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GRIFFINS AWAIT TOP-SEEDED STARS IN ROUND TWO

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – After defeating the Abbotsford Heat three games to one in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins will face the 2013-14 AHL regular season champion Texas Stars in the best-of-seven conference semifinals.

Texas, which authored a 3-0 sweep of Oklahoma City in round one, will host Games 1 and 2 of the 2-3-2 format at the Cedar Park Center in suburban Austin this Thursday, May 8 and Saturday, May 10, before the series switches to Van Andel Arena for games on Tuesday, May 13 and Wednesday, May 14. The complete schedule is as follows:

 
2014 Calder Cup Playoffs - Western Conference Semifinals - Best-of-Seven
Game 1 Thu., May 8 GRIFFINS at Stars 8:30 p.m.
Game 2 Sat., May 10 GRIFFINS at Stars 8 p.m.
Game 3 Tue., May 13 Stars at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Home Game C)
Game 4 Wed., May 14 Stars at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game D)
*Game 5 Fri., May 16 Stars at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game E)
*Game 6 Sun., May 18 GRIFFINS at Stars 8 p.m.
*Game 7 Mon., May 19 GRIFFINS at Stars 8:30 p.m.

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

Tickets for Games 3, 4 and 5 at Van Andel Arena will go on sale Monday, May 5 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets locations, by phone at (800) 585-3737, or through griffinshockey.com/buytickets. All ticket prices will reflect a $1 increase over the first round. Continuing a new tradition, all home playoff games will feature $2 beers and $2 hot dogs from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last.
 
This will mark the first Calder Cup Playoff meeting between Grand Rapids and Texas. The Griffins won the season series by a 3-1 margin, sweeping both meetings at Van Andel Arena (5-4 W on Nov. 29, 5-1 W on Nov. 30) and earning a split in the Lone Star State (4-6 L on Jan. 24, 4-1 W on Jan. 25). Grand Rapids owns a record of 13-8-1-2 during the all-time regular season series, including 7-3-0-2 at home and 6-5-1-0 on the road.
 
This clash between the Griffins and Stars presents numerous storylines, including:
 
There were no upsets during the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs for the first time since 2008, setting the stage for this battle between the defending Calder Cup champions and the AHL’s reigning regular season champions. The other conference semifinal features a clash of titans of a different sort, as the Toronto Marlies and Chicago Wolves represent the fourth and fifth most populous cities in North America, respectively, as well as the AHL’s two largest population bases;
 
The Griffins are looking to extend a franchise record with their sixth straight playoff series win, while the Stars haven’t won consecutive series since their run to the 2010 Calder Cup Finals, when they lost to Hershey in six games; 
 
Texas also began the 2013 playoffs as the conference’s top seed but lost to Oklahoma City in five games during the Western Conference Semifinals. The Barons went on to lose the conference finals to Grand Rapids in seven games;
 
The Stars boasted the AHL’s second-ranked offense during the regular season with 274 goals, just two behind Binghamton, while the Griffins’ defense finished second in the league by allowing only 187 goals, two more than Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The two teams were among four in the league – including Chicago and Manchester – that finished in the top eight both offensively and defensively (TEX 197 GA, 7th; GR 238 GF, 8th);
 
Newly crowned Jeff Blashill and Texas head coach Willie Desjardins are the last two winners of the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s Outstanding Coach;

Texas center Travis Morin won AHL Most Valuable Player honors this season after leading the league in scoring with 88 points (32-56--88), and he'll face two of the AHL's top four goalies in Petr Mrazek (2.10 GAA, 2nd) and Tom McCollum (2.30 GAA, 4th). This series also features three of the league's top four goal scorers in Morin (32, T2nd), the Stars' Colton Sceviour (32, T2nd) and the Griffins' Teemu Pulkkinen (31, T4th), as well as the circuit's top rookie point-producers in Texas' Curtis McKenzie (27-38--65, 1st) and Pulkkinen (31-28--59, 2nd);
 
Three members of the Stars once wore Griffins uniforms, most notably defenseman Derek Meech, who logged 304 games over five seasons (2004-08; 10-11) in West Michigan, played in the 2007 AHL All-Star Classic, and still ranks as the No. 2 scoring blueliner in franchise history with 102 points (27-75—102). In addition, left wing Mike Hedden (0-1—1 in 3 GP in 2010-11) and Michigan State product Chris Mueller (0-0—0 in 2 GP in 2007-08) each had cups of coffee in Grand Rapids.

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