This Week’s Games
Wed., Jan. 9 - GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs - 8:05 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Jan. 11 - GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs - 8:05 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 12 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Jan. 4 - Oklahoma City Barons 2 at GRIFFINS 5 - 19-10-1-1, 40 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sat., Jan. 5 - GRIFFINS 4 at Chicago Wolves 3 SO - 20-10-1-1, 42 pts. (1st)
Sun., Jan. 6 - GRIFFINS 2 at Milwaukee Admirals 3 SO - 20-10-1-2, 43 pts. (1st)
Picking Up Where They Left Off: The Griffins began 2013 in a similar fashion to how they ended 2012, taking five out of six points in last weekend’s three-in-three. Grand Rapids has been among the hottest teams in the AHL of late, holding the league’s third-longest point streak at four games (3-0-0-1), earning points in eight of its last nine games (7-1-0-1) and posting an 18-6-0-1 record over its last 25 games (Nov-3-present). The club began the weekend slate on Friday, besting Oklahoma City 5-2. The Griffins’ offense posted a season-high five-goal second period, while the team’s defense limited a potent Barons attack to a season-low 19 shots. On Saturday, playing its first road game since Dec. 16, Grand Rapids improved its record against Chicago to 5-0 this season by beating the Wolves 4-3 in a shootout, led by a pair of goals from Luke Glendening and shootout goals by Tomas Tatar and Chad Billins. The Griffins’ good fortune after 60 minutes of play– they were 4-1 in shootouts and 7-1 post-regulation leading into Sunday’s contest – ended at the hands of Milwaukee, as they dropped a 3-2 decision after a nine-round, nine-goal shootout.
On Tap: Grand Rapids will continue its four-game road trip this week with games against Rockford on both Wednesday and Friday at 8:05 p.m. EST. The Griffins will return home and finish up a stretch of five consecutive games against Midwest Division opponents this Saturday when they host the Peoria Rivermen. Saturday’s contest marks the Griffins’ only home game in an eight-game stretch (Jan. 4-19), as the team will play back-to-back games in Charlotte and another road game against Rockford next week.
Saturday Promotions: Saturday’s contest versus Peoria is headlined by the Great Skate Winterfest, which will take place before, during and after the game against the Rivermen. Fans can head downtown early and enjoy a day of winter-inspired events, sports demonstrations and family activities starting at noon. Following the game, Griffins players will begin the annual 24-hour skating marathon at Rosa Parks Circle, with each player and coach taking a one-hour shift starting at 10 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged (to benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation) and certain activity fees apply. For more information, visit griffinshockey.com/greatskate. The first 2,500 fans attending Saturday’s game will receive a Griffins scarf, courtesy of MetroPCS. Fans will also see various mascots from local schools and companies, who will roam the concourse and interact with fans throughout the game as part of the Griffins’ annual Mascot Mania event. Following the game, Triston Grant, Francis Pare and Riley Sheahan will sign autographs from the Griffins bench, presented by Huntington Bank. Finally, fans can receive four tickets and $12 in concession cash for a great low price with a Fan 4 pack. Visit griffinshockey.com/f4p for more information.
Changing the Course: The Griffins’ contests in Rockford this week mark two of three meetings on the road against the IceHogs in an 11-day span (Jan. 9-19). Grand Rapids has struggled at the BMO Harris Bank Center, posting a 2-7-2-2 record since its first visit there in 2007-08. Rockford has won five straight games against Grand Rapids in its building, with the Griffins’ last victory coming on Jan. 2, 2010. The Griffins have posted a 3-0-1-0 record against the IceHogs this season, with the first four games of the eight-game season series coming in Grand Rapids.
Five-Goal Fury: Trailing 1-0 to the Oklahoma City Barons after the first period on Friday night, the Griffins exploded for their best offensive period of the season with a five-goal second frame. That output matched the franchise record for most goals in a single period at home, and it also tied the AHL’s mark for the same category this season. Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Riley Sheahan all tallied within a span of 3:34, while Landon Ferraro and Sheahan scored later in the period to put Grand Rapids up 5-1 heading into the third. It was team defense that took over for the rest of the game, as the Griffins kept the AHL’s top two scorers (Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz) off the scoresheet until late in the third period. Eberle (1st), Schultz (2nd), Taylor Hall (T6th) and Mark Arcobello (T14th), who all rank among the AHL’s top 20 scorers, were a combined minus-13 for the night.
Gaining Ground: The Midwest Division has been among the AHL’s tightest all season, but the Griffins have been pulling away from their competition after a four-game point streak. The team is currently five points ahead of second-place Milwaukee, with one game in hand, which is the league’s second-largest division lead behind the six-point lead Springfield has over Bridgeport in the Northeast Division. Additionally, the Griffins are currently 10 games over .500 (20-10-1-2) for the first time since the 2005-06 season. The team jumped to that mark following a 5-0 win over Milwaukee on Dec. 21, 2005 and improved over the duration of the season, eventually finishing 35 games over .500 (55-20-1-4), capturing the AHL’s regular season championship and appearing in the Western Conference Finals.
