Playoff debut a perfect gift for this mom

by George Sipple || Associated Press

(AP) — For the second straight year, Sheryl Abdelkader of Norton Shores, Mich., will spend Mother’s Day in Detroit, thanks to son Justin Abdelkader.

A day after being called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins to join the Red Wings as a practice player, Abdelkader found out he’ll be playing in Game 5 on Sunday in place of Tomas Kopecky, who was injured during a fight in Thursday’s 6-3 victory over the Ducks.

"It’s so exciting," Sheryl said by phone on Saturday. "We’re so happy for him. It was a dream come true."

Abdelkader said he got tickets for his parents, Sheryl and Joe. The couple spent last Mother’s Day in Detroit with their son as well.

The Wings convinced Abdelkader to turn pro after his junior season at Michigan State, and he appeared in two regular-season games last season. He was part of the team’s practice squad for the playoffs but did not get any ice time in the games.

After being one of the Griffins’ best players in his rookie season in the American Hockey League, Abdelkader is excited to make his NHL playoff debut. He played in two regular-season games with the Wings this season and scored 24 goals and 52 points in 72 games with the Griffins.

Abdelkader centered Mikael Samulesson and Kirk Maltby in practice on Saturday.

"It’s kind of nice to get called up and then play the next game," he said. "I was here last year and kind of know how things are run. Obviously, the intensity is up the playoffs, and I think I’ll be well-prepared going into it."

Sheryl Abdelkader made the 40-minute drive to Grand Rapids to see her son play for the Griffins and will gladly make the trip to Detroit today.

"I was keeping my options open," she said. "I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Mother’s Day."