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A FIGHTING CHANCE


This Week’s Games
Thu., March 4 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Fri., March 5 - Manitoba Moose at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Sat., March 6 - Manitoba Moose at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Feb. 24 - San Antonio Rampage 3 at GRIFFINS 2 - 25-31-2-1, 53 pts. (7th, North Division)

Fri., Feb. 26 - GRIFFINS 3 at Rochester Americans 5 - 25-32-2-1, 53 pts. (7th)

Sat., Feb. 27 - GRIFFINS 3 at Lake Erie Monsters 5 - 25-33-2-1, 53 pts. (7th) 

Sun., Feb. 28 - GRIFFINS 5 at Lake Erie Monsters 6 SO - 25-33-2-2, 54 pts. (7th) 

On a Mission for Moose: Despite being a North Division rival of the Manitoba Moose, the Griffins will play them for the first time this season in games no. 64 and 65 this Friday and Saturday at Van Andel Arena. Grand Rapids, which will stage all four contests with the Moose in a span of seven games (March 5-21), currently trails Manitoba by 12 points in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division with just 18 games to play, adding vital importance to both showdowns.

Rockin’ the Rink: This weekend’s matchups with the Moose feature a variety of promotions. On Friday, the ever-popular Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs promotion runs from 6-8 p.m., and the first 1,500 fans will receive a Darren Helm Griffins jersey card courtesy of Centennial Securities. Students can take advantage of the College Night discount, while fans who follow the Griffins on Facebook and Twitter can enjoy special savings as well. On Saturday, 2,500 fans will receive a Darren Helm bobblehead thanks to Great Lakes Chrysler/Jeep. The Star Wars Night fundraiser for the Griffins Youth Foundation returns, as more than 50 costumed characters will be roaming the arena and interacting with fans. In addition to light sabers and Griffins Star Wars-themed pucks and t-shirts being sold on the concourse, two photo areas will be set up for fans to get their picture taken with their favorite characters for a small donation. Fans can visit griffinshockey.com/promocode and enter the code HELM to receive a special ticket offer to this game and be entered into a drawing to win a Darren Helm jersey name plate, and everybody is invited to take part in the post-game skate and post-game autograph session with Griffins players, presented by Huntington.

Come What May: After practicing with the Griffins earlier today, Brad May is expected to make his AHL debut in Peoria on Thursday. The 19-year veteran has spent his entire professional career (1991-2010) in the NHL, including 40 games this season with Detroit, where he has contributed one assist while tying for first on the club with 66 penalty minutes. A member of the Anaheim Ducks’ 2007 Stanley Cup champions, May has accumulated 288 points (127-161—288) and 2,248 penalty minutes in 1,041 games with Buffalo, Vancouver, Phoenix, Colorado, Anaheim, Toronto and Detroit. Only two other players in Griffins history have appeared in 1,000 NHL games: Kelly Miller, who played his first minor league game with Grand Rapids in 1999-2000 after 1,057 NHL contests, and Chris Chelios, who had a two-game conditioning stint with the Griffins last season and ranks fourth all time with 1,644 NHL games played.

Lilja Makes 110: Exactly one year and one day since his last NHL appearance, defenseman Andreas Lilja returned to the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup on Monday night, becoming the 110th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. Lilja, who went scoreless during a four-game conditioning stint with Grand Rapids in February, logged 9:28 of ice time in Detroit’s 3-2 win at Colorado.

Finland, Filppula Take Bronze: Valtteri Filppula became the second Griffins alumnus to win an Olympic medal, thanks to Finland’s 5-3 win over Slovakia in the Bronze Medal Game on Saturday. Filppula, who played parts of two seasons (2005-07) with Grand Rapids, joined Sweden’s Niklas Kronwall, who won gold at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy. He scored three goals in six games during the tournament, including an empty-netter with 11 seconds left against Slovakia that clinched the bronze for Finland and eliminated fellow former Griffins Tomas Kopecky and Pavol Demitra from the medal hunt.

Where We Stand: The Griffins currently reside in seventh place in the North Division with 54 points, 12 points out of a playoff spot (fourth-place Manitoba at 66). To earn that spot, they also need to climb over fifth-place Lake Erie (63 points) and sixth-place Toronto (58 points).

Never Say Die: The Griffins scored four unanswered goals during the third period on Sunday at Lake Erie, rallying from a 5-1 deficit to force overtime in an eventual 6-5 shootout loss to the Monsters. It marked the first time in Grand Rapids’ nine seasons of AHL membership that they earned a point in a game in which they trailed by four goals.

