01/16/2012 3:20 PM
This Week’s Games
Last Week’s Results
In the Mix: The Griffins entered last week riding a season-high three-game winning streak, but they saw that run ended on Wednesday with a 3-2 shootout loss to Houston. The Griffins started strong in the first 40 minutes, outshooting the Aeros 29-10, but they were only able to solve goaltender Darcy Kemper once. Houston rallied to tie the game twice in the third period, forcing extra time. Despite entering the night with a 0-7 shootout record, the Aeros pulled out the victory, and won the shootout 2-1. On Friday, a wild first period saw the Griffins storm out to a 4-2 lead, but Texas rallied in the final 40 minutes to hand the Griffins a 6-4 loss. The team then traveled to Charlotte for their first-ever game at the Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday afternoon, but Grand Rapids was unable to answer back after the Checkers broke a 2-2 tie halfway through the third period to hold on for the 4-2 win. The three consecutive losses knocked the Griffins back into fifth place in the North Division. The team remains within striking distance, sitting just two points behind third-place Hamilton and five behind second-place Rochester.
All Hands on Deck: Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Charlotte saw two important pieces rejoin the Griffins lineup. Defenseman Travis Ehrhardt was a team-best plus-two in his first game since injuring his shoulder in a fight at Rochester on Oct. 16. Grand Rapids also regained the services of Chris Minard, who had not played this season while recovering from a concussion. Minard posted 35 points (18-17—35) in 79 games last season and was one of the hottest Griffins during the second half of the season, with 15 of his goals coming in the team’s final 40 games. The pair adds depth to the Griffins lineup that saw a boost last week, as Joakim Andersson, Chris Conner and Gustav Nyquist all returned from stints with the Red Wings since the beginning of the New Year. Grand Rapids now boasts its healthiest lineup all season, with no players in Detroit and only missing goaltender Jordan Pearce, who is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered on Dec. 30 versus Peoria.
On Tap: The Griffins will get a chance at revenge in Charlotte as they’ll take on the Checkers on Tuesday at 7 p.m. after losing 4-2 in their first-ever game there on Sunday. Grand Rapids will then return home to begin a stretch that will see it play each of its next three and 13 of its next 17 at Van Andel Arena, opening up on Friday at 7 p.m. versus the Lake Erie Monsters before taking on the Rochester Americans on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Jam-Packed Promotions: Fans attending the Griffins home games this week will be treated to one of the most jam-packed weekends of the year. Friday’s contest versus Lake Erie will see the Van Andel Arena debut of “Super Fan” Cameron Hughes, who gets the crowd on its feet with energetic dances, spirited chants and a variety of other antics designed to create a memorable experience for fans. Other promotions include $1 beers and hot dogs from 6-8 p.m., and complimentary fare on The Rapid to or from the game by showing your ticket. On Saturday, the first 1,500 fans will receive a fleece hockey helmet, courtesy of MetroPCS. Entertainment in the stands throughout the game and on the ice during both intermissions will come from the ZOOperstars, the inflatable, oversized mascots who are returning after appearing last season. The Griffins will again wear the special patriotic uniforms also worn on Salute to Heroes Night (Dec. 3). The jerseys will be signed by the respective players and auctioned off at the Fifth Third Vault following the game to will benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation, which will in turn donate a portion of the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project. Finally, the Fox Sports Detroit Girls will be taking pictures and signing autographs with fans inside the arena’s Section A from 6-7 p.m.
Great Skate Winterfest: Griffins players, sled dogs, snowboarders, ice sculptors, zoo animals, figure skaters, horse-drawn carriages, winter sport athletes, museums, libraries and local celebrities will all be part of the 2012 Great Skate Winterfest, which will run for 34 consecutive hours on Saturday and Sunday at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. Fans can enjoy a day full of winter-inspired events, sports demonstrations and family activities starting at noon on Saturday. Grand Rapids-based Marhar Snowboards will construct a snowboarding rail that will be open to the public from noon-6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, with a “Rail Jam” competition, which will be judged by Winter X Games rider Ryan Paul and other industry pros, taking place at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Also new to the Great Skate Winterfest, O.C.M Mushing of Mancelona, Mich., will offer sled dog rides through Grand Rapids during the afternoon on Saturday at the cost of just $5 per person. Following Saturday night’s game versus Rochester, the annual 24-hour skating marathon with Griffins players will begin at 10 p.m. For a complete list of events or to make a donation to a Griffins player, visit griffinshockey.com/greatskate.
