Updated 3x at 1:06 AM: The Grand Rapids Griffins lost 5-1 to the Manitoba Moose on Monday night, ending the Griffins’ Calder Cup defense two months earlier than the Griffins and their fans would have liked.
Grand Rapids bowed out in the first round of the AHL playoffs in no small part due to a cavalcade of injuries and an ill-timed suspension to Eric Tangradi, but the Griffins preferred not to lean upon injuries as an excuse despite 40% of their forward lineup consisting of players who were playing for the Toledo Walleye when Grand Rapids was healthy.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Manitoba Moose are moving on in the American Hockey League playoffs.
Brendan Lemieux scored once and set up two more as the Moose downed the Grand Rapids Griffins 5-1 on Monday to win their first-round series 3-2.
Manitoba, AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets, will face the Rockford IceHogs in a best-of-seven second-round matchup. Game 1 goes Friday in Winnipeg.
Patrice Cormier, Michael Sgarbossa, Cameron Schilling and Chase De Leo supplied the rest of the offence for the Moose, who got a 34-save performance from Eric Comrie.
Matt Puempel found the back of the net for the Griffins while Jared Coreau stopped 25-of-29 shots in defeat.
Manitoba went 0 for 2 on the power play while Grand Rapids scored once on four chances with the man advantage.
Here’s the AHL’s recap…
There will be a new Calder Cup champion in 2018.
The Manitoba Moose officially dethroned the Grand Rapids Griffins with a 5-1 victory in the deciding Game 5 of their first-round series at Van Andel Arena on Monday night.
The Moose advance to the Central Division Finals to face the Rockford IceHogs beginning Friday in Winnipeg.
Grand Rapids tied it up on a power play a little over five minutes later, as Matt Puempel ripped home a shot from the top of the left circle over the shoulder of Comrie.
The Moose regained the lead with just 13.1 seconds left in the second period, on what would prove to be the game-winning goal. Lemieux’s shot attempt was deflected to Cameron Schilling, who put home his second goal of the series to make it 2-1.
Manitoba put the series away with three goals in the third period, beginning with Mike Sgarbossa‘s unassisted tally at 6:39.
Lemieux netted his second goal of the series at 11:17, and Chase De Leo finished the scoring with an empty-net goal with 3:29 remaining.
Comrie (3-2) finished with a .943 save percentage over the final three games of the series after being pulled after two periods of Game 2.
Coreau (1-2) made 25 saves in Game 5 for the Griffins.
And the Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner has already filed a recap…
The Griffins were without Eric Tangradi, a 31-goal scorer who was suspended for a non-called cross-check on Patrick Cormier in Game 4. That added to the challenge as Matt Lorito, Dominic Turgeon and Axel Holmstrom were also out.
In fact, the Griffins’ front line included three skaters (Mike Borkowski, Zach Nastasiak and Dylan Sadowy) who played nearly three times as many games in the ECHL with Toledo (112) than Grand Rapids (72) this season.
That presented added pressure.
“Yeah, we missed (Tangradi) him a lot tonight and I feel bad for him because that’s a tough way to have to season end,” said forward Ben Streeet. “We had faith in all the guys who came in and we were short-handed from the start of the series. But to (not have) someone who plays so many minutes and is a vocal guy, we definitely felt that tonight.
“There was extra pressure and we needed to get the job done as a leadership group, but you really can’t make up what Tango does.”
Coach Todd Nelson added: “To lose a guy like Lorito, Turgeon, Holmstrom and those injuries or suspensions sting a bit. Our guys worked hard. We lost a lot of creativity and offense.”
And the Griffins posted a highlight clip and interview clip:
The Grand Rapids Griffins aren’t going to repeat as Calder Cup champions.
The Griffins saw their opportunity to defend the championship end Monday when they lost 5-1 to the Manitoba Moose in the deciding fifth game of their first-round series.
Manitoba won the series 3-2 — the teams alternated victories through the five games — and advances to play Rockford in the second round.
Manitoba’s Cameron Schilling scored with 13 seconds left in the second period, breaking a 1-1 tie.
The late goal gave the Moose momentum, who added goals from Mike Sbargossa, Brendan Lemieux and Chase De Leo (empty net) in the third period.
Matt Puempel (power play) scored for the Griffins in the first period, tying the game 1-1.
Griffins goalie Jared Coreau stopped 24 of 28 shots, while Manitoba’s Eric Comrie made 32 of 33 saves.
