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LET THE GAMES BEGIN

This Week’s Games
Fri., April 26 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 8:05 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Sun., April 28 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 6:05 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results

Fri., April 19 - Peoria Rivermen 1 at GRIFFINS 3 - 41-25-4-4, 90 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)

Sat., April 20 - GRIFFINS 0 at Lake Erie Monsters 1 - 41-26-4-4, 90 pts. (1st)

Sun., April 21 - GRIFFINS 3 at Chicago Wolves 1 - 42-26-4-4, 92 pts. (1st)
END OF REGULAR SEASON

Best in the Midwest: The Griffins entered last week searching for some momentum to end the regular season, as they had tied a season high by losing four straight games. On Friday night, they ended that streak as well as a seven-game losing streak against the Peoria Rivermen, beating their division rivals 3-1 in the 10th and final meeting of the season. Brett Skinner and T.J. Hensick traded goals in the first two periods, as the game was tied at one until Tomas Jurco scored with 13 seconds remaining to put Grand Rapids in front. After an empty net goal by Jan Mursak, the Griffins captured the Midwest Division title – their first division crown since 2005-06. The following night in Cleveland, the Griffins ended up on the wrong end of a goaltender’s duel and fell 1-0 to the Lake Erie Monsters, after 29 saves by Calvin Pickard and 32 by Petr Mrazek. Jeff Hoggan helped the team end the season on a high note, potting two goals in a 3-1 win over Chicago on Sunday to seal the team’s 42-26-4-4 record, its highest win total since 43 victories in 2008-09.

Western Conference Quarterfinals
: After capturing the Midwest Division title with Friday’s win versus Peoria, the Griffins were locked into the Western Conference’s third seed, as they were unable to catch Toronto. A 3-0 win by Oklahoma City over Houston on Sunday confirmed that the Griffins and Aeros would meet in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Grand Rapids and Houston faced off six times during the regular season, with the Griffins taking the season series 4-2. The series will open with two games in Houston – Friday at 8:05 p.m. EDT and Sunday at 6:05 p.m. EDT – before the series turns to Grand Rapids for Game 3 on Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. Games 4 and 5 will also be at Van Andel Arena, if necessary, on Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3.

Thank You Fans!: With Friday night’s crowd of 10,829, the Griffins finished their home slate with an average attendance of 7,681 (291,892 total), giving them an increase for the third straight year and the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Hershey, which finished with an increase for the 10th straight season, is the only AHL team with a longer/better attendance trend since 2006-07. The Griffins finished fourth in the league in attendance, trailing only Hershey, Chicago and Providence.

Playoff Roster
: The Griffins on Monday set their 2012-13 playoff roster. The following 28 players are currently eligible to suit up for the Griffins in the postseason: goaltenders Tom McCollum, Petr Mrazek and Jordan Pearce; defensemen Adam Almquist, Chad Billins, Brennan Evans, Gleason Fournier, Richard Nedomlel, Max Nicastro, Nathan Paetsch, Brett Skinner and Ryan Sproul; and forwards Louis-Marc Aubry, Mitch Callahan, Willie Coetzee, Landon Ferraro, Luke Glendening, Triston Grant, Jeff Hoggan, Tomas Jurco, Jan Mursak, Andrej Nestrasil, Francis Pare, Trevor Parkes, Teemu Pulkkinen, Brent Raedeke, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar. Additionally, if assigned by the Red Wings, defensemen Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff and forwards Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist will be eligible for Calder Cup Playoff action.

Playoff Promos: Tickets for home Game A (series Game 3), which are included in Griffins full season ticket packages, are now on sale for $33, $27, $23, $19, $17 and $15 (additional $2 per ticket on day of game), reflecting a league-wide increase of $1 over regular season prices. Playoff tickets may be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets locations, by phone at (800) 585-3737, or through griffinshockey.com. In celebration of the team’s return to the Calder Cup Playoffs, the Griffins are adapting their popular Friday promotion and will offer $2 beers and $2 hot dogs for all home playoff games, including Fridays, from the time doors open until one hour after the start of the game. In addition, Griffins playoff posters will be handed out to the first fans through the turnstiles for Game 3, while 2,500 will receive a playoff rally towel courtesy of Auto Value Parts Stores following the game. Fans can also purchase a Playoff 4-Pack to receive four or more tickets to a playoff game of their choice to save $3 off of day-of-game pricing per ticket. Visit griffinshockey.com/tickets/specials for more info.

