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Calder Cup Catastrophe: Syracuse Crunch give up lead, fall to Grand Rapids in AHL Finals

The Syracuse Crunch watch the Grand Rapids Griffins celebrate the 2017 Calder Cup Championship during Game 6 on Tuesday night.

Tuesday night served as the final game of the season for the American Hockey League.

But, perhaps more importantly, it served as the final game of the season for the Syracuse Crunch.

The hometown hockey team built a following the Salt City has never once seen, in the matter of a two-month span.

The following will remain, but the playoff run will not.

The Crunch's run through the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs was one that created new memories for fans of all ages, put the spotlight on the sport of hockey in a basketball-crazed town, while also building a stronger relationship between Syracuse and its NHL parent club, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After all, the Lightning is the one that will reap the benefits of its minor league affiliate reaching such outstanding heights.

With the Grand Rapids Griffins leading the series, 3-2, Game 6 was massive for a variety of reasons.

Mainly, though, because a single loss ends Syracuse's season.

That's essentially what happened in the end, as the Griffins responded after trailing the Crunch 3-2 entering the third period. Grand Rapids scored the final two goals of the game to not only win the game, but also capture the Calder Cup Trophy.

Grand Rapids' Tyler Bertuzzi scored the game-tying goal less than four minutes into the third period, while Martin Frk tallied the game-winner with under eight minutes to play in regulation.

A furious Syracuse rally in the minutes few minutes presented plenty of opportunities, but in the end, not a single puck was able to get past Griffins goaltender Jared Coreau.

The Crunch had lost Game 6, 4-3.

"It's been a great ride," Syracuse Crunch head coach Ben Groulx admitted after the game. "It's the first time for me at this level, and I told them, you guys made me dream. I had never dreamed of winning the Calder Cup. But I've got to say this -- those guys made it possible. With our fans, this community behind us, this organization -- it was one of the best two months of my life."

"It's amazing," Crunch goaltender Mike McKenna explained. "You always bond with your teammates. You go along over the years and you stay friends with everybody, and some you stay in contact with. But with a team like this, and even me coming in at the trade deadline, I mean, this is just a special fraternity. We got this far and accomplished so much."

With the offseason on the horizon, there are plenty of question marks surrounding the makeup of the Syracuse Crunch roster -- who will return and who will not.

One thing is for certain -- Central New York will never forget the 2016-17 Syracuse Crunch -- a team that allowed its city to jump on-board for a wonderful ride to the top of the AHL mountain.


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