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CRUNCH TIME

Jiri Hudler Continues Torrid Streak


This Week’s Games
Fri., Nov. 4 Syracuse Crunch at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Sat., Nov. 5 Syracuse Crunch at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sun., Nov. 6 GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs 4 p.m. WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Oct. 28 Iowa Stars 2 at GRIFFINS 6 6-2-0-0, 12 pts. (1st, North Division)
Sat., Oct. 29 Houston Aeros 6 at GRIFFINS 5 SO 6-2-0-1, 13 pts. (1st)


Crunch Time: Grand Rapids stands alone atop the AHL’s North Division with a 6-2-0-1 record. The Griffins will conclude a five-game homestand by hosting a two-game set against Syracuse this Friday and Saturday, their first meetings since the 2002-03 season when both were members of the Central Division.

Big Weekend: Friday’s game against Syracuse will feature the Subway Four-Pack (four tickets to the game, four coupons for Subway Fresh Meal Deals and parking for $44) and the Bud True Music Happy Hour (from 6-7 p.m. on the concourse, fans can enjoy $2.25 drafts and live music from ’60s-retro surf-rockers Los Cobras). Saturday’s rematch is the second installment in the Griffins’ “10 Years, 10 Nights” promotional series. Napoleon Dynamite stars Aaron Ruell (Kip) and Efren Ramirez (Pedro) will meet fans and sign autographs before the game, and the first 1,500 fans will receive a “Vote for Pedro” T-shirt. The night will feature pre-game fireworks, a second-intermission ceremony to honor more than 300 local Red Cross volunteers who assisted in hurricane relief, as well as an open skate and a Fox Motors autograph session after the game.

Broken Record: Jiri Hudler earned his fourth consecutive nomination for the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week award today, after contributing six points (2-4—6) in just two games last week. He now leads the AHL with 12 goals and 21 points, is tied for tenth with nine assists, and is tied for sixth with a plus-eight rating. Hudler’s 12 goals already match his 52-game total from last season, and the first of his three assists on Saturday extended his AHL-high point streak to nine games. The scoring run is the second-longest of his career (12 games in 2003-04) and ties for the seventh-longest in Griffins history.

Say Hello to Howard: Making his pro debut with the Griffins on Friday, goaltender Jimmy Howard earned second star honors with 39 saves and even contributed an assist in the 6-2 win over Iowa. Assigned by the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 24, Howard had served as a backup to Manny Legace during each of the Red Wings’ first nine games this season. The 21-year-old was Detroit’s first choice (64th overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft. During his three-year career at the University of Maine, he earned a school-record 15 shutouts while posting a 1.84 goals against average, a 0.931 save percentage and a 47-23-10 record.

Good Riddance: Following Saturday’s 6-5 shootout loss to the Aeros, the Griffins are 0-2-0-1 against Houston (with a 10-16 deficit in goals) and 6-0 versus the rest of the AHL (with a 29-12 scoring advantage) this season. The two teams will meet only once more, in a Jan. 6 contest at the Toyota Center.

Jiri’s Year Century: With his power play goal on Friday against Iowa, Jiri Hudler became just the tenth player to record 100 points as a Griffin (now 41-63—104 in 118 games). Hudler’s 63 assists already place ninth all time on the club, and his second helper on Saturday versus Houston moved him past Kevin Miller into ninth place on the franchise’s career scoring list.

Good to Have You Back: After missing the Griffins’ previous 51 games due to injury, defenseman Travis Richards returned to the Griffins’ lineup on Friday for his first game since Jan. 9. He notched his first point of the season on Saturday versus Houston. Another of the team’s former AHL all-stars, goaltender Joey MacDonald, has yet to make his 2005-06 debut but has resumed skating, as he continues his recovery from off-season back surgery.

Share the Joy: Jiri Hudler leads the AHL with 12 goals, accounting for 31% of Grand Rapids’ total, but the Griffins’ offense has been anything but a one-man show. Fifteen players have already potted goals for Grand Rapids, and 19 of its 20 skaters have recorded at least one point.

You Always Remember Your First: A pair of Griffins rookie defensemen potted their first pro goals on Saturday. Kyle Quincey became the first Grand Rapids blueliner to light the lamp twice since Niklas Kronwall (Nov. 24, 2004 at CIN), extending his point streak to three games (2-3—5). Nick Martens, meanwhile, scored on the power play to force overtime and salvage a point for the team in the standings.