Hoggan’s Heroes: One of the hottest Griffins over the second half of the season was captain Jeff Hoggan. After recording 14 points (5-9—14) in the team’s first 38 games – leading up to the NHL season starting on Jan. 19 – Hoggan rattled off 31 points (15-16—31) in the final 38 games, including 14 (7-7—14) over the team’s final 14 contests (March 22-April 21). It marked the fourth time in his 11 years as a pro that he reached the 20-goal plateau, as he finished fourth on the team with 45 points (20-25—45) in 76 games. Additionally, Hoggan is the team’s lone Calder Cup winner heading into the postseason, coincidentally having won a championship with the Houston Aeros in 2003. That season, the Aeros and Griffins met in the Western Conference Finals, and Hoggan’s club took a 3-1 series lead before losing Games 5 and 6 in overtime and eventually defeating Grand Rapids in Game 7 at Van Andel Arena to advance to the Calder Cup Finals.

Ironmen: Chad Billins, Brennan Evans and Jeff Hoggan were the only three Griffins to skate in all 76 games with the team this season, becoming three of 25 players in franchise history to appear in every regular season game.

Making History
: In addition to becoming one of just 25 players in Griffins history to skate in every regular season game, Chad Billins made franchise history in two other categories this season. Billins finished the season in a tie with Clay Wilson as the Griffins’ highest-scoring rookie defenseman ever. The Marysville, Mich., native also tied for 18th in the league among rookies and finished 12th among defensemen with 37 points (10-27—37). Additionally, Billins’ five-for-five conversion in shootouts was both an AHL-best and a franchise record. No other player was perfect in the shootout on more than three shots, and only two players (Chicago’s Darren Haydar and Albany’s Mike Sislo) had more shootout goals at six apiece. Billins becomes the third player in franchise history to finish with a perfect shootout percentage (on at least three shots), joining Todd Robinson (2004-05) and Dave Roberts (2000-01), who both finished four-for-four.

Balanced Attack: The Griffins have benefitted all season from a balanced offensive attack. The team had five players who posted more than 40 points, nine with more than 30 and 14 with 20 or more. Additionally, five players scored at least 20 goals: Landon Ferraro (24), Gustav Nyquist (23), Tomas Tatar (23), Francis Pare (22) and Jeff Hoggan (20). Only the Rockford IceHogs can boast as many 20-goal men.

No Man Advantage: With an assist on a Jeff Hoggan goal on the final day of the regular season, Landon Ferraro reclaimed the AHL lead for shorthanded points during Sunday’s win at Chicago. Ferraro contributed to seven of the Griffins’ 11 shorthanded goals, which tied for fourth in the AHL. The second-year pro tied for third in the AHL with three shorthanded goals and tied for the league lead with four shorthanded assists.

All-Star MIA: On April 11, the AHL named Gustav Nyquist to the 2012-13 First All-Star Team, making him the sixth Griffin to earn the honor and the first since Donald MacLean in 2005-06. Nyquist, who missed 17 of the team’s final 18 games, still led the Griffins and tied for 12th in the league with 60 points (23-37—60) in 58 games. Nyquist was also one of three to represent the Griffins at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic, along with Chad Billins and Petr Mrazek, becoming the first Griffin since Niklas Kronwall (2004 and 2005) to be chosen to represent the team in back-to-back seasons.

Righting the Ship: The Griffins matched a dubious franchise record to start the season as they began with three consecutive non-wins (0-2-1-0) – something they had only done once before (2002-03). After starting the season with just one win in six games (1-3-1-1) and two in eight contests (2-4-1-1), the team rattled off eight straight victories from Nov. 3-24, vaulting from the Midwest Division cellar to first place. The win streak held up as the third-longest in the AHL this season, outdone only by nine-game runs by Binghamton (Nov. 10-Dec. 7) and Providence (April 5-present). It also began a six-game winning streak on the road (Nov. 3-Dec. 7), which tied for the third-longest road winning streak in the league this season behind Syracuse (nine games from Oct. 19-Nov. 25) and Hershey (seven games from Nov. 28-Jan. 8).

Memorable Night: A Jan. 19 tilt between Grand Rapids and Rockford will be remembered in many ways, as it was both the highest-scoring game in the league this season with a combined 17 goals (11-6 in favor of Grand Rapids) and the second-most penalized game in the circuit with a combined 230 penalty minutes (139-91 in favor of Rockford). The four assists and five points by Jeff Hoggan gave him one of the AHL’s best individual games this season, as only two players had better than five points in one contest (Oklahoma City’s Anton Lander and Rockford’s Brandon Pirri each had six-point games), and three players had more than four assists (Pirri, Milwaukee’s Brad Winchester and Hershey’s Jeff Taffe all had five assists).

