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NEW YEAR, NEW START

This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals // Wed., Jan. 3 // 8 p.m. EST // UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:35 p.m.
Watch: AHLLive.com   
Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Road, 3-0-1-0 Overall. Fifth of 10 meetings overall, second of five at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
All-Time Series: 38-32-5-5-5 Road, 88-59-7-7-7 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: The Griffins have points in five straight regular season matchups against Milwaukee.

Rockford IceHogs at GRIFFINS // Fri., Jan. 5 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Watch: AHLLive.com
Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Home, 0-3-0-3 Overall. Seventh of 10 meetings overall, second of five at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 23-10-1-2 Home, 36-29-3-8 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks
Noteworthy: Four of the six meetings this season have been one-goal games, including three decided in a shootout.

GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves // Sat., Jan. 6 // 8 p.m. EST // Allstate Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:35 p.m.
Watch: CW50 (Chicago), AHLLive.com
Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Road, 2-3-0-0 Overall. Sixth of eight meetings overall, third of four at Allstate Arena
All-Time Series: 41-30-0-2-0 Road, 81-54-2-6-2 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Vegas Golden Knights
Noteworthy: Under Todd Nelson, the Griffins have just three regulation losses at Allstate Arena in 11 regular season trips.

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Dec. 29    Cleveland Monsters 2 at GRIFFINS 5    12-15-1-4 (29 points, 6th Central)
Sat., Dec. 30    GRIFFINS 5 at Cleveland Monsters 3    13-15-1-4 (31 points, 6th)
Sun., Dec. 31    Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 4 OT    14-15-1-4 (33 points, 6th)

Listen to Matthew Ford's Tuesday interview with West Michigan's Morning News on WOOD Radio

Opening Faceoff: The defending Calder Cup champion Griffins are 4-0-0-1 in their last five games and have won a season-high three straight. Grand Rapids opens the new year with three games in four nights, beginning tonight at the Milwaukee Admirals.

Follow the Leaders:
Points: Matt Puempel (12-14—26)
Goals: Matthew Ford (14)
Assists: Ben Street (20)
PIM: Dylan McIlrath (62)
Plus-Minus: Filip Hronek (+8)
Goaltender Wins: Jared Coreau (10)
Goals Against Average: Coreau (2.88)
Save Percentage: Coreau (0.902)

Last Week’s Notes:
Friday vs. Cleveland: Cleveland led 2-0 after 9:08 of play before Grand Rapids scored five unanswered tallies...The Griffins recorded three goals in a 52-second span in the second period...Matthew Ford and Eric Tangradi scored 12 seconds apart, the fastest consecutive goals by the Griffins this season...Tangradi notched his second multi-goal of the campaign and added an assist for a season-high three points...Matt Puempel made his return to the lineup after missing seven straight games due to injury and logged a goal and an assist.
Saturday at Cleveland: Colin Campbell recorded the fastest goal from the start of the game this season for the Griffins when he scored 31 seconds...Dominic Turgeon matched a career high with three points (2-1—3) and earned first star honors...Evgeny Svechnikov potted his third goal of the season...Matt Puempel scored for the second straight game...The Griffins scored the game’s first four goals...Grand Rapids outscored Cleveland 10-5 in the Friday-Saturday set, marking the second time this season the Griffins have scored five or more goals in back-to-back games (Nov. 11-14)...Tom McCollum made 32 saves to record his 107th career victory as a Griffin, two off Joey MacDonald’s franchise record.
Sunday vs. Milwaukee: Matthew Ford scored the game-winner 1:20 into overtime while on the power play...Milwaukee scored three third-period goals to force the extra session...Evgeny Svechnikov notched his third career multi-goal game and all three have come against the Admirals...Grand Rapids finished 4-for-5 on the penalty kill and allowed its first power play goal since Dec. 21 at Chicago...The sellout crowd of 10,834 was the Griffins’ fifth straight on New Year’s Eve and their ninth in the 21 years that they’ve hosted a game on Dec. 31...Grand Rapids posted a winning record for the eighth consecutive December, going 6-5-1-2...The Griffins have scored four or more goals in three straight games for the first time this season.  

