This Week’s Games
Wed., Jan. 16 - GRIFFINS at Charlotte Checkers - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Thu., Jan. 17 - GRIFFINS at Charlotte Checkers - 7 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / Sirius XM NHL Network Radio / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 19 - GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs - 8:05 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 9 - GRIFFINS 6 at Rockford IceHogs 3 - 21-10-1-2, 45 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Fri., Jan. 11 - GRIFFINS 2 at Rockford IceHogs 5 - 21-11-1-2, 45 pts. (1st)
Sat., Jan. 12 - Peoria Rivermen 3 at GRIFFINS 2 OT - 21-11-2-2, 46 pts. (1st)
Halfway There: The Griffins will pass the midway point of their season this week, as Thursday’s contest in Charlotte marks the 38th game of the 76-game schedule. The team still sits atop the Midwest Division at 46 points (21-11-2-2), holding a six-point lead over a pair of teams tied at 40 points – Milwaukee (17-14-3-3) and Rockford (19-17-1-1). The Admirals and IceHogs are also facing pressure from below in the standings, as Chicago sits just one point back (17-12-3-2, 39 pts.) with games in hand, and Peoria is close behind at 38 points (17-17-2-2). Grand Rapids will finish a stretch of seven road games in a nine-day stretch (Jan. 5-19) this week, opening with back-to-back games against Charlotte on Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. and facing off in Rockford on Saturday at 8:05 p.m. EST.
Detroit Detour: In addition to playing three regular season road games in four days, the Griffins’ week was made busier with a stop at the Detroit Red Wings’ training camp on Tuesday night. Many Griffins suited up for a Red vs. White scrimmage at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Mich., as Team Red defeated Team White 4-2 in front of a packed crowd. Four of the game’s six goals were scored by active Griffins players, while several Griffins alumni factored in as well. Trevor Parkes opened the scoring for Team White late in the first period, while Jeff Hoggan and Louis-Marc Aubry exchanged goals in the middle frame. Nathan Paetsch scored in the late stages of the third period to seal the victory for Team Red. Fans were treated to a shootout following the game, as Griffins alumnus Jimmy Howard stopped all five shots and Brendan Smith scored for Team White to help the squad to a 3-0 shootout decision.
Unfriendly Territory: Grand Rapids will make visits this week to a pair of arenas that have not been kind to the team in the past. Wednesday and Thursday will see the team match up against the Western Conference-leading Charlotte Checkers. The Griffins are 0-2 all time at Time Warner Cable Arena, in addition to sitting winless in five total meetings with the Checkers, including a 6-4 loss at Van Andel Arena in the teams’ first meeting on Oct. 26. Saturday’s game will lead the Griffins back to Rockford’s BMO Harris Bank Center for the third time in 11 days (Jan. 9-19). Grand Rapids is 3-8-2-2 all time in Rockford, as last Wednesday’s 6-3 win there snapped a five game losing streak in that building (since Jan. 2, 2010) and marked the second in 13 tries. The Griffins are 4-1-1-0 this season against the IceHogs, with the first four games of the eight-game season series coming at Van Andel Arena.
Week in Review: The Griffins took on the Rockford IceHogs in consecutive contests last week, taking a 6-3 victory on Wednesday before falling 5-2 on Friday. On Wednesday, Brent Raedeke and Riley Sheahan put the Griffins on the board early in the first period, but Rockford battled back with goals by Jeremy Morin and Ben Smith. Sheahan tallied his second of the night to put the visitors back in the lead late in the second period, and Tomas Tatar and Jeff Hoggan combined for goals 44 seconds apart in the third period to seal the victory for the Griffins. Landon Ferraro added a power play goal midway through the frame before Peter LeBlanc struck for Rockford to make the score 6-3. Grand Rapids got out to a quick start last night, as Gustav Nyquist tallied 27 seconds into the game, but a four-goal third period by Rockford proved too much to overcome, as the home team skated away with a 5-2 win. The following night at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins opened up a 2-0 lead over the Peoria Rivermen early in the second period with goals by Mitch Callahan and Ferraro, but the Rivermen fought back and tied the game before the end of the second period with goals by Adam Cracknell and Brett Sonne. After a scoreless third period, Sergey Andronov sent the Rivermen to their fifth straight win in Grand Rapids
Rough and Tumble: While Rockford is among the AHL leaders in penalty minutes (currently ranking second with an average of 24.92 per game), Grand Rapids sits in the middle of the pack in that category. However, games between the IceHogs and Griffins have not been friendly this season, as last Wednesday’s contest surpassed triple-digits (111) in penalty minute numbers. After Friday night’s game, the two clubs have combined for 413 penalty minutes over the last four meetings (Dec. 9 and 31, Jan. 9 and 11). The Griffins have averaged 50 penalty minutes per game in those contests, and their average for the season would fall from 13th in the league (17.36) to the fourth-lowest (13.06) if those games were excluded. Additionally, Triston Grant took 34 penalty minutes on Wednesday, which set one franchise record and tied another. Grant matched the single-game record for penalty minutes in one game (set by Kyle Quincey on March 26, 2008 vs. Lake Erie) and surpassed the record for most penalty minutes in one period, as his 34 minutes were more than the previous record of 29, set on four different occasions. The most recent occurrence was by Kris Newbury, who logged 29 penalty minutes on Dec. 12, 2009 in the second period of a game against the Milwaukee Admirals.