Super Sophomore: Second-year Griffin Landon Ferraro continues to produce consistently for the club, having already bested his rookie-season offensive totals of 20 points (9-11—20) in 56 games. Ferraro currently sits third on the Griffins with 25 points (12-13—25) in 33 games and is on a four-game point streak, which ties a career high. Ferraro has notched at least a point in seven of the team’s last eight games (4-4—8) and continues to be a threat on the penalty kill. The Trail, British Columbia, native leads the AHL with five shorthanded points (3-2—5) after tallying while outmanned on Friday versus Oklahoma City. Ferraro’s three shorthanded goals already tie for the fifth-most any Griffins has scored in a single season. Only Matt Ellis (5, 2005-06 and 4, 2004-05), Eric Himelfarb (5, 2005-06) and Kory Karlander (4, 1998-99) have scored more shorthanded goals in one season.
Chart Topper: Griffins goaltender Petr Mrazek has continued his strong play of late, ranking fifth in the AHL with a 2.10 goals against average, tying for sixth with 12 wins and for 10th with a 0.921 save percentage. Among rookie netminders, Mrazek leads the pack in GAA, trails only Providence’s Niklas Svedberg (13) in victories and is tied with Svedberg and behind Norfolk’s Frederik Andersen (0.923) in save percentage. Additionally, Mrazek has the AHL’s best winning percentage, excluding Toronto’s Jussi Rynnas, who has only suited up in eight games (6-1-1, 0.813). The Ostrava, Czech Republic, native is 12-3-1 this season (0.781), beating out the likes of Springfield’s Curtis McElhinney (17-5-2, 0.750), Syracuse’s Dustin Tokarski (15-5-3, 0.717) and Binghamton’s Robin Lehner (13-5-1, 0.711).
Point Streaks: Several Griffins have been heating up offensively, none more than Gustav Nyquist, who has seven points (3-4—7) on a six-game point streak, the second-longest active streak in the AHL behind Oklahoma City’s Jordan Eberle. Only Francis Pare’s seven-game point streak from Nov. 9-25 was longer for the Griffins this season…Luke Glendening saw a three-game point streak end on Sunday versus Milwaukee, which included his first two-goal game in the AHL (Jan. 5 at Chicago)…Landon Ferraro has points in each of his last four games (3-1—4) and has eight points (4-4—8) in his last eight games…Tomas Tatar saw a four-game point streak end on Sunday as well, but he has eight points (2-6—8) in his last eight games…Jeff Hoggan had four points (1-3—4) in three consecutive games last week…Riley Sheahan has eight points (5-3—8) in his last eight games, including a pair of two-goal outings…Brendan Smith recorded four assists in two games last week before behind held out of Sunday’s contest. Smith has seven points (1-6—7) in his last seven contests with the team and is currently tied for 15th among the league’s defensemen with 20 points (5-15—20) in 32 games.
Road Warriors: The Griffins played their first two road games since Dec. 16 last week, beating Chicago 4-3 in a shootout and earning a shootout point against Milwaukee in a 3-2 loss. Despite playing the fewest road games in the league (13), the Griffins have the AHL’s second-best road record at 9-3-0-1 (0.731), trailing only Syracuse at 15-3-0-2 (0.800). Grand Rapids will have a chance to improve its record away from home, as it plays five of its next six games (Jan. 9-19) on the road – three against Rockford and two against Charlotte.
Top of the Pack: After earning three points of a possible four against two divisional opponents on Saturday and Sunday, the Griffins currently hold the league’s second-best divisional record at 11-4-1-1 (0.706). Grand Rapids is in a stretch of five consecutive games against Midwest Division opponents, including this Wednesday and Friday at Rockford and Saturday versus Peoria. Only Albany has posted a better record against its own division, sitting at 8-3-0-1 (0.708). Syracuse has an identical intra-division winning percentage as Grand Rapids, sitting at 12-5-0-0.
Working Overtime: After playing a league-high six overtime games in the first 14 games of the season, the Griffins were able to settle many of their games over the next six weeks in regulation, with just two overtime games in a 16-game stretch (Nov. 7-Dec. 21). However, the team has vaulted back near the top of the league games that have taken more than 60 minutes to solve, with four of its last seven games (Dec. 22-Jan. 6) heading past regulation. Only Houston (13) has played more overtime games than Grand Rapids, which is tied for second in the AHL in that department with Abbotsford, Lake Erie and Texas. The Griffins have posted a 7-0-1-2 record in overtime and shootout this season, boasting the fourth-best winning percentage (0.700) in the league. The team trails only Norfolk (6-0-2-0, 0.750), Providence (5-0-0-2, 0.714) and St. John’s (5-0-1-1, 0.714) in that department.
