GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Marlies now have free time to explore this city, its roots as a world leader in furniture, visit the Gerald Ford Museum and the streets where the Mayweather boxing clan grew up.
But given a choice, the Maple Leafs’ farm team would already be back in Toronto. By losing 5-2 on Wednesday, a game where they scored first and were still alive after two periods, they missed a chance to sweep the Griffins in the best-of-five opening round series.
An American Hockey League scheduling quirk now provides two days off before Game 4 on Saturday at Van Andel Arena, with a fifth and deciding match less than 24 hours later if the Griffins prevail again.
The Griffins’ playoff motto is centred around bringing back the Calder Cup to Western Michigan, having won it in 2013 with many of the players on this team and another group that graduated to the Wings. The parent team’s elimination was an opportunity to send back forward Landon Ferraro, and if they really wanted to, goalie Petr Mrazek, but thus far only defenceman Alexey Marchenko has been returned.
Carrick said the 48-hour break would have its advantages for Toronto.
Several minor skirmishes broke out towards the end of Wednesday’s game. Grand Rapids beat the Marlies in the 2013 playoffs en route to its title and won the ‘14-15 regular season series. The only two losses the Marlies have suffered in their past 11 games overall were against the Griffins at Van Andel.
“There is starting to be a rivary built up,” said Carrick of the Game 3 nastiness. “You want to send a message that we are not going to give up easily and they didn’t want to be swept in their building.”