Game 1 of Western Conference Finals Thursday at Van Andel Arena
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
Thanks to their thrilling 5-4 win over the Manitoba Moose in Tuesdays Game 7 at Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids Griffins have advanced to the Western Conference Finals to face the Milwaukee Admirals.
Grand Rapids, which has reached a conference final for the second time in four seasons and the fourth time in its last seven campaigns, took a four-games-to-three victory over Manitoba in the North Division Finals. Milwaukee, meanwhile, swept the Houston Aeros in four games in the West Division Finals, moving on to the American Hockey Leagues final four for the second time in three years.
Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series will take place at Van Andel Arena this Thursday, May 18 and Saturday, May 20. The complete schedule is as follows:
2006 Calder Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals Best-of-Seven
Game 1 - Thu., May 18 - Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game G)
Game 2 - Sat., May 20 - Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game H)
Game 3 - Mon., May 22 - GRIFFINS at Admirals - 8 p.m.
Game 4 - Wed., May 24 - GRIFFINS at Admirals - 8 p.m.
*Game 5 - Fri., May 26 - Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game I)
*Game 6 - Sat., May 27 - GRIFFINS at Admirals - 8 p.m.
*Game 7 - Mon., May 29 - Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game J)
* If necessary. All times Eastern and subject to change. All games on WOOD 1300 AM and B2 Networks.
The Griffins won the season series against the Admirals with a 6-2-0-0 record, including three overtime victories. They finished 3-1-0-0 versus Milwaukee both at the Bradley Center and at Van Andel Arena, where the Admirals grabbed a 5-3 win in both teams regular season finale on April 15, breaking Grand Rapids four-game series winning streak.
The clash between Grand Rapids and Milwaukee presents numerous storylines:
Milwaukee head coach Claude Noel and nine current players helped the Admirals claim the 2004 Calder Cup: Greg Classen, Brian Finley, Simon Gamache, Darren Haydar, Nathan Lutz, Libor Pivko, Brandon Segal, Scottie Upshall and Greg Zanon;
Division champions are meeting in the AHL conference finals for the first time since 2003, when Houston prevailed over Grand Rapids and Hamilton defeated Binghamton;
Admirals defenseman Sheldon Brookbank played parts of two seasons with the Griffins (2001-03), collecting 14 points (2-1214) and 160 penalty minutes in 75 games;
Grand Rapids and Milwaukee have been two of the AHLs best road teams all year. During the regular season, the teams tied for fourth on the circuit with 51 road points apiece. In the playoffs, the Griffins are 5-1 on the road, while the Admirals are 4-1;
The Griffins and Admirals ranked first and second, respectively, in power play percentage during the regular season. Grand Rapids converted 21.8% of its chances (120-for-550), while Milwaukee cashed in on 20% of its opportunities (109-for-545);
Several players in this series spent significant time in the NHL this season: Grand Rapids Brett Lebda (3-912 in 46 GP) with Detroit, and Milwaukees Scottie Upshall (8-1624 in 48 GP), Jordin Tootoo (4-610 in 34 GP) and Shea Weber (2-810 in 28 GP) with Nashville;
The Griffins are attempting to join former IHL teams Chicago (2002), Houston (2003) and Milwaukee (2004) as Calder Cup champions.
The winner of this series will advance to the Calder Cup Finals to face the Eastern Conference Champions, either the Portland Pirates or the Hershey Bears. That series begins Wednesday in Portland.
Single-game tickets for Griffins home playoff games are $26, $21, $18, $16, $14 and $6 (advance purchase only). They may be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets Plus locations (including Meijer stores), by phone through Star Tickets Plus at 800-585-3737, or by clicking here