This Week’s Games
Fri., Nov. 30 - Texas Stars at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Dec. 1 - Texas Stars at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / Sirius XM NHL Network Radio / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Nov. 23 - Chicago Wolves 3 at GRIFFINS 4 - 9-4-1-1, 20 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sat., Nov. 24 - GRIFFINS 4 at Peoria Rivermen 1 - 10-4-1-1, 22 pts. (1st)
Sun., Nov. 25 - Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 2 - 10-5-1-1, 22 pts. (1st)
Start Again: The Griffins entered last week with a six-game winning streak that they were able to extend to eight with back-to-back victories over Chicago on Friday and Peoria on Saturday. Entering last Friday’s contest in a first-place Midwest Division tie with the Wolves, the Griffins pulled back into sole possession of first place with a 4-3 win. Tomas Tatar opened the scoring and tallied the game-winning goal with 2:13 to play, while Mitch Callahan and Chad Billins each added their first goals of the season. The following night in Peoria, Grand Rapids found itself in a 1-1 tie with the Rivermen after the first period, despite firing a season-high 20 shots on goal. Tomas Jurco put Grand Rapids ahead midway through the second period, and Tatar recorded another two-goal game to extend the team’s winning streak to eight. The run came to an end when the team played its third game in just under three days on Sunday, dropping a 3-2 decision to Milwaukee.
One of a Kind: The Griffins’ eight-game winning streak (Nov. 3-24), which came to an end with a 3-2 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday, is the longest winning streak and point streak of any team in the AHL this season. It marked the fourth-longest run in franchise history, trailing a pair of nine-game winning streaks (Dec. 22, 2000-Jan. 12, 2001 and Oct. 23-Nov. 13, 2009) and a franchise-record 11-game streak from March 5-31, 2006. With a win this Friday against Texas, Grand Rapids would earn nine wins in a single month for the first time since January 2009 (9-2-2-1). Additionally, the team has won five straight on the road, two shy of the franchise-record seven-game road winning streak set from Oct 16-Dec. 3, 2004. The Griffins won’t have too many chances to improve on that mark in the near future, with just two of their next 14 games coming away from Van Andel Arena (Dec. 7 at Chicago and Dec. 16 at Toronto).
Righting the Ship: Since dropping a 6-4 decision to Charlotte on Oct. 26 and falling to fifth place in the Midwest Division, the Griffins have earned points in 10 of their last 12 games (9-2-1-0). The run has helped the team vault up the standings and take control of the Midwest Division after a 5-3 win at Peoria on Nov. 10. The team has held at least a share of the division lead every day since, currently leading Chicago and Rockford (19 points) by three points. Additionally, the Griffins sat 15th in the Western Conference and 29th in the AHL following the Oct. 26 loss, and they now rank third in the conference and are tied for sixth in the league overall.
Homers: The Griffins are preparing for their busiest month of the season at Van Andel Arena, with a season-high 10 home games during the month as part of a stretch of 13 of 15 games at home (Nov. 24-Jan. 4). Beginning with Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Milwaukee, the Griffins will enjoy a four-game home stand to close out November and begin December. Later in the month, the team will begin a season-high seven-game homestand (Dec. 19-Jan. 4) to ring in the new year.
Building Mo-mentum: Throughout November, Griffins players and staff have been sporting moustaches in support of Movember, a month-long moustache-growing initiative to help raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Friday’s contest versus Texas will honor the end of the campaign with a moustache-themed game presentation and a fake moustache giveaway to the first 1,500 fans, courtesy of the Kings Room Barbershop. Fans attending the game can take advantage of a special ticket offer by entering the promo code “movember” at griffinshockey.com/promocode. The game also includes several fan-favorite promotions, including Dollar Beers and Hot Dogs and College Night, which allows college students to purchase an upper bowl ticket for $13 (or $11 in advance at The Zone) and stop by the McFadden’s concourse table to receive a free pass to the post-game party at McFadden’s. Every Friday night is also a Griffins WGRD D-Zone night, where fans can have $1 beers and $1 hot dogs served directly to their seats, and Free Ride Friday, permitting any fan to enjoy complimentary fare on the Rapid busses by showing their ticket to that night’s game. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to order D-Zone tickets, and visit ridetherapid.org for information on bus schedules, routes and maps.
Saturday Promos: Saturday’s rematch versus Texas is highlighted by a holiday ornament giveaway. The first 2,000 fans will receive a Griffins holiday ornament featuring Griff dressed in Ralphie’s pink bunny suit from A Christmas Story, courtesy of United Bank. It’s also the Griffins’ annual Scout Night. All scout groups of 10 or more will enjoy special ticket savings with $11 Upper Level tickets or $14 Lower Level Faceoff tickets (or $16 with a $3 concession voucher). Every scout in attendance will receive a jersey patch. Before the game, scouts can take part in the scout scavenger hunt. Visit griffinshockey.com/scouts for more information. The game also marks the debut of the Griffins’ drumline, a group of local drummers who will perform on the concourse before and during the game, and will be followed by another J&H Family Stores Post-Game Open Skate.
