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Game Notes: Central Division Semifinals Game 4 vs. Chicago

Game Time: 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena

2019 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs * Central Division Semifinals * Best of Five

#4 GRIFFINS vs. #1 Chicago Wolves

Game 1Fri., April 19GRIFFINS at Chicago WolvesW, 5-1
Game 2Sat., April 20GRIFFINS at Chicago WolvesL, 2-3
Game 3Tue., April 23Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINSW, 6-2
Game 4Wed., April 24Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS7 p.m.
*Game 5Sun., April 28GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves4 p.m.

* If necessary

Game Day Preview - Central Division Semifinals Game 4 vs Chicago Wolves

Game 4
Grand Rapids will look to close out the Central Division’s regular season champions for the second time in the last three years when the Griffins host Game 4 of the division semifinals tonight…Grand Rapids is within one win of advancing to the second round for the sixth time in the last seven years...The Griffins have won 12 of their last 14 home playoff games, including a 10-0 record during their run to the 2017 Calder Cup...Grand Rapids shows a 3-1 series record all time when leading a best-of-five 2-1, including a 3-0 mark in the AHL (most recently, the Griffins went on to claim the 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinals in four games over Abbotsford)...Grand Rapids is 20-18 when its opponent faces playoff elimination, including 9-13 at home...Matt Puempel has a series-high four points (2-2—4)...Grand Rapids’ 13 goals are the most in its first three games of a postseason since registering 13 to begin the 2006 playoffs...The Griffins have won six of the last seven postseason games against Chicago...Among goalies with three or more GP, Harri Sateri’s 0.936 save percentage leads the league and his 2.03 GAA ties for first.

Game 3 Notes - Full Recap
Grand Rapids' four goals in the second period were the most since scoring four in the first period in Game 2 of the 2018 Central Division Semifinals at Manitoba…The Griffins’ 68 PIM were their most since logging 69 on April 19, 2002 at CHI in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals (3-0 W)...Filip Zadina (2-1—3), Matt Puempel (1-2—3) and Martin Frk (1-2—3) all banked three-point nights while Wade Megan (2-0—2) and Dennis Cholowski (0-2—2) produced two-point efforts...Megan recorded his first career postseason multi-goal game while skating in his 19th contest...Rookies Zadina and Cholowski picked up their first Calder Cup Playoff points...Frk’s tally at 2:24 of the second period marked his first in the playoffs since scoring the Calder Cup-clinching goal in Game 6 of the 2017 Finals...Harri Sateri stopped 35 of 37 shots...14 of Grand Rapids’ 18 skaters either logged a point or penalty minutes...Grand Rapids snapped a 0-5-1-0 skid on home ice that concluded the regular season...The crowd of 7,690 marked Grand Rapids’ second-largest crowd for a playoff opener since 1998 (7,915 in 2016 for Game 3 of CDS).

Playoff Facts and Figures

Grand Rapids has won 20 of its 34 total playoff series and owns a combined 98-80 record during those games, going 50-40 on home ice and 48-40 on the road. During the Griffins’ streak of seven straight trips to the postseason, they have two Calder Cups (2013 and 2017). In the four seasons they did not won the Cup, the Griffins bowed out to a team that went on to either win the Cup (Texas in 2014 and Lake Erie in 2016) or appear in the finals (Utica in 2015) on three occasions. Grand Rapids is 6-4 all-time in best-of-five series, having won six of its last seven.

Game 2 Notes - Full Recap
Colin Campbell
scored his second goal in as many games in the series at 8:18 of the second period…Lighting the lamp at 15:30 of the third period, Chris Terry netted his first postseason goal since April 21, 2017 in Game 1 of the North Division Semifinals vs. Syracuse when he was with St. John’s...Chicago snapped its seven-game losing streak in the postseason, which included four straight losses to Grand Rapids dating to their clash in the 2017 Central Division Finals...Grand Rapids is 4-0 against the Wolves this season when not allowing a power play goal and 0-6 when surrendering one...Grand Rapids owns a 1-2 record all time in best-of-five series that were tied through two games.

