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 Grand Rapids Griffins

Griffins to Face Top-Seeded Milwaukee in Central Division Finals

May 12, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Grand Rapids Griffins News Release

Milwaukee Admirals' Roland McKeown and Grand Rapids Griffins' Jan Bednar
Milwaukee Admirals' Roland McKeown and Grand Rapids Griffins' Jan Bednar
(Grand Rapids Griffins)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The second-seeded Grand Rapids Griffins will continue their quest for a third Calder Cup championship by facing the top-seeded Milwaukee Admirals in the best-of-five Central Division Finals, with Game 1 set for Wednesday, May 15 at 8 p.m. EDT at Panther Arena. Tickets for Game 3 on Wednesday, May 22 at Van Andel Arena are on sale now and can be purchased through, or via the Griffins app for iPhone or Android.

The Griffins took down the third-seeded Rockford IceHogs 3-1 in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals. After dropping the first two games of their series against Texas, Milwaukee went on to take all three must-win games at home to defeat the fourth-seeded Stars, 3-2.

The Griffins have advanced to the Central Division Finals for the first time since their 2017 Calder Cup championship run, while this is the third consecutive trip to the division finals for Milwaukee, who last year lost to Coachella Valley in the Western Conference Finals. Jonatan Berggren leads Grand Rapids with five points (3-2-5) in four games, while netminder Sebastian Cossa has a 3-1 record with a 2.86 GAA and a .880 SV%.

Fans who want to experience every Griffins game at Van Andel Arena during the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs can 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. Click here to reserve your Griffins Playoff 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 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs, click here 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 from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. In addition, fans will receive Griffins playoff rally towels, compliments of Gun Lake Casino. All Griffins postseason games can be heard on 96.1 The Game.

Peppino's Sports Grille in downtown Grand Rapids will continue to host watch parties for all Griffins road games during the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs. The first party of the division finals will be this Wednesday, May 15 when the Griffins travel to Milwaukee for Game 1 against the Admirals, starting at 8 p.m. EDT at Panther Arena. Griffins fans can enjoy $3 16oz and $5 22oz domestic beer, $3 fireball shots when the Griffins score, $1 off All-American burgers with kettle chips, and $5 one-topping 10-inch pizzas.

Grand Rapids finished the regular season series against Milwaukee with a 4-3-1-0 record, including 3-1-0-0 at Van Andel Arena and 1-2-1-0 at Panther Arena. The Griffins possessed a plus-five scoring margin against Milwaukee in Grand Rapids compared to their minus-four margin on the road against the Admirals. Neither team posted a shutout during the regular-season series but the Griffins held Milwaukee to just one goal on three occasions. Grand Rapids averaged 2.38 goals per game against the Admirals, while Milwaukee showed 2.25 goals per game. Four of the eight meetings were decided by just one goal. Carter Mazur led Grand Rapids against Milwaukee with eight points (5-3-8) in seven contests, while Joakim Kemell paced the Admirals against the Griffins with five points (3-2-5) in eight appearances. Leading each team in net were Cossa, who went 3-0-1 with a 1.47 GAA and a .952 SV% in four games, and Milwaukee's Troy Grosenick, who showed a 2-0-1 mark with a 1.62 GAA and a .949 SV% in three contests.

The Griffins and Admirals have met three prior times in the Calder Cup Playoffs, with Grand Rapids holding a 2-1 series advantage. Every series between Milwaukee and Grand Rapids has ended in a sweep. The Griffins swept the Admirals 3-0 in both the 2017 and 2016 Central Division Semifinals, and Milwaukee went 4-0 against Grand Rapids in the 2006 Western Conference Finals. The Griffins are 6-4 overall against Milwaukee in the postseason, including 3-2 at home and 3-2 on the road. This is Grand Rapids' 18th playoff berth, and it possesses a 101-83 ledger and 21-15 series record, which includes games in the IHL's Turner Cup Playoffs from 1996-01. The Griffins have a 7-5 mark in a best-of-five series. This is Milwaukee's 18th Calder Cup Playoff appearance in 21 seasons. The Admirals are 72-76 in postseason games and have a 14-16 series record. Last season, Milwaukee took down Manitoba and Texas to claim the Central Division title before being defeated 4-2 by the Coachella Valley Firebirds in the Western Conference Finals.

