Erstwhile NHLers Ville Leino and Manny Legace will face off at Van Andel Arena this weekend.
This Week’s Games
Fri., March 13 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., March 14 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., March 15 - Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS - 4 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., March 4 - Rockford IceHogs 1 at GRIFFINS 3 - 36-15-6-6, 84 pts. (2nd, North Division)
Thu., March 5 - GRIFFINS 1 at Houston Aeros 2 - 36-16-6-6, 84 pts. (2nd)
Sat., March 7 - GRIFFINS 5 at San Antonio Rampage 1 - 37-16-6-6, 86 pts. (2nd)
Three’s Company: Grand Rapids has won three of its last four games and has earned points in four of its last five outings (3-1-0-1) to stay within striking distance of first-place Manitoba in the North Division race. The second-place Griffins trail the Moose by five points and lead third-place Hamilton by six points. This weekend, the Griffins will play three home games in three nights for just the third time in their history and the second time in less than a month. They posted a 2-1 record while hosting three games at Van Andel Arena from Feb. 20-22.
On the Brink of 300: Grand Rapids needs three home-ice victories to record its 300th regular season home win. Through 519 games over their 13 seasons, the Griffins boast a record of 297-162-15-10-35 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) at Van Andel Arena.
Fun at the Van: The return of former Red Wings and Griffins goalie Manny Legace to Michigan as a member of the Peoria Rivermen is just one part of what’s shaping up to be a memorable weekend at Van Andel Arena. Fri. vs. Peoria: Friday the 13th could prove to be lucky for several fans. If the Griffins score with 13:13 showing on the clock of any period, one lucky fan will win a pair of full season tickets for the 2009-10 season. In addition, if Jan Mursak (#13) scores a goal, 13 fans will win a Griffins prize pack. It’s another Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs night, with $1 hot dogs and $1 domestic drafts available from 6-8 p.m. while supplies last, as well as College Night and Library Night ($10 lower-bowl ticket with student I.D. or library card). Sat. vs. Peoria: The first 2,500 fans will receive a Griffins tin lunchbox featuring Justin Abdelkader and Griff, thanks to Bethany Christian Services and Appletree Christian Learning Centers. Fans who bring their skates can take to the ice for the post-game open skate. Sun. vs. Milwaukee: The first 1,500 fans will receive a Jiri Hudler Detroit Red Wings jersey card, presented by Independent Bank. In addition, fans can purchase either a 12-oz. Pepsi product or a pair of Cole’s Bread Sticks (one Pizzastick, one Cheesestick) for just $1 at designated concession stands from 3-5 p.m. while supplies last. The game marks the final Reading Goals and Winning Wednesday (from March 4) redemptions of the season.
Save Those Tickets: This Friday’s home game against Peoria is the rescheduled date for the game that was originally set for this Wednesday, March 11. All tickets previously issued for the March 11 game will be valid for admission on Friday. Existing March 11 ticket holders who are unable to attend this contest must exchange them for tickets to any remaining 2008-09 regular season home game by taking them to either The Zone (during regular business hours) or the Van Andel Arena box office (on Griffins game nights) by Tuesday, March 10. For more information, please call the Griffins at 616-774-4585 ext. 3012.
Enjoy It While It Lasts: After staging five consecutive home games in a nine-day span from March 13-21, the Griffins will play only one of their final 10 regular season contests within the friendly confines of Van Andel Arena. They’ll embark on a franchise-record eight-game road trip that begins March 22 in Lake Erie and concludes April 5 in Rochester, before hosting Hamilton in their home finale on April 10.
Nine and Counting: Darren Haydar tallied a goal and an assist on Saturday at San Antonio to extend his team-high point streak to nine games (6-11—17), tying for the 13th-longest scoring run in franchise history. His streak is Grand Rapids’ longest since Matt Hussey registered points in 10 straight games from Jan. 19-Feb. 18, 2007. Haydar has points in 16 of the last 17 games (10-18—28), 21 of the last 24 contests (12-22—34), 26 of the last 30 outings (13-28—41) and 33 of the last 40 games (16-33—49).
Sunday Swaps: The Griffins on Sunday welcomed back right Aaron Downey on assignment from Detroit and released backup netminder Clayton Pool. Downey has two points (1-1—2) in four games with the Red Wings this season, with his goal in Saturday’s 8-2 loss to Columbus marking his first NHL lamp-lighter since Dec. 27, 2006, when he scored for Montreal in a 4-1 win at Washington.
AHL Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins today nominated goaltender Daniel Larsson for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he went 2-1 with a 1.34 GAA and a 0.958 save percentage in three games last week. He made 30 saves and was named First Star in Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Rockford, before stopping 35 shots in Saturday’s 5-1 victory at San Antonio. That win was his 21st of the season, tying him for ninth on the Griffins’ single-season list.
Standing “O” for Oulahen: On Saturday in San Antonio, Ryan Oulahen appeared in his 294th regular season game as a Griffin, passing Darryl Bootland (293) into third place on the franchise’s all-time list. He stands 70 games shy of second-place Michel Picard. Oulahen is the only Grand Rapids player to play in all 65 games so far, tying him with 10 other AHL players for the most appearances this season. In addition, his career-high 18 goals give him 52 as a Griffin and have him just four short of tying Travis Richards (56) for 10th place in club history.
