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GRIFFINS TRY TO REKINDLE ROAD MAGIC

Eleven of Next 15 Games to be Played Away From Van Andel Arena

This Week’s Games

Fri., Jan. 7 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Sat., Jan. 8 - GRIFFINS at Cleveland Barons - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Sun., Jan. 9 - GRIFFINS at Cleveland Barons - 5 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results
Tue., Dec. 28 - Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 5 at GRIFFINS 4 - 18-12-1-1, 38 pts. (3rd, West Division)

Fri., Dec. 31 - Hamilton Bulldogs 5 at GRIFFINS 0 - 18-13-1-1, 38 pts. (3rd)



Road Sweet Road: The Griffins own the AHL’s second-best road record (10-3-0-1, 0.750) and the best road start in franchise history (tying the 21 points – 9-2-1-2 – earned in 2002-03), despite dropping three straight decisions away from home. Their track record will be put to the test as they’ll play their next three games and 11 of their next 15 contests on the road, beginning this Friday in Hamilton. Those 11 opponents currently boast a cumulative winning percentage of 0.600. The Griffins’ success in foreign territory stands in contrast to their record at Van Andel Arena, where they’ve won just eight of their 19 outings (8-10-1-0, 0.447).

New Year’s Tradition: Friday’s crowd of 9,420 was the Griffins’ second-largest of the season and their largest New Year’s Eve audience since 1998. Grand Rapids, which has hosted a New Year’s Eve celebration in eight of its nine seasons, is now 2-6 when ending the year at home.

Auld Lang Syne: Grand Rapids finished 2004 with a calendar-year record of 42-31-5-1 (0.570).

Unfamiliar Territory: Friday’s 5-0 loss to Hamilton extended the Griffins’ winless streak to a franchise record-tying seven games (0-6-0-1) and marked the first time they’ve ever lost five consecutive home games in regulation. The Griffins’ current winless streak matches franchise-record seven-game slides from Nov. 12-24, 1998 (0-7-0) and Jan. 5-17, 1998 (0-6-1). Grand Rapids’ five straight regulation losses at home surpass the previous team record of four set from Dec. 29, 1997-Jan. 9, 1998 and equaled from Nov. 12-21, 1998. The longest winless streak ever for the Griffins at home was six games; they went 0-5-1 from Dec. 20, 1997-Jan. 9, 1998, and 0-4-2 from Dec. 5-31, 1998.

By the Numbers: Since claiming a 4-2 win at Utah on Dec. 15, the Griffins have been outscored 23-9 during their seven-game winless streak. The opponent has scored the first goal in six of those seven games, during which the Griffins have led for 9:45, have been tied for 156:41, and have trailed for 258:34…Since its 2-1 win over Utah on Dec. 4, Grand Rapids has been outscored 17-7 during its five-game home losing streak. The Griffins have not led at any time during the streak, trailing for 199:46 and being tied for 100:14.

Tip Your Hat: Joffrey Lupul’s three-goal performance for Cincinnati last Tuesday marked the first hat trick allowed by the Griffins at Van Andel Arena in exactly two years, since Milwaukee’s Wyatt Smith accomplished the feat in a 6-1 Admirals win on Dec. 28, 2002. Following Smith’s effort, Grand Rapids did not surrender a hat trick for 149 consecutive regular season games, until St. John’s Brad Leeb notched one in the Griffins’ 5-4 road win on Dec. 8. As a result, the Griffins have now allowed a pair of hat tricks in their last 11 outings.

Coming Up Empty: Grand Rapids has been shut out in two of its last four home games. Including the 2004 playoffs and 2003-04 regular season, the Griffins’ last five shutout losses have come on home ice.

Buck-ing the Trend: After beginning the season 7-0 against teams from Ohio – 4-0 against Cincinnati and 3-0 versus Cleveland – the Griffins have dropped two straight to each team from the Buckeye State.

Hard-Luck Joey: Joey MacDonald has suffered his first six-game winless streak (0-5-1) in four seasons as a pro and three seasons as a Griffin, despite posting a 2.51 GAA and a 0.919 save percentage (171-186) during the stretch. As a result, his cumulative GAA has climbed above 2.00 for the first time this season; at 2.06, it is at its highest mark since Jan. 31, 2004 (2.10).

Manlow Among Boys: Eric Manlow has lit the lamp in three of the last five games and eight of the last 12 contests, including a five-game goal streak (Dec. 7-15) that ended one game shy of the franchise record. He leads the Griffins with 14 goals and six power play tallies, places second with 24 points and ties for fourth with 10 assists.

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald ranks among the AHL’s leaders with 14 wins (T6th), four shutouts (T2nd) and a 2.06 GAA (8th)…Niklas Kronwall, who leads the Griffins in scoring, ranks first among league blueliners with 27 points and nine goals, while his 18 assists tie for fifth…Eric Himelfarb’s 17 points (8-9—17) tie for third on the Griffins and tie for 11th among AHL rookies. He leads all first-year players with two shorthanded goals.

Upcoming Milestone: Todd Robinson, who stands fifth on the Griffins with 16 points and second with 13 assists, needs just one point to reach 500 for his pro career (138-360—498).

Missing in Action: Jiri Hudler, who is currently in the Czech Republic alongside his ailing father, has missed the last 17 Griffins games…Tomas Kopecky has missed the last 16 games due to a broken finger…Kory Karlander has sat out the last eight games after suffering a broken left foot.

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
• Power Play: 28-for-188, 14.9% (T15th)
• Penalty Killing: 165-for-188, 87.8% (5th)
• Penalty Minutes: 21.27 avg. (24th)
• Goals For: 2.42 avg. (18th)
• Goals Against: 2.30 avg. (3rd)
• Shots For: 29.45 avg. (19th)
• Shots Against: 29.64 avg. (11th)
• Attendance: 6,110 avg. (10th)

This Week’s Scouting Report


Fri., Jan. 7 at Hamilton Bulldogs (13-15-4-3) – Copps Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, first of two in Hamilton. All-Time Series: 7-3-1-0 Overall, 4-1-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliations: Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Doug Jarvis (2nd season). Dog Eat Dog World: The Griffins have won their last three visits to Hamilton, but the Bulldogs took a 5-0 win at Van Andel Arena on New Year’s Eve, this season’s only meeting to date…Hamilton’s power play had ranked last in the AHL until its 4-for-10 performance against the Griffins on Friday…The Bulldogs have points in each of their last four home games (2-0-1-1), while the Griffins have lost their last three on the road (0-2-0-1).

Sat., Jan. 8 at Cleveland Barons (15-15-1-2) – Gund Arena – 8 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 9 at Cleveland Barons – Gund Arena – 5 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. (Sat.) and 4:40 p.m. (Sun.). Season Series: 3-1-0-1 Overall, 1-0-0-1 Road. Sixth and seventh of eight meetings overall, third and fourth of four in Cleveland. All-Time Series: 11-7-0-1 Overall, 4-4-0-1 Road. NHL Affiliation: San Jose Sharks. Head Coach: Roy Sommer (4th season). Spy Glass: After winning five straight, capped off by a 3-2 shootout victory over the Griffins on Dec. 22, the Barons have dropped three of four…They’ve won five of their last six at Gund Arena…Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (6-11—17) and rookie Shane Joseph (7-10—17) are among the AHL’s top point producers in their categories.

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