This Week’s Games
Fri., March 8 - Hamilton Bulldogs vs. GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., March 9 - Lake Erie Monsters vs. GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., March 10 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 5 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., March 1 - GRIFFINS 5 at Milwaukee Admirals 1 - 31-18-2-2, 66 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sat., March 2 - GRIFFINS 1 at Peoria Rivermen 4 - 31-19-2-2, 66 pts. (1st)
Sun., March 3 - GRIFFINS 5 at Milwaukee Admirals 1 - 32-19-2-2, 68 pts. (1st)
Roller Coaster Weekend: The Griffins started a weekend three-in-three on the right foot last Friday, defeating the Milwaukee Admirals 5-1. After Francis Pare opened the scoring with his 98th goal as a Griffin, the Admirals evened the score before the end of the period. But Gustav Nyquist scored a pair of goals – giving him three consecutive three-point games – and Luke Glendening and Jan Mursak added one each to end the team’s three-game road losing skid. Luck did not follow the Griffins to Peoria on Saturday, where the team fell 4-1 to the Rivermen despite another goal from Nyquist and 28 saves from Petr Mrazek. The weekend ended with a second 5-1 victory over the Admirals, as the team’s offense was led by a pair of goals from Jeff Hoggan and insurance tallies by Andrej Nestrasil, Tomas Jurco and Mursak.
On Tap: For the third straight week, the Griffins will play three games in three days, marking the team’s seventh three-in-three this season. The team will open up the stretch with a pair of home games, hosting the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday at 7 p.m. and the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday at 7 p.m. On Sunday, the team will play the fourth of this month’s 11 road games in Hamilton at 5 p.m. The Griffins will play three of their next four games (March 8-13) at Van Andel Arena, but face 11 road games among their next 15 (March 8-April 6). Grand Rapids currently holds a five-point lead over Chicago in the Midwest Division, ranking second in the Western Conference and eighth in the AHL.
Important Game, Important Cause: Navy blue, red, metallic silver and metallic gold are the official team colors of the Griffins, but purple will also be included this Friday, when the team hosts its second annual “Purple Community Game” to benefit the Van Andel Institute and cancer research. When fans arrive for the 7 p.m. contest against the Hamilton Bulldogs, they’ll notice that nearly everything at Van Andel Arena will be in sync with the color associated with cancer survivors, including purple jerseys that will be worn by the Griffins, autographed and auctioned off to the public in the Fifth Third Bank Vault restaurant after the game, with proceeds benefiting VAI; 10,000 purple t-shirts that will be handed out as fans enter the arena; purple polo shirts won by the Griffins’ staff; purple concession items such as beer, cotton candy, sno cones, popcorn and cupcakes; purple VAI logos embedded in the arena’s ice surface; and purple game production elements, including songs, videos and LED graphics. In addition to the post-game jersey auction, a brand new set of purple Joey MacDonald goalie equipment will be auctioned off as well. Additionally, Haley Gort, a resident of Caledonia, Mich., who returned to her high school’s basketball team last month after battling cancer for two years, will drop the ceremonial puck before the game, and a salute to cancer survivors will take place during the first intermission. The Griffins are “purpling out” their web site and social media pages to call attention to this special night. The team is also offering prizes to fans who change their profile picture to a “Purple Game” badge, or who post on its wall or tweet about the game. Fans can also text “PURPLE” to 50555 to donate $10 to VAI.
Leading the Pack: Gustav Nyquist enters this week as the AHL’s leading scorer, boasting 57 points (22-35—57) in 54 games. Sitting just two games shy of his rookie season totals (56), Nyquist has already equaled his first-year goal production and is one assist and point away from duplicating the 58 points (22-36—58) that earned him a spot on the AHL All-Rookie Team. Additionally, Nyquist has recorded points in each of the team’s last six games, piling up 12 points (5-7—12) from Feb. 22-March 3. The Halmstad, Sweden, native also leads the club with 17 multipoint contests after registering three consecutive three-point games from Feb. 24-March 1.
Saturday Promotions: In addition to Friday’s “Purple Community Game,” the Griffins will host another popular annual event on Saturday versus Lake Erie in Star Wars Night. The 501st Legion returns for another year, with proceeds benefiting the Griffins Youth Foundation. Over 55 costumed characters will be roaming the arena and interacting with fans. In addition to light sabers and Griffins Star Wars-themed pucks and t-shirts being sold on the concourse, a photo area will be set up on the concourse for fans to get their picture taken with their favorite characters for a small donation. Fans can also bring their skates to the rink and take to the ice after the game, presented by J&H Family Stores. For select games, receive four tickets and $12 in concession cash for a great low price. The package is also valid for the Griffins’ game on April 13. Visit griffinshockey.com/f4p or call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2. Finally, fans can enjoy $16 in total ticket savings and unlimited popcorn refills when they purchase four or more Griffins tickets with the Saturday Night Popcorn Pack. The package is also valid for the Griffins’ game on April 13. Visit griffinshockey.com/popcorn for more information.
