This Week’s Games
Fri., Dec. 6 Rochester Americans at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Dec. 7 Rochester Americans at GRIFFINS 8 p.m. WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Nov. 29 Texas Stars 4 at GRIFFINS 5 14-4-1-1, 30 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sat., Nov. 30 Texas Stars 1 at GRIFFINS 5 15-4-1-1, 32 pts. (1st)
Riding the Wave: Last weekend, the Griffins improved their winning streak to five games and extended their Midwest Division lead to seven points by defeating the Texas Stars in back-to-back tilts at Van Andel Arena. On Friday, Grand Rapids survived two late Texas tallies and held on for a 5-4 win. On Saturday, the Griffins shut down the Stars 5-1 with help from Patrick Eaves, who scored two goals in the contest. The Griffins’ 15-4-1-1 record ties for the best start in franchise history with a 15-4-0-2 mark from 2005-06, when the team won the AHL’s regular season championship. The Griffins have won 13 of 15 games after beginning the season with 2-2-1-1 record and posted a 10-2 record for the month of November. Currently, Grand Rapids’ 0.762 winning percentage is second in the league only to the Springfield Falcons’ 0.789.
The Midwest: The Griffins (15-4-1-1, 32 pts.) improved their Midwest Division lead to seven points over the Milwaukee Admirals (10-5-4-1, 25 pts.) and the Rockford IceHogs (12-11-1-0, 25 pts.), who are tied for second place. Grand Rapids has held on to the first-place spot since Nov. 3. The Chicago Wolves (10-9-0-2) rank fourth and the Iowa Wild (7-11-0-0, 14 pts.) remain in fifth place. The Griffins rank second overall in the Western Conference behind the Abbotsford Heat (17-6-1-1, 36 pts.) and third overall in the league behind Abbotsford and the Manchester Monarchs (15-4-1-3, 34 pts.).
Friday Promos: Friday’s game versus Rochester gives fans the opportunity to enjoy $2 hot dogs and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. College students can 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 D-Zone night, where fans can have $2 beers and $2 hot dogs served directly to their seats and also a 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 Promotions and DVD Giveaway: 2,500 fans attending Saturday’s game will receive a 2013 Griffins Calder Cup championship DVD presented by Southwest Airlines. The DVD features exclusive footage from the team’s Calder Cup-winning season, including Between the Benches, a series chronicling the Griffins’ entire playoff journey. Limit one DVD per family. Saturday is also Round Up at the Rink. Fans purchasing concession items at the game will be asked if they will round up their total purchase to the nearest dollar. All the money donated will be given to Make-A-Wish Michigan. Organized by Ryan Rabinowitz, a 15-year-old high school student and hockey player from Novi, Mich., the event is part of a statewide initiative to raise money to grant more wishes to children in need. Dozens of hockey arenas have participated or will participate in the event during November and December with the goal of raising $5,000, which can help grant an entire wish.
Home for the Holidays: The Griffins continue their longest home stand of the season (Nov. 29-Dec. 14) this week. The seven-game stretch will continue with consecutive games against the Rochester Americans on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. In the only meeting so far this season, the Griffins defeated the Americans 8-1 on the road during their season opener.
Van Andel Stand: After dropping their first two home contests of the season, the Griffins have won six-straight games at Van Andel Arena. The six-game winning streak is their longest in more than four years (eight straight from Oct. 23-Nov. 13, 2009). In each of those six wins, Grand Rapids has scored at least five goals, the longest such streak in franchise history (5+ goals in four straight home games from Nov. 15-Dec. 3, 2005).
Jump Starts: Grand Rapids holds an 11-2-0-1 record when scoring first this season and ties for first in the league with the Rochester Americans in goals scored in the first period (24). Grand Rapids has doubled its opponents’ scoring during the second period (34-17) while nearly accomplishing the same feat in the first period (24-13). Through 21 games, the Griffins have trailed after the first period only three times and after the second period only four times.
Griffins Leaders: Right wing Tomas Jurco (10-13—23) continues to lead the Griffins in scoring, just ahead of right wing Gustav Nyquist (7-14—21), who has earned a full-time roster spot with the Detroit Red Wings. Jurco is tied for seventh in the AHL in scoring with Linus Omark (11-12—23) of the Oklahoma City Barons. Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (8-8—16) ranks third on the team and defenseman Ryan Sproul (5-10-15) ranks fourth. Three of the AHL’s top-10 scoring defensemen are Griffins (Sproul-15 pts.-T6th, Alexey Marchenko and Adam Almquist-13 pts -T9th).
Flying High: After finding his footing at the end of the 2012-13 season, right wing Tomas Jurco has elevated his game even further this season. Jurco’s 2013-14 accolades include 23 points (10-13—23), a plus-11 rating, two game-winning goals and a 16.1% shooting percentage. Jurco has tallied points in 13 out of 21 contests and has also registered multiple points in eight matches, including a hat trick on Nov. 15 in a 5-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs at home. Jurco leads the Griffins in goals with 10 and ties with defenseman Adam Almquist in assists with 13. Jurco is already approaching his rookie season totals (14-14—28).