Who’s Hot?: Eric Manlow (4-8—12) and Kent McDonell (1-10—11) each have points in eight of the Griffins’ nine games. Manlow’s 12 points tie for 13th in the AHL, while McDonell resides among the league leaders with 10 assists (T5th) and 11 points (T18th) …Tomas Kopecky has a goal in each of the last two outings…Nate DiCasmirro has points in six of the last eight contests (2-6—8)…Matt Ellis’ four-game scoring streak (3-2—5) was snapped on Saturday.

Explosive Start: Starting with their six-goal output on opening night, the Griffins have displayed one of the AHL’s most dynamic offenses in the early-going. Grand Rapids has scored 39 goals, its most ever through nine games (33 in 2001-02). If they can maintain their current pace, the Griffins would accumulate 346 goals this season, shattering their record of 279 from 2000-01.

Power Supply: Through the season’s first two games, the Griffins led the AHL by converting six of 11 power play chances (54.5%). Following a short slump, Grand Rapids went 6-for-18 (33.3%) over the last three games to raise its season rate to 25.0% (15-for-60), good for second in the AHL. Meanwhile, the Griffins’ penalty killers stand 17th at 80.8% (63-for-78). On Friday, the Stars enjoyed 13 power play chances (scoring twice), tying the Grand Rapids record for shorthanded situations in a single game set Oct. 18, 2002 vs. Houston.

Alumni Report: Twenty-two Griffins alumni, representing 15 different NHL teams, have logged ice time in the NHL this season. The list includes three of the league’s top scorers in Ottawa’s Jason Spezza (5-13—18, T3rd), Detroit’s Jason Williams (3-11—14, T16th), and Los Angeles’ Pavol Demitra (7-7—14, T16th). Meanwhile, Josh Langfeld’s appearances for San Jose leave Buffalo and Colorado as the only NHL teams for which a former Griffin has never played.

This Week in Griffins History: Oct. 31: Six different Griffins light the lamp in a 6-3 win at Milwaukee, as Grand Rapids maintains the best winning percentage in the AHL’s Western Conference at 0.750 (2001). Nov. 1: Patrick Boileau’s goal with 1:51 remaining caps the Griffins’ largest comeback since the 2000-01 season, as Grand Rapids overcomes a 3-0 deficit to stun Chicago 4-3 at Van Andel Arena (2002). Nov. 2: Longtime Griffin Danton Cole retires from a distinguished playing career to become an assistant coach for the team (1999). Nov. 3: Petr Schastlivy scores twice in a 7-1 win over Manitoba, setting a Griffins record for fastest start with nine goals in the season's first 10 games (2001). Nov. 4: Travis Richards' goal and two assists propel Grand Rapids to a 6-3 win over Cincinnati (2000). Nov. 5: Drew MacIntyre makes a spectacular AHL debut in goal for the Griffins, stopping 45 of 49 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss to Houston. He establishes franchise records for saves both in a home game and in a Griffins debut (2004). Nov. 6: Griffins drop their fourth straight one-goal decision at home, 1-0 to Houston, giving them their first four-game losing streak at Van Andel Arena in six seasons (2004).

Scouting Report


Fri., Nov. 4 vs. Syracuse Crunch (4-4-0-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 5 vs. Syracuse Crunch – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. (Fri.) and 6:40 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: First and second of six meetings overall, first and second of three in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 3-1-0-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets. Head Coach: Gary Agnew (6th season). Feel the Crunch: The Griffins and Crunch have not met since the 2002-03 season, when they were both members of the Central Division…Syracuse defenseman Andy Delmore had been assigned to the Griffins by the Red Wings during the preseason but was claimed on waivers by Columbus…Rookie Geoff Platt ranks among the league leaders with eight goals (T6th) and 11 points (T18th).

Sun., Nov. 6 at Hamilton Bulldogs (3-6-0-0) – Copps Coliseum – 4 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 3:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Second of eight meetings overall, second of four in Hamilton. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 9-5-1-0-0 Overall, 5-3-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliations: Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers. Head Coach: Don Lever (1st season). Dog Days: Former Griffins tough guys Peter Vandermeer and Ryan Barnes now play for the Bulldogs…Hamilton is just 1-5 at home this season…Two games into a conditioning stint from Edmonton, Ty Conklin is 0-2 with a 3.54 GAA and a 0.897 save percentage…Ron Hainsey and rookie Andre Benoit are tied for fifth in scoring among AHL defensemen with nine points apiece.

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