Glorious! Western Conference Victors

Glory comes at a price, $22 a ticket to be exact. I have attended every home playoff game thus far and have yet to regret spending the money or the time. The Griffins did their hometown proud in the would-be final game of series 3 against San Jose, concluding the Western Conference Finals with a 4-2 victory. The Van Andel had a fan-eruption as the final horn sounded, ringing in the last leg of the Calder Cup playoffs. 8,876 pair of hands were airborn as well as a few octopi – paying homage to our beloved NHL affiliate – the Detroit Red Wings.

As the crowd roared, players shared the customary center-ice handshakes, and the Griffins saluted the crowd, the emotions pulsating through the stands could be felt. Zane’s voice, barely audible, announced our upcoming rivalry reborn – the Syracuse Crunch. An epic Calder Cup final round rematch was about to be brought to life. For now however, we will revel in the victory.

Peeve of the Game:
Its hard to think of something I didn’t exactly like when we win, but I will say that game three’s board play hurt my heart a bit. San Jose is a quality team in many respects and one of those respects would be their ability (in game 5 anyways) to win along the boards/ They had us looking a little frantic for a time. Also, we made the Big Man sweat a bit too much. 41 shots to 26 is nothing to shake a stick at! Well, I guess if you’re the goaltender, you should probably at least try shake your stick at those shots, but I digress. My metaphorical hat is off to Coreau and his outstanding performance.

Play of the Game:
After fending off San Jose’s Julius Bergman, Campbell carried the puck behind the net, expertly controlling it. Wrapping around the glove side of goaltender, Grosenick, Campbell centered the shot to a patiently waiting Ford who slammed it home to put the Griffins up by two. My favorite part of this play wasn’t the goal, but the enormous smile and finger point to Campbell that Ford delivered. What the two had planned just moments before the puck dropped, panned out perfectly.

Player of the Game:
Campbell – hands down. Admittedly, he has flown under my radar this season, but he has proven to be a phenomenal play-maker and dynamic hockey player throughout this playoff run. His ability to play the puck, read the passes, make the opportunities and be physical has left me very impressed. The playoffs force an entirely new level of athleticism and all must rise the the challenge. Campbell has risen. Though not scoring any goals of his own at Saturday’s game, he assisted in one goal and has firmly established his on-ice presence. Keep your eyes on this one.

I have laughed, almost cried, yelled till I was red in the face and enjoyed an astronomical amount of fish-puns this series but I’m glad its over and we’re on to the next! The team I have seen in this playoff run plays like champions. With a much needed break ahead of them, the Griffins will be prepared for Syracuse and the rivalry that all of the AHL will be watching.

Congratulations, Grand Rapids Griffins. The 2017 Western Conference Champions!


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