June 20, 2013
Notre Dame, Ind. - Two former members of the Notre Dame hockey program hoisted the American Hockey League's Calder Cup on Tuesday night as AHL champions with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Center Riley Sheahan and goaltender Jordan Pearce `09 graced the roster of the Griffins' team that downed the Syracuse Crunch, 5-2, in game six on the way to taking the series four games to two. Grand Rapids, the top farm team of the Detroit Red Wings, picked up its first Calder Cup title, in the team's 12 seasons in the American Hockey League and its first title of any type in 17 years of existence.
The duo become the fourth and fifth former Irish players to win a Calder Cup joining Erik Condra `09 (Binghamton Senators in 2010-11), Ben Simon `00 (Chicago Wolves in 2001-02) and Jack Brownschidle `77 (Rochester Americans in 1986-87). Current Irish associate head coach Paul Pooley also played on a Calder Cup championship team when he was a member of the Sherbrooke Canadiens when that team won in 1984-85.
To get to the title, the Griffins finished first in the AHL's Midwest Division in the Western Conference with a 42-6-4-4 record. They then defeated the Houston Aeros, three games to two, in the Western Conference quarterfinals. Grand Rapids followed that up with a 4-2 series win over the Toronto Marlies in the Western Conference semifinals and then downed the Oklahoma City Barons, four games to three to capture the Western Conference title.
In the Calder Cup finals, the Griffins jumped out to a three games to none lead on Syracuse, the top farm club of the Anaheim Ducks, before the Crunch rallied for wins in game four in Michigan, 3-2, and game five back at the Onanadoga County War Memorial Coliseum at Oncenter, 5-2, on June 15.
That set up Tuesday's game six in Syracuse with Sheahan helping to set up the winning goal at 9:54 of the third period, snapping a 2-2 tie. On the play, the St. Catharine's, Ont., native won a face off to the right of Syracuse goaltender Cedrick Desjardins. Right wing Mitch Callahan grabbed the puck on the goal line and fed it to defenseman Brennan Evans at the left point. With Sheahan parked in front of Desjardins, Evans low hard shot beat the Crunch goaltender low to the ice under his pads and inside the right post to give Grand Rapids the 3-2 lead. Empty-net goals by Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson in the final minute sealed the championship win for the Griffins.
Sheahan finished the playoffs tied for third in scoring among Grand Rapids players with three goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 24 playoff games. That tied him for sixth among all AHL playoff scorers.
On the season, Sheahan, Detroit's top draft choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, 21st overall, played in 72 regular-season games, scoring 16 goals with 20 assists for 36 points to finish seventh in scoring for the Griffins. He added six power-play goals and a pair of short-handed tallies in his first full pro season. During the 2012-13 season, the former Irish center was recalled to Detroit, playing in one game with the Red Wings.
In three seasons at Notre Dame (2009-12), Sheahan played in 114 games with 20 goals and 44 assists for 64 points.
Pearce spent his 2012-13 season, spending time between Grand Rapids, Toledo (ECHL) and Detroit where he served as the Red Wings' third goaltender during the playoffs. When the parent team was eliminated from the NHL postseason, the Anchorage, Alaska native was returned to Grand Rapids, but did see any playoff action.
For the year, Pearce played in 31 games for the Toledo Walleye, going 15-11-3 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. He played in four games for Grand Rapids, going 0-3-0 with a 4.32 goals against and a .847 save percentage. Since graduating from Notre Dame in 2009, Pearce has seen action in 73 games with Grand Rapids and is 24-29-6 all-time with a 3.23 goals-against average and a .894 save mark. With Toledo, he has played in 78 games and is 34-32-6 with a 3.35 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.
Pearce is Notre Dame's all-time leader in wins (59), goals-against average (1.98), save percentage (.918) and shutouts (12) while being sixth in minutes played (5,506:02) from 2005-09.