Pack Your Bags: The Griffins have held sole possession of the top spot in the Midwest Division since a Dec. 31 victory versus Rockford, but they also had the benefit of playing a home-heavy schedule. Prior to three consecutive games away from home last week, the club had played a league-low 22 road contests. This month marks the beginning of the busiest road month of the season for the Griffins, with a season-high 11 games away from home in March. The team began a stretch last Friday of 14 of its next 18 games on the road, with only four home dates in a 44-day span (Feb. 25-April 9). Three of those home games will be played in a six-day span (March 8-13). The stretch also includes a season-high seven-game road trip to open up the final month of the season (March 28-April 6). The Griffins have excelled on the road for much of the season with a 15-9-0-1 road record, which is the fifth-best road winning percentage (0.620) in the AHL, trailing Syracuse (0.710), Texas (0.683), Charlotte (0.677) and Springfield (0.660). Grand Rapids also has the AHL’s best offense away from home, averaging 3.72 goals per game, as well as a road power play that ranks fifth in the league (20.6 percent).
Lampl Released: The Griffins on Monday released defenseman Cody Lampl from his professional tryout. A native of Ketchum, Idaho, Lampl is in his fourth professional season and has registered 13 points and 92 penalty minutes in 53 games with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye this season. The 26-year-old blueliner recorded an assist in his Griffins debut after Tomas Jurco tapped home a rebound from his shot during Sunday’s 5-1 win at Milwaukee. Lampl has logged 55 points (7-48—55) and 285 penalty minutes in 203 career ECHL games with the Las Vegas Wranglers, Idaho Steelheads, Utah Grizzlies and Walleye. He also appeared in one AHL contest with Abbotsford during the 2010-11 season.
Familiar Faces: In each of Detroit’s last four games, the team has deployed a defensive unit that should look very familiar to Griffins fans. For the first time in the history of the teams’ affiliations, all three defensive pairings were comprised of former Griffins: Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, Brian Lashoff, Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith. The team has posted a 2-1-1 record with that defensive corps, allowing just six goals in that span. They lost to Los Angeles 2-1 last Wednesday before splitting a pair of shootout decisions by the same score – a 2-1 win at San Jose on Thursday, and a 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago on Sunday – and beating Colorado 2-1 at home on Tuesday.
More League Leaders: In addition to Gustav Nyquist’s AHL-leading 57 points (22-35—57) in 54 games, the Griffins have several more players who rank among league leaders…Landon Ferraro leads the circuit with six shorthanded points (3-3—6)…Petr Mrazek ranks among the league’s top goaltenders with a 2.34 goals against average (15th), a 0.915 save percentage (20th), 18 wins (T9th) and three shootout victories (T6th)…Riley Sheahan sits 10th among AHL rookies with 33 points (15-18—33) in 53 contests…Chad Billins is tied for 14th among rookies, for seventh among defensemen and for second among rookie defensemen with 31 points (6-25—31) in 55 contests. He is also one of two players in the league with a perfect three-for-three record in shootouts, along with Manchester’s Jordan Weal.
Heating Up: Gustav Nyquist has 11 points (5-6—11) during his team-leading six-game point streak (Feb. 22-March 3)…Nathan Paetsch has assists in five of his last five games…Francis Pare has picked up eight points (3-5—8) in his last six appearances…Chad Billins has five points (3-2—5) in his last four contests…Riley Sheahan saw a four-game point streak end on Saturday, but he has seven points (1-6—7) in his last six games…Jan Mursak has four points (2-2—4) in his first four games with the Griffins this season.
Milestone Tracker: Tom McCollum’s next victory will be his 41st in a Griffins uniform, which will tie him for sixth place in franchise history with Ian Gordon…Triston Grant skated in his 500th professional game on Sunday at Milwaukee…Jeff Hoggan notched his 300th professional point on Sunday, and he sits just one goal shy of 150 as a pro…Gleason Fournier’s next game will be his 100th professional contest, and Mitch Callahan is two games shy of the same mark…Nathan Paetsch’s next appearance will be his 300th in the AHL. He is also three points away from 200 as a pro…Francis Pare is two goals away from becoming the second Griffin to ever reach 100 goals. He is also two assists from tying Derek King for fourth place in franchise history
Motown Update: Tomas Tatar is tied for eighth on the Red Wings with seven points (4-3—7) in 15 games, which ties for 15th among NHL rookies…Joakim Andersson is 10th on the club with six points (3-3—6) and tied for fourth with a plus-five rating in 13 contests…Brian Lashoff has three points (1-2—3) and an average ice time of 18:30 in 19 games with Detroit this season.