Motor City Bound: The Red Wings on Sunday recalled defensemen Brian Lashoff and Brendan Smith from the Griffins. Lashoff, 22, is in his third professional season and shows 35 points (11-24—35) in 160 games with Grand Rapids. Originally signed by Detroit as a free agent in September 2008, Lashoff has six points (2-4—6) and six penalty minutes in 35 games with the team this season. Smith, 23, has recorded 86 points (27-59—86) in 152 contests with the Griffins from 2010-13, including 20 points (5-15—20) in 32 games this season. A first round pick (27th overall) by Detroit in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Smith made his NHL debut last season and notched seven points (1-6—7) in 14 games with the Red Wings.
Gaining Ground: While the Midwest Division still ranks among the tightest in the league – the eight points that separate first from fifth makes it the only division in the league separated by single digits – the Griffins have begun to pull away after recording points in six of their last seven (4-1-1-1) and 10 of their last 12 contests (8-2-1-1). Grand Rapids leads Milwaukee and Rockford by six points, marking the largest division lead in the Western Conference and third largest in the AHL. Only Springfield’s eight point lead over Bridgeport and Portland’s seven-point cushion over Worcester in the Atlantic Division is longer. Additionally, the Griffins show a 12-5-2-1 record against Midwest Division opponents, which is the fourth-best intra-division winning percentage (0.675) in the league. They trail only Syracuse (13-5-0-0, 0.722), Abbotsford (10-4-0-2, 0.688) and Binghamton (12-5-1-1, 0.684).
Helping Hand: Veteran defenseman Nathan Paetsch currently holds the team’s longest point streak at four games, racking up five points (0-5—5) since Jan. 6. The LeRoy, Saskatchewan native ties for the longest assist streak of any Griffin this season, matching four-game runs by Francis Pare (Nov. 9-23), Joakim Andersson (Nov. 7-16) and Chad Billins (Oct. 19-28). Paetsch, who ranks fourth on the team with 15 assists, also holds the third-longest assist streak in the AHL, trailing Manchester’s Linden Vey (eight games) and Syracuse’s Alex Killorn (five games).
Elite Eight: Second-year right wing Gustav Nyquist has been heating up of late, notching points in eight straight games from Dec. 28-Jan. 11. The Halmstad, Sweden, native recorded 11 points (4-7—11) in that span, giving him the Griffins’ longest point streak of the season after beating out a seven-game streak by Francis Pare from Nov. 7-25. Nyquist is currently tied for sixth in the AHL in scoring with 36 points (13-23—36) in 36 games, sitting just two points out of fourth place.
Road Warriors: The Griffins concluded a four-game road trip with a 5-2 loss to Rockford on Friday, bringing their record on the trip to 2-1-0-1. Despite the two losses, the team still owns the fourth-best road record in the AHL, holding a 10-4-0-1 mark after playing a league-low 15 road games. Three teams own a better road winning percentage than Grand Rapids (0.700): Syracuse (16-3-0-2, 0.810), Charlotte (14-4-2-2, 0.727) and Springfield (12-4-2-0, 0.722. The Griffins can make up ground, playing three road games in four nights – two against the Checkers on Wednesday and Thursday, and one against Rockford on Saturday.
Milestone Man: Tomas Tatar continues to pile up milestones in his fourth season with the Griffins. With a goal and an assist in Friday’s 5-2 loss to Rockford, Tatar passed former teammate Jamie Tardif and now ranks third in franchise history with 79 goals, trailing only Francis Pare (91) and Michel Picard (158). Additionally, Tatar’s assist marked his 100th as a Griffin, becoming just the seventh player in franchise history to reach the triple-digit marker. The two points moved him into a tie with Jiri Hudler for sixth place in franchise history in points, sitting at 179. The only players to have recorded more points in a Griffins uniform are Picard (380), Travis Richards (238), Pare (213), Kip Miller (208) and Derek King (203). The milestones came exactly one week after Tatar skated in his 300th professional game and notched his 200th professional point, both on Jan. 4 versus Oklahoma City.
