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Detroit Red Wings

Griffins Close Out Rockford To Win AHL Playoff Series



sebastian Cossa, grand rapids griffins
(Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins)

As the Detroit Red Wings are still thinking about what could have been in the playoffs, the Grand Rapids Griffins are showing Detroit fans what they are missing.

The Griffins downed the Rockford IceHogs 4-2 Sunday in Rockford to win their AHL series and set-up a best-of-five divisional finals playoff series against either Texas or Milwaukee. The Texas Stars hold a 2-0 lead over the Admirals in the other Central Division semifinal.

Jonatan Berggren had all three game winners in the Griffins’ first round series.

The Red Wings’ top prospects continue to lead the way for the Griffins. Carter Mazur, Berggren and Marco Kasper, each of whom has a chance at playing in Detroit next season, scored for the Griffins. Austin Czarnik, who played 34 games for Detroit this season, also found the net for the third consecutive game for the Griffins.

Sebastian Cossa, a possible future Red Wings No. 1 goaltender, stopped 21 shots to earn his third AHL playoff win against the Chicago Blackhawks farm team. He is the first rookie netminder to lead Grand Rapids to a series win since Petr Mrazek in 2013.

The Griffins trailed for exactly  11 seconds in the first period. After Lukas Reichel scored at 14:11 of the first period, feisty forward Mazur scored at 14:22 to tie the score. Grand Rapids never trailed again. Kasper scored an empty-net goal at 18:55 of the third period to seal the win.

The turning point of the series was probably Game 2 when the Griffins turned in a lackluster performance in losing 5-1 at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena.

Learned Lesson

“The playoffs are hard,” Grand Rapids coach Dan Watson said after that game. “And we talk about every game getting harder. That’s the lesson right there: We thought tonight was hard — wait until Game 3. They are going to want to strike against us and go home with a lead. And we have to be prepared for that.”

The Griffins took the lesson to heart: winning Game 3 on an overtime goal by Berggren and controlling Game 4 in Rockford.

Watson, in his first year as Griffins coach, transformed the Red Wings’ top farm team into one of the AHL’s best teams after Christmas.  The Griffins’ 28-10-5-3 record after Dec. 27 was the AHL’s fifth best record over that time period.  The team’s top defensive pairing is Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson. Both should be with the Red Wings next season. Johansson assisted on Czarnik’s goal.

Berggren has 24 goals and 56 points in 53 games for the Griffins in the regular-season.  He has three goals and five points in his four playoff games.