Game 1 Notes - Full Recap
Including the end of the regular season, the Griffins snapped their nine-game winless streak (0-8-1-0) in convincing fashion…Grand Rapids has won its last two road Calder Cup Playoff games by a 5-1 final (Game 2 at MB in 2018 Central Division Semifinals)…The Griffins finished 1-for-1 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, the first time their special teams went perfect in both categories since Jan. 19, 2018 at MIL (2-2 PP, 4-4 PK)...Colin Campbell scored his second career Calder Cup Playoff goal at 19:18 of the first period, marking his first postseason goal since Game 3 of the Central Division Semifinals against Milwaukee on April 26, 2016...Matt Puempel scored his fourth career Calder Cup Playoff goal while skating in his 10th game...Puempel has two goals in six playoff games with Grand Rapids and both have come on the power play…Puempel has points in five consecutive playoff games (2-3—5) and goals in two straight...Playing in his 20th career postseason game, Dominic Turgeon banked his second goal at 13:10 of the third period…Turgeon entered Game 1 with two points in 19 career playoff contests and doubled his total after also logging an assist on Campbell’s goal...Turner Elson scored his third postseason goal in his sixth game, all coming with Grand Rapids...In his sixth career playoff game, Dominik Shine scored his first goal...Libor Sulak, Filip Zadina, Christoffer Ehn, Givani Smith and Harri Sateri made their Calder Cup Playoff debuts…Ehn and Smith both picked up assists, while Sateri stopped 29 of 30 shots to earn his first postseason victory...Ben Simon made his head coaching debut in the Calder Cup Playoffs...Grand Rapids shows a 4-2 series record when leading one-game-to-none in a best-of-five series, including 2-1 when winning Game 1 on the road.

On This Date in Griffins History
2006: In their first playoff game ever in Canada, the Griffins grab a 2-1 lead in the North Division Semifinals with a 4-1 win over Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum. Jimmy Howard’s 35 saves and Tomas Kopecky’s two power play goals lead the way for Grand Rapids, whose 20 shots in the opening stanza tie the franchise record for shots in a playoff period and set a new road standard. The Marlies’ 19 shots in the third period, meanwhile, tie a record for a Griffins playoff opponent. As a result, Howard ties a franchise playoff record with 18 saves in the third, and Jean-Sebastien Aubin sets an opponent road mark by making 18 stops in the first.
2009: Behind two goals by Darren Haydar – who appears in his 100th career Calder Cup Playoff game – and a record-setting defensive performance, the Griffins seize a 3-2 lead in the North Division Semifinals with a 4-1 win over Hamilton. Grand Rapids sets a franchise playoff record by allowing just 15 shots on Jimmy Howard, who sets another team mark with his 11th career playoff win.

Setting the Stage
The Griffins extended their franchise-record postseason streak to seven seasons and qualified for the playoffs for the 17th time in their 23-year history with a 38-27-7-4 record (87 pts.), claiming the fourth spot in the Central Division and finishing 12th overall in the AHL. Grand Rapids will face the top-seeded Chicago Wolves (44-22-6-4, 98 pts.), who have won three consecutive regular season Central Division titles, in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals. The Griffins and Wolves are division rivals for the seventh straight season. Chicago (4) and Grand Rapids (2: 2012-13 and 2014-15) have combined to win six of the previous seven titles in the Central and Midwest divisions (Milwaukee in 2015-16).

No Love Lost

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 14-13 overall, 7-6 at home and 7-7 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 division-champion Wolves 4-1 in the 2017 Central Division Finals.

2017Central Division Semifinals
W, 4-1
2004West Division Semifinals
L, 0-4
2003Western Semifinals
W, 4-0
2002Western Quarterfinals
L, 2-3
2000IHL Turner Cup Finals
L, 2-4

Prior History
The Griffins and Wolves will renew a rivalry that dates back to the International Hockey League days. Since Chicago’s founding in 1994-95 and Grand Rapids’ inception in 1996-97, the teams have met a combined 156 times in the regular season, with the Griffins possessing an 84-61-2-6-3 record. The Griffins’ 156 meetings against Chicago are the second most of any opponent Grand Rapids has faced behind only 184 versus Milwaukee, and Grand Rapids’ 42 wins in the Second City are the second-most in any road city (Milwaukee, 45).

Actively Streaking
Grand Rapids’ seven-year postseason run ties Providence for the second-longest active Calder Cup Playoff streak, trailing only defending champion Toronto’s eight. The Griffins have advanced to at least the second round in five of the last six campaigns, with a loss in the decisive Game 5 of the Central Division Semifinals to Manitoba last season snapping the streak.

We Get by With a Little Help from our...Rivals?

Despite Grand Rapids falling 5-0 at Milwaukee in its regular season finale on April 13, the Griffins clinched their playoff berth later that night thanks to Chicago’s 4-2 home victory over Manitoba. This season marked just the second time in the team’s history that its playoff fate was determined on the date of its final regular season game (2006-07).

Third Time Shouldn’t be the Charm
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 and has lost eight of its last nine playoff games. The Wolves beat Charlotte in five games in the 2017 Central Division Semifinals before being ousted by Grand Rapids in five games in the Central Division Finals, which included the Griffins taking the final three contests, and then being swept by Illinois Lottery Cup rival Rockford in last season’s division semifinals.