Youth Shall Serve: Justin Abdelkader, the Griffins’ second-leading goal and point producer, ranks among the AHL’s rookie leaders with 47 points (3rd) and 21 goals (T3rd). His 47 points are tied with Kevyn Adams (1996-97) for second all time among Griffins rookies, eight behind record-holder Glen Metropolit (1997-98), while his 21 goals are tied with Chris Bala (2001-02) and Josh Langfeld (2001-02) for second among first-year Griffins, just one behind leader Adams…Francis Pare’s 40 points and 20 goals (tied) each rank fifth all time among Griffins rookies…Abdelkader and Pare have become just the third and fourth rookies in franchise history to eclipse 20 goals and 20 assists in a season.
Get Busy: The Griffins will run the 3-in-3 gauntlet four times over their final 15 games, beginning with this weekend’s three-game set at Van Andel Arena. Grand Rapids is 13-6-0-2 (0.667) this season when playing three times in as many nights.
Home Sweet Home: Grand Rapids’ 22-5-3-4 record at Van Andel Arena gives it the third-most home wins (tied), most home points (51) and fewest home regulation losses in the AHL. The Griffins have points in 18 of their last 21 (15-3-2-1) and 26 of their last 30 (20-4-3-3) home games. In addition, Grand Rapids’ 119 goals scored at home are tied with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for second in the league (Hershey – 134).
Honor Roll: Evan McGrath has points in five of the last six games (3-4—7)…Ville Leino has points in two of three games (1-1—2) since returning from the Red Wings…Ryan Oulahen has points in four of the last six games (4-3—7)…Francis Pare has points in four of the last five games (3-2—5)…Justin Abdelkader has seven multi-point outings in his last 16 games (7-12—19) as well as points in 12 of 17 appearances (7-13—20) since returning from a two-game stint with Detroit…Darren McCarty has points in four of five games (1-3—4) since rejoining the Griffins.
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Darren Haydar – 4th points (67), T8th goals (26), T7th assists (41), 1st power play points (35), T5th power play goals (13), T6th power play assists (22); Justin Abdelkader – 3rd rookie points (47), T3rd rookie goals (21), T7th rookies assists (26); Cory Emmerton – T11th rookie assists (25), T2nd among rookies in shootout-winning goals (2); Francis Pare – T5th rookie goals (20), T14th rookie points (40), T9th overall and T2nd among rookies in shooting percentage (0.198), 3rd rookie plus/minus (+18); Garrett Stafford – 6th defenseman points (38), T5th defenseman goals (10); Jakub Kindl – T16th defenseman points (31); Jimmy Howard – T17th save percentage (0.913), T9th shutouts (3); and Daniel Larsson – T8th wins (21), T2nd shutouts (5).
Milestones: Darren Haydar is three goals shy of 200 as a pro and four tallies away from 200 in the AHL…Jason Jozsa is seven games away from 400 as a pro.
M*A*S*H Report: Francis Lemieux (seven games), Tom Galvin (five), Jimmy Howard (five) and Jamie Tardif (one) have been sidelined recently due to various injuries.
Close But No Cigar: Nineteen of the Griffins’ 28 losses this season have been by a single goal (seven regulation, six OT, six SO), including each of their last three defeats and six of their last seven setbacks.
Come One, Come All: The Griffins stand third in the AHL in attendance with an average of 6,960, which represents a year-to-date increase of 5.2% over the first 34 home contests of 2007-08 (6,619). The team’s total attendance of 236,633 is its highest through 34 home games in six years, since the 2002-03 campaign (242,163).
Fri., March 13 vs. Peoria Rivermen (33-29-1-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., March 14 vs. Peoria Rivermen – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. (Fri.) and 6:35 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 10-9-1-1 Overall, 4-4-1-1 Home. Season Series: 1-1-1-0 Overall, 0-0-1-0 Home. Fourth and fifth of six meetings overall, second and third of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Davis Payne (1st season). Notes: Former Griffins Manny Legace and Carl Corazzini now play for the Rivermen. Legace played one game on a conditioning stint from the Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06, while Corazzini last season became just the third player in Griffins history to lead the club in goals (24), assists (36) and points (60). He also became the first player to ever lead Grand Rapids in games played (80, tied), goals, assists, points, power play goals (12) and game-winning goals (5), while pacing the AHL and setting a single-season franchise record with 274 shots on goal…With 68 points, Peoria stands fifth in a tight West Division race that sees the second and seventh-placed teams separated by only seven points…The Rivermen enter the week on a four-game winning streak…Peoria leads the AHL with 15 shorthanded goals.
Sun., March 15 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (40-16-3-4) – Van Andel Arena – 4 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 3:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 47-34-7-5-4 Overall, 28-14-2-1-1 Home. Season Series: 2-4-1-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Home. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Lane Lambert (2nd season). Notes: Milwaukee is 3-0-0-1 in its last four games, building its lead atop the West Division to 16 points over Houston…The Griffins swept a two-game set from the Admirals at Van Andel Arena on Dec. 19-20, their only two wins in their last 11 games (2-7-1-1) against Milwaukee, dating to last season…Each of Grand Rapids’ last six losses (0-4-1-1) to the Admirals, including all five (0-4-1-0) this season, have been by a single goal…Milwaukee’s Cal O’Reilly places among the AHL’s leaders with 62 points (T8th) and 51 assists (2nd)…Mark Dekanich (2.12 GAA, 3rd) and former Griffin Drew MacIntyre (2.34 GAA, T5th; 29 wins, 1st) rank among the league’s top goaltenders…The Admirals allow only 2.46 goals per game (2nd in AHL).