GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS (2-2) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (2-2)
Winner-TAKE-ALL GAME 5
There aren’t many better spectacles in professional sports than a winner-take-all postseason hockey game. Anybody who has checked in on this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs knows the highs and lows — and the Calder Cup Playoffs are supplying their own roller-coaster rides. Hershey and Bridgeport engaged in a decisive Game 5 Saturday night and now it’s the Wolves’ turn against Grand Rapids.
These win-or-go-home clashes don’t come around often for either the Wolves or the Griffins. This marks just the 14th in Chicago’s 25 seasons. The Wolves own a 9-4 record in such games, which includes a 7-2 mark when playing in front of the home fans at Allstate Arena. The last such game came during the 2017 Central Division Semifinals when the Wolves edged the Charlotte Checkers 3-2.
For Grand Rapids, it’s even more rare. The Griffins are 4-5 in winner-take-all extravaganzas dating back to their birth in 1996 — but they’re 0-2 when trying to win one on the road. Grand Rapids fell at Manitoba in the first round of the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs and at Orlando in the first round of the 1997 Turner Cup Playoffs.
The winner of this afternoon’s game advances to the Central Division Finals against the winner of the Iowa Wild/Milwaukee Admirals series, which gets decided with a Game 5 Monday night in Milwaukee. If the Wolves win, then they’ll own home-ice advantage for the best-of-seven series. If the Griffins win, then they’ll hit the road.
By the way: The Wolves and Griffins have met once before in a winner-take-all game. In Game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference Quarterfinal, Chicago earned the 4-2 victory on April 21 at Van Andel Arena. Who broke the 2-2 tie and picked up the game-winning goal for the Wolves at 13:28 of the third period? None other than Grand Rapids head coach Ben Simon.
TYE’S THE GUY
Wednesday, April 24, was a heck of a night for the McGinn family. Wolves forward Tye McGinn racked up one goal and two assists to help Chicago earn the 5-2 Game 4 win at Grand Rapids. Then, while McGinn and his teammates were riding the bus home, they watched as Tye’s younger brother, Brock, scored in double overtime of Game 7 to lift the Carolina Hurricanes to the series win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
Tye McGinn has been a revelation for the Wolves over the last two months. Acquired from Manitoba on Jan. 3, he arrived with 2 goals and 4 assists in 26 games for the Moose. He then posted no goals and 1 assist in his first 16 games with the Wolves.
On March 2 — one game before league MVP Daniel Carr suffered an injury that knocked him out for the rest of the regular season — McGinn scored his first Wolves goal. The 28-year-old power forward scored again on March 5 and hasn’t stopped. Since March 2, McGinn owns 13 goals and 4 assists in 24 games.
THE SERIES SO FAR
- Rookie center Cody Glass’ goal early in the third period stood up as the game-winner as the Wolves forced a winner-take-all Game 5 with the Game 4 victory at Van Andel Arena.
- Defenseman Nic Hague and center T.J. Tynan scored power-play goals in the second period for a 2-1 lead, then forwards Tye McGinn and Keegan Kolesar added empty-net goals in the final 1:19.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk posted 29 saves to earn his first postseason win in North America.
- The Wolves and Griffins were knotted 2-2 through 29 minutes, but Grand Rapids scored three more goals in the second period to take a 2-1 lead in the Central Division Semifinals.
- Forwards T.J. Tynan and Tye McGinn tallied for the Wolves while Tomas Hyka set up both goals as the Wolves scored first for the third game in a row.
- Goaltender Max Lagace notched 19 saves.
- The Wolves used three second-period goals to build a 3-1 lead in Game 2 of the Central Division Semifinals that allowed Chicago to even the series with Grand Rapids.
- Forwards Tomas Hyka and Keegan Kolesar and rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud scored for the Wolves.
- Goaltender Max Lagace stopped 26 shots for his first Calder Cup Playoff win.
- The Wolves took a 1-0 lead on forward Tye McGinn’s goal 8:28 into Game 1 of the Central Division Semifinals, but Grand Rapids responded with five goals to get the jump on the best-of-five series.
- Chicago trailed 2-1 for more than 20 minutes and produced several flurries in search of the equalizer, but the Griffins held strong and put the game away with three goals in the final 6:50.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 26 of 30 shots.
