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IT'S BEEN SUCH A LONG TIME


This Week’s Games
Wed., April 2 - GRIFFINS at Toronto Marlies - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Fri., April 4 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Sat., April 5 - GRIFFINS at Rochester Americans - 7:35 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Sun., April 6 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 4 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Wed., March 26 - Lake Erie Monsters 1 at GRIFFINS 6 - 28-36-2-5, 63 pts. (5th, North Division) 

Fri., March 28 - Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 2 SO - 28-36-2-6, 64 pts. (5th) 

Sat., March 29 - Rochester Americans 5 at GRIFFINS 2 - 28-37-2-6, 64 pts. (5th)
 

Sun., March 30 - GRIFFINS 4 at Chicago Wolves 6 - 28-38-2-6, 64 pts. (5th)

Long Time, No See: The Houston Aeros, previously one of Grand Rapids’ fiercest and most frequent rivals, will make their only Van Andel Arena appearance of the season this Friday, part of a four-games-in-five-nights set that the Griffins will face for the second straight week. The Aeros paid 16 visits to West Michigan over the Griffins’ first three AHL campaigns (2001-04), but Friday’s game will mark just their ninth appearance in the last four seasons and their first since taking a 4-3 shootout win here on Oct. 21, 2006.

Dollar Deals: Friday’s game versus Houston will again feature the popular Dollar Dogs/Dollar Beers promotion, with $1 hot dogs and 21 oz. domestic drafts starting at 6 p.m. (until 8 p.m. or while supplies last). Ticket promotions include the Wendy’s Family Four Pack, Bono’s Pit BBQ Student Night and Library Night. Click here for complete details. In addition, Friday marks the final redemption date for the “Griff’s Reading Goals” program. Children who’ve completed the required three hours of reading can redeem their voucher for two free tickets to this game, subject to availability. Due to anticipated demand at the Van Andel Arena box office on game night, the Griffins recommend that redemptions be made at the Zone in advance of Friday’s game. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

End of the Road: The Griffins will conclude the road portion of their 2007-08 schedule this week with visits to Toronto, Rochester and Hamilton. They’ll need to win all three contests to avoid claiming sole ownership of the franchise record for fewest road wins (15 in 2006-07 and 1998-99). Grand Rapids is 7-21-1-3 in enemy territory since blasting out of the gate with a perfect 5-0 mark.

Packing Them In: Saturday’s sellout crowd of 10,834 at Van Andel Arena – the fourth of the season – brought Grand Rapids’ attendance to 248,274 through 37 home games (6,710 avg., sixth in AHL). That number represents a year-to-date increase of 2.5% over 2006-07, when the Griffins eventually finished with their largest attendance in four years. Last season, Grand Rapids welcomed 242,155 fans through its first 37 home games. The Griffins need to draw 26,384 over their final three home games (8,795 avg.) to register an attendance increase for the second straight year, something that the franchise has never accomplished.

Faithful Fans: Despite having been eliminated from playoff contention last Wednesday, the Griffins drew a total of 19,605 fans (90 percent of Van Andel Arena’s capacity) for their games on Friday and Saturday.

Turnaround: The Griffins have posted a 16-10-1-2 mark at Van Andel Arena since a 0-7-0-1 start.

Rare Air: Only 16 times in Griffins history has a player had a longer point streak than Darren Helm’s recent eight-game run (March 2-29), and only once has a rookie had a longer scoring streak (Jiri Hudler, 12 games from Nov. 23, 2003 to Jan. 17, 2004).

Alumni Ranks Grow: Darren McCarty made his Red Wings season debut on Friday, logging 5:03 of ice time during Detroit’s 4-3 home loss against St. Louis to become the 95th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. Clay Wilson, who appeared in 60 games for Grand Rapids during the 2005-06 season, became no. 94 last Tuesday when he made his debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets. On Wednesday, he scored his first NHL goal and notched an assist to earn first star honors in Columbus’ 4-0 win over Chicago.

Special Situations: Last Wednesday versus Lake Erie, Darren Helm scored a rare 3-on-5 shorthanded goal for his second tally of the game. Just last season, Ben Simon accomplished that same feat on March 10, 2007 during a 6-2 loss at Omaha…The Griffins’ power play has climbed up to 17th in the league at 16.3%, following a terrific week in which they converted eight of their 23 opportunities (34.8%) with the man-advantage.

There’s Your Problem Right There: The Griffins rank second in the league in shots per game (32.68) but just 22nd in goals scored (2.65). Discounting shootout goals that skew the numbers, opposing goaltenders boast a 0.920 save percentage versus Grand Rapids this season.

A Night of Firsts: One highlight of the Griffins’ third-period rally against Chicago on Sunday was the accomplishment of AHL-career firsts for three Grand Rapids players. Jason Jozsa logged his first goal at 16:55 off an assist from 19-year-old Cory Emmerton, who earned his first point on the play, and 18-year-old Zack Torquato lit the lamp at 18:39 for his first point.

Games People Play: Ryan Oulahen needs to appear in two more games to tie Derek Meech for 10th all time with 230 regular season games played as a Griffin. Ninth place Hugo Boisvert (232) is also within reach before the end of the season…Kyle Quincey is five games shy of becoming the 17th player in Griffins history to log 200 regular season appearances.

Climbing the Charts: Carl Corazzini, who has points in each of his last eight home games, scored his 11th power play goal of the season on Friday against Milwaukee, tying for the seventh-highest single-season total in franchise history. Also, with 247 shots on goal – already the fourth-highest total ever – he is on a pace to finish with 267, which would fall four shy of Donald MacLean’s team record set in 2005-06…Jimmy Howard’s career-high 51 games played place him sixth on the Griffins’ single-season list, one behind both Mike Fountain (2000-01) and Jani Hurme (1999-00).

