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GRIFFINS WRAP UP REGULAR SEASON WITH HOME-AND-HOME AGAINST LAKE ERIE MONSTERS

This Week’s Games
Fri., April 18    Lake Erie Monsters at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., April 19    GRIFFINS at Lake Erie Monsters    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
END OF REGULAR SEASON

Last Week’s Results
Thu., April 10    GRIFFINS 0 at Charlotte Checkers 3    45-22-2-4, 96 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sun., April 13    GRIFFINS 2 at Charlotte Checkers 1    46-22-2-4, 98 pts. (1st)

Monster Finish: A two-game set in Charlotte last week saw the Griffins fall to the Checkers 3-0 on Thursday before edging them out 2-1 in a rematch on Sunday. Thursday’s shutout marked the fifth time that the Griffins have been blanked this season; two of those losses came courtesy of the Checkers, and with John Muse doing the honors in both games. On Sunday, Cory Emmerton finally solved Muse at 19:21 of the first period after the goaltender blanked the Griffins for a total of 139:21 this season. Trevor Parkes scored the eventual game-winner, his sixth of the campaign, to further inch Grand Rapids toward what would be a second-straight Midwest Division title. The Griffins could have clinched the division with a Chicago Wolves loss to the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday, but the Wolves refused to be eradicated as they defeated a playoff-hungry Rockford squad, 4-2. The Griffins have another chance to clinch tonight if the Iowa Wild can overcome the Wolves in regulation at 7:05 p.m CDT. The Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena on Friday to battle the Lake Erie Monsters in their regular season home finale, before closing out the campaign with a rematch against the Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday. Both games will begin at 7 p.m.

Regular Season Home Finale Promotions: On Friday, fans can enjoy $2 hot dogs and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. Bring your skates to the rink and take to the ice one last time this season for the post-game open skate. The Griffins will wear their Red Wings-inspired Friday jerseys that will be autographed and auctioned off to the public after the game, presented by Huntington Bank. From 6-8 p.m. in Banquet Room B, fans can purchase an assortment of used Griffins equipment, including goalie gear, 2012-13 Wednesday jerseys and 2013 Calder Cup Playoff sticks, gloves and helmets. Ride the Rapid to and from any Friday game and enjoy complimentary fare by showing your ticket to the game. Visit ridetherapid.org for schedule information, routes and maps. College students can show their ID 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 a Griffins D-ZONE night. Avoid the concession lines and get your $2 beers and $2 hot dogs served to you in your seats. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to get your tickets today.

Midwest Playoff Race: The Griffins (46-22-2-4, 98 pts.) continue to lead the Midwest Division heading into their final two games, a position they’ve held since Nov. 3. Still, Grand Rapids has yet to clinch the division title over the second-place Chicago Wolves (42-21-5-5, 94 pts.), who kept themselves in contention for the title with a 4-2 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday. The third-place Milwaukee Admirals (38-23-6-7, 89 pts.) clinched a playoff berth with a 4-1 win over the fourth-place IceHogs on Friday. Rockford (34-31-5-4, 77 pts.) ties with the Charlotte Checkers for the ninth-place spot in the Western Conference, just on the outskirts of the playoffs. The Iowa Wild (27-36-6-4, 64 pts.) rank fifth in the division and are out of playoff contention all together. The Griffins, who are 6-4 in their last 10 games, have scored the most goals (233) in the Midwest while allowing the fewest (179). In addition, the Griffins squad has the fewest number of penalty minutes (924).

Playoff Path: The Griffins have secured at least a top-four playoff seed and home ice in the upcoming Western Conference Quarterfinals, but their playoff opponent is yet to be determined. As the Griffins aim to clinch the Midwest Division title, they will face the lightest opposition of any team in the Western Conference. Their remaining opponent, the Lake Erie Monsters, owns only a 0.480 winning percentage. The Griffins’ magic number for claiming their second straight Midwest Division crown is just two points over Chicago. In terms of the Western Conference, Grand Rapids ranks second to the Texas Stars, who clinched the Western Conference title with an 8-4 win at San Antonio on Saturday.

