The Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings American Hockey League affiliate, clinched a 2016 Calder Cup playoff berth on April 3, thanks to a 5-2 victory at Rochester, but much was still to be determined for playoff positioning in the Central Division over the final two weeks of the regular season.
With just over a week left in the regular season, Grand Rapids climbed to second place in the division following its 4-3 home win against Chicago on April 8, but a five-game losing streak to close the campaign saw the Griffins drop to the No. 4 seed. In the penultimate game of the season, Grand Rapids came up short in a match up at Rockford that would have locked the Griffins into third in the division and a first-round match up against the Lake Erie Monsters.
Instead, the Griffins finished fourth and will face off against the division-champion Milwaukee Admirals. Milwaukee won its fifth division crown since joining the AHL in 2001 and its first since the 2010-11 season. In March, the Admirals sat in second place in the Central Division as the top four teams were bunched together and separated by two points. Aided by a 13-game point streak from March 13-April 12, Milwaukee distanced itself from the rest of the pack over the final two months, closing the regular season with a 15-5-0-1 record.
The Griffins qualified for the postseason for the 14th time in their 20-year history with a 44-30-1-1 record, claiming the fourth seed in the Central Division and finishing 12th overall in the AHL.
Grand Rapids will face the division-champion Milwaukee Admirals (48-23-3-2, 101 pts.) in the best-of-five Central Division semifinals, marking only the second time the teams have squared off in the postseason.
Grand Rapids won the season series against Milwaukee with a 5-3 record, including a 4-0 mark at Van Andel Arena.
Milwaukee is returning to the playoffs following a one-year absence that broke a string of 12 consecutive appearances. The Admirals’ 101 points are the most since accumulating 102 during the 2010-11 campaign. The Griffins and Admirals last met in the postseason exactly 10 years ago, as Milwaukee swept Grand Rapids in the 2006 Western Conference finals.
Series Schedule: 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs – Central Division Semifinals - Best-of-Five
Game 1: Friday, April 22, Griffins at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, April 23, Griffins at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.
Game 3: Tuesday, April 26, Admirals at Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.
*Game 4: Wednesday, April 27, Admirals at Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.
*Game 5: Saturday, April 30, Griffins at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.
* If necessary
All times Eastern and subject to change
All games on ESPN 96.1 FM and AHLLive.com