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GRIFFINS TO FACE OKLAHOMA CITY IN CONFERENCE FINALS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – After upsetting the second-seeded Toronto Marlies 4-2 in the conference semifinals – wrapping up with tonight’s dramatic 4-3 win in Game 6 at Ricoh Coliseum – the third-seeded Grand Rapids Griffins have advanced to the Western Conference Finals to face the fifth-seeded Oklahoma City Barons.

Oklahoma City, which toppled top-seeded Texas 4-1 in impressive fashion in round two, will visit Van Andel Arena for Games 1 and 2 of the 2-3-2 format this Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25, before the series switches to the Sooner State on Wednesday, May 29 for the first of as many as three straight games at the Cox Convention Center. The complete schedule is as follows:

2013 Calder Cup Playoffs - Western Conference Finals - Best of Seven
Game 1 Fri., May 24 Barons at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game G)
Game 2 Sat., May 25 Barons at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game H)
Game 3 Wed., May 29 GRIFFINS at Barons 8 p.m.
Game 4 Fri., May 31 GRIFFINS at Barons 8 p.m.
*Game 5 Sat., June 1 GRIFFINS at Barons 8 p.m.
*Game 6 Tue., June 4 Barons at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game I)
*Game 7 Wed., June 5 Barons at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game J)

* If necessary    All times Eastern and subject to change.    All games on Newsradio WOOD 106.9 FM & 1300 AM.

Tickets for Games 1 and 2 at Van Andel Arena are now on sale. They may be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets locations, by phone at (800) 585-3737, or through griffinshockey.com. All home playoff games will continue to feature $2 beers and $2 hot dogs from 6-8 p.m.

This will mark the first Calder Cup Playoff meeting between Grand Rapids and Oklahoma City. The Griffins and Barons met four times during the 2012-13 regular season, with each team winning twice on its home ice. Grand Rapids prevailed on Jan. 4 (5-2) and Jan. 23 (5-4 SO) at Van Andel Arena, before Oklahoma City answered with victories on Feb. 8 (3-4) and Feb. 9 (5-7) at the Cox Convention Center.

The Griffins have advanced to the conference finals for the third time in their AHL history and the first since 2006, when they lost to the Milwaukee Admirals in four games. Counting their five seasons in the IHL (1996-01), the Griffins have made the conference finals for the fifth time in their 17-year history, with their lone series win coming in the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Playoffs against Cincinnati.

This clash between Grand Rapids and Oklahoma City presents several storylines, including:

• The Griffins finished just one point ahead of the Barons during the regular season. Grand Rapids won the Midwest Division by virtue of its 42-26-4-4 record (92 points), while Oklahoma City finished third in an extremely competitive South Division with a 40-25-2-9 mark (91 points);

• Barons head coach Todd Nelson became the first player ever signed by the expansion Griffins franchise on July 24, 1996. The former defenseman appeared in 236 games over four seasons (1996-98;99-00;01-02) with Grand Rapids, recording 67 points (11-56--67), 123 penalty minutes and a plus-53 rating that still places sixth all time on the club. Nelson led the IHL with a plus-36 rating in 1999-00, a season in which he was named an honorable mention IHL all-star and led the Griffins to the Turner Cup Finals, where they lost in six games to Chicago. Upon retirement, he spent 2002-03 as an assistant coach with Grand Rapids, helping the team to a 48-22-8-2 record (106 points), a Central Division championship, the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs and, eventually, a berth in the conference finals;

• Oklahoma City defenseman Garrett Stafford played two seasons in Grand Rapids (2007-09), racking up 89 points (22-67--89) in 139 games. He was the Griffins' highest-scoring blueliner each season, finishing third in overall scoring in 2007-08 (11-33--44 in 69 games) and sixth in 2008-09 (11-34--45 in 70 games), when Grand Rapids reached the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs;

• Griffins left wing Triston Grant was a member of the Barons last season, when he led the team with 163 penalty minutes, finished seventh with 11 goals and totaled 15 points in 53 games;

• Barons left wing Darcy Hordichuk, who has logged 542 NHL games over his 13 pro seasons, has spoiled the Griffins' hopes of playing in a league final once before. He was a rookie on the 2000-01 Orlando Solar Bears squad that defeated Grand Rapids in six games in the IHL Eastern Conference Finals and went on to win the final Turner Cup awarded by the original IHL.



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