Parkes Honored: The ECHL announced on Tuesday that Trevor Parkes was named the Sheer-Wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for the period ending March 3. The Fort Erie, Ontario, native racked up 11 points (6-5—11) in Toledo’s four games last week, including a pair of three-point games in addition to his first professional hat trick during a four-point night on Saturday versus Evansville. Parkes now has 15 points (8-7—15) in seven games with the Walleye this season, in addition to nine points (3-6—9) in 34 games with the Griffins.
Walleye Watch: With just 12 games to play in the regular season, the Toledo Walleye rank second in the ECHL’s North Division and are tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 31-20-5-4 record, having lost in regulation just three times in their last 18 games (10-3-5-0)…Willie Coetzee leads the team with 52 points (23-29—52) in 52 games, having racked up 15 points (5-10—15) and five multipoint games over his last nine contests…After just seven games, Trevor Parkes sits 15th on Toledo with 15 points (8-7—15). He has 19 points (12-7—19) in 11 career ECHL games…Jordan Pearce ranks among the ECHL’s top netminders with a 2.56 goals against average (10th), a 0.906 save percentage (T19th), 15 wins (T15th) and two shutouts (T8th). Toledo is on the road this week, visiting division-leading Cincinnati on Friday and stopping in Kalamazoo on Saturday.
Fri., March 8 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (23-27-1-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sun., March 10 at Hamilton Bulldogs – Copps Coliseum – 5 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. (Fri.) and ESPN 96.1 FM at 4:40 p.m. (Sun.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com (Fri.) and espn961.com (Sun.). All-Time Series: 33-32-1-0-4 Overall, 18-13-1-0-3 Home, 15-19-0-0-1 Road. Season Series: 1-0-0-1 Overall, 0-0-0-1 Home, 1-0-0-0 Road. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, second of two in Grand Rapids, second of two in Hamilton. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre (1st season). Notes: Hamilton ranks last in the Western Conference with 52 points, but it has won eight of its last 11 games (8-3-0-0)…The Bulldogs are without leading scorer Gabriel Dumont, who has 30 points (15-15—30) in 52 games, currently with the parent Canadiens. Hamilton’s second highest-scoring player is Mike Blunden, who has 21 points (9-12—21) in 51 games…Hamilton netminder Dustin Tokarski is 4-2 with two shutouts, a 1.18 goals against average and a 0.960 save percentage with the team since Montreal acquired him from Tampa Bay last month. Tokarski owns a 22-10-4 record between Syracuse and Hamilton, sitting eighth in the league with a 2.26 goals against average and tying for third with five shutouts…Hamilton’s power play ranks last in the AHL at 10.3 percent…The Bulldogs have the league’s best penalty kill at home (90.8 percent) and second worst on the road (76.1 percent)…Hamilton has earned a league-low 19 points on the road, sitting at 8-16-0-3…The Bulldogs rank 29th in the league on offense, averaging 2.16 goals per game…Hamilton forward Zach Stortini ranks sixth in the AHL with 187 penalty minutes.
Sat., March 9 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (27-23-2-7) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. (Fri.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 23-13-2-4 Overall, 15-6-0-0 Home. Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Third of six meetings overall, second of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Dean Chynoweth (1st season). Notes: Lake Erie has struggled of late, winning just three of their last 15 games (3-7-0-5)…The Monsters haven’t won on the road since Jan. 19, going 0-2-0-3 in that stretch…A pair of rookies share the scoring lead for Lake Erie. Mike Sgarbossa has 39 points (17-22—39) in 42 games and Andrew Agozzino has 39 points (14-25—39) in 59 games, as the duo is tied for fifth in the AHL in rookie scoring…Sgarbossa leads the AHL with a 25.4 shooting percentage…Monsters defenseman Thomas Pock is tied for 14th among AHL blueliners with 28 points (9-19—28) in 55 games…Lake Erie is 10th in the league on the power play at 17.9 percent…All four goalies who have suited up for the Monsters this season (Calvin Pickard, Sami Aittokallio, Kent Patterson and Kieran Millan) are AHL rookies…Griffins defenseman Brett Skinner had 28 points (3-25—28) in 73 games with Lake Erie in 2009-10.