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 Grand Rapids Griffins

Schedules Announced for Griffins-IceHogs Playoff Series

April 17, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Grand Rapids Griffins News Release

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Grand Rapids Griffins will begin their quest for a third Calder Cup championship by facing the Rockford IceHogs in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals.

Seeding for the series is still up for grabs with three regular-season games remaining for each club. With the second-place Griffins leading the third-place IceHogs by a single point in the standings and the tiebreaker still undetermined, Grand Rapids' magic number for clinching the higher seed is six points compared to Rockford's eight.

While seeding won't be determined until this Friday at the earliest, dates for the Griffins' first two home playoff games at Van Andel Arena have been set for Wednesday, May 1 and Friday, May 3. Tickets for both games can be purchased through beginning at 3 p.m. today.

If the Griffins finish as the second seed, they will visit the BMO Center for Game 1 on Saturday, April 27 before returning to Van Andel Arena for Games 2 and 3 on Wednesday, May 1 and Friday, May 3. If necessary, Game 4 will be in Rockford on Sunday, May 5, and Game 5 will be back in Grand Rapids on Friday, May 10.

If the Griffins are the three seed, they will travel to the BMO Center for Games 1 and 2 on Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27. Grand Rapids will return home for Game 3 on Wednesday, May 1 and, if necessary, Game 4 on Friday, May 3. Game 5 would be in Rockford on Sunday, May 5.

The complete schedule is as follows if the Griffins are the second seed:

If the Griffins are the third seed, the schedule will be:

Tickets for May 1 and May 3 of the division semifinals at Van Andel Arena will go on sale at 3 p.m. today and can be purchased through, or via the Griffins app for iPhone or Android.

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.

Grand Rapids finished the regular season series against Rockford with a 6-4-2-0 record, including 2-2-2-0 at Van Andel Arena and 4-2-0-0 at the BMO Center. After going 1-2-0-0 in the first three meetings, the Griffins went on a seven-game point streak (5-0-2-0) against Rockford from Jan. 13-April 5 before dropping the final two games. The Griffins have been held scoreless five times during the regular season, three of which came against the IceHogs. Five of the 12 meetings were decided by just one goal. Zach Aston-Reese led Grand Rapids against Rockford with seven points (3-4-7) in 11 games, while Brett Seney paced the IceHogs against the Griffins with 13 points (5-8-13) in 12 appearances. Leading each team in net were Sebastian Cossa, who went 5-2-1 with a 1.98 GAA and a .920 SV% in eight games, and Rockford's Jaxson Stauber, who showed a 3-0-0 mark with a 1.63 GAA and a .930 SV% in three contests.

The Griffins and IceHogs have met just once before in the Calder Cup Playoffs, as Grand Rapids defeated Rockford 4-1 in the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals. The Griffins are 2-0 at home and 2-1 on the road against Rockford in the postseason. This is Grand Rapids' 18th playoff berth, and it possesses a 98-82 ledger and 20-15 series record, which includes games in the IHL's Turner Cup Playoffs from 1996-01. The Griffins have a 6-5 mark in a best-of-five series. This will be Rockford's ninth Calder Cup Playoff appearance in 15 seasons. The IceHogs are 24-30 in postseason games and have a 6-8 series record. Last season, Rockford defeated Iowa 2-0 in the first round before being bested 3-0 by Texas in the Central Division Semifinals.

Other storylines of the series include:

Grand Rapids clinched its playoff berth on March 27 by virtue of a 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Monsters. This marked the team's earliest clinching date since 2017, when the AHL's eventual Calder Cup champions secured their spot on March 26. Clinching a spot with 25 days remaining in the regular season also marked the earliest the Griffins have clinched relative to the date of their finale since 2006, when the AHL's regular-season champions locked up their berth with 34 days to play;

First-year head coach Dan Watson will make his Calder Cup Playoffs debut. 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 2018-19, Rockford has claimed three straight playoff berths from 2022-24 and has reached the Central Division Semifinals for the third consecutive time. The IceHogs' best finish came in 2018 when they reached the Western Conference Finals before being defeated 4-2 by the Texas Stars;

The Griffins and IceHogs 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 Rockford's Colton Dach and Ethan Del Mastro. Carter Mazur and Drew Commesso competed together for Team USA at the 2023 World Championship last summer. In 2022, Sebastian Cossa and Del Mastro won a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship. Cossa also won the 2022 WHL Title with the Edmonton Oil Kings alongside IceHogs' Jalen Luypen. Mazur, Antti Tuomisto, Shai Buium and Rockford's Cole Guttmann captured the 2022 NCAA Title with the University of Denver;

Rockford's assistant coach Jared Nightingale is a familiar name, as he competed for Michigan State University from 2002-06 and for the Griffins in 2014-15. Nightingale also played under Dan Watson's Toledo Walleye squad from 2014-17, serving as captain for all three seasons. Jared's brother Adam Nightingale is currently the head coach of Michigan State;

Josiah 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. David Gust is the lone IceHog to capture the Calder Cup, doing so in 2022 with the Chicago Wolves. Rockford's Zach Sanford won the 2019 Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues.

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