MIDWEST DIVISION

Team Points ROW Games Left Home Road Opponent's
Winning %
GR Magic
# Over (Pts.)
Magic #
Over GR
xGR 98 41 2 1 1 0.480 -- --
xCHI 94 35 3 1 2 0.520 2 9
xMIL 89 33 2 1 1 0.582 clinched n/a
RFD 77 30 2 2 0 0.582 clinched n/a
*IA 64 19 3 1 2 0.575 clinched n/a

 REMAINING WESTERN CONFERENCE TEAMS

Team Points ROW Games
Left
Home Road Opponents'
Winning %
GR Magic
# Over (Pts.)
Magic #
Over GR
yTEX 104 45 2 1 1 0.572 n/a clinched
yTOR 92 38 3 1 2 0.564 1 10
xABB 88 35 3 0 3 0.545 clinched n/a
RCH 81 32 3 1 2 0.546 clinched n/a
OKC 79 31 3 3 0 0.527 clinched n/a
CHA 77 33 2 0 2 0.561 clinched n/a
UTI 75 26 3 3 0 0.602 clinched n/a
*HAM 74 28 1 1 0 0.493 clinched n/a
*LE 71 23 2 1 1 0.662 clinched n/a
*SA 69 18 2 2 0 0.603 clinched n/a

xClinched playoff berth
yClinched division title
*Eliminated from playoff contention

Team Leaders:
Rookie Teemu Pulkkinen (30-26—56) continues to lead the Griffins in scoring with a team-high 30 goals, but defenseman Adam Almquist (4-48—52) is hot on his trail with the help of his 48 assists, which rank third among league scorers and first among defensemen. Mitch Callahan (26-18—44) ranks third and owns a team-high plus-23 rating. Pulkkinen has rifled off 197 shots, the most on the team, but Cory Emmerton’s 15.5 shooting percentage edges out Pulkkinen’s 15.2% for first.

Holy Moly, Goalies: Both Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum have provided the Griffins with boundless skill between the pipes this season, ranking among AHL goaltending leaders all season long. Mrazek ties for first with Chicago’s Jake Allen with a 2.07 goals against average, while McCollum own the next-best GAA at 2.28. Mrazek returned to the Griffins on Monday following a brief stint with the Detroit Red Wings, in which he earned his second career NHL shutout with a 23-save performance against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. His 2013-14 AHL resume also includes a 22-8-0-1 record and a 0.925 save percentage. McCollum earned first-star honors following a 2-1 win over the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday, when he blocked 35 shots and overcame a 36-27 shot disadvantage to earn the victory. The Sanborn, New York, native has played in net for 2,495:46 this season and owns a 24-12-0-3 record and a 0.922 save percentage. The duo could become the first Griffins since 2002-03 to earn the AHL’s Harry “Hap” Holmes Award for outstanding team goaltending. Grand Rapids has allowed only 179 goals, second to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 178, with two games remaining for each team. Marc Lamothe and Joey MacDonald earned the honor for the Griffins 11 years ago, while Martin Prusek, Simon Lajeunesse and Mathieu Chouinard won it for the prior 2001-02 campaign.

Helping Hands: Since returning from the Detroit Red Wings on March 25, center Cory Emmerton has regularly contributed to the team’s scoring, chipping in eight points (2-7—9) in eight games from March 28-April 13. In 51 contests with the Griffins this season, Emmerton has earned 44 points (16-28—44), a plus-15 rating and only 14 penalty minutes. In addition, Emmerton’s 15.5 shooting percentage leads the team among active shooters. The St. Thomas, Ontario, native has also appeared in 18 games with Detroit, notching two points (0-2—2), four PIM and 22 shots on goal. In 262 career games with Grand Rapids, Emmerton has tallied 155 points (50-105—155) and 80 PIM. Emmerton earned the 50th goal of his Griffins career by solving Charlotte Checkers goaltender John Muse on Sunday at The Time Warner Cable Arena.