Long Runs
Over the last six postseasons, no other AHL team has played as many games (86) or series (17) or won as many games (53) or series (12) as GR.

Bench Boss
The 11th head coach in Griffins franchise history, 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 and during the previous three appearances Grand Rapids posted a 22-11 record. Simon played an integral role in helping Grand Rapids win the franchise’s second Calder Cup in 2017. Appearing in 21 games and scoring nine points (4-5—9) with the Griffins in 2006-07 as part of an 11-year professional playing career, Simon is the third former Griffins player to serve as Grand Rapids’ head coach, joining Nelson and Cole. He is also the fourth former Griffins assistant to then become the head coach – Cole, Ireland and Nelson – and all four have qualified for the postseason in their first full campaign. Simon has advanced to a professional league championship series a combined five times as a player (IHL Orlando in 2001, AHL Chicago in 2002 and 2005) or coach (ECHL Cincinnati in 2014, Grand Rapids in 2017) and won three titles (2001 Orlando, 2002 Chicago, 2017 Grand Rapids).

Lashing Out
Alternate captain Brian Lashoff is skating in his seventh postseason in Grand Rapids. One of only three players to be a part of the 2017 and 2013 Calder Cup championships (Mitch Callahan, Nathan Paetsch), Lashoff has skated in 75 playoff games, which is second-most in franchise history. With three more games, he can equal Paetsch as the club’s all-time leader.

Back for More
Nine members of the Griffins’ 2017 Calder Cup championship team are members of the active roster: forwards Colin Campbell, Matthew Ford, Martin Frk, Axel Holmstrom and Dominic Turgeon; and defensemen Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, Brian Lashoff and Dylan McIlrath. Of this group, Lashoff is the lone player who was also a part of the franchise’s first Calder Cup in 2013. In addition, Grand Rapids returns 13 players who participated in last spring’s Central Division Semifinals against Manitoba.

Experience Counts
Eighteen players on the Griffins’ roster have AHL postseason experience entering the Central Division Semifinals — Colin Campbell (1-6—7 in 40 GP), Carter Camper (18-27—45 in 51 GP), Dennis Cholowski (0-0—0 in 1 GP), Turner Elson (2-0—2 in 5 GP), Matthew Ford (15-15—30 in 45 GP), Martin Frk (6-15—21 in 26 GP), Joe Hicketts (1-9—10 in 24 GP), Axel Holmstrom (1-1—2 in 6 GP), Filip Hronek (0-1—1 in 7 GP), Derek Hulak (1-0—1 in 10 GP), Brian Lashoff (5-14—19 in 73 GP), Wade Megan (2-1—3 in 16 GP), Dylan McIlrath (0-7—7 in 44 GP), Matt Puempel (3-3—6 in 9 GP), Vili Saarijarvi (0-0—0 in 1 GP), Dominik Shine (0-0—0 in 5 GP), Chris Terry (11-9—20 in 33 GP) and Dominic Turgeon (1-1—2 in 19 GP). All three Griffins assistant coaches have championship experience as both players and coaches. Matt Macdonald won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup with the Cincinnati Cyclones as a player in 2008 and then as an assistant under Ben Simon with Cincinnati in 2013-14, he helped the team reach the Kelly Cup Finals. Brad Tapper and Simon were teammates for back-to-back championships with the IHL’s Orlando Solar Bears in 2001 and the Chicago Wolves in 2002. As an assistant, Tapper helped the ECHL’s Florida Everblades win the Kelly Cup in 2012. Mike Knuble, in his sixth season as a Griffins assistant, won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings as a player in 1998 and was a part of Grand Rapids’ second Calder Cup title in 2017.

Windy City Connections
Head coach Ben 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. First-year Griffin 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. First-year Griffin 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. 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.

One by One
The Griffins own a 4-6 series record when facing off against a No. 1 seed in the postseason, having prevailed in each of the last four meetings.

YearTeamRoundGriffins' Seed
2017SyracuseCalder Cup Finals
2W, 4-2
2017San Jose
Western Conference Finals2W, 4-1
2017ChicagoCentral Division Finals
2W, 4-1
2016MilwaukeeCentral Division Semifinals
4W, 3-0
2015UticaWestern Conference Finals
2L, 2-4
2014TexasWestern Conference Semifinals
4L, 2-4
2009ManitobaNorth Division Finals
3L, 0-4
2007ManitobaNorth Division Semifinals
4L, 3-4
2006MilwaukeeWestern Conference Finals
1L, 0-4
2000ChicagoTurner Cup Finals
1L, 2-4

Photo by Sam Iannamico/Griffins

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