This Week’s Games
Fri., Dec. 31 - Toronto Marlies at GRIFFINS - 6 p.m. - Buy Tickets / ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 1 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - Buy Tickets / WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Dec. 22 - Toronto Marlies 3 at GRIFFINS 4 - 14-14-1-4, 33 pts. (T5th, North Division)
Sun., Dec. 26 - Lake Erie Monsters 3 at GRIFFINS 5 - 15-14-1-4, 35 pts. (4th)
Mon., Dec. 27 - GRIFFINS 3 at Chicago Wolves 6 - 15-15-1-4, 35 pts. (5th)
Out With the Old, In With the New: The Griffins will host their 14th annual New Year’s Eve celebration on Friday at the special time of 6 p.m., looking to improve upon their all-time record of 4-8-1-0 on Dec. 31. If history holds, either Grand Rapids or Toronto will have trouble lighting the lamp, as five of the last seven New Year’s Eve affairs have featured a shutout (most recently, the Griffins’ 6-0 win over Iowa in 2008). After bidding farewell to 2010, the Griffins will celebrate the arrival of 2011 on Saturday with their inaugural New Year’s Day game against Peoria, one of 11 games on the AHL’s Jan. 1 docket.
Fun at the Van: Fri. vs. TOR – The Griffins’ 14th annual New Year’s Eve celebration presented by Delta Imports will feature Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs from 5-7 p.m.; a 2011 Griffins Team Calendar giveaway to 2,000 fans at the exits; West Michigan’s largest indoor fireworks display after the game; a post-game auction of the Griffins’ special jerseys that were designed by Ryan Muraro of Waukesha, Wisc., through the team’s second annual jersey design contest; a NYE Fan 4-Pack ticket offer; a J & H Family Stores post-game skate; and the College Night and D-Zone promotions. Sat. vs. PEO – After Spartan and Wolverine fans get their fill of the afternoon bowl games, they will get their choice of a Griffins hat in either MSU or U-M colors (1,500 available in each color scheme), courtesy of Dodge. Fan 4 Packs are available, and those who stick around afterwards can enjoy a Huntington autograph session with Griffins players and a J & H Family Stores open skate.
112 and Counting: After being recalled by Detroit yesterday morning, Jan Mursak made his NHL debut on Monday night in the Red Wings’ 4-3 overtime win at Colorado, becoming the 112th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. Mursak, who was scoreless with two penalty minutes in 6:55 of ice time, became just the second native of Slovenia to ever play in the NHL, joining Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. Former Griffin Chris Mueller (2007-08), recently of the Milwaukee Admirals, is in line to become graduate no. 113 tonight when his Nashville Predators host Dallas.
Reebok/AHL Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins on Monday nominated left wing Tomas Tatar for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he recorded five points (1-4—5) and a plus-three rating in two games last week. He tallied three assists and was named Second Star in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Toronto, then notched a goal and an assist for Third Star honors in Sunday’s 5-3 victory against Lake Erie.
Standing Ovation: The Griffins welcomed their second- and third-largest crowds of the season for their two home games last week, drawing 8,973 for Sunday’s 5-3 win over Lake Erie and 8,385 for Wednesday’s 4-3 victory against Toronto. Sunday’s crowd was the largest of that day’s 10 AHL games and Grand Rapids’ largest since opening night (Oct. 8). Meanwhile, Wednesday’s crowd marked the Griffins’ largest Wednesday night attendance in nearly four years (8,449 on March 28, 2007, a 3-2 SOW over Milwaukee). Grand Rapids currently ranks fourth in the AHL in attendance – the same position in which it finished the 2009-10 campaign – with an average of 5,994.
A Very Merry Christmas: With wins in four of their last five home games and five of their last seven, the Griffins have ensured themselves a winning record for their record-tying 10-game December home schedule. They stand 5-3-1-0 heading into Friday’s New Year’s Eve affair. Grand Rapids has played 10 home games during a single month just twice before, going 6-3-1-0 in December 2007 and 7-2-1 in February 1999.
Close Quarters: The Griffins stand in fifth place in a tight North Division race, one point behind third-place Abbotsford and Manitoba and three behind second-place Toronto.
