Texas Stars to face defending Calder Cup champs in Round 2

The defending champs are coming to town. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The defending champs are coming to town. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The Texas Stars finally know their second-round playoff opponent and the defending Calder Cup Champions, the Grand Rapids Griffins, will be visiting the Cedar Park Center this week.

Grand Rapids won the 2013 Calder Cup as the third-seed in the Western Conference. This season, the Griffins are the fourth seed and will play the regular-season champion Stars as the lowest-remaining seed in the second round.

Texas was the first team to clinch a spot in the second round when it swept the Oklahoma City Barons last Wednesday. But as the top seed it had to wait until Sunday’s series-deciding Game 5 between the Chicago Wolves and Rochester Americans to learn its second-round opponent.

Chicago won 4-2, finalizing the second round. The other Western Conference semifinal will feature the Toronto Marlies and Chicago in a battle between North and Midwest Division Champions.

Texas has the longest rest between Round 1 and 2 of any AHL team with more than a week between playoff games.

“It’s huge, you just need it at this time of year,” Stars coach Willie Desjardins said after winning Game 3 against Oklahoma City. “With so many guys, and it’s not big injuries, but they just need time off. We’ll use it well.”

Desjardins said the team would still “go hard” during practice, but players like Brett Ritchie and Patrik Nemeth have more time to heal and the team has an optional practice Tuesday.

The series will start at the Cedar Park Center on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Game 2 will be Saturday, before the series switches to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids for Games 3 through 5.

Game 6 and 7, if necessary, will be May 18 and 19 back at the Cedar Park Center.

Texas and Grand Rapids met four times this season, with Grand Rapids winning three of the meetings. In the playoffs, Grand Rapids defeated the Abbotsford Heat in four games.

Full second-round schedule:

2014 Western Conference Semifinals – Texas vs. Grand Rapids
(All Times Central)

Game 1 – Thursday, May 8th – 7:30 p.m. vs. Grand Rapids (Cedar Park Center)

Game 2 – Saturday, May 10th – 7:00 p.m. vs. Grand Rapids (Cedar Park Center)

Game 3 – Tuesday, May 13th – 6:00 p.m. at Grand Rapids (Van Andel Arena)

Game 4 – Wednesday, May 14th – 6:00 p.m. at Grand Rapids (Van Andel Arena)

Game 5 ** – Friday, May 16th – 6:00 p.m. at Grand Rapids (Van Andel Arena)

Game 6 ** – Sunday, May 18th – 7:00 p.m. vs. Grand Rapids (Cedar Park Center)

Game 7 ** – Monday, May 19th – 7:30 p.m. vs. Grand Rapids (Cedar Park Center)

** if necessary

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