Here’s the Moose’s website’s recap:
The Manitoba Moose (3-2) and Grand Rapids Griffins (2-3) took to the ice at Van Andel Arena on Monday night to decide a winner in their Central Division Semi-Finals series. The Moose flew out of the gate, controlling the early play and were rewarded with the opening goal. Buddy Robinson got the puck ahead for Patrice Cormier who was able to use his extra step on the defender to pull over to the backhand and get around Jared Coreau at the 1:49 mark. JC Lipon nearly made it 2-0 minutes later when he snagged a loose puck in the slot, but ripped his shot off the post. Grand Rapids tied things up 6:53 into the game with a power play tally from Matt Puempel.
The second period started out with the Griffins pushing the pace in search of a lead. The hosts built up a 7-2 lead on the shot clock, but the tide started to turn as the period progressed. The Moose went on the attack, and outshot the Griffins 11-2 the rest of the frame. The score stayed locked 1-1 until the final seconds of the period. Brendan Lemieux found Cameron Schilling sneaking down from the point and the veteran defenceman had a wide open net to deposit the puck into. Schilling’s second goal of the playoffs sent the Moose to the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
The Moose added some key insurance 6:39 into the third courtesy of a brilliant solo effort from Mike Sgarbossa. The veteran forward stole the puck away, cut to the front of the net and tucked a shot around Coreau for a 3-1 lead. The visitors added to their advantage 11:17 into the period when Buddy Robinson slipped a pass out to Brendan Lemieux in front of the goal and Lemieux put it away for a 4-1 advantage. Grand Rapids emptied the net early, but the gamble didn’t pay off as Chase De Leo iced the contest with Manitoba’s fifth goal of the game. The Moose cruised to the win from there with Eric Comrie finishing the night making 34 saves in the victory.
The Moose advance to face off against the Rockford IceHogs in the Central Division Finals.
Patrice Cormier played his 50th Calder Cup Playoff game.
Brendan Lemieux posted his first Calder Cup Playoffs multi-point (1G, 2A) game.
Chase De Leo led the Moose in the first round with seven points (2G, 5A).
Attendance was announced at 7,015.
FYI from the Toledo Blade’s Mark Monroe:
With Grand Rapids being eliminated from the AHL playoffs tonight, the Walleye should see some players back. I’d guess Sadowy and Borkowski most likely. Nastasiuk possibly. Esposito not likely. Saarijarvi no.
— Mark Monroe (@MonroeBlade) May 1, 2018
Update: Here’s Fox 17’s highlight clip:
Calder Cup Playoffs – Central Division Semifinals – Game 5 – Manitoba Wins Series, 3-2
Manitoba Moose 5 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 1
April 30, 2018
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – For the first time since 2012, the Grand Rapids Griffins will not participate in the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
After forcing Game 5 with a victory last Thursday, the defending champions fell 5-1 to the Manitoba Moose on Monday at Van Andel Arena in the deciding contest of the Central Division Semifinals.
The third-seeded Moose move on to the division finals to take on the fourth-seeded Rockford IceHogs, who dispatched the division champion Chicago Wolves in a three-game sweep of their first-round series.
Missing four regulars from their forward ranks due to a suspension to Eric Tangradi and injuries to Matt Lorito, Dominic Turgeon and Axel Holmstrom, the Griffins still managed to generate 35 shots on goal, but Moose goaltender Eric Comrie stopped all but one to end the Griffins’ reign and their remarkable run of playoff success that stretched back to 2013.
The Moose took the upper hand only 1:49 into the contest when Patrice Cormier finished off a 2-on-1 rush with Buddy Robinson by popping a backhand past Jared Coreau, who had shut out Manitoba in three straight starts dating back to February. Including Coreau’s relief appearance in Game 3, it marked his first goal allowed to the Moose in 97:41 and just the second in a whopping 234:18.
JC Lipon nearly doubled the visitors’ lead five minutes in but his wrist shot from the slot rang off the left post and out of harm’s way, and the Griffins took advantage of the reprieve to tie it on a power play goal two minutes later. With Jan Kostalek off for slashing, Matt Puempel blistered a one-timer into Comrie’s net from the top of the left circle at 6:53, sparking an eruption from the partisan crowd of 7,015. Puempel’s first goal of the playoffs was assisted by Filip Hronek, who earned his first career playoff point, and Ben Street, who increased his team-leading point total to eight.