Teddy Bear Toss: The first goal that Tomas Tatar scored in last Friday night in a 4-3 win versus Chicago took on more importance than just the number that it put on the scoreboard. Seconds after the red light went on, hundreds of teddy bears and stuffed animals poured onto the ice as part of the Griffins’ annual Teddy Bear Toss. Fans brought new store-tagged teddy bears or stuffed animals that were collected to be donated to Hug-A-Bears of Kent County. Hug-A-Bears serves the community to donate teddy bears to children and families in crisis. Approximately 3,500 bears have been given to those in need, serving local schools and organizations such as the Kent County Adoption Court and Spectrum Health’s Bereavement Center, Camp Compass, Burn Camp and outpatient surgical centers.
Elite Company: Last Friday night’s 4-3 win over Chicago was Petr Mrazek’s sixth win as a Griffin, setting the mark for the best-ever start by a Griffins goaltender. Mrazek surpassed Mathieu Chouinard (2000-01) and Ty Conklin (2011-12), who each started 5-0. Additionally, the rookie netminder ranks among the AHL’s leaders with a 2.53 goals against average (15th) and a 0.910 save percentage (22nd). Mrazek suffered his first AHL loss in a 3-2 decision in favor of Milwaukee on Sunday, giving him an 8-2 record and 2.38 goals against average in his first 10 professional starts, including three games with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.
Dynamic Duo: Petr Mrazek may have set a franchise record for his 6-0 start, but the remaining two victories in the Griffins’ AHL-best eight-game winning streak were earned by Tom McCollum. McCollum, who is 4-2-1 this season, has won three of his last four starts and sports a 2.25 goals against average and 0.918 save percentage in that stretch (Oct. 28-Nov. 24). Additionally, the fourth-year pro has worked his way up the Griffins’ all-time goaltending leaderboard, surpassing Mike Fountain in both games played and minutes to rank sixth in franchise history in each category. McCollum currently sits at 89 games played (6th), 4,902:33 minutes (6th), 31 wins (8th) and 2,136 saves (6th).
Best in the Midwest: In addition to entering this week with a three-point lead in the Midwest Division, the Griffins also boast a 6-2-1-0 record within their own division, which ties them for the AHL’s second-best divisional winning percentage (0.722). Only Worcester has a better mark in its own division at 7-2-1-0 (0.750), while Milwaukee, Abbotsford and Oklahoma City have records that match the Griffins’ 0.722 winning percentage.
Pare for the Course: No Griffins player has been hotter this month than Francis Pare, who holds a team-best seven-game point streak after picking up 11 points (5-6—11) from Nov. 7-25. That streak ties him for the third-longest active streak in the AHL, trailing only a 10-game point streak for Syracuse’s Richard Panik and an eight-game run by Rochester’s Brian Flynn. The fifth-year pro also holds the longest home goal-scoring streak in the league this season, scoring in five consecutive games from Oct. 13-Nov. 9. Pare scored in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Milwaukee to bring the Griffins within a goal in the third period, which gives him goals in six of the team’s eight home games (Oct. 12 versus Milwaukee and Nov. 23 versus Chicago being the exceptions).
Rewriting History: Francis Pare’s impressive seven-game point streak has helped him improve to 207 career points (88-119—207), sitting just one point shy of tying Kip Miller as the Griffins’ third all-time leading scorer. Pare, who ranks fourth on the team with 14 points (8-6—14) in 17 contests, trails only Miller (208), Travis Richards (238) and Michel Picard (380) in points, passing Derek King (203) during his team-best scoring run. The veteran also ranks among franchise leaders with 312 games played (4th), 88 goals (2nd), 119 assists (5th), 12 game-winning goals (T5th), 16 first goals (2nd), 20 shootout attempts (8th) and 741 shots (5th).
Top Scorer: Tomas Tatar played a critical role in extending the Griffins’ win streak to eight, potting a pair of goals in both Friday’s 4-3 win over Chicago and Saturday’s 4-1 victory at Peoria. Tatar also scored in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Milwaukee, giving him five goals during a three-game goal streak, which ties for the AHL’s longest active streak. Tatar’s output also helped him rise up the franchise’s goal-scoring leaderboard, breaking a seventh-place tie with Matt Ellis (69) and eventually passing Darryl Bootland (72) and Derek King (73) to take fifth place all time with 74 goals. The fourth-year Griffin now sits one goal behind Kip Miller (4th, 75) and four behind former teammate Jamie Tardif (3rd, 78).