Team USA: Former Griffin and 2013 Calder Cup champion Chad Billins was named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team on Monday. Billins, 28, skated in 76 games with the Griffins as a rookie in 2012-13 – his lone season in Grand Rapids – and established a franchise record for most points by a first-year defenseman with 37 (10-27—37). Blueliner Robbie Russo broke Billins’ mark in 2015-16 with 39 points as a rookie. A native of Marysville, Mich., Billins played four seasons (2008-12) at Ferris State University.

This Week’s Promotions: On Friday against Rockford, fans can enjoy $2 beers and $2 hot dogs from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last.

Model Year: Captain Matthew Ford potted the overtime-winner – his team-leading third game-winning goal of the season – while on the power play to give Grand Rapids a 4-3 win against Milwaukee last Sunday. In his last seven games, Ford has seven goals and in his last eight games has amassed 10 points (7-3—10). The second-year Griffin and 10th-year pro ties for third in the league with eight power play goals and ties for 10th with 14 overall markers. His five-game goal streak, which matched a career-high, and six-game point streak, one off his career high, were both snapped in last Saturday’s 5-3 win at Cleveland.

Hot Street: Eighth-year pro Ben Street has racked up 11 points (2-9—11) in the last nine games. His 20 assists are a team high and tie for seventh in the AHL. Street’s season-high four-game assist streak was snapped in last Saturday’s victory at Cleveland.

Russian Influence: After scoring two goals in his first 27 games of the year, second-year pro Evgeny Svechnikov has more than doubled his season total by lighting the lamp three times in the last two games. Detroit’s first-round draft choice, 19th overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Svechnikov scored a pair of goals 1:07 apart last Sunday to record his third career multi-goal outing.

Turg-ON: Second-year pro Dominic Turgeon had his career-high five-game assist and point streak snapped in last Sunday’s overtime win but still has seven points (2-5—7) in the last six games. The Red Wings’ second choice, 63rd overall, in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Turgeon has tallied 21 points (8-13—21) in 34 games this season and has already bettered his 2016-17 output (6-12—18 in 71 GP).

Puemped Up: After missing seven consecutive games due to injury, Matt Puempel has registered points in all three games (3-2—5) since his return to the lineup on Dec. 29. Grand Rapids’ leading scorer, Puempel has picked up where he left off prior to the injury as he now has 10 points (6-4—10) in his last eight games. 

Current Streaks:
Matt Puempel: three-game point streak and three-game goal streak (3-2—5)
Robbie Russo: three-game assist streak (0-3—3)
Axel Holmstrom: three-game assist streak (0-3—3)
Evgeny Svechnikov: two-game goal streak (3-0—3)
Filip Hronek: two-game assist streak (0-2—2)
Dan Renouf: two-game assist streak (0-2—2)

Whoa, Nelly: Todd Nelson needs three games coached to reach 800 as a professional head coach. His head coaching career is as follows:
Muskegon (UHL), 2003-06, 149-58-25
Oklahoma City (AHL), 2010-15, 176-111-12-34
Edmonton (NHL), 2014-15, 17-22-7
Grand Rapids (AHL), 2015-present, 105-68-3-10

Sellouts: With a capacity crowd of 10,834 on New Year’s Eve, it marked the 170th overall regular season sellout of Van Andel Arena. Over the course of their history at the “Freezer on Fulton,” the Griffins have enjoyed raucous crowd support, showing a 90-62-1-2-15 (0.582) while outscoring opponents by a +58 margin.

Wins Leader: Already Grand Rapids’ all-time leader in goaltender games played, minutes and saves, Tom McCollum is two wins shy of tying Joey MacDonald’s franchise record.

Goaltender Wins
1. Joey MacDonald (2002-07; 10-12) 109
2. Tom McCollum (2009-16; 2017-pres.) 107
3. Jimmy Howard (2005-09; 16-17) 93
4. Jared Coreau (2013-pres.) 74
5. Mike Fountain (1999-01) 55


Lashing Out:
Ninth-year Griffin and two-time Calder Cup champion (2013, 2017) Brian Lashoff needs three games played to tie 2013 Cup champion Francis Pare for fourth on the franchise’s all-time games played list.