Doin’ Time: During the Griffins’ 6-1 win over the Monsters last Wednesday, Kyle Quincey was whistled off for 34 minutes in the box, setting a new franchise record for most penalty minutes in a game (30, Chris Neil, 2/2/01 at Orlando). Quincey, who also tied Darryl Bootland’s mark of 29 minutes in a single period during the second frame, has moved into ninth on the Griffins’ career list with 378 PIM.

Models of Consistency: Jonathan Ericsson had his four-game point streak (3-3—6) snapped on Saturday…Garrett Stafford has points in 11 of 16 games (3-13—16) since returning from the Red Wings and in 14 of his last 20 Griffins contests overall (5-15—20), moving him into a tie for 12th in scoring among AHL defensemen (10-31—41). He is on pace to finish among the AHL’s top 20 scoring defensemen for the fourth time in his five pro seasons…Evan McGrath has points in 12 of his last 21 games (8-8—16), including seven goals in his last 11 outings…Carl Corazzini has points in 12 of the last 16 games (6-13—19).

Ironmen: Carl Corazzini, Jamie Tardif and Ryan Oulahen have played in each of the Griffins’ 74 games thus far. Should the trio appear in all 80 games, it would mark the first time since the inaugural 1996-97 season that Grand Rapids had as many as three players skate in every regular season contest (82 games played for Michel Picard, Jeff Nelson and Kevyn Adams).

For the Record: The Griffins will miss the playoffs for just the third time in the franchise’s 12 seasons…Grand Rapids currently sits 10 games below 0.500 for the first time in team history, ensuring its first losing record since the 1998-99 campaign…The Griffins have to win each of their final six games to equal the 34-win, 76-point output of that 1998-99 squad, which set the franchise’s low-water marks in each category.

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. Last up for online auction are the Brian Rafalski and Henrik Zetterberg jerseys, with silent and live auctions scheduled for the season finale on April 12. Proceeds from the auctions will benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation.

Scouting Report

Wed., April 2 at Toronto Marlies (46-18-3-6, 1st North) – Ricoh Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 10-11-0-0 Overall, 4-6-0-0 Road. Season Series: 3-4-0-0 Overall, 1-2-0-0 Road. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Toronto. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (2nd season). Notes: Toronto’s 101 points are tied for second in the AHL…The Marlies will ride an 8-0-0-1 streak into Wednesday’s matchup, having not lost in regulation since a 7-1 beating at Van Andel Arena on March 12…Coupled with the Griffins’ 6-1 win at Ricoh Coliseum on Nov. 28, Grand Rapids has dealt the Marlies their only two defeats by more than three goals this season…Toronto netminder Justin Pogge has sported a 0-2 record, a 5.78 GAA and a 0.771 save percentage in his last two meetings with the Griffins, after beginning his career with a 5-0 mark, two shutouts, a 1.50 GAA and a 0.957 save percentage in his first six clashes against Grand Rapids…The Marlies are an AHL-best 17-0-0-0 at home when leading after two periods.

Fri., April 4 vs. Houston Aeros (40-26-2-4, 4th West) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 29-22-6-2-6 Overall, 16-9-2-1-3 Home. Season Series: 0-0-1-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of two meetings overall, first and only in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Kevin Constantine (1st season). Notes: Aeros coach Kevin Constantine and Griffins broadcaster Bob Kaser worked together on the 1991-92 Kansas City Blades squad that won the IHL’s Turner Cup…In the last two months, Houston has climbed from seventh to fourth in the West Division…Nolan Schaefer stands among the league’s best with a 2.10 GAA (T2nd) and a 0.924 save percentage (4th), powering a defense that ranks second (2.39 goals per game)…The Aeros’ power play is dead last in the AHL at 13.5% while their penalty kill stands second at 86.8%.

Sat., April 5 at Rochester Americans (23-40-6-4, 7th North) – Blue Cross Arena – 7:35 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 16-15-1-1-0 Overall, 5-10-0-1-0 Road. Season Series: 2-5-0-0 Overall, 0-3-0-0 Road. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Rochester. NHL Affiliations: Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth (8th season). Notes: Rochester is on pace to finish at the bottom of the AHL standings for the first time since the 1980-81 season and just the second time in the last 37 years…In five games against the Griffins this season, Rochester’s Adam Dennis is 4-0-1 with a shutout, a 1.77 GAA and a 0.945 save percentage…The Amerks are 5-1-0-1 (0.786) against the Griffins and 18-39-6-3 (0.341) versus the rest of the AHL…Grand Rapids is 2-9-1-0 in 12 trips to Rochester since the start of the 2003-04 season.

Sun., April 6 at Hamilton Bulldogs (32-32-3-6, 4th North) – Copps Coliseum – 4 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 3:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 18-18-1-0-2 Overall, 8-11-0-0-0 Road. Season Series: 3-4-0-0 Overall, 1-2-0-0 Road. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Hamilton. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Don Lever (3rd season). Notes: The defending Calder Cup champions would be eliminated from playoff contention by their next loss, or the next point gained by Houston and win earned by San Antonio…Hamilton’s 5-3 win at Philadelphia on Sunday broke its 12-game winless streak (0-10-1-1)…The Griffins have one regulation victory (plus two shootout wins) in seven games against the Bulldogs this season.


Griffins Game Rewind

March 30 at Chicago
Recap (4-6 L)
WOOD Radio Highlights: 1 2
Official Game Report

March 29 vs. Rochester
Recap (2-5 L)
Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlight: 1
Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3
Official Game Report

March 28 vs. Milwaukee
Recap (2-3 SOL)
Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlight: 1
Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3
Official Game Report

March 26 vs. Lake Erie
Recap (6-1 W)
Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: 1 2 3 4 5
Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3
Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

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