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Abel to Yzerman

Playoff Match-Up Is Set For The Grand Rapids Griffins

from Peter J. Wallner of Mlive,

The Grand Rapids Griffins got what they needed in the regular-season finale Saturday with a win to secure second place in the division, highlighted by big nights from Colin Campbell and Filip Hronek.

Campbell had his second-career hat trick and Hronek had a four-point night with a goal and three assists as the Griffins picked up a 6-4 victory over Cleveland before 10,834 at Van Andel Arena to wrap up the regular season.

The win gives the Griffins (42-25-2-7) home-ice advantage to begin the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Manitoba. The best-of-five series begins Saturday at Manitoba.

continued

Below, a press release from the GRG on the upcoming series.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – After securing home-ice advantage for the Central Division Semifinals by virtue of tonight’s 6-4 win over Cleveland, the second-place Grand Rapids Griffins will commence their best-of-five series against the third-seeded Manitoba Moose next Saturday and Sunday in Winnipeg before the series shifts to Van Andel Arena to be decided in as many as three games.

The complete schedule is as follows:

2018 Calder Cup Playoffs - Central Division Semifinals – Best of Five

Game 1

Sat., April 21

GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose

3 p.m.

Game 2

Sun., April 22

GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose

3 p.m.

Game 3

Wed., April 25

Manitoba Moose at GRIFFINS

7 p.m.

*Game 4

Thu., April 26

Manitoba Moose at GRIFFINS

7 p.m.

*Game 5

Mon., April 30

Manitoba Moose at GRIFFINS

7 p.m.

* If necessary
All times Eastern and subject to change
All games on ESPN 96.1 FM and AHLLive.com


The Griffins won the regular season series against the Moose with a 6-2 record, including 2-2 at Van Andel Arena and 4-0 at Bell MTS Place. Grand Rapids won all five matchups from January onward.

This will mark the fourth all-time playoff meeting between these clubs and the first since 2009. The Griffins claimed their only series win against the Moose in a seven-game classic in the 2006 North Division Finals, before Manitoba answered with a Game 7 win of its own in the 2007 North Division Semifinals and a four-game sweep of the 2009 North Division Finals. Overall, Grand Rapids is 7-11 against the Moose during the postseason, including 4-5 at home and 3-6 on the road.

Storylines of the series include:

  • At the nadir of the Griffins’ season on Dec. 21, they sat five games under .500 (10-15-1-3, 0.414) and were seventh in the Central Division with just 24 points, putting them 23 points behind the first-place Moose (22-5-1-2, 0.783). Since that point, Grand Rapids finished the season on a 32-10-1-4 tear (0.734) while Manitoba has gone 19-21-3-2 (0.478) heading into tomorrow’s finale at Chicago, meaning the Griffins made up 26 points in the standings to overtake the Moose;
  • Griffins defenseman Brian Lashoff is the only member of either team who participated in their last playoff meeting, a 4-0 Moose sweep of the 2009 North Division Finals. Lashoff, who was then an 18-year-old in the midst of making his pro debut with Grand Rapids after joining the club late in the regular season, has since become the franchise’s second-leading player all time in games played in both the regular season (400) and playoffs (68);
  • Several other notable players took part in that 2009 meeting between the Griffins and Moose. Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard played all 10 postseason games in his last full-time season in Grand Rapids, his current teammate Justin Abdelkader led the Griffins with six playoff goals (6-2—8), and four-time Stanley Cup champion Darren McCarty finished out his career by contributing four points (3-1—4) in 10 playoff games. On the Moose side, forward Michael Grabner and goaltender Cory Schneider (4-0 in that series with a 1.25 GAA and a .953 save percentage) have gone onto long NHL careers, while three-time Stanley Cup champ Mike Keane eventually hung up his skates after the 2009-10 campaign;
  • The two-time Calder Cup champion Griffins (2013 and 2017) have both qualified for the playoffs and posted at least 90 points for a franchise-record six consecutive years, breaking the marks set from 1999-2000 through 2003-04. The Moose are in the postseason for the first time since rejoining the AHL in 2015-16 following a four-year hiatus. In their most recent playoff appearance, they fell to Hamilton in seven games during the 2011 North Division Finals to bring a close to their first stint in the league, as the NHL’s Jets returned to Winnipeg that fall;
  • The Griffins will attempt to advance to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs for a sixth straight season, a feat achieved by only Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2011 to 2016) since the AHL’s current 16-team format was adopted in 2005. They would also become the second team in AHL history to reach the second round in five straight seasons after winning the Calder Cup, joining the Cleveland Barons (1942 to 1946 after winning the Cup in 1941);
  • Griffins defenseman Dylan McIlrath was born in Winnipeg and lives there in the offseason, while forward Eric Tangradi appeared in 91 NHL games with the Jets from 2012-14;
  • The Moose were the AHL’s most decorated squad in terms of season-ending awards. Bench boss Pascal Vincent won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as outstanding coach; goalie Michael Hutchinson was named a Second Team All-Star; former Michigan State right wing Mason Appleton was named a First Team All-Star, member of the All-Rookie Team and the league’s outstanding rookie (Dudley (Red) Garrett Award); and defenseman Sami Niku was selected for the AHL First All-Star Team and All-Rookie Team before becoming just the second rookie in league annals to win the Eddie Shore Award as outstanding defenseman. 

Tickets for Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) of the division semifinals at Van Andel Arena are currently on sale and can be purchased at all Star Tickets locations, including The Zone, online throughgriffinshockey.com/tickets, by phone through Star Tickets at (800) 585-3737, or via the Griffins app for iPhone or Android

Available for all playoff home games, Playoff 4-Packs include four or more tickets at a savings of $3 per ticket plus no service fees. To purchase a Playoff 4-Pack, visit griffinshockey.com/playoff4pack or call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2.

Fans who want to experience every Griffins game at Van Andel Arena during the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs can now purchase a Griffins Playoff SuperPass. Enjoy the same great seat at significant savings plus the convenience of the “pay-as-we-play” method of payment. To reserve your Griffins Playoff SuperPass, visit griffinshockey.com/superpass or call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2.

Groups of 10 or more can receive special pricing to playoff games and receive an unforgettable experience. To book a group outing during the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs, visitgriffinshockey.com/group or call (616) 774.4585 ext. 4. Playoff suites and other premium areas are also available.

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com