Player Games Played
1. Travis Richards (1996-06) 655
2. Mitch Callahan (2011-17) 365
3. Michel Picard (1996-00; 02-04) 364
4. Francis Pare (2008-13) 363
5. Brian Lashoff (2008-13; 14-pres.) 360
6. Nathan Paetsch (2012-17) 359


Repeat Opponents: Starting Dec. 2 at Chicago and concluding Feb. 7 vs. Manitoba, the Griffins play 28 straight games against Central Division foes. Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, the Griffins are 87-47-3-7 (0.639) against the Central and hold a +89 scoring margin in those 144 games.

Milwaukee Notes: With a rivalry dating back to the International Hockey League days, the Griffins have faced the Admirals more than any other opponent in team history as the two clubs will meet up for the 169th time today…The last two games have gone into overtime, with Bobby Butler giving Milwaukee a 2-1 win on Dec. 16 and Matthew Ford scoring to provide Grand Rapids a 4-3 triumph on New Year’s Eve…Butler was named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team on Monday...Matt Puempel (2-3—5), Ford (3-1—4) and Ben Street (1-3—4) lead the Griffins in scoring in the season series...The Griffins have points in five straight regular season matchups between the teams (4-0-1-0)…Since the 2013-14 season, Grand Rapids posts a 29-13-2-0 (0.682) regular season record against Milwaukee, including a 17-5-1-0 mark in 23 games in West Michigan…That comes on the heels of an 18-24-4-4 (0.440) record the Griffins tallied against the Admirals from the 2006-07 season to 2012-13...Grand Rapids’ power play is 8-for-24 (33.3%) against Milwaukee this season while its penalty kill is 19-for-20 (95.0%)…The Griffins are averaging 38.75 shots per game in the four matchups thus far while Milwaukee is averaging 28.00 shots.

Milwaukee Connections: Grand Rapids assistant coaches Ben Simon (18 GP in 2003-04) and Bruce Ramsay (3 GP in 1995-96) had cups of coffee on the other side of Lake Michigan during their playing days…Milwaukee claimed Mark Zengerle off waivers on Nov. 9…Zengerle played in 144 regular season games with the Griffins from 2014-16 and totaled 84 points (24-60—84), a plus-19 rating and 42 PIM while adding 15 points (2-13—15) in 24 Calder Cup Playoff contests…Tyler Moy and Luke Esposito were teammates at Harvard from 2013-17 and helped the Crimson reach the 2017 Frozen Four...Goaltender Jake Paterson, Detroit’s second choice (80th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, appeared in two games with the Griffins during the 2015-16 season, showing a 0-2-0 record, a 3.11 GAA and a 0.928 save percentage. 

Rockford Notes: Grand Rapids is looking for its first win of the season against Rockford, showing a 0-3-0-3 record so far…The Griffins made their last visit of the season to the BMO Harris Bank Center on Dec. 23…In the last meeting on Dec. 23, Matthew Ford potted the game-tying goal with two seconds left in regulation to force overtime…Rockford is 6-0 against Grand Rapids this season, facing the rest of the league the IceHogs are 12-14-1-1…Four of the six games have been decided by one goal, including three in a shootout…Eric Tangradi (3-2—5) and Matt Lorito (1-4—5) lead the Griffins in the season series…Anthony Louis, Chicago’s sixth round draft selection in 2013, paces Rockford in the season series with seven points (1-6—7)…Since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Griffins are 17-4-1-1 (0.783) against the IceHogs at Van Andel Arena...Through 34 games, Rockford is 18-14-1-1, a seven-win improvement from 2016-17’s 11-18-2-3 mark through 34 contests.

Rockford Connections: Former Griffin and 2013 Calder Cup champion Tomas Jurco is Rockford’s leading scorer with 23 points (11-12—23) in 33 games, including five points (3-2—5) in six points against Grand Rapids…Jurco played in 113 games with the Griffins over parts of four seasons (2012-14, 2015-17) and tallied 71 points (33-38—71)…Jordin Tootoo was assigned by the Blackhawks on Nov. 30...Tootoo skated in 51 games with the Griffins during the 2013-14 season, scoring 18 points (6-12—18) and adding 104 PIM…Rookie Matheson Iacopelli is a native of Brownstown, Mich., and played two seasons (2013-15) with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks before competing two seasons (2015-17) for Western Michigan University…Tanner Kero is from Hancock, Mich., and played four seasons (2011-15) at Michigan Tech University…Former Griffins Derek King and Sheldon Brookbank serve as assistant coaches on Jeremy Colliton’s staff...King, who played in Grand Rapids from 1999-01 and 2002-04, is the franchise’s all-time leading playoff scorer (16-25—41) and ranks fifth in regular season points (73-130—203)...Brookbank skated in 75 games with the Griffins from 2001-03, scoring 14 points (2-12—14) and adding 160 PIM.  

