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Griffins flying into Calder Cup Finals

May 30, 2017
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Grand Rapids Griffins 2017 Western Conference champions
The Grand Rapids Griffins celebrate on the ice after winning the 2017 Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Barracuda. Photo via fb.com

The Grand Rapids Griffins are back in the Calder Cup Finals.

Following a 4-2 win over the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday, the Griffins will host the Syracuse Crunch in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals on Friday night.

The Griffins have some post-season history with the Crunch, whom they defeated in the 2013 Calder Cup Finals, bringing Grand Rapids its first-ever hockey championship.

The Griffins have secured the home-ice advantage for the seven-game series, with the first two games slated to begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at Van Andel Arena. The series will shift to Syracuse’s War Memorial Arena for at least Games 3 and 4. If necessary, Game 5 will also be played at War Memorial Arena, and Games 6 and 7 will return to Van Andel.

Tickets for the first two games at Van Andel Arena went on sale Monday. All games will be broadcast on ESPN 96.1 FM and streamed at AHLLive.com.

Game schedule

Game 1: Crunch at Griffins, 7 p.m. Friday at Van Andel Arena
Game 2: Crunch at Griffins, 7 p.m. Saturday at Van Andel Arena
Game 3: Griffins at Crunch, 7 p.m. June 7 at War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, N.Y.
Game 4: Griffins at Crunch, 7 p.m. June 9 at War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, N.Y.
*Game 5: Griffins at Crunch, 7 p.m. June 10 at War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, N.Y.
*Game 6: Crunch at Griffins, 7 p.m. June 13 at Van Andel Arena
*Game 7: Crunch at Griffins, 7 p.m. June 14 at Van Andel Arena
* if needed

Series matchup

The Griffins (47-23-1-5) rolled through the Western Conference playoffs, defeating Milwaukee 3-0 in the first round, dropping Chicago 4-1 in the conference semi-finals and dumping San Jose 4-1 to secure the Robert W. Clarke Trophy as Western Conference champs.

Syracuse (38-24-7-7) marched through St. John’s (3-1 series win), Toronto (4-3) and Providence (4-1) to set up a finals re-match with Grand Rapids.

It’s the first time the two teams have met since the 2013 finals, and both teams look very different since then. Just four players from that series remain with their teams — Grand Rapids’ Mitch Callahan, Brian Lashoff and Nathan Paetsch and Syracuse’s Matt Taormina — and the entire coaching staffs for both squads have turned over. It is the first Calder Cup Finals re-match since 2007, when the Hamilton Bulldogs and Hershey Bears repeated the 1997 finals matchup.

The seven-game series projects to be a high-scoring affair with the Griffins (4.08 goals per game) and the Crunch (3.75) ranking as the top two scoring teams in the regular season. Syracuse is led by former league MVP Cory Conacher, who contributed to the Griffins’ Western Conference Finals exit in 2015 as a member of the Utica Comets.

Specials

The Griffins have extended their regular-season Friday promotion to cover all home Finals games, offering $2 beers and hot dogs for two hours after the doors open, while supplies last.

Additionally, the downtown Peppino’s Sports Grille will host watch parties for the road games, featuring $2 short and $4 tall Bud Light specials, $5.99 all-American burger baskets and $8.00 one-topping deep dish pizzas.

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