Manitoba had the best scoring chances of the second period, most of them during the frame’s final minutes. Coreau denied point-blank chances by Francis Beauvillier and Brody Sutter with three minutes left then swallowed Beauvillier’s try on a partial break with a minute remaining, but he ultimately ceded the go-ahead goal 14 seconds before intermission. From the right circle, Brendan Lemieux sent a pass across to Cameron Schilling for a backdoor goal that staked the Moose to a crucial 2-1 advantage through 40 minutes.
The Moose added to their lead 6:39 into the third, just after the Griffins had missed several opportunities to tie the score during a power play. A forechecking Mike Sgarbossa forced Robbie Russo into a turnover in the left corner and eluded Coreau’s poke-check attempt at the left post before sliding a backhand under the sprawled netminder to make it a two-goal cushion. Lemieux all but sealed matters when he buried a bouncing puck from the slot with 8:43 remaining, and after Coreau went to the bench for an extra attacker with 4:16 left, Chase De Leo scored into the empty net at 16:31 for the final margin.
Coreau stopped 25 of 29 shots in the loss, which marked the Griffins’ first defeat in a playoff series since they fell to eventual Calder Cup champion Lake Erie in the 2016 Central Division Finals.
This was the third of four Grand Rapids-Manitoba playoff series to go the distance, as the Griffins lost a Game 7 in Winnipeg in 2007 and won a Game 7 against the Moose on home ice in 2006. The Griffins had won their last three winner-take-all games, all at home, including Game 5 wins in the first round against Toronto in 2015 and Houston in 2013.
The Griffins were attempting to become the second AHL team to advance to the second round in six consecutive seasons since the league’s current 16-team format was adopted in 2005 (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 2011 to 2016) and the second team in AHL history to reach the second round in five straight seasons after winning the Calder Cup (Cleveland Barons, 1942 to 1946 after winning the Cup in 1941). Instead, they begin their earliest offseason since missing the playoffs for three straight years from 2010 to 2012.
Notes: Grand Rapids had won seven of its last eight home games in which it faced elimination…The Griffins are now 4-5 all time in winner-take-all games, including 2-3 in Game 5s and 4-3 at home…Out of 31 first-round AHL games, the Griffins’ three home games ranked second (7,448 for Game 3), third (7,357 for Game 4) and fifth (7,015 for Game 5) in attendance…Despite playing all three home games Monday-Thursday, the Griffins led all 16 playoff teams during the division semifinals with an average attendance of 7,273.
Three Stars: 1. MB Lemieux (goal, two assists); 2. MB Comrie (W, 34 saves); 3. MB Sgarbossa (goal, assist)
The Griffins website also posted a 57-image photo gallery.
Update #3: DetroitRedWings.com’s Arthur J. Regner and Dana Wakiji penned a “Trending” recap:
Filip Hronek: If there was one player who took a huge step forward this season, it was defenseman Filip Hronek. The Wings took Hronek in the second round, 53rd overall, in the 2016 draft. At the time he was drafted, the young Czech Republic native weighed about 160 pounds and spoke little to no English. Hronek spent the 2016-17 season with the Saginaw Spirit and earned team MVP honors while leading the team in assists and power-play points. He also was the captain of Team Czech Republic at the 2017 World Junior Championship. Hronek is now a still-svelte but more robust 178 pounds and he is comfortable doing interviews in English, although perhaps not as comfortable as he is running the power play. In 67 games with the Griffins this season, Hronek had 11 goals and 28 assists and was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team on April 4. Hronek had the primary assist on the Griffins’ only goal in Game 5, his first career playoff point. As Detroit’s defense corps is looking to add young talent in the near future, it is likely that Hronek will get an opportunity to make the team in training camp this coming fall. Like many of the Wings’ prospects, Hronek will need a big summer in the gym to add more strength.
Quotable: “The start of every season, when you have young players and you’re blending them in, he wasn’t a regular at the start. Then once Ryan Sproul got traded, that made room for him to step in. He steadily improved and just when I thought maybe in February that he capped out with his improvement, he took it to a whole different level. It was a tremendous first season for him. Really put himself on the map with the organization. Jeff Blashill’s been here, Ken, Ryan, they’ve been watching a lot of our games and he’s putting himself in a good opportunity to play some National Hockey games next year, maybe this season, I don’t know. It’ll be up to him at training camp to see where he’s at. He exceeded my expectations. I knew he was going to be good but I didn’t think he’d develop as quick as he has.” — Griffins coach Todd Nelson
Quotable II: “I learned a lot. Big thank you for (Brian) Lashoff and Tommy McCollum, they helped me a lot. They learned me how to be pro.” — Hronek