Goalie Mojo: Bouncing back after three consecutive losses from Oct. 18-25, Griffins netminder Petr Mrazek improved his winning streak to seven games and his record to 8-3 last weekend. Mrazek, who finished with 21 saves on Friday, has now won a career-high seven straight games for the Griffins and eight in a row overall, including his shutout victory for the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 2. His last eight-game winning streak came three seasons ago in juniors as a member of the OHL’s Ottawa 67s (Nov. 12-Dec. 3, 2010). Mrazek earned his second shutout this season on Nov. 20 versus the Milwaukee Admirals, when he blocked 16 of 16 shots. Mrazek ranks 11th in the league for goals against average at 2.29 and posts an impressive 0.918 save percentage. Tom McCollum, tied for ninth place with rookie Jean-Francois Berube of the Manchester Monarchs, ranks just ahead of Mrazek among AHL netminders with a 2.28 GAA. McCollum posts a 7-2 record between the pipes this season and enjoyed a six-game winning streak from Oct. 4-Nov. 6 to begin the season, tying with Mrazek’s 2012-13 franchise-best goaltending start.
Making Waves: Griffins defenseman Ryan Sproul (5-10—15) is tied for the second highest-scoring rookie blueliner in the league, and he ties for sixth overall among league d-men. Sproul (plus-12) ranks second among all AHL rookies in plus/minus and has enjoyed three multiple-point games this season: Oct. 4 at Rochester (two goals), Oct. 30 vs. Charlotte (one goal, one assist) and Nov. 6 vs. Rockford (three assists).
Plus/Minus: The Griffins hold the top three spots in the league for rookie plus/minus. Alexey Marchenko leads all AHL rookies at plus-13, Ryan Sproul ranks second at plus-12 and Xavier Ouellet ties for third at plus-10 with Sam Carrick of the Toronto Marlies.
Two For Me, One For You: The Griffins lead the AHL in goals scored per game, averaging 3.86, despite only having one active player in the AHL’s top 20 scorers (Tomas Jurco – 22 pts. – T7th). The team also ties for second with the Manchester Monarchs in goals against per game with 2.43, behind the Springfield Falcons’ 2.16, despite having no goalies in the AHL’s top eight (Tom McCollum is tied for ninth at 2.28 and Petr Mrazek is 11th at 2.29). Overall, the Griffins have outscored their opponents 81-51 and outshot them 660-603. The team’s plus-30 goals differential is more than 50% greater than the next-highest team (Binghamton Senators, plus-19).
Close Shaves: Aside from suffering a 5-0 loss to the Charlotte Checkers on Oct. 25, each of the Griffins’ six losses this season have been decided by one goal. Four of the one-goal losses came during regulation, and the other two were accounted for in an overtime (4-3 OTL at TOR, Oct. 5) and a shootout (5-4 SOL at RFD, Oct. 19).
Eaves Drops In: On Nov. 15, right wing Patrick Eaves was assigned to the Griffins by the Detroit Red Wings. Eaves, 29, has contributed at least one point in four out of five appearances with the team, including a two-goal performance against the Texas Stars on Saturday. The Griffins are 5-0 since his arrival.
Toledo-Bound: The Detroit Red Wings on Monday reassigned defenseman Richard Nedomlel from the Grand Rapids Griffins to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Nedomlel, 20, has appeared in three contests with the Griffins, registering two penalty minutes and one shot on goal. The 6-foot-5, 231-pound defenseman has skated in four games with the Walleye this season, producing two points (1-1—2), two shots on goal and 18 penalty minutes. Nedomlel recorded his first professional point on Oct. 30 with a goal in Toledo’s 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones.
Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (5-7-2-0) were shut out for the third consecutive time on Saturday, this time 3-0 by the Wheeling Nailers, despite producing 39 shots on goal. Forward Trevor Parkes (10-7—17) continues to lead the team in scoring, while Kevin Lynch (4-4—8) ties for third and Martin Frk (3-4—7) ties for sixth after making nine appearances with Toledo since his reassignment.
Fri., Dec. 6 vs. Rochester Americans (9-8-2-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 7 vs. Rochester Americans – Van Andel Arena – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. (Fri.) and 7:40 p.m. (Sat.) Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 34-22-1-1-3 Overall, 20-7-1-0-2 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 at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres. Head Coach: Chadd Cassidy (2nd season). Notes: The Griffins faced the Rochester Americans on the road in Grand Rapids’ season opener on Oct. 4, blowing out the Americans 8-1…Two Rochester players who once served as captains for the Griffins, Matt Ellis (2005-06) and Jamie Tardif (2009-11), are on the Americans’ roster…Rochester forward Frederick Roy is the son of Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy…Griffins defenseman Nathan Paetsch was a member of the Americans from 2003-06 and briefly in 2010-11, having been a member of Buffalo’s organization from 2003-10…Grand Rapids forward Triston Grant also played for Rochester in 2010-11, recording 13 points (7-6—13) and 144 penalty minutes in 56 games…Center Phil Varone (5-16—21) leads the team in scoring, followed by center Mike Zigomanis (7-9—16) and right wing Tardif (5-9—14)…Rochester (22 pts.) ranks third in the North Division behind the Hamilton Bulldogs (23 pts.) and Toronto Marlies (25 pts.)…Varone is tied for 12th in the league in scoring with 21 pts….Rochester has the AHL’s fifth-highest road power play record at 20.8% and third-highest overall power play record at 22.9%, but ranks 26th in penalty killing at 78.5%.