After feeling like they had to wait awhile, fans of the Grand Rapids Griffins got to see their team at home for the first time. The Griffins also raised the Calder Cup Championship banner in front of a sold out crowd. It was the only home game on the weekend for the Griffins, who head to Rockford for their game Saturday.
The Griffins have played 3 games already and all have been on the road. They opened the season in Rochester with an overwhelming 8-1 win over the Americans. Grand Rapids followed that game up with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Marlies the next night. Last weekend, the Griffins triumphed over the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-3 in a shootout.
Through the first three games, the Griffins have scored 15 goals. Those goals have come from 9 different players, including two from returning captain Jeff Hoggan. This season, the Griffins will try to defend the Calder Cup title. They have a strong group of players that are dedicated. Rookie defenseman Ryan Sproul and forward Tomas Jurco, returning for his sophomore season, have already been two that are making their presence known.
For their home opener, the Griffins took on the Milwaukee Admirals for the first of ten times this season. Last season, the two teams met 8 times with Grand Rapids going 3-4-0-1. The teams finished first and second in the division.
Although the result on the scoreboard was not what the Griffins hoped for, it was still a night to remember for fans and players alike as they held the ceremony. They raised the banner for winning the Calder Cup in front of their 18th straight sellout at home. The fans were on their feet long before they puck even dropped.
The Griffins must have been riding the energy in the building after raising their banner because it only took Gustav Nyquist 80 seconds to put the Griffins on the board. It was the third goal of the season for the winger.
Later in the first, after the halfway mark, the Milwaukee Admirals added a tall of their own. Anthony Bitetto put one past Petr Mrazek just before the penalty to the Griffins expired. It was his first goal of the season and a power play goal. But, that same period, Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan managed to retake the lead for the Griffins and send them into the first intermission 2-1.
The teams came back for the second and neither team looked like they would find the back of the net. At 17:56, Colton Sissons scored for his second on the season for the Admirals and tied the game at 2. Less than a minute later, Bitetto added his second of the game to give Milwaukee the lead.
Despite outshouting the Admirals in the game 26-20, the Griffins were not able to come back and get a win in their home opener. Ironically enough, this is exactly how the Griffins started their 2012-2013 season at home: a 3-2 loss to Milwaukee. Everyone in Grand Rapids will be hoping that history repeats itself.