Other storylines of the series include:

On Feb. 25, the Griffins and Milwaukee Admirals made AHL history, as it was the first-ever meeting between two teams riding point streaks of 14 games or more. Grand Rapids entered the night with points in 14 straight games and Milwaukee was on a 19-game winning streak, which was the second-longest run in AHL history. The Griffins came away victorious in a 4-2 win to extend their point streak to 15 outings (11-0-2-2), snapping the Admirals' historic run. Cossa finished with 37 saves and Marco Kasper was credited with the game-winner. The Griffins' point streak would end at 18 games (13-0-3-2 from Jan. 13-March 2), which was one game shy of tying the franchise record of 19 contests;

The upcoming series between the Griffins and Admirals will actually mark the fifth series ever between pro teams from Grand Rapids and Milwaukee. The Grand Rapids Owls defeated the Admirals four games to three in the 1979 IHL Turner Cup Quarterfinals;

On April 27 in a 3-2 overtime victory over Rockford in Game 1, first-year head coach Dan Watson joined seven other head coaches who won their first postseason game behind the Griffins' bench. Watson also became the eighth of the last nine Griffins head coaches to win his first playoff series, defeating the IceHogs 3-1. He is the ninth head coach in franchise history to lead the Griffins to the postseason during his first full season behind the bench, joining Dave Allison (1996-97), Bruce Cassidy (2000-01), Danton Cole (2002-03), Greg Ireland (2005-06) Curt Fraser (2008-09), Jeff Blashill (2012-13), Todd Nelson (2015-16) and Ben Simon (2018-19). Watson has never missed the playoffs during his seven seasons as a head coach. With the ECHL's Toledo Walleye, Watson went 51-34 (.600) over five postseasons, reaching the Kelly Cup Finals twice (2019 and 2022) and leading Toledo to four Western Conference Finals berths (2017, 2019, 2022 and 2023);

After missing the postseason in 2017-18, Milwaukee has claimed four straight playoff berths from 2019-24 and has reached the Central Division Finals for the third consecutive time. Last season, Milwaukee won the Central Division before being defeated 4-2 by the Coachella Valley Firebirds in the Western Conference Finals. The Admirals' best finish came in 2004 when they took home the Calder Cup by beating the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 4-0;

The Griffins and Admirals have a few connections on championship winning teams. In 2023, assistant coach Steph Julien helped lead Team Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championship with Milwaukee's Jake Matier and Reid Schaefer. Cossa and Luke Prokop won the 2022 WHL title with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Captain Josiah Didier and Rolan McKeown won the Calder Cup together in 2019 with the Charlotte Checkers;

Milwaukee's Jasper Weatherby competed for the Griffins last season after being traded from San Jose to Detroit on Jan. 18, 2023. Weatherby went on to record 11 points (3-8-11) in 31 outings for Grand Rapids. Matt Luff spent the 2021-22 campaign with the Nashville organization and suited up for 30 games with Milwaukee, amassing 31 points (14-17-31);

Didier (2019 Charlotte) and assistant coach Brian Lashoff (2013 and 2017 Grand Rapids) are the Griffins' previous Calder Cup champions. Brogan Rafferty (2023), Joel L'Esperance (2018) and Michael Hutchinson (2014) all have made a Calder Cup Finals appearance. Kevin Gravel (2015 Manchester) and Roland McKeown (2019 Charlotte) are the two Admirals who've captured the Calder Cup.

Images from this story

Milwaukee Admirals' Roland McKeown and Grand Rapids Griffins' Jan Bednar
Milwaukee Admirals' Roland McKeown and Grand Rapids Griffins' Jan Bednar


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