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RITE OF SPRING


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– After upsetting the second-seeded Hamilton Bulldogs four games to two in the North Division Semifinals, the Grand Rapids Griffins will continue their chase for the 2009 Calder Cup by taking on the Manitoba Moose in the best-of-seven North Division Finals.

The third-seeded Griffins, who never before had won a playoff series as the lower seed, will attempt to make it two in a row when they face the American Hockey League’s regular season champions, who dispatched the fourth-ranked Toronto Marlies in six games.

Manitoba will host Games 1 and 2 at the MTS Centre this Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2, before the 2-3-2 format moves to Van Andel Arena for Games 3-5 on Monday, May 4, Wednesday, May 6 and Friday, May 8 (if necessary). The complete schedule is as follows:


#1 MANITOBA MOOSE vs. #3 GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS
2009 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs  *  North Division Finals  *  Best of Seven
 
 
Game 1 Fri., May 1 GRIFFINS at Moose 8:30 p.m.
Game 2 Sat., May 2 GRIFFINS at Moose 8:30 p.m.
Game 3 Mon., May 4 Moose at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (season ticket Game D)
Game 4 Wed., May 6 Moose at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game E)
*Game 5 Fri., May 8 Moose at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. (Game F)
*Game 6 Sun., May 10 GRIFFINS at Moose 8:30 p.m.
*Game 7 Tue., May 12 GRIFFINS at Moose 8:30 p.m.

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

Tickets for Games 3 and 4, the first of which is included in Griffins full season ticket packages (Game D), will go on sale to the general public on Monday, April 27 at 10 a.m. Single-game playoff tickets are $26, $21, $18, $16 and $14, and they may be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets locations (including Meijer stores), by phone at (800) 585-3737, or through griffinshockey.com.

Grand Rapids and Manitoba will square off in the playoffs for the third time in the last four years. Both prior meetings required all seven games for the higher-seeded team to advance, with the Moose winning the 2007 North Division Semifinals and the Griffins prevailing in the 2006 North Division Finals.

The Griffins earned a 2-2-0-0 record in four meetings with the Moose this season, finishing the series with 1-1-0-0 records at both Van Andel Arena and the MTS Centre. Grand Rapids’ all-time records against Manitoba stand at 39-22-1-0-7 (21-9-1-0-5 at home) during the regular season and 7-7 (4-3 at home) during the playoffs.

The clash between Grand Rapids and Manitoba presents numerous storylines:

• Griffins right wing Darren Haydar and Moose center Jason Krog helped lead Chicago to the Calder Cup last season, tying for the AHL lead with 12 playoff goals and ranking third and first, respectively, in scoring;

• Griffins right wing Darren McCarty (four) and Moose right wing Mike Keane (three) have won a combined seven Stanley Cups;

• Griffins head coach Curt Fraser lived in Winnipeg until he was nine years old, and center Darren Helm (currently with the Red Wings) hails from St. Andrews, Manitoba, located 35 miles north of Winnipeg;

• Moose center Mark Cullen was the Griffins’ second-leading scorer during the 2007-08 season, logging 16 goals and 47 points in 59 games;

• Manitoba netminder Cory Schneider, who won the AHL’s top goaltender award after finishing the regular season with the circuit’s lowest GAA (2.04) and highest save percentage (0.928), will look to stop a Griffins offense that leads the playoffs in goals per game;

• The Griffins did not face a Canadian playoff foe during their first nine seasons (12 series), but the Moose will be their fifth opponent from north of the border in six postseason series over the last four years.



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