GRAND RAPIDS -- The Grand Rapids Griffins passed their first test of the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs, wrapping up the Central Division Semifinals against the Rockford IceHogs with a 4-2 road victory in Game 4 on Sunday.  

Taking the best-of-five series 3-1, the Griffins advanced to the Central Division Finals for the first time since their 2017 Calder Cup championship run. Grand Rapids will face either the top-seeded Milwaukee Admirals or fourth-seeded Texas Stars in a best-of-five series, with the start date and schedule still to be determined. Texas currently has a 2-0 series lead over Milwaukee, with the Admirals set to host the Stars for Game 3 at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Wednesday night.

DetroitRedWings.com spoke to first-year head coach Dan Watson and several Griffins players throughout their first-round playoff series from April 27- May 5.

Watson on Grand Rapid’s first playoff win on home ice in seven years

“It was great. The crowd was electric (on May 3). I know I was excited after the win and the goals. It was really loud. I know the guys appreciate it, but that’s sort of what we expect. That’s what we want to hear, feel and see inside (Van Andel Arena) is that electric atmosphere and the energy (the fans) can bring.”

Defenseman Simon Edvinsson on rejoining the Griffins after battling for a 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs spot with the Red Wings

“The honest answer? Of course it bothers me still. How close can you come was really that feeling. To go out that way was bothering, still some thoughts about that. That’s not something I think of during the games here. That’s something I’m going to have to focus on during the summer. That’s going to be my kind of thing to work on for the summer. Just have that energy to want to be better and want to improve the team for next year up there. But right now, it’s just focus here on the games and try to win every game here.”

Defenseman Andrew Gibson on signing a three-year entry-level contract with Detroit

“Throughout the season, (the Red Wings) were giving me feedback and coming to my games, but there was nothing really said about a contract. My season ended and (the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds) lost in Game 7 of the second round, so obviously the playoffs were the only thing on my mind. When the season ended, that thought kind of popped into my head and the next day I got a call from my agent. I was jumping with joy. I was with the guys and they all congratulated me. It was pretty cool being with the guys I worked all season throughout.”

Forward Marco Kasper on bouncing back after a slow start to his first full season in North America

“I didn’t have the start that I tried to have, but I think that’s something younger players struggle with coming over from Europe. The ice is much smaller here, everything is still a little bit faster and more physical. I think it’s just trying to watch video with coaches, talking to my dad – who’s helped me along the way – and getting into games. Also skating as much as I can, skating the right routes and really playing a fast, physical game.”

Goalie Sebastian Cossa on forward Jonatan Berggren’s postseason heroics

“He’s coming up for the team at big points and he’s done that all year. He’s been unreal all year. Happy he’s on our team.”

Forward Elmer Soderblom on what he’s learned from playing in North America

“It’s a different game compared to overseas. I’m learning every single day and game. It’s a process, but I feel like I’m taking steps all the time. I’m just looking forward to getting better, showing my game and what I can do.”

Forward Emmitt Finnie on inking a three-year entry-level deal with the Red Wings

“Funny story, actually. I was on the bus 20 minutes away from my game. So when my agent called me, I couldn’t really react too much to it. I was just super excited and thankful. Almost a sigh of relief for all the hard work I’ve put in this year. Just looking forward to the future.”

Goaltender Carter Gylander on what’s next for him as part of the Red Wings organization

“That’s something I haven’t really thought about too much. Right now, my thought process is learning as much as possible and getting familiar with the staff and players here. It’s been a great experience so far. But for heading into next year, it’s basically one day at a time. We’ll see how summer training and prospect camp goes.”