#145: Defenseman Ryan Sproul made his NHL debut with the Red Wings on Sunday, becoming the 145th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. Sproul saw 18:25 of ice time – fourth-most on the club - while firing three shots on goal. The Mississauga, Ontario, native was recalled by Detroit on April 12 along with fellow defenseman Xavier Ouellet. Both Sproul and Ouellet remain with the Wings heading into the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs versus the Boston Bruins.

Calder Cup Cavalry: Thirteen players from the 2013 Calder Cup championship team logged time in Detroit this season, helping the Wings extend their playoff streak to 23 consecutive seasons. Calder Cup champions scored goals in 15 of Detroit’s 16 games prior to clinching a postseason berth. Last year’s AHL champs accounted for 28 of the Red Wings’ 46 goals during that span (Gustav Nyquist 12, Tomas Tatar 5, Riley Sheahan 5, Tomas Jurco 3, Joakim Andersson 1, Danny DeKeyser 1, Luke Glendening 1). The Red Wings will face the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the game schedule as follows:

Date
Matchup Networks
Friday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBC Sports Network, TSN
Sunday, April 20 at 3 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBC, TSN
Tuesday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. Boston at Detroit NBC Sports Network, TSN
Thursday, April 24 at 8 p.m. Boston at Detroit NBC Sports Network, TSN
*Saturday, April 26 at 3 p.m. Detroit at Boston NBC, TSN
*Monday, April 28 at TBD Boston at Detroit TSN
*Wednesday, April 30 at TBD Detroit at Boston TSN


* if necessary

Blashill Receives AHL’s Louis R. Pieri Memorial Award: Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill on Tuesday was named the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach for the 2013-14 season, as voted by fellow coaches and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities. Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., the 40-year-old Blashill helped the Griffins maintain prominence this season in defense of their 2013 Calder Cup title despite a large-scale roster overhaul. With a 46-22-2-4 record (98 pts.), Grand Rapids currently ranks second in the Western Conference and sits only two points from claiming a second straight Midwest Division title. Despite turnover which saw only four of their top 12 scorers from a year ago and just three of their top 10 playoff producers play a majority of this season in Grand Rapids, the Griffins have posted three separate seven-game winning streaks and have held first place in the Midwest Division since Nov. 3, never losing more than two consecutive games in regulation at any point this season. Grand Rapids ranks seventh in the AHL in offense (3.15 goals per game) and second in defense (2.42). Blashill’s influence has had a huge impact on the parent Detroit Red Wings as well, as he’s prepared 10 of his 2013-14 players for their NHL debuts, including nine as members of the Wings. All told, 18 members of Blashill’s 2013-14 squad were called up to play a total of 391 NHL games, and 13 players from his Calder Cup championship team logged time in Detroit this season, helping the club extend its playoff streak to 23 consecutive seasons. In February, Blashill became the first Griffins head coach in 12 years to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic, guiding the AHL All-Stars to victories over Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in both the skills competition and All-Star Game. The event, which took place at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland, marked the first international contests in AHL All-Star history. In 2012-13, his first season as a head coach at the pro level, Blashill led the Griffins to the Calder Cup, marking the first championship in the franchise’s 17-year history. Blashill was named by the Red Wings as the ninth head coach in Griffins history on June 25, 2012 after serving as an assistant coach for the parent club in 2011-12, when he helped the team to its 12th consecutive 100-point season and 21st consecutive postseason appearance. Blashill is the second Griffins head coach to be named AHL Coach of the Year and the third to be named his league’s coach of the year, following the selections of Bruce Cassidy in 2001-02 and Guy Charron for the 1999-2000 International Hockey League season. Each prior winner moved on to the NHL the season after his honor, with Cassidy taking the reins of the Washington Capitals and Charron joining the Anaheim Ducks as an assistant. The Louis A.R. Pieri Award, which was first presented in 1968, honors the late Mr. Pieri, a long-time contributor to the AHL as the owner and general manager of the Providence Reds and a 2009 inductee into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame. Previous winners of the award include Frank Mathers (1969), Fred Shero (1970), Al MacNeil (1972, ’77), John Muckler (1975), Jacques Demers (1983), Larry Pleau (1987), Mike Milbury (1988), John Paddock (1988), Marc Crawford (1993), Barry Trotz (1994), Robbie Ftorek (1995, ’96), Peter Laviolette (1999), Claude Julien and Geoff Ward (2003), Claude Noel (2004), Randy Cunneyworth (2005), Kevin Dineen (2006), Mike Haviland (2007), Scott Gordon (2008), Scott Arniel (2009), Guy Boucher (2010), John Hynes (2011), Jon Cooper (2012) and Willie Desjardins (2013).

