Griffins enter weekend with two chances to finish Calder Cup Final

Captain Jeff Hoggan and the Griffins need one more win to capture the Calder Cup. (Photos by Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins)

By Pat Evans -

Up 3-0 in the Calder Cup Final, the Grand Rapids Griffins have two chances to finish off the Syracuse Crunch at home in Van Andel Arena.

Tonight’s opening face-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Although the Griffins could let that advantage go to their heads, head coach Jeff Blashill said after Game 3 that won’t happen, and the team will continue to play the way it has the whole series. He said the team has only won three games and it takes four to bring home the cup.

“We’ll get that message across to them. Part of human nature is to control your emotions,” Blashill said. “The only way to win hockey games is to play great hockey. Good outcomes always follow good process.”

Grand Rapids captain Jeff Hoggan has a Calder Cup win, from his rookie season in Houston, but after the Game 3 win, he was a little excited.

“It feels good, it feels really good,” Hoggan said after Game 3. “(The crowd) was electric. It was awesome. The passion is starting to spread, whether they’re late to the party or not.”

Friday’s game was announced as a sell-out midway through Wednesday’s game. It will be the largest crowd in the franchise’s AHL history.

Hoggan was careful not to give the Crunch any locker room material heading into Game 4.

“You gotta say the right things,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it, it’s right there. It’s real close and we gotta keep pushing for it. We’re in a good position, we’re one game away.”

The Crunch had made it to the Final winning all but one game in the playoffs. Now they’ve lost three straight, including two at home in Syracuse, with 10 players from last season’s Calder Cup winning Norfolk Admirals on their roster.

Although it’s a 3-0 lead in the series, Blashill knows anything can happen with four possible games left to play.

“It’s two really good teams playing,” he said. “We’re here for a reason. We’re here because we have a great combination of character and talent. That’s why we’re in this series. Syracuse is in this series for the same reasons. So it becomes a battle between two great teams.

“For us we’ve been able to make a play or two on the right side and that’s been allowed us to have the series lead.”