built a 7-0 lead at that point. London's Matt Rupert rifled home a shot just 1:18 later before Frk completed his hat trick on assists from MacKinnon and Drouin at 18:03 for an 8-2 advantage.

Halifax, the No. 1-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League this season, had plenty of motivation leading into its showdown against the No. 3-ranked Knights, and put the game away quickly with a five-goal outburst in the first period.

"We needed to get into this tournament; sometimes that happens in a playoff series," Ducharme said. "Like boxers looking at each other in the opening rounds, sometimes the emotions aren't there. For us, it took two games but now we're playing playoff hockey in the Memorial Cup. We want to take this [momentum] and bring it to next game. We want to strive to be even better. We're not perfect, but close. Our goal to play the perfect game and the next game could be that game."

And Yahoo Sports' Cam Charron says that Frk was indeed the game's first star--if only barely:

Halifax had a 5-0 lead after one and 8-2 after two, easing off the gas pedal for the third period and giving depth players time on the powerplay and resting top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Martin Frk, three players who factored prominently into the Mooseheads' advantage.

No. 1 Star - Martin Frk, Halifax Mooseheads

This star could have gone to Drouin, one of the tournament headliners, who had an assist on each of the Czech winger's goals. The Detroit Red Wings prospect however had a Frkin' good time out on the ice Tuesday, showing just as much proficiency in the neutral and offensive zones as Nate and Jo.

After Halifax got the 7-0 lead midway through two, the Knights responded with a pair of quick goals that could have given the OHL champs some momentum going into the third, but Frk shut that down with a marker just :40 seconds after Matt Rupert's 7-2 goal, recording his hat-trick marker with just 1:57 to go in the frame.

In the multimedia department, the Mastercard Memorial Cup's website posted an interview with Frk, and quite regrettably, Sportsnet's highlight clip is of the auto-play variety:

Update: Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager suggests that the Mooseheads may have erred in pouring it on late:

Was it wrong for Dominique Ducharme to have his first power play on the ice with fewer than three minutes left in a blowout? It probably violated some unwritten rule when MacKinnon, Frk, Drouin and point men Konrad Abeltshauser and MacKenzie Weegar were put out for a 5-on-3 that began with 2:47 to play. They didn't score on it.

Hunter refused to take the bait when asked whether an unwritten rule was breached.

"I'd do the same thing if I was coaching," he said. "It's good practice time for them. It was 8- or 9-2. We took the penalties and we're responsible for the penalties. I don't coach their team and they can do whatever they want."

London, out of frustration, took six consecutive penalties in the third period. Ducharme did give power-play time to depth players such as fourth-liner Domenic Beauchemin and stay-at-home defencemen Brendan Duke before putting out his top players.

"There were many power plays when we didn't put them out," Ducharme said. "There was one point where we thought they were going pretty hard with the slash so we decided to put them back out."

Can this Mooseheads duplicate this performance one or two more times, if necessary? That is the million-dollar question. Halifax certainly showed it has a good shot at playing on Sunday. It's just a question of whether they can replicate what they did Tuesday or whether they pull back a bit after trampling the Knights.

"Next time we play I want to see the same urgency, energy, battle level and composure that we had tonight," Ducharme said.

Update #2: We All Bleed Red on YouTube has posted a video of Frk's goals:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


Bugsy's avatar

The most expensive tickets are buying the day of the game for $35. I’m busy, but oh, that’s tempting.

Posted by Bugsy on 05/22/13 at 01:53 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Martin Frk is Jiri Fischer’s find.  Man, even in retirement, the man’s doing all the right things.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 05/22/13 at 02:50 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

The Griffins did things the hard way, rallying from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits by scoring 3 goals over the final 9:56 of the 3rd period and advancing to the AHL’s Western Conference Finals via a 4-3 victory.

Seems to be that Toronto teams are making a habit of blowing leads late in critical games.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 05/22/13 at 08:10 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

I had all but given up on the Griffins game last night. Wife’s watching the Voice (puke) and I started taking my eyes away from the computer and conversate with her (puke…just kidding)....then Bam! Bam! Bam! Good night, Toronto. Great win and excited to watch more games at the Van.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/22/13 at 08:11 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Hey Babs, maybe it might be a good idea to burry the hatchet and take another look at Mursak.  Whaddya think?

I know its just the minors, but seems like when he’s healthy, he can be pretty effective, especially if you put him on a scoring line.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 05/22/13 at 08:31 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Hey Babs, maybe it might be a good idea to burry the hatchet and take another look at Mursak.  Whaddya think?
I know its just the minors, but seems like when he’s healthy, he can be pretty effective, especially if you put him on a scoring line.
Posted by Hootinani on 05/22/13 at 08:31 AM ET

I’m pretty sure he signed a contract overseas (KHL maybe?) for next year. Having watched him play another year here in GR I’m really surprised an NHL team didn’t pick him up when we put him on waivers. He can absolutely fly and has a really good scoring touch. The kid was just snake bit with injuries, and not the Colawhateverhisnameis kind of injuries either.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/22/13 at 09:19 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

“I thought [Frk] was outstanding … he’s got all the tools,” Halifax coach Dominique Ducharme said. “He’s a good skater, strong on the puck and he’s got great hands and quite a pro shot already.

And Frk has really torn it up in the QMJHL this year…
• Regular season: 56 games – 35g – 49a – 84pts
• Playoffs: 17 games – 13g – 20a – 33pts
• Memorial Cup: 3 games – 4g – 2a – 6pts

On a different note, anyone else have a hard time watching Blashill speak and not think you’re watch Uncle Mike Junior? And it’s not just the sound of his voice or the way he phrases things, it’s his mannerisms. Kind creepy, actually.  ohh

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/22/13 at 12:21 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Thanks for the clip, George!

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 05/22/13 at 11:56 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

Man he’s got a hell of a give and go.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 05/22/13 at 11:57 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.