The Grand Rapids Griffins installed a Playoff Hockey sign on the windows at Van Andel Arena to mark the team's pending playoff run. Photo by Ryan Gajewski/Grand Rapids Griffins
Local sports history will be made on Oct. 18.
The Grand Rapids Griffins will raise their first championship banner and begin defense of their initial American Hockey League title at home on that Friday evening.
The game also will mark the 18th home opener for the club that began play at Van Andel Arena before a full house in October 1996. The first 17 home openers have all been sellouts, and it’s expected the 18 will extend that mark.
A second big date on the Griffins’ schedule is Dec. 30, as it will mark the first time the club will play a league game outdoors — and on a baseball field.
Grand Rapids will host the Toronto Marlies, a team the Griffins recently eliminated in the playoffs, at Comerica Park in Detroit as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival — a two-day prelude to the NHL’s Winter Classic contest.
The Winter Classic has the Detroit Red Wings hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Jan. 1. Last year’s game and festival were postponed because of the NHL lockout.
The Griffins also will continue two yearly traditions next season by hosting their 13th consecutive matinee game on Nov. 6 and their 17th straight New Year’s Eve game on Dec. 31. The team also has secured home dates for Dec. 14, Jan. 11 and Jan. 31, so far.
The rest of the Griffins schedule will be released later this summer.
Tickets for the Winter Classic and the Griffins’ outdoor contest are available with the purchase of a 10-game, 20-game or full-season ticket package at griffinshockey.com. Group tickets for six homes dates also are available. Single-game tickets will go on sale in September.