Griffins, Wolves to Renew Rivalry in Central Division Semifinals
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - After extending their franchise-record playoff streak to seven seasons, the fourth-place Grand Rapids Griffins will begin their quest for a third Calder Cup championship by facing the division champion Chicago Wolves in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals.
The Griffins will visit Allstate Arena for Games 1 and 2 this Friday and Saturday before returning home for Game 3 on Tuesday, April 23 and, if necessary, Game 4 on Wednesday, April 24.
The complete schedule is as follows:
2019 Calder Cup Playoffs - Central Division Semifinals - Best of Five
Game 1 Fri., April 19 GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves 8 p.m.
Game 2 Sat., April 20 GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves 8 p.m.
Game 3 Tue., April 23 Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS 7 p.m.
*Game 4 Wed., April 24 Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS 7 p.m.
*Game 5 Sun., April 28 GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves 4 p.m.
* If necessary
All times Eastern and subject to change
All games on ESPN 96.1 FM and AHLTV
All Griffins postseason games can be heard on ESPN 96.1 FM.
Grand Rapids finished the season series against Chicago with a 3-5-0-0 record, including 2-2 at Van Andel Arena and 1-3 at Allstate Arena. After Chicago won the season's first matchup, the Griffins claimed the next three from Oct. 20-Nov. 28 before the Wolves closed with four consecutive victories. Four of the eight meetings were decided by three or more goals.
The Wolves are the Griffins' most frequent postseason opponent as the clubs will be meeting up for the sixth time. The Griffins are 2-3 in series against the Wolves (including one meeting in the International Hockey League's Turner Cup Playoffs), posting game records of 12-12 overall, 6-6 at home and 6-6 on the road. Three times the winner of this playoff clash has gone on to hoist a cup, with Chicago besting Grand Rapids 4-2 in the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Finals and 3-2 in the 2002 AHL Western Conference Quarterfinals, and the Griffins defeating the Wolves 4-1 in the 2017 Central Division Finals.
Storylines of the series include:
The Griffins have extended their franchise record by reaching the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season and have advanced to at least the second round in five of the last six campaigns. Seven years ties Providence for the second longest active Calder Cup Playoff streak, trailing only defending champion Toronto's eight. Grand Rapids is in the postseason for the 17th time in the franchise's 23 seasons; The Griffins arrived to the postseason on a season-high nine-game winless streak (0-8-1-0). However, Grand Rapids entered the 2016 playoffs on a five-game losing streak in regulation before sweeping division champion Milwaukee 3-0 in the first round; Grand Rapids clinched its playoff berth last night by virtue of Chicago's 4-2 win against Manitoba. This season marked just the second time in the team's history that its playoff fate was determined on or after the date of its final regular season game (2006-07); Head coach Ben Simon is the eighth 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) and Todd Nelson (2015-16). This is the fourth consecutive playoff appearance Simon has been a part of with the Griffins after he served as an assistant under Nelson from 2015-18. Simon played an integral role in helping Grand Rapids win the franchise's second Calder Cup in 2017; After missing the postseason in 2015-16, Chicago has claimed three consecutive regular season division titles but has just one playoff series win in that span; Simon and assistant coach Brad Tapper won the Calder Cup as players with the Wolves in 2002, their second consecutive season capturing a league championship together after hoisting the IHL's Turner Cup with the Orlando Solar Bears in 2001. Simon logged 196 games with Chicago from 2001-03 and 2004-05, registering 87 points (37-50-87) and 192 PIM. Tapper appeared in 98 games with the Wolves from 2001-04, tallying 58 points (24-34-58) and 130 PIM. Tapper served as an assistant with the Wolves from 2014-16. Other connections to Chicago include: Wade Megan totaled 99 points (44-55-99), a plus-34 rating and 109 PIM in 136 games with Chicago from 2016-18 and was named to the AHL First All-Star Team while pacing the circuit with 33 goals during his first season with the club; Jake Chelios made his AHL debut with Chicago on April 11, 2014 and went on to skate in 45 games with the Wolves from 2013-15; and Chicago forward Brooks Macek was originally drafted 171st overall by the Red Wings in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft but never appeared in a game for Detroit or any of its affiliates.
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 .
Fans who want to experience every Griffins game at Van Andel Arena during the 2019 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. 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 2019 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 for two hours after the doors open, while supplies last. In addition, 3,000 fans will receive Griffins playoff rally towels during the first round, compliments of White Claw Hard Seltzer.
Images from this story
Grand Rapids Griffins center Wade Megan vs. the Chicago Wolves
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