Points Comparison: As the 2013-14 regular season draws to a close, many of the 13 remaining Calder Cup champions on the Griffins’ active roster have exceeded their performances from last year. In comparison:


                                                                 2013-14 Totals                                                2012-13 Totals

Player GP G A PTS     GP G A PTS
*Teemu Pulkkinen 69 30 26 56   2 0 1 1
*Adam Almquist 71 4 48 52   68 10 21 31
*Mitch Callahan 70 26 18 44   71 11 9 20
*Andrej Nestrasil 68 14 20 34   25 3 3 6
Jeff Hoggan 57 14 17 31   76 20 25 45
Nathan Paetsch 66 4 27 31   70 4 27 31
Landon Ferraro 68 15 15 30   72 24 23 47
*Brennan Evans
66 4 13 17   76 0 7 7
*Triston Grant
51 6 10 16   75 4 6 10
Louis-Marc Aubry 38 2 2 4   64 4 8 12
Gleason Fournier 25 0 2 2   30 1 5 6

*Exceeded 2012-13 point total
                               
                                             2013-14 Record                                                           2012-13 Record

Goalie GP W L T/SOL GAA SO    GP W L T/SOL GAA SO
Tom McCollum 45 24 12 3 2.28 2   31 18 11 2 2.63 2
Petr Mrazek 31 22 8 1 2.07 3   42 23 16 2 2.33 1

                   
Stocking Up: The Red Wings on Monday assigned goaltender Petr Mrazek to the Griffins. In addition, Detroit reassigned defenseman Richard Nedomlel and goaltender Jared Coreau from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye to their AHL affiliate. Mrazek, 22, earned a shutout against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday behind a 23-save performance, marking his second NHL shutout in just 11 career games. Detroit’s fifth choice (141st overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Mrazek has played in nine games with the Wings this season, posting a 1.74 GAA, a 0.927 save percentage and a 2-4-0 record. Through 31 appearances with the Griffins this season, Mrazek is tied for first among AHL goaltenders with a 2.07 goals against average, while owning a 0.925 save percentage and a 22-8-1 record. The Ostrava, Czech Republic, native was named to the 2013-14 AHL Second All-Star Team on April 10 along with Griffins defenseman Adam Almquist. Nedomlel, 20, has appeared in three contests with the Griffins this season, registering two penalty minutes and one shot on goal. The 6-foot-5, 231-pound defenseman wrapped up his season with the Walleye on Sunday, finishing with 18 points (8-10—18) and 150 penalty minutes in 60 games. Detroit’s eighth choice (175th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Nedomlel earned 84 points (17-67—84) and 295 PIM with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos prior to turning pro. Coreau, 22, has made five appearances with Grand Rapids in his first professional season and has posted a 0-4-0 record, a 4.39 goals against average and a 0.873 save percentage. The 6-foot-4, 208-pound goaltender has also appeared between the pipes in 20 games with the Walleye, registering a 1-12-6 record, a 4.03 GAA and 0.879 save percentage. Prior to being signed to a three-year entry-level contract by Detroit last April, Coreau spent three seasons with Northern Michigan University, where he posted a 15-19-4 record, a 2.70 GAA, a 0.919 save percentage and one shutout after starting in all 38 games during his junior year.