No Place Like Road: With a 4-1 win at Peoria last Saturday, the Griffins extended their road winning streak to five games and improved to 7-2 this season away from home. The Griffins’ 0.778 winning percentage on the road is the second-best mark in the AHL, trailing only Syracuse, which has yet to suffer a regulation loss (9-0-0-1) away from home. Grand Rapids will only have a few chances to improve on that mark in the next few weeks, with only two road games (Dec. 7 at Chicago and Dec. 16 at Toronto) left in 2012 and 13 of 15 games overall to be played (Nov. 25-Jan. 4) at Van Andel Arena. Additionally, the team was 5-1 on the road in November, matching its most road wins during a month since going 5-0 in October 2007.
Very Special Teams: The Griffins’ power play unit has been red-hot of late, scoring in seven straight games and in 13 of 17 games this season. Grand Rapids is currently tied with Oklahoma City for third in the AHL with a power play efficiency of 23.1 percent. Only Charlotte and Bridgeport (each at 24.7) have been better. The Griffins have several players who rank among the league’s most productive with the man advantage. Tomas Tatar (5-4—9), Gustav Nyquist (4-5—9) and Chad Billins (1-8—9) share the team lead with nine power play points. Tatar is tied for the AHL lead with five power play goals, while Nyquist’s four ties for seventh. Billins is tied for second in the AHL with eight power play assists, trailing only Oklahoma City’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
League Leaders: The Griffins boast the AHL’s second-best offense (3.65 goals per game), trailing only Syracuse (3.82), and they also have two of the league’s top 10 scorers. Gustav Nyquist is tied for sixth in the AHL with 19 points (8-11—19) and is trailed closely by Tomas Tatar, who is tied for eighth with 18 points (10-8—18). After recording five goals over his last three games, Tatar is tied for sixth in the AHL in goals. Chad Billins is third on the Griffins in scoring with 16 points (1-15—16) and is tied for second in the league with 15 assists. Billins is tied for 23rd in league scoring, tied for third in rookie scoring and ranks fourth among AHL defensemen. Landon Ferraro is tied for the league lead with three shorthanded points. Brendan Smith, who has posted seven points (2-5—7) in his past six games, is tied for 10th among AHL defensemen with 12 points (3-9—12) in 17 contests.
Milestones: Gustav Nyquist’s next game will be his 100th as a pro…Francis Pare will tie Kip Miller (208) for third-place in franchise history with his next point and is just four games from tying Jamie Tardif (316) for third in games played…Tomas Tatar will tie Miller (75) for fourth all time with his next goal.
Wingspan: A new Griffins episode of Wingspan – recorded Nov. 6-9 in Grand Rapids – was rescheduled by Fox Sports Detroit and premiered at 2:30 p.m. today, with re-airs scheduled throughout the week. Among the players and coaches featured will be Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar and Jeff Blashill. Wingspan is a weekly series that explores all things Detroit Red Wings, including player stories, team history and behind-the-scenes, all-access looks at the team.
Walleye Watch: The Toledo Walleye came away from a four-in-five last week with a 3-1 record, bumping them to first place in the ECHL’s North Division with an 11-7-0-1 record. Willie Coetzee saw a five-game point streak end on Sunday, but he leads the Walleye with 18 points (8-10—18) in 19 contests. East Grand Rapids native Luke Glendening was scoreless in his first five pro games but is now tied for seventh in the circuit with 10 goals in 19 games. Andrej Nestrasil is tied with Glendening (10-3—13) for fourth on Toledo in scoring with 13 points (6-7—13). Jordan Pearce is riding a five-game winning streak and ranks among the league’s top goaltenders with a 2.34 goals against average (7th) and a 0.914 save percentage (10th). Gleason Fournier played in all four games with the Walleye last week before being reassigned to Grand Rapids by Detroit on Monday. Defenseman Max Nicastro was reassigned to Toledo by Detroit on Wednesday and is expected to join Toledo for its games this weekend.
Fri., Nov. 30 vs. Texas Stars (8-7-1-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 1 vs. Texas Stars – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.) and SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92) at 7 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 9-5-1-2 Overall, 4-2-0-2 Home. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second and third of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Willie Desjardins (1st season). Notes: Cody Eakin leads Texas in scoring with 12 points (6-6—12) in 17 games…Stars forward Reilly Smith, who is the brother of Griffins defenseman Brendan Smith, scored his first professional goal in Texas’ 5-4 win over Rockford on Tuesday…Texas forward Antoine Roussel is eighth in the league with 72 penalty minutes…Stars goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp is 19th in the league with a 2.60 goals against average…Texas has struggled on the penalty kill, ranking 29th in the league with at 77.5 percent, but it is tied for second in the league with four shorthanded goals…The Stars surrender the second-fewest shots in the league, averaging 26.29 against…Former Griffin Mike Hedden has three assists in eight games for Texas this season.