Rewrite the Record Books: Several Griffins improved their status among the franchise’s all-time leaders, none more than Francis Pare, who, after sitting out the season finale at Chicago, ends his fifth season with the team at 363 games played and 237 points, just one behind Michel Picard and Travis Richards for second place in each respective category. Pare also ranks among the team’s all-time leaders with 102 goals (2nd), 135 assists (3rd), 19 power play goals (T8th), 12 game-winning goals (T6th), 17 first goals (2nd), 22 shootout attempts (T5th) and 853 shots (3rd). Tomas Tatar finishes the year ranking among franchise leaders with 87 goals (3rd), 109 assists (7th), 196 points (6th), 19 power play goals (T8th), 15 game-winning goals (3rd), 20 shootout attempts (9th) and 690 shots (6th). After joining the team on Feb. 23, Jan Mursak went on to lead the Griffins in plus-minus (plus-15), which moves him into a tie for ninth all time with a career plus-41 rating. Among goaltenders, Tom McCollum ranks among franchise leaders with 113 games played (3rd), 6320:02 minutes (3rd), 45 wins (T5th), 2,728 saves (3rd), three shutouts (T9th) and five shootout wins (7th). After just one season as a Griffin, Petr Mrazek cracks the all-time top 10 with a 2.33 goals against average (6th) and a 0.916 save percentage (T7th). He posted the third-best GAA among Griffins rookie netminders behind only Simon Lajeunesse (2.11 in 2001-02) and Joey MacDonald (2.20 in 2002-03), and his save percentage tied those two netminders for the best-ever for a first-year Griffin.

League Leaders: Gustav Nyquist tied for 12th in the AHL in points (60), 11th in assists (37) and 16th in power play assists (16)…Landon Ferraro led the league with seven shorthanded points (3-4—7)…Chad Billins led the league with a five-for-five conversion in shootouts, tying for third in shootout goals. Billins tied for 18th among rookies and finished 12th among defensemen and fifth among rookie defensemen with 37 points (10-27—37)…Petr Mrazek ranked among goaltending leaders with a 2.33 goals against average (11th), a 0.916 save percentage (T17th), 23 wins (12th) and 1,150 saves (18th)…Riley Sheahan ranked 20th among AHL rookies with 36 points (16-20—36)…Triston Grant’s team-high 196 penalty minutes ranked 11th in the league…Brennan Evans finished fifth among AHL defensemen with 148 penalty minutes and fourth in that category with 14 fighting majors…The Griffins tied for seventh in the league with 234 goals and finished ninth with 2,331 shots, while surrendering the fifth-fewest shots (2,117).

Motown Update: A 4-0 win over Phoenix last night kept Detroit’s playoff hopes alive with only three games to play in the regular season. With a game in hand, the Red Wings trail Columbus by one point for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, while leading 10th-place Dallas by two points. Detroit also trails seventh-seed Minnesota by one point, with both teams sitting at 45 games played.…Gustav Nyquist has six points (3-3—6) and a plus-two rating in 19 games…Joakim Andersson has eight points (3-5—8) and a plus-four rating in 35 contests…Brendan Smith has seven assists and 30 penalty minutes in 31 games, averaging 18:27 time on ice…Brian Lashoff has five points (1-4—5) and averages 17:47 in 31 games…The Red Wings will host Los Angeles on Wednesday and Nashville on Thursday before wrapping up the season in Dallas on Saturday, with their 21-season postseason streak on the line.

In the Show: With the advancement of six current or former Griffins to the NHL this season (Brian Lashoff, Mike Knuble, Jamie Tardif, Petr Mrazek, Jonas Gustavsson and Carlo Colaiacovo), Grand Rapids has now sent 131 players on to the NHL during its 17 seasons of play. Thirty-seven Griffins alumni have logged ice time with 13 different NHL teams during the abbreviated 2013 season, combining to play 733 games while accumulating 92 goals, 137 assists, 229 points, 29 wins and four shutouts. (* Played for Grand Rapids this season.)

