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Moving Fourward

May 05, 2024
Written By: Dylan Rider
1st 2nd 3rd Final
Grand Rapids Griffins 2 0 2 4
Rockford IceHogs 1 0 1 2

Calder Cup Playoffs - Central Division Semifinals - Game 4 - Grand Rapids Wins Best-of-Five Series, 3-1

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4 at Rockford IceHogs 2

ROCKFORD, Ill. -- Jonatan Berggren's third game-winning goal of the playoffs helped the Grand Rapids Griffins close out their best-of-five series against the Rockford IceHogs with a 4-2 victory in Game 4 on Sunday at the BMO Center.

With their 3-1 series triumph, the Griffins have advanced to the Central Division Finals for the first time since their 2017 Calder Cup championship run and become the first AHL team this season to move on to the division finals round. They will face either division champ Milwaukee or fourth-seeded Texas in a best-of-five series whose start date and schedule is yet to be determined. Texas currently leads Milwaukee 2-0 in their division semifinal series, with the Admirals returning to Panther Arena on Wednesday for the first of as many as three straight must-win home games against the Stars.

Austin Czarnik pocketed a goal for the third straight game while Sebastian Cossa turned aside 21 shots to become the first Griffins rookie to lead the team to a playoff series win since Petr Mrazek in 2013.

May 5, 2024  ·  3 Minutes

5-5-24 | Central Division Semifinals Game 4 Highlights | Rockford IceHogs

Lukas Reichel gave the IceHogs the early advantage with a power-play goal, as he rang a shot off the post and into the netting from the high slot at 14:11 of the first period. 

The Griffins retaliated 11 seconds later and then took the lead less than two minutes after that. A dish from Brogan Rafferty found a wide-open Carter Mazur in the center of the left circle, and the rookie sniped the puck past Drew Commesso into the top-right corner for a 1-1 game and a personal four-game point streak. Then, at 16:03, Czarnik dashed into the Rockford zone off an Albert Johansson cross-ice pass during a 4-on-4 and beat Commesso’s blocker with a laser from the right faceoff dot.

Grand Rapids’ two-goal opening frame was followed by a scoreless second, as the score remained 2-1 entering the final 20 minutes.

In the early stages of the third stanza, a Taro Hirose blast during a delayed penalty went wide of the net but caromed off the end boards to Berggren, who tucked a shot into the short-side top corner from the bottom of the left circle for a 3-1 game with exactly 15 minutes remaining.

The IceHogs refused to go quietly, as Reichel netted his second tally off a right-circle one-timer at 6:40 to close the gap to 3-2.

Still down one in the twilight of the third, Rockford pulled Commesso for an extra attacker, enabling Marco Kasper to backhand the puck into the vacant goal from center ice to seal both the 4-2 win and the series victory. 

May 5, 2024  ·  3 Minutes

5 -5 -24 | Post Game Interviews | Rockford Icehogs

- The Griffins improved to 2-0 all time in playoff series against Rockford and 4-1 in postseason games at the BMO Center.
- Dan Watson became the eighth of the last nine Griffins head coaches to win his first playoff series behind the team’s bench. It was his first series as a head coach in the AHL after having twice led the Toledo Walleye to the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals.
- Grand Rapids improved to 12-6 all time on the road when its opponent faces elimination.
- Berggren led the Griffins in scoring with five points (3-2—5) over the four outings against the IceHogs.

Box Score
Grand Rapids 2 0 2 - 4
Rockford 1 0 1 - 2

1st Period-1, Rockford, Reichel 1 (Del Mastro, Sanford), 14:11 (PP). 2, Grand Rapids,` Mazur 1 (Czarnik), 14:22. 3, Grand Rapids, Czarnik 3 (Johansson, Didier), 16:03. Penalties-Aston-Reese Gr (boarding), 12:32; Tuomisto Gr (roughing), 15:37; Hardman Rfd (roughing), 15:37.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Gust Rfd (tripping), 8:02; Simek Gr (slashing), 14:28; Phillips Rfd (roughing), 18:10.

3rd Period-4, Grand Rapids, Berggren 3 (L’Esperance, Hirose), 5:00. 5, Rockford, Reichel 2 (Kaiser, Pitlick), 6:40. 6, Grand Rapids, Kasper 2 18:55 (EN). Penalties-Lombardi Gr (high-sticking), 10:44.

Shots on Goal-Grand Rapids 9-11-5-25. Rockford 7-4-12-23.
Power Play Opportunities-Grand Rapids 0 / 2; Rockford 1 / 3.
Goalies-Grand Rapids, Cossa 3-1 (23 shots-21 saves). Rockford, Commesso 1-2 (24 shots-21 saves).

Three Stars
1. GR Czarnik (goal, assist); 2. RFD Reichel (two goals); 3. GR Berggren (goal)

Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 3-1 / Central Division Finals Game 1 / Opponent/Date/Time TBA
Rockford: 1-3 / n/a

Photo by Rockford IceHogs