Let’s Play Again: Sunday’s game was the Griffins first-ever visit to Charlotte. It marked the 51st arena, 43rd city and 21st state in which the Griffins have played since their 1996 inception (including Grand Rapids and Van Andel Arena). The two teams will square off again in the second of two meetings in Charlotte this season on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
All Good Things Must End: The Griffins entered last week on a three-game winning streak (Dec. 31-Jan. 7), six-game point streak (Dec. 21-Jan.7) and six-game home point streak (Dec. 2-Jan. 7). With their 3-2 shootout loss to Houston on Wednesday, the team saw their season-best winning streak come to an end while extending each point streak to seven games, but both streaks ended with Friday’s 6-4 loss to the Texas Stars. It was the Griffins first regulation loss overall since a 3-0 shutout on Dec. 17 at Lake Erie, and first regulation loss at home since a 5-4 loss on Nov. 27 versus Oklahoma City. Grand Rapids has produced points in of its last 18 games (8-4-3-3).
Battle for the North: Three of the Griffins next four games are against North Division opponents. Grand Rapids has had great success in its own division, with an 8-3-1-0 record, but all four losses have come between Lake Erie and Rochester, this week’s two divisional opponents. The Griffins and Monsters have already squared off four times this season with each team winning twice; most recently, a 6-5 overtime win for Lake Erie on Dec. 28. Rochester is the lone North Division team the Griffins have yet to beat, as the Americans took a 7-2 victory on Oct. 16 and a 2-1 win on Nov. 12.
Keep Your Friends Close: Two of Rochester goaltender Drew MacIntyre’s six victories this season have come against the Griffins, as he stopped 43 of 44 shots in a 2-1 Americans’ victory on Nov. 12 after also beating the Griffins 7-2 on Oct. 16. MacIntyre, who appeared in 37 games for the Griffins from 2004-06, has a 15-5-1 record against the Griffins since departing for the Manitoba Moose in the 2006-07 season, including a 4-0 record in his last five appearances and a 9-2 record since the start of the 2008-09 season. MacIntyre was also the Moose’s netminder during the team’s seven-game playoff victory over Grand Rapids in 2007, during which he posted a 1.65 GAA and 0.942 save percentage against his former club.
NHL Boost: Gustav Nyquist and Chris Conner have each recorded points in three straight games since being assigned to Grand Rapids from Detroit. Nyquist has recorded one goal and four assists since rejoining Grand Rapids on Jan. 8, while Conner has two goals and three assists after being assigned on Jan. 9. Joakim Andersson has two goals and one assist in his past two games after being assigned by Detroit on Jan. 4
Number One: The Griffins currently rank first in the AHL in shots per game, averaging 34.16. The team has recorded under 30 shots just once in its past 11 games, while recording over 40 shots on nine different occasions. The results have paid off for the Griffins, who are tied for seventh in the AHL with a 3.03 goals-per-game average.
Thank You, Fans: With three of its last four crowds pulling in over 8,700, Grand Rapids climbed to third place in the AHL in attendance, averaging 6,779 per game. It trails only Chicago (6,782) and Hershey (9,440).
Milestone Watch: Several Griffins achieved personal milestones last week…Chris Conner notched his 200th point in the AHL with his two-point performance on Friday versus Texas and is two goals away from 100 goals as a pro…Greg Amadio recorded his 1,500th penalty minute as a pro on Friday, and Doug Janik tallied his 200th AHL and 900th pro penalty minute on the same night…Willie Coetzee is two games shy of 100 as a pro, while Travis Ehrhardt is two away from 100 as a Griffin…Tom McCollum is three games away from 100 as a pro…Brendan Smith is four games from 100 as a pro, and his next point will be his 50th as a Griffin…Francis Pare is five games away from tying Evan McGrath for 10th in franchise history with 262, and two goals will tie Pare with Darryl Bootland for fifth on the team’s all-time goal scoring charts.
Tue., Jan. 17 at Charlotte Checkers (22-14-2-2) – Time Warner Cable Arena – 7 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 20 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (18-19-1-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 21 vs. Rochester Americans (17-13-5-3) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
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