Hundreds rally to celebrate Griffins’ Calder Cup win

Hundreds of people gathered for a rally at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids to celebrate the Griffins' 2017 Calder Cup win on Friday, June 16, 2017.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Griffins hosted a party to celebrate their second Calder Cup.

During the rally Friday afternoon, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss announced an official proclamation from the city dedicating June 16 as “Griffins Day.”

The Griffins came from behind Tuesday night to beat the Syracuse Crunch 4-3 and win the cup. The match was played before a sold-out, spirited crowd of some 11,000 at Van Andel Arena.

A CELEBRATION 67 YEARS IN THE MAKING

Professional hockey started in Grand Rapids with the Rockets in 1950. But it wasn’t until the 2017 Griffins that a Grand Rapids pro hockey team hoisted a cup on home ice.

“It was awesome,” defenseman Joe Hicketts said. “We knew coming home we’d have a good crowd, and to be able do it in front of these people that were here (Tuesday night) and made all that noise, it was really exciting.”

The celebration that began on the ice poured into the locker room and eventually out on the town.

“So many emotions,” said defenseman Dylan McIlrath said. “Best feeling ever.”

Teammate Mitch Callahan agreed.

“I love playing here,” the forward said of Van Andel Arena. “It’s a great atmosphere. The city, the fans, everyone’s been so great to me over the past six years. I consider this my second home.”

“I couldn’t breathe,” forward Martin Frk, who scored the game-winning goal, said. “I was just happy to celebrate with the guys.”

The Griffins were 15-4 in the playoffs this year and a perfect 10-0 at home.

“It’s tough not play your hardest in front of this crowd,” defenseman Brian Lashoff said. “They’ve been amazing for us.”

“So honored to be able to put that trophy up in front of all these people,” forward Eric Tangradi said. “The greatest group of guys in that room. I mean, I’ve got brothers for life in there.”

Team captain Nathan Paetsch is one of three current Griffins to have also played on the 2013 Calder Cup team. In that case, the Griffins locked up the championship on the road.

“Incredible to do it at home this time in front of the fans,” Paetsch said. “How loud it was. It was a special moment.”

One that no one who was there will forget.

“I’m so proud of the players,” head coach Todd Nelson said. “They’re unreal. It’s a great feeling.”