BY THE NUMBERS
0: Zero is what the margin has been after the first period in every game this series. Zero also has been the margin in every game after the first two goals were scored (in other words, neither team has grabbed a 2-0 lead…each game has been knotted 1-1). However, in all four games, the team that broke the 1-1 tie went on to win the game. Rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud and veteran center T.J. Tynan gave the Wolves the 2-1 lead in Games 2 and 4, respectively, while forwards Matt Puempel and Martin Frk gave Grand Rapids the 2-1 lead in Games 1 and 3.
2: Wolves center T.J. Tynan has built his sterling reputation as a passer of the puck. The Orland Park native led the AHL this season with 59 assists and owns 208 helpers in 367 regular-season AHL games compared to 58 goals. But Tynan took it upon himself to fill a different role in Games 3 and 4 as he scored one goal in each game. It marked just the second time in his two years with the Wolves that he has scored in back-to-back games (Oct. 14 vs. MIL/Oct. 20 at GR).
3: On three of the first five occasions when the Wolves and Griffins met in the postseason, the winner of their playoff series went on to win the league title. The Wolves won the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Final with a 4-2 win over the Griffins and hoisted the 2002 Calder Cup after defeating Grand Rapids 3-2 in the Western Conference Quarterfinal. Grand Rapids topped the Wolves 4-1 in the 2017 Central Division finals and went on to win the Calder Cup.
4: Left wing Daniel Carr, who has not played since suffering an upper-body injury on March 5 at San Antonio, became the fourth Wolves player in the last 13 seasons to earn the AHL’s Most Valuable Player award. He received the honor prior to Game 1 on April 19 and joined Kenny Agostino (2016-17), Jason Krog (2007-08) and Darren Haydar (2006-07) in this exclusive club. The Wolves’ four MVP awards since joining the AHL in 2001-02 are the most of any team over these 18 seasons. The Hershey Bears have won three while no other franchise has procured more than one.
7: The Wolves have gone 7-2 in winner-take-all games on home ice. The victories in chronological order: 1998 Turner Cup Final (Detroit), 2002 Western Conference Qualifying Series (Cincinnati), 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinal (Hershey), 2008 West Division Final (Rockford), 2010 West Division Semifinal (Milwaukee), 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinal (Rochester) and 2017 Central Division Semifinals (Charlotte).
11: The Wolves did it again in Game 4: They shrugged off a four-goal defeat the night before to earn a victory. That means the last 11 times the Wolves have lost a postseason game by four goals or more (in games that didn’t wrap up a series), the Wolves have come back to win the next game. The Wolves followed this formula in this series after Games 1 and 3. This streak stretches all the way back to the final days of the International Hockey League and the 2001 Turner Cup Final.
28: Today marks center Cody Glass’ 28th day since he was reassigned from the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks to the Wolves in order to start his pro career. The 20-year-old Winnipeg native’s first four weeks have been quite productive. He scored two goals in his professional debut on April 5 at Milwaukee and finished with three goals and two assists in six regular-season games. In the Calder Cup Playoffs, Glass has contributed one goal and two assists in four games. His goal came early in the third period of Game 4 and give-and-go with Tye McGinn wound up being the GWG.
358: If you’ve suited up for the Wolves, chances are better than 50/50 that you’ve also played in the National Hockey League. When Grand Rapids defenseman Jake Chelios made his NHL debut March 29 for the Detroit Red Wings, he became the 358th player (out of 623 Wolves all-time) who have competed for the Wolves and in the NHL. That 57.5 percent overall success rate is even higher among goaltenders. Of the 55 players who’ve tended the net for the Wolves over the years — starting with original goaltenders Ray LeBlanc and Wendell Young and continuing through current Wolves Max Lagace and Oscar Dansk — 38 boast NHL experience (69.1 percent).
CENTRAL DIVISION SEMIFINALS SCHEDULE
|Game 1||Griffins 5, Wolves 1||Allstate Arena|
|Game 2||Wolves 3, Griffins 2||Allstate Arena|
|Game 3||Griffins 6, Wolves 2||Van Andel Arena|
|Game 4||Wolves 5, Griffins 2||Van Andel Arena|
|Game 5||Sunday, April 28||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||Tickets|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.
All home games are broadcast on The U Too.