Three Prospects: The Red Wings on Tuesday reassigned left wing Andreas Athanasiou and  defenseman Mattias Backman to the Griffins, who also signed center Mattias Janmark to an amateur tryout. Athanasiou, 19, earned 95 points (49-46—95) and 52 penalty minutes in 66 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts this season, while posting 12 points (3-9—12) in 11 games with the team during the 2014 OHL Playoffs. The Woodbridge, Ontario, native tallied 59 points (33-26—59) and 43 PIM with the London Knights from 2010-12, before being traded to Barrie for a second-round pick in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection, a third-round pick in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection and a conditional second-round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection. Detroit’s fourth choice (110th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Athanasiou has notched a total of 162 points (78-84—162) and 82 PIM in 132 games since joining the Colts. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Athanasiou was named the OHL Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 16 after leading the league with eight points (6-2—8) in four games and owning a plus-four rating. A native of Linkoping, Sweden, Backman collected 21 points (6-15—21), 16 PIM and a plus-25 rating in 54 games with the Swedish Hockey League’s Linkopings Hockey Club during the 2013-14 campaign. Detroit’s fifth choice (146th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Backman potted seven points (0-7—7), six penalty minutes and a plus-four rating in 13 playoff games with Linkopings this season. In 2012, the 6-foot-2, 176-pound defenseman won a gold medal with Sweden at the IIHF World Junior Championship. A native of Danderyd, Sweden, Janmark was Detroit’s third choice (79th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Janmark has played three seasons with the SHL’s AIK from 2011-14, earning 61 points (32-29—61) and 90 penalty minutes in 118 games. The 21-year-old Janmark ranked among AIK leaders with 30 points (1st), 18 goals (1st), 12 assists (T6th) and 56 PIM (1st) during the 2013-14 season.

Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (21-44-4-3) finished their season with consecutive losses to the Kalamazoo Wings (3-2 OT, Friday), Fort Wayne Komets (4-3 SO, Saturday) and Cincinnati Cyclones (4-1, Sunday). This is the third time that the Walleye have not qualified for the playoffs since their inaugural season in 2009.

Scouting Report

Fri., April 18 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (30-33-1-10) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., April 19 at Lake Erie Monsters – Quicken Loans Arena – 7 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m each night. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 26-15-2-5 Overall, 16-7-0-1 Home, 10-8-2-4 Road. Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Home, 1-0-0-0 Road. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, second of two at both Van Andel Arena and Quicken Loans Arena. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Dean Chynoweth (second season). Notes: The Lake Erie Monsters rank fifth in the North Division, 13th in the Western Conference and 25th overall and have been knocked out of playoff contention...The Monsters have been to the shootout 17 times this season and post a 7-10 record, scoring 22 goals on 82 attempts (0.268%). Rookie Colin Smith ties for first among league scorers with nine shootout goals…Forwards Garrett Meurs (32) and Mitchell Heard (30) rank fourth and fifth, respectively, among league rookies in minor penalties, while defenseman Daniel Maggio (36) ties for fourth among defensemen. The Monsters average 21.55 penalty minutes per game…Lake Erie ranks 24th in goals for (2.55) and 23rd in goals against (3.07) per game…Center Mark Olver (15-33—48) leads the team in scoring, while left wing Andrew Agozzino (16-31—47) trails by only one point in second. Agozzino ranks first in goals on the team…Goaltender Sami Aittokallio shut out the Griffins, 4-0, the last time the teams met on Feb. 5 at Van Andel Arena.


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