Good and Twenty: Last week, Jan Mursak (Wednesday) and Jeremy Williams (Saturday) became the 39th and 40th different players in Griffins history to score 20 goals in a single season. Mursak has now increased his goal total 10-fold from his rookie 2008-09 campaign, when he notched two goals in 51 games.

Olympian Efforts: Both active Griffins who participated in the Vancouver Games – defensemen Sergei Kolosov of Belarus and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen of Norway – played in all three games for Grand Rapids last weekend. Tollefsen, who made his Griffins debut on Friday in Rochester, played in three games for 10th-place Norway, while Kolosov saw action in all four games for ninth-place Belarus. Both were scoreless.

Power Surge: The Griffins notched a power play goal in five straight games from Feb. 20-27 (6-for-20, 30.0%), falling one shy of their season-high six-game streak from Nov. 8-21 (9-for-30, 30.0%).

Who’s Hot?: Justin Abdelkader owns a career-high five-game point streak (3-4—7)…Jeremy Williams has points in three straight games (1-3—4) and 12 of the last 14 outings (5-11—16)…Kris Newbury (2-1—3) owns a three-game point streak as well…Mattias Ritola has points in five of the last eight contests (2-4—6)…Jamie Tardif has points in four of the last six games (2-3—5)…Jakub Kindl (0-3—3) and Doug Janik (0-2—2) each has points in consecutive games.

If Only We Played in the North Division. Oh, Wait…: Of their 62 games thus far, the Griffins have played only 22 within the North Division, compiling an 11-10-0-1 mark (0.523) against their theoretical rivals. By contrast, they’ve staged 40 interdivisional contests against the West – the only division in which every team has a winning record – with a 14-23-2-1 record (0.388) to show for it.

Home Sweet Home?: Despite starting the season with eight straight wins at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids is now three games under 0.500 at home (15-18-0-0) after dropping 15 of its last 18 within friendly confines. Following this weekend’s home set against Manitoba, the Griffins will play 10 of their final 15 contests on the road, where they own a 10-15-2-2 mark.

Scouting Report

Thu., March 4 at Peoria Rivermen (27-26-1-6) – Carver Arena – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 14-14-1-2 Overall, 8-6-0-1 Road. Season Series: 3-3-0-1 Overall, 2-0-0-1 Road. Eighth and final meeting overall, fourth and final in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Rick Wamsley (1st season). Notes: The Rivermen are 8-13-0-4 since Rick Wamsley assumed the head coaching reins from Davis Payne (now head coach of the St. Louis Blues) on Jan. 2, including a 2-0 mark against the Griffins…Since winning the season’s first three meetings by a combined 9-3 margin, the Griffins have dropped four straight (0-3-0-1) to Peoria by a cumulative 17-9 count…Grand Rapids is 2-0-0-1 at Carver Arena this season…Like the Griffins, the Rivermen stand in seventh place in their division and trail the playoff race by 12 points…Lars Eller ranks 10th in scoring among AHL rookies (9-27—36)…The Rivermen’s third-ranked power play (20.5%) has converted five of 13 opportunities (38.5%) in its last two meetings with Grand Rapids.

Fri., March 5 vs. Manitoba Moose (30-26-5-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., March 6 vs. Manitoba Moose – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. each night. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 39-22-1-0-7 Overall, 21-9-1-0-5 Home. Season Series: First and second of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Scott Arniel (4th season). Notes: The Moose swept the Griffins in the 2009 North Division Finals en route to a runner-up finish to Hershey in the Calder Cup Finals…Manitoba currently holds a three-point lead over Lake Erie in the race for the division’s fourth and final playoff spot…The Moose are 14-16-2-0 on the road…Sergei Shirokov (18-20—38) ranks seventh in scoring among AHL rookies…Manitoba’s power play is tied for 26th in the league (13.4%) while its offense stands 25th (2.53 goals per game)…Longtime Griffins defenseman Tom Galvin has four assists and a plus-seven rating in 12 games since signing with the Moose on Jan. 26.
 

Griffins Game Rewinds

Feb. 28 at LE - 5-6 SOL
AHLlive Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: Abdelkader goal
Official Game Report

Feb. 27 at LE - 3-5 L
AHLlive Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: Abdelkader goal   Williams goal   Pare goal   Monsters goal
Official Game Report

Feb. 26 at RCH - 3-5 L
AHLlive Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: Vigilante goal   Newbury goal
Official Game Report

Feb. 24 vs. SA - 2-3 L
GriffVision Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: Mursak goal   Rampage goal
Post-Game Sound Bites: Pyett   Mursak   Fraser
Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

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