01/28/2008 1:02 PM
Last Week’s Results
Come Back Again: The Griffins will visit Peoria this Thursday to begin a season-high six-game road trip. Nearly three weeks will pass between last Saturday’s home game against Chicago and the team’s return to Van Andel Arena on Friday, Feb. 15 versus Lake Erie. That game against the Monsters will in turn commence a five-game home stand that will feature a pair of celebrity appearances, including American Idol’s Phil Stacey on Feb. 16 and Hanna Montana’s Cody Linley on Feb. 23.
Attendance on the Rise: Saturday’s crowd of 9,802 was the Griffins’ largest since their opening-night sellout (10,834) on Oct. 20. Their attendance of 142,630 through 24 home games (5,943 avg., ninth in AHL) represents a year-to-date increase of 10 percent over 2006-07, when the Griffins eventually finished with their largest attendance in four years. Last season, Grand Rapids welcomed 129,650 fans through its first two dozen home games.
Close Race: The race for a playoff spot in the North Division is in full boil, with just six points separating second though fifth place. Fifth-place Grand Rapids is in the thick of the hunt, standing one point behind fourth-place Hamilton, four points in back of third-place Syracuse, and only six points behind second-place Manitoba.
Crime Doesn’t Pay: Darren Helm scored a rare penalty shot goal on Saturday versus Chicago’s Ondrej Pavelec, marking just the fourth successful attempt in franchise history and the first since Bryan Adams converted on Dec. 17, 2002. Grand Rapids, which had failed on its previous seven opportunities, is now 4-for-12 all time in penalty shots.
If I Could Turn Back Time: Excluding a 10-game winless stretch (0-8-0-2) from Oct. 28-Nov. 23, Grand Rapids has posted an 18-13-2-3 mark (0.569) in its other 36 contests.
Star-Studded Event: During Sunday’s AHL All-Star Skills Competition in Binghamton, N.Y., Jonathan Ericsson finished second in the Hardest Shot contest with a blast of 100.1 mph. He and Jimmy Howard, who stopped 15-of-19 shots in his three skills events, helped lead PlanetUSA to a 15-9 triumph over the Canadian All-Stars. Tonight’s All-Star Game will be televised live at 7 p.m. on Comcast Local.
Fare Thee Well: The Griffins on Sunday released left wing Neil Clark and defenseman Darrell Hay from their pro tryouts. Clark, scoreless in 14 games with Grand Rapids this season, returned to IHL Port Huron, while Hay, signed last Thursday, rejoined ECHL Idaho following his two-game Griffins debut.
Howard’s Heroics: Since the start of December, AHL All-Star Jimmy Howard is 11-8-1 with two shutouts, a 2.10 GAA and a 0.929 save percentage (565-608). Howard now ranks among the AHL’s top netminders with four shootout wins (T1st), 938 saves (4th), 2,061 minutes played (5th), 35 games played (5th), 16 wins (T5th), two shutouts (T7th), a 0.913 save percentage (T16th) and a 2.59 GAA (T18th). He owns an impressive 15-6-1 record this season when his teammates score at least two goals; in his last five losses, the Griffins’ offense has totaled four goals and has been shut out three times.
Bicentennial Celebration: During Saturday’s loss to Chicago, Ryan Oulahen became the 16th player in Griffins history to log 200 regular season appearances. He needs 30 more games to tie Derek Meech for 10th in franchise history.
M*A*S*H Update: The Griffins’ defensive unit continues to toil without the services of two of its veterans. Brad Ference (wrist) has missed 12 straight games, while two separate injuries have sidelined Garrett Stafford for six of the last 10 games.
Reversals of Fortune: Grand Rapids has posted a 9-5-1-2 record at Van Andel Arena since losing its first seven home games in regulation. Similarly, since enduring a recent 2-8-1-2 road skid, the Griffins are 2-1-0-1 in their last four games away from home.
Red Wings Jersey Auction: Twenty-three autographed, game-issued Detroit Red Wings jerseys are being made available for public bidding throughout the 2007-08 season through exclusive auctions that begin at griffinshockey.com and conclude after select Griffins home games. Online bidding, which begins at $250 per jersey, will establish the starting bids for silent auctions that will take place on the arena concourse during Griffins games. Subsequently, the highest bids from the silent auctions will serve as the starting bids for live post-game auctions. Online right now are the Dan Cleary and Chris Chelios jerseys, with silent and live auctions set for Feb. 15, and the Kris Draper and Jiri Hudler jerseys, with silent and live auctions at the Feb. 22 game. Proceeds from the auctions will benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation. For more information and a complete auction schedule, visit griffinshockey.com/fanzone/auctions.
Thu., Jan. 31 at Peoria Rivermen (27-13-4-3) – Peoria Civic Center-Carver Arena – 8 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 1 at Iowa Stars (21-23-2-2) – Wells Fargo Arena – 8:07 p.m.
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