The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/22/13 at 04:04 AM ET
Due to a nasty bug I've been out of the loop for a couple of days, and during that time, the Grand Rapids Griffins learned who they'll be playing in the first round of the AHL playoffs. The Griffins' PR department reports that Grand Rapids will battle the Houston Aeros in a best-of-five series which will commence on Friday, April 26th:
The Grand Rapids Griffins, champions of the Midwest Division and a No. 3 seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs, will face the sixth-seeded Houston Aeros in the best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Griffins (42-26-4-4, 92 pts.), who are in the postseason for the first time since 2009, will begin their chase for the cup by visiting the Toyota Center for Games 1 and 2 on Friday, April 26 and Sunday, April 28, before returning to Van Andel Arena on Wed., May 1 for the first of as many as three straight home games. The complete schedule is as follows:
2013 Calder Cup Playoffs - Western Conference Quarterfinals - Best-of-Five
Game 1 Fri., April 26 GRIFFINS at Aeros 8:05 p.m.
Game 2 Sun., April 28 GRIFFINS at Aeros 6:05 p.m.
Game 3 Wed., May 1 Aeros at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (season ticket Game A)
*Game 4 Fri., May 3 Aeros at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game B)
*Game 5 Sat., May 4 Aeros at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game C)
* If necessary All times Eastern and subject to change. All games on Newsradio WOOD 106.9 FM & 1300 AM.
Tickets for home Game A (series Game 3), which are included in Griffins full season ticket packages, are now on sale for $33, $27, $23, $19, $17 and $15 (additional $2 per ticket on day of game), reflecting a league-wide increase of $1 over regular season prices. Playoff tickets 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://griffinshockey.com.
In celebration of the team’s return to the Calder Cup Playoffs, the Griffins are adapting their popular Friday promotion and will offer $2 beers and $2 hot dogs for all home playoff games, including Fridays, from the time doors open until one hour after the start of the game. In addition, the first 4,000 fans for Game 3 will receive a Griffins playoff poster, while the first 2,500 will receive a playoff rally towel courtesy of Auto Value Parts Stores.
This will mark the second Calder Cup Playoff meeting between Grand Rapids and Houston, following the Aeros' triumph in the 2003 Western Conference Finals. In that memorable seven-game series, the Griffins won Games 5 and 6 in overtime before falling at home in Game 7 to a Houston team that went on to win the Calder Cup.
The Griffins and Aeros (40-26-5-5, 90 pts.) met six times this season, with Grand Rapids winning the series 4-2 (1-2 at Van Andel Arena and 3-0 at the Toyota Center). Grand Rapids won each of the last three clashes, including a 5-1 win in Houston on April 2.
Griffins coach Jeff Blashill spoke with the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner about the match-up:
"They're a good team," coach Jeff Blashill said. "They have a very good system that makes it very difficult to create offense. It's hard to get to the net and you have to fight to get inside."
The Griffins won two of three over the weekend to close the season.
"I'm pleased with how we're playing over the past month overall," Blashill said. "What was a real positive for us over the weekend was a penalty kill. We didn't allow a goal and that's a positive for us."
The Griffins and Aeros met six times during the season. Grand Rapids won four of six (1-2 at Van Andel Arena and 3-0 at the Toyota Center), including the past three meetings. The last was a 5-1 win at Houston on April 2.
The Griffins closed out their regular season with a slate of three games played over the course of three nights, and they did so with five Wings prospects recalled from the Toledo Walleye (Andrej Nestrasil, Willie Coetzee, Trevor Parkes, Max Nicastro and Jordan Pearce) at their disposal.
On Friday, the Griffins closed out their regular season's home schedule with a 3-1 win over the Peoria Rivermen. The Griffins' website (which includes a highlight clip and a photo gallery) and MLive's Peter J. Wallner provide recaps of the game which clinched the Midwest Division championship;
And on Sunday, the Griffins defeated the Chicago Wolves 3-1, with Teemu Pulkkinen registering his first AHL point as he assisted on Landon Ferraro's 3-1 goal. The Griffins' website provides a recap and a photo gallery from the game.
In the OHL and QMJHL, the conference finals are underway, and three of the four series taking place include Red Wings prospects playing for four of the eight teams playing.
In the QMJHL, Martin Frk's Halifax Mooseheads lead their conference final against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 2-0 after Frk registered a goal and 2 assists in Halifax's 6-4 win on Saturday and registered the OT-winning goal, another goal and an assist in Halifax's 5-4 OT win on Sunday;
Xavier Ouellet's Blainville-Boisbriand Armada trail their series against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 2-0. Ouellet was held off the scoresheet in the Armada's 2-1 loss on Thursday and he registered an assist in the Armada's 2-1 loss on Saturday;
The OHL's Eastern Conference Final pits Andreas Athanasiou's Barrie Colts against Alan Quine's Belleville Bulls. The series is tied 1-1 as Quine registered 2 assists and Athanasiou was held off the scoresheet in Belleville's 3-2 win on Friday, and Athanasiou registered an assist as Barrie tied the series via a 5-0 win on Saturday..
Elsewhere, in the USHL, Mike McKee's Lincoln Stars are tied 2-2 in their first-round playoff series with the Sioux Falls Stampede after McKee registered an assist in Lincoln's 4-1 win on Friday, but Lincoln dropped a 2-1 decision on Saturday, with McKee taking 2 minor penalties and a 10-minute misconduct;
And in the BCHL, James De Haas's Penticton Vees fell short of their goal in capturing the BCHL's Fred Page Cup, dropping a 6-game series against the Surrey Eagles.
De Haas is likely to head to Clarkson University this fall, and McKee will probably head to Western Michigan University this fall.
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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.