From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
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.
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 through griffinshockey.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, visit griffinshockey.com/group or call (616) 774.4585 ext. 4. Playoff suites and other premium areas are also available.
Continuing a postseason tradition, the Griffins are extending their popular Friday promotion and will offer $2 beers and $2 hot dogs for all home playoff games for two hours after the doors open, while supplies last. In addition, 2,500 fans will receive Griffins playoff rally towels during the first round, compliments of Meijer.