GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Griffins are hoping to do this year what they’ve done twice before: win the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup trophy. However, the Chicago Wolves made it more difficult Saturday night, beating the Griffins 3-2.
But Griffins fans were having a blast, anyway, viewing the game at a Griffins Watch Party inside Peppino’s Pizzeria & Sports Grille, 130 Ionia Avenue SW in downtown Grand Rapids.
Peppino’s is hosting Griffins’ Watch Parties while the team is on the road during the playoffs. FOX 17 spoke to Rick and Deb Dougherty there. “We’ve been able to see them for seven years, but we love going to see the Griffins. And we get to come here and watch them.”
In addition to the home games, Lucas Sabin also tries to travel to see the Griffins on the road. But when he can’t make it, he enjoys the Watch Parties at Peppino’s. “It’s a nice place here. Why not? Everyone is here in Griffins’ gear and Red Wings’ gear. It’s playoff hockey.”
The Griffins did manage to get off to a good start in Chicago on Friday night, with a 5-1 win over the Wolves in the opener of their best-of-five, opening-round playoff series. Game 2 of the series also was in Chicago on Saturday night. With the Wolves’ win, the series is now tied at a game apiece.
The Griffins return to Grand Rapids on Tuesday to host Game 3 of the Central Division semi-finals against Chicago, with Game 4 of the series also scheduled for Van Andel Arena on Wednesday night.
The Griffins are hoping to upset the Wolves, winners of the AHL Central Division and the Western Conference’s top seed. Grand Rapids ended the regular season with nine straight losses and fell to the No. 4 seed in the conference playoff bracket, as a result.
Griffins goalie Harri Sateri backstopped Grand Rapids to victory in the first game on Friday night, turning aside all but of Chicago’s 30 shots on goal. Matt Puempel scored the game-deciding goal in that contest.