More Milestones: Gustav Nyquist skated in his 100th game as a Griffin on Saturday versus Peoria and is two points away from 100 with Grand Rapids…Nathan Paetsch is one game shy of 500 as a pro…Joakim Andersson’s next goal will be his 50th as a pro…Adam Almquist and Landon Ferraro are each three points shy of 50 as pros…Triston Grant is nine penalty minutes away from 1,400 as a pro…Tom McCollum will pass Pokey Reddick in wins with his next victory (currently at 35) to claim seventh place in franchise history. He’s also three games shy of being the fourth goalie in franchise history to 100 games played…Louis-Marc Aubry is five games away from 100 as a Griffin.
Walleye Watch: The Toledo Walleye struggled on a road trip last week, spending the week in Florida but dropping three straight games to the Florida Everblades on Wednesday (4-1 L), Friday (3-2 L) and Sunday (4-3 L). The team now ranks third in the ECHL’s North Division at 42 points (19-16-0-4). Willie Coetzee leads the team with 34 points (14-20—34) in 37 games, while Jordan Pearce leads the team’s goalies in goals against average, save percentage and wins. Pearce ranks among the ECHL’s top netminders with a 2.64 GAA (13th), a 0.903 save percentage (T18th), 10 wins (T18th) and two shutouts (T4th). Toledo will conclude a five-game road trip this week with stops in Fort Wayne on Friday at 8 p.m. and Evansville on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. EST.
Wed., Jan. 16 at Charlotte Checkers (23-11-2-3) – Time Warner Cable Arena – 7 p.m.
Thu. Jan. 17 at Charlotte Checkers – Time Warner Cable Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. on Wed., ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:40 p.m. and Sirius XM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92) at 7 p.m. on Thu. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com (Wed.) and espn961.com (Thu.). All-Time Series: 0-5-0-0 Overall, 0-2-0-0 Road. Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. First and second of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Charlotte. NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes. Head Coach: Jeff Daniels (3rd season). Notes: Charlotte leads the Western Conference and sits second in the AHL with 51 points through 39 games…Checkers goaltender Justin Peters ranks 11th in the AHL with a 2.35 goals against average and is tied for second with four shutouts…Charlotte has been strong on special teams this season, ranking seventh in the league on the power play (20 percent) and sitting fourth in penalty killing (85.7 percent)…The Checkers are on a six-game point streak (5-0-1-0), which is tied for the longest such streak currently in the AHL (along with Texas)…Nine players were recalled to Carolina from Charlotte earlier this week: Zach Boychuk, Justin Faulk, Drayson Bowman, Bobby Sanguinetti, Tim Wallace, Riley Nash, Jeremy Welsh, Brett Sutter and Dan Ellis.
Sat., Jan. 19 at Rockford IceHogs (19-17-1-1) – BMO Harris Bank Arena – 8:05 p.m. EST
TV: 23 Weather Now (WIFR-DT 23.2 Rockford) at 8:05 p.m. Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 12-14-3-3 Overall, 3-8-2-2 Road. Season Series: 4-1-1-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Road. Seventh of eight meetings overall, third of four in Rockford. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (2nd season). Notes: Rockford is currently tied for second in the Midwest Division, sitting six points behind Grand Rapids…The IceHogs are led in scoring by Martin St. Pierre, who is tied for 13th in the AHL with 33 points (14-19—33) in 38 games…Rockford’s Brandon Bollig is third in the AHL with 157 penalty minutes…IceHogs defenseman Adam Clendening is tied for 13th among rookies and for eighth among all defensemen with 23 points (4-19—23) in 35 games…Rockford netminder Carter Hutton is tied for second in the league with 14 losses and ranks thirds in minutes at 1,762:40…The IceHogs average the second-most penalty minutes in the AHL at 24.92…Seven IceHogs were recalled to Chicago this week: Brandon Pirri, Marcus Kruger, reigning CCM AHL Player of the Week Brandon Saad, Nick Leddy, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Bollig and Ryan Stanton…Rockford left wing Wade Brookbank was the 56th Griffins alum to skate in the NHL. Brookbank led Grand Rapids with 337 penalty minutes during the 2000-01 season, the fourth-highest single season total in franchise history…Rockford defenseman Brett Lebda was the 70th Griffins alum to graduate to the NHL. Lebda had 31 points (6-25—31) in 111 games with Grand Rapids from 2003-06 and won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008.