Player NHL Club GP G A PTS +/- PIM
Niklas Kronwall Detroit 45 5 23 28 -9 42
Tomas Kopecky Florida 44 15 12 27 -6 28
Jiri Hudler Calgary 40 10 16 26 -12 22
Valtteri Filppula Detroit 38 8 8 16 -5 4
Jakub Kindl Detroit 38 4 9 13 13 28
Chris Neil Ottawa 45 4 8 12 2 127
Justin Abdelkader Detroit 45 9 2 11 2 32
Jonathan Ericsson Detroit 42 2 9 11 3 29
Chris Kelly Boston 30 3 6 9 -5 14
Cory Emmerton Detroit 45 5 3 8 -3 4
*Mike Knuble Philadelphia 27 4 4 8 -3 20
*Joakim Andersson Detroit 35 3 5 8 4 8
*Tomas Tatar Detroit 18 4 3 7 2 4
*Brendan Smith Detroit 31 0 7 7 1 30
*Gustav Nyquist Detroit 19 3 3 6 2 0
Ville Leino Buffalo 8 2 4 6 0 6
Jason Spezza Ottawa 5 2 3 5 3 2
*Brian Lashoff Detroit 31 1 4 5 -10 15
Chris Mueller Nashville 15 2 2 4 0 4
Aaron Gagnon Winnipeg 8 3 0 3 3 0
Kyle Quincey Detroit 33 1 2 3 6 16
Chris Conner Phoenix 9 1 1 2 3 2
Sheldon Brookbank Chicago 24 1 0 1 -3 19
Derek Meech Winnipeg 14 0 1 1 2 2
*Carlo Colaiacovo Detroit 6 0 1 1 -4 2
Kris Newbury NY Rangers 5 0 1 1 1 9
Mark Eaton Pittsburgh 20 0 0 0 10 4
Matt Ellis Buffalo 6 0 0 0 0 0
Jamie Tardif Boston 2 0 0 0 0 0
*Jan Mursak Detroit 2 0 0 0 0 4
Darren Helm Detroit 1 0 0 0 0 2
Andreas Lilja Philadelphia 1 0 0 0 -1 0
*Riley Sheahan Detroit 1 0 0 0 0 0

 

Goalie NHL Club GP W L OT SO GAA SPCT
*Petr Mrazek Detroit 2 1 1 0 0 2.02 0.922
Jimmy Howard Detroit 39 18 13 7 4 2.22 0.921
Joey MacDonald Calgary 19 8 7 1 0 2.80 0.905
*Jonas Gustavsson Detroit 7 2 2 1 0 2.92 0.879


Scouting Report

Fri, April 26 at Houston Aeros – Toyota Center – 8:05 p.m. EDT
Sun., April 28 at Houston Aeros – Toyota Center – 6:05 p.m. EDT

Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. EDT (Fri.) and 5:40 p.m. EDT (Sun.) Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 40-34-6-3-7 Overall, 19-18-4-2-3 Road. Season Series: 4-2-0-0 Overall, 3-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: John Torchetti (2nd season). Notes: The Griffins and Aeros met six times in the regular season, with the road team winning all but one of those games (Grand Rapids won 2-0 at Van Andel Arena on Feb. 6)…The Griffins have won four straight games at the Toyota Center (March 11, 2012-April 2)…Justin Fontaine led Houston in scoring with 56 points (23-33—56) in 64 games, which tied for 18th in the AHL…Aeros defenseman Brian Connelly tied for eighth among AHL defensemen with 39 points (5-34—39) in 54 games, also tying for second in the league with 20 assists on the power play…Houston’s Jason Zucker finished fifth in scoring among AHL rookies with 50 points (24-26—50) in 55 games…Assigned by Minnesota earlier this week, Aeros netminder Darcy Kuemper posted a 1.88 goals against average and a 0.934 save percentage in 21 appearances, which would have placed first and second in the league, respectively, if he had played enough minutes to qualify for league leaders (he finished at 1209:37, just shy of the 1500-minute minimum)…Houston finished the season as the third-least penalized team, averaging 13.22 penalty minutes per game…The Aeros’ power play was tied for sixth in the league during the regular season at 19 percent, a number that improved on home ice (20.8 percent, 2nd)…Houston surrendered 12 shorthanded goals, the second-highest total in the league…Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan won a Calder Cup as a rookie with Houston in 2003 and recorded 47 points (27-20—47) in 142 games with the Aeros from 2002-04.
 

Griffins Game Rewinds
April 19 - PEO 1 at GR 3

GriffVision Video Highlights & Interviews
WOOD Radio Highlights:  Jurco GW Goal   Mursak Goal
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

 

April 20 - GR 0 at LE 1
Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights:  Walker Goal   Mrazek Save
Official Game Report

 

April 21 - GR 3 at CHI 1
Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights:  Hoggan's 1st   Hoggan's 2nd   Ferraro Goal
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

 



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