By @StefanKubus –
GRAND RAPIDS – On Tuesday morning, three days removed from being pulled in a 5-1 loss, Jared Coreau set out to prove he could get the job done.
By the end of the night, it was mission accomplished for the Northern Michigan alum.
Coreau successfully backstopped Grand Rapids to a Calder Cup championship, turning aside 29 of the 32 shots he faced in a 4-3 Game 6 victory over the Syracuse Crunch.
The 25-year-old netminder was pulled just one game prior in Syracuse after allowing five goals on 12 shots, all in the first period.
But with a championship looming, it was Coreau’s ability to bounce back that impressed his head coach.
“That was a huge step in his career,” said Griffins head coach Todd Nelson. “There were a lot of doubters saying he couldn’t get it done, and I knew he was ready because this morning he goes, ‘I’m gonna prove to everybody tonight I can win a championship’ and that’s what he did.”
It certainly wasn’t an easy start in the series-deciding contest for Coreau, either.
Syracuse forward Yanni Gourde potted the game’s all-important first goal after Coreau gave the puck away from behind the net. Every game in the series up to that point had been won by the team that scored first.
“Something that crossed my mind was the teams that score first this series end up winning those games so I thought ‘we’re gonna have to overcome this,’ and we’ve done it before all season,” Coreau said.
Even having both that statistic and the manner in which the goal was scored lingering in the back of his mind for the next 40 minutes, Coreau exercised the mental toughness necessary to win.
“That I can go the distance,” Coreau said of what he learned about himself. “We did this in 19 games. I don’t know how many games total this year, but you feel it. You feel it later on in the season and getting deep in the playoffs. You feel some mental, physical fatigue – you have to battle it, you have to battle all the way along.”
There’s no doubt it was a long season for Coreau, as he even helped guard the Red Wings’ goal for bits of December, much of January and played single games in February and March. Coreau partially credited his success to that experience and the opportunity to learn from NHL pros.
“I think that two-and-a-half months I was up was probably the most beneficial thing,” Coreau said. “I learned how to be a real pro and being around some of those guys that won Stanley Cup, you see how they carry themselves and I think that’s how I try to emulate myself down here.”
Though there’s reason for concern surrounding Coreau’s future in Detroit due to the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft, there’s no question he’s on his way to becoming a NHL netminder.
“He was unreal holding the fort here at the end,” Nelson said. “He made an outstanding save in the first period when they had the power play. I’m proud of him because he proved a lot of people wrong. People said he couldn’t win the big games, and he won the biggest one here tonight.”