GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Griffins players always take a special interest in the Olympics. This year they will pay even closer attention since a former teammate will represent Team USA on the men’s ice hockey team.
Chad Billins, a Michigan native, was the captain of Ferris State University’s hockey team. He went on to play with the Griffins in 2013 when they won the Calder Cup Championship. It was the first title in franchise history.
Brian Lashoff is a defenseman with the Griffins who was also on the 2013 Calder Cup championship team. He says he is looking forward to watching his former teammate represent the U.S. on the ice.
“Chad was a great teammate to go through a situation like we went through together, your first championship. Those are bonds that you’ll have the rest of your life,” Lashoff explained.
He also talked about the locker room rivalry that goes on, especially during the Olympics, since the players come from all over the world.
“There’s a little trash talk. Sometimes there’s lunch money put on the games, but it’s fun to have guys from Sweden, Russia, the Czech Republic, Finland, all over the place,” Lashoff said.
Dominic Shine is a forward for the Griffins who grew up in Pinckney, Michigan. Although he wasn’t on the team with Chad Billins, he thinks the NHL not allowing its players to compete in the Olympics is great for guys like Billins.
“When you’re a kid and you see the miracle and things like that, they were college kids. So it’s kind of different now, but it’s got the same feel. Younger guys who are getting their chance to do something special,” he said.
International hockey has slightly different rules than what the Griffins follow, including a bigger rink.
“It’s wider so there is more room for speed in the game, less checking. It gives the guys who have lots of speed and ability to do their thing. It makes international hockey pretty exciting,” Lashoff said.
Lashoff thinks that the Olympics will be a good thing for Billins too.
“Chad is a good skater. He is a good offensive player. Hopefully he will have a good tournament and bring us a medal,” Lashoff said.