GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Griffins aren’t ready for the Calder Cup playoffs to be over just yet.
Despite missing an opportunity to close out the five-game series against the Chicago Wolves at home in Game 4 Wednesday, the Griffins remain a confident bunch heading into Sunday’s winner-take-all tilt in Chicago.
“I’m very confident with this group that we have here,” said Grand Rapids head coach Ben Simon. “I’m not being arrogant or condescending, but I’m more than confident with this group in this room to go into Chicago and win one hockey game.”
The decisive Game 5 of the Central Division semifinals is slated for 4 p.m. Sunday at Allstate Arena. It’s the second time in the storied rivalry that an elimination game will take place.
Grand Rapids earned a 5-1 win in Chicago in Game 1. Therefore, the prospect of winning another road game in this series isn’t a daunting challenge.
“We won Game 1 in their building, and we’ll be looking to do the same thing on Sunday,” said Griffins right winger Chris Terry. “In the two wins we’ve had against them, we’ve shown that we can play with them and dominate at times. We’re a good hockey team from top to bottom, we’re deep and there are a lot of positives.”
Griffins defensemen Joe Hicketts said the team knew the first round wasn’t going to be easy. The Griffins lost nine consecutive games to end the regular season.
“We knew it was going to be a long series, especially the way we were playing coming in,” he said. “If you said we could push it to five (games), I think we would’ve taken it. We just have to keep some energy and momentum and go into Chicago and do the job.
“Winning Game 1 was a huge boost for us. Throughout the regular season, we knew we could play with them and especially with the amount of guys going up and down with the Red Wings and injuries. Guys just have to step up and execute for 60 minutes or more on Sunday,” Hicketts said.
The Griffins will get Givani Smith back from his one-game suspension but will be without suspended Dominic Turgeon for a second straight game.
“We missed his (Smith’s) physical presence, and he’s played pretty well this postseason,” Simon said. “A guy with his character, his size and his compete is going to leave a void.”
The winner of Sunday’s game will face either Milwaukee or Iowa in the next round. That series is tied 2-2 as well.