Roster Moves: The Red Wings on Saturday reassigned right wing Andrej Nestrasil and defenseman Gleason Fournier to the Griffins from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye and on Monday reassigned defenseman Max Nicastro to the Griffins from the Walleye. Nestrasil, 21, rejoins the Griffins after seeing his 11-game point streak come to an end on Friday night, but still sits second on Toledo in scoring with 31 points (10-21—31) in 31 games. Fournier, 21, has skated in four games with the Griffins this season, logging four penalty minutes, in addition to 10 games with Toledo, recording a plus-five rating and eight penalty minutes. Nicastro, 23, has picked up five points (2-3—5) in nine games with the Walleye this season, adding one goal in five games with Grand Rapids.
Milestones: Tomas Tatar notched his 200th professional point on Friday night versus Oklahoma City, in what was his 300th professional game. He also passed Kip Miller (75) and claimed fourth place in franchise history in goals after scoring twice on Monday versus Rockford, now sitting one goal behind Jamie Tardif (78) for third place. Tatar is also three points (176) from tying Jiri Hudler for sixth all time with 179…Gustav Nyquist logged his 100th pro point on Saturday at Chicago and is six points away from 100 as a Griffin. He’s also three games from 100 as a Griffin…Joakim Andersson is one goal from 50 as a pro and will skate in his 300th professional contest with his next appearance…Tom McCollum tied Pokey Reddick for seventh in franchise history with 35 victories after winning on Saturday and also passed Ian Gordon (95) for fourth all time in games played…Adam Almquist is three points shy of 50 as a pro.
Walleye Watch: The Toledo Walleye are currently tied for first place in the ECHL’s North Division with a 19-13-0-4 record. The team is currently on a four-game point streak, beating Fort Wayne on Monday and Kalamazoo on Friday before posting back-to-back shootout losses against Orlando on Saturday and Kalamazoo on Sunday. Willie Coetzee leads the team with 33 points (14-19—33) in 34 games, followed closely by Andrej Nestrasil with 31 points (10-21—31) in 31 games. After posting a 35-save shutout on Friday, Jordan Pearce ranks among the ECHL’s top goaltenders with a 2.53 goals against average (T10th), a 0.908 save percentage (16th), 10 wins (T16th) and two shutouts (T4th). The Walleye will be playing with a shorthanded lineup this week as, in addition to Nestrasil, Gleason Fournier and Max Nicastro being reassigned to Grand Rapids by Detroit, Chicago reassigned forwards Terry Broadhurst and Brandon Svendsen and defenseman Ben Youds to Rockford, leaving Toledo without five of its top seven scorers. The Walleye will play three consecutive games in Florida this week, taking on the Everblades on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Wed., Jan. 9 at Rockford IceHogs (17-16-1-1) – BMO Harris Bank Arena – 8:05 p.m. EST
Fri., Jan. 11 at Rockford IceHogs – BMO Harris Bank Arena – 8:05 p.m. EST
TV: 23 Weather Now (WIFR-DT 23.2 Rockford) at 8:05 p.m. each night. Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. each night. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 11-13-3-3 Overall, 2-7-2-2 Road. Season Series: 3-0-1-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Fifth and sixth of eight meetings overall, first and second of four in Rockford. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (2nd season). Notes: The IceHogs have lost three straight games and currently trail the Griffins by seven points in the Midwest Division…Martin St. Pierre leads Rockford with 31 points (14-17—31) in 35 games, which ties for 14th in the AHL…IceHogs netminder Carter Hutton ranks third in the league in minutes at 1,582:05 and is tied for third with 13 losses…Rockford defenseman Adam Clendening is tied for 11th among rookies and for seventh among league blueliners with 22 points (4-18—22) in 32 contests…The IceHogs average the second-most penalty minutes in the AHL at 24.26…Rockford has the league’s fifth-best power play at 20.4 percent and is tied for 10th in the circuit in goals scored, averaging 3.03 per game…Rockford left wing Wade Brookbank was the 56th Griffins alum to skate in the NHL. Brookbank led Grand Rapids with 337 penalty minutes during the 2000-01 season, the fourth-highest single season total in franchise history…Rockford defenseman Brett Lebda was the 70th Griffins alum to graduate to the NHL. Lebda had 31 points (6-25—31) in 111 games with Grand Rapids from 2003-06 and won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008.
Sat., Jan. 12 vs. Peoria Rivermen (14-17-2-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 20-24-2-2 Overall, 7-14-2-1 Home. Season Series: 2-2-0-0 Overall, 0-2-0-0 Home. Fifth of 10 meetings overall, third of five in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Dave Allison (1st season). Notes: Two of the Griffins’ four regulation divisional losses have come to Peoria…The Rivermen have dropped three straight games…T.J. Hensick leads Peoria with 30 points (9-21—30) in 35 games…Rivermen forward Jaden Schwartz shares the AHL lead with four shootout goals…Peoria goaltender Jake Allen is second in the league with 14 losses…The Rivermen have struggled on the power play, ranking 28th in the league at 10.9 percent, but their penalty killing has improved to 13th in the AHL at 84.3 percent…Peoria head coach Dave Allison was the first-ever Griffins head coach, sporting a 70-55-19 record from 1996-98…Griffins defenseman Brennan Evans spent the past two seasons with Peoria, registering 21 points (5-16—21) and 238 penalty minutes.