Bodies Wanted: With the recall of Jan Mursak to Detroit and injuries to four key players, the Griffins dressed only 16 skaters – two shy of a full lineup – for Monday’s 6-3 loss at Chicago. The situation was exacerbated in the second period when Brandon Straub received a game misconduct and Greg Amadio was whistled for 20 minutes in penalties. Cory Emmerton, who was tied for the Griffins’ scoring lead as of Dec. 4 with 19 points, has missed the last 12 games due to injury, Brent Raedeke has been out the last five, while veteran defensemen Doug Janik and Derek Meech have sat out the last two.
Goalie Swap: Following last Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Toronto, the Red Wings reassigned goaltender Thomas McCollum to ECHL Toledo and reassigned netminder Jordan Pearce to Grand Rapids from the Walleye. McCollum shows a 5-10-2 record with one shutout, a 3.11 GAA and a 0.884 save percentage through 17 games with the Griffins this season. He made his season debut with Toledo on Sunday, making 39 saves on 40 shots to lead the Walleye to a 4-1 home win over Kalamazoo. Pearce rejoined Grand Rapids after spending just less than one month with the team earlier in the campaign (Oct. 29-Nov. 28). During that stretch he logged five games, earning a 2-1-1 record with a 3.28 GAA and a 0.892 save percentage. In eight games with Toledo this season, Pearce shows a 3-4-1 record with one shutout, a 4.13 GAA and a 0.883 save percentage.
Short Story: Grand Rapids, which scored eight shorthanded goals all last season, now leads the AHL with nine after Jamie Tardif’s tally on Monday at Chicago.
So Close, But Yet So Far: The Griffins are 6-8-1-4 in games decided by one goal including a 2-4-1-4 mark at Van Andel Arena, where nine of their 13 total losses have been by a single goal.
Kudos: Joey MacDonald has won four of his last six decisions…Brendan Smith owns the second four-game point streak (1-3—4) of his young career. His 22 points (8-14—22) tie for fourth among AHL defensemen and fifth among rookies, while his eight goals tie for second among blueliners…Francis Pare has assists in consecutive games and points in five of the last seven contests (3-5—8)…Joakim Andersson has a goal in each of the last three games (3-2—5) after tallying just one in his first 31 appearances this season…Jordan Owens has points in three straight contests (0-4—4) and five of the last six games (1-6—7) after contributing points in just three of his first 28 appearances (2-3—5) this season…Jamie Tardif has points in six of the last eight games (4-4—8)…Tomas Tatar had a three-game point streak (2-4—6) snapped on Monday in Chicago.
It Was Fun While It Lasted: Defenseman Jakub Kindl returned to the Red Wings after Wednesday’s game, concluding his two-week conditioning stint with five points (1-4—5) in eight games. He earned two assists during that night’s 4-3 victory against Toronto to give him 76 as a Griffin and move past Tomas Kopecky and Ed Patterson (75 each) for ninth place on Grand Rapids’ all-time assists list.
Milestones: Francis Pare needs just one more goal to become the 14th player to score 50 during his Griffins career…Jamie Tardif has played 274 career games as a Griffin, putting him six behind sixth-place Dave Van Drunen (280) on the team’s all-time list. Meanwhile, 10th-place Derek Meech (261) will tie ninth-place Evan McGrath (262) with his next appearance, and he is just three behind eighth-place Derek King (264).
Fri., Dec. 31 vs. Toronto Marlies (17-13-0-4) – Van Andel Arena – 6 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 5:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 21-17-1-0 Overall, 12-6-1-0 Home. Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fourth of six meetings overall, second of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Dallas Eakins (2nd season). Notes: The Dec. 22 meeting between the Griffins and Marlies marked the first-ever game in organized competition between Grand Rapids defenseman Brian Lashoff and his older brother, Toronto blueliner Matt Lashoff…The Marlies are 10-6-0-3 on the road…Toronto netminder Jussi Rynnas is tied for 16th in the AHL with a 2.51 GAA.
Sat., Jan. 1 vs. Peoria Rivermen (20-9-2-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 14-19-1-2 Overall, 6-10-1-1 Home. Season Series: 0-4-0-0 Overall, 0-2-0-0 Home. Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Jared Bednar (1st season). Notes: The Rivermen have dropped two straight following their 13-game point streak (11-0-2-0)…Peoria owns an impressive 10-4-0-1 mark away from home…Dating to last season, the Griffins have lost eight straight meetings with the Rivermen in regulation – five of them at Van Andel Arena – and are winless in their last nine clashes overall (0-8-0-1)…Rookie Jake Allen ranks among the AHL’s leaders with a 0.945 save percentage (2nd) and a 1.76 GAA (4th).