Chicago Notes: Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, the Griffins are 16-6-1-0 against Chicago, including 8-3-0-0 at Allstate Arena…In the last meeting on Dec. 21 at Chicago, the Wolves scored five goals over a 17:11 stretch spanning the second and third periods to erase a three-goal deficit and win 5-4…Grand Rapids’ loss on Dec. 21 snapped a four-game winning streak at Allstate Arena…Matt Lorito has a team-high seven points (4-3—7) in the season series, including banking his first pro hat trick in the year’s first matchup on Oct. 27…Todd Nelson won his 100th game as a Griffin on Dec. 2 at Chicago.

Chicago Connections: Wolves first-year head coach Rocky Thompson served on Todd Nelson’s staff as an assistant with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons from 2010-14...In those four seasons, the Barons posted a 161-105-10-32 (0.591) record and advanced to the postseason every year, including a trip to the 2013 Western Conference Finals...Thompson was elevated to an assistant with the parent Edmonton Oilers for the 2014-15 campaign, a season that saw Nelson take over the NHL club on an interim basis in Dec. 2014…Former Griffin Teemu Pulkkinen ties for the team lead with 26 points (9-17—26) in 34 games for Chicago…A 2013 Calder Cup champion with Grand Rapids, Pulkkinen skated in 119 games with the Griffins from 2012-15 and scored 121 points (65-56—121), while being named a First Team AHL All-Star selection in 2014-15…He appeared in 40 postseason contests and ranks among the franchise’s all-time playoff leaders with 34 points (T3rd), 22 goals (2nd) and nine power play goals (1st)…Nelson served as an assistant coach for the Wolves for two seasons (2006-08) and won the 2008 Calder Cup in his final season with Chicago…Assistant coach Ben Simon appeared in 196 games with the Wolves from 2001-03 and 2004-05 and was a part of Chicago’s first Calder Cup title in 2002...Third-year defenseman Robbie Russo is from Chicagoland’s Westmont…Russo and T.J. Tynan were teammates at Notre Dame from 2011-14…Second-year pro Mackenzie MacEachern, a native of Troy, Mich., played three seasons at Michigan State (2013-16) and tallied 68 points (33-35—68) in 108 games…Scooter Vaughan played at Michigan from 2007-11 and recorded 39 points (16-23—39) in 137 games.

Up and Down: With a 14-15-1-4 record through 34 games, take a look at how the statistics compare between the Griffins’ 14 wins and 20 (including overtime and shootout) losses.

  GF GA PP% PK% SF SA
W (14) 4.93 2.50 31.82% 90.16% 33.57 30.43
L (20) 1.80 3.90 12.66% 80.81% 33.10 30.55


Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play back-to-back games a total of 24 times this season. Compare the statistics for when Grand Rapids has played on consecutive nights:

  W L (incl. OT, SO) GF GA PP% PK% SF SA
First Night 4 7 3.55 3.55 22.73% 81.82% 31.82 29.73
Second Night 4 7 2.73 3.55 19.44% 83.33% 30.82 32.36
Third Night 1 2 2.33 2.67 27.27% 85.71% 38.67 31.33


Championship Effects: Since 2001-02, the year Grand Rapids joined the AHL, nine Calder Cup champions have gone on to qualify for the postseason in the following season, including the Griffins, who reached the conference semifinals in 2014 after winning the franchise’s first championship in 2013. Only one team in this 16-year span repeated as champions (Hershey in 2009 and 2010).

Walleye Report: Under second-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye continue to lead the Central Division with a 20-9-2-1 (43 points) record. Erik Bradford (9-17—26) and Christian Hilbrich (13-12—25) lead the team in scoring, while Griffins-contracted Mike Borkowski (12-11—23) ties for third. Griffins-contracted Pat Nagle leads the league with 16 victories (16-2-2) and places 16th with a 2.61 GAA and 20th with a 0.910 save percentage while Red Wings-contracted Matej Machovsky shows a 4-6-1 record, a 2.50 GAA and a 0.912 save percentage.