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GRIFFINS HEAD EAST

This Week’s Games
Fri., Jan. 5 - GRIFFINS at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins - 7:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., Jan. 6 - GRIFFINS at Albany River Rats - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Dec. 29 - GRIFFINS 1 at Milwaukee Admirals 2 OT - 13-15-4-2, 32 pts. (T4th, North Division)   

Sat., Dec. 30 - Hamilton Bulldogs 0 at GRIFFINS 2 - 14-15-4-2, 34 pts. (4th)

Sun., Dec. 31 - Rochester Americans 0 at GRIFFINS 3 - 15-15-4-2, 36 pts. (4th)


Head East, Young Men: Following a weekend in which they earned five of six points and shut out the top two teams in the North Division, the Griffins this week turn their attention to the East Coast. On Friday, they’ll take their 0.500 record to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for their first meeting with the Penguins since their 3-1 playoff series win in the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals. Following their battle with the AHL’s second-best team, the Griffins on Saturday will make their first-ever visit to Albany, N.Y., for a clash with the River Rats. The trip will conclude on Monday, Jan. 8 with a rescheduled game against the Philadelphia Phantoms. The contest, originally set for Sunday, was moved back one day due to logistical conflicts with the NFL playoff game between the Eagles and Giants. 

Shutout Stories: With Saturday’s 2-0 win over second-place Hamilton and Sunday’s 3-0 victory against North Division-leading Rochester, the Griffins rang out 2006 with their first back-to-back shutouts in nearly three years. They last accomplished the feat on Feb. 13-14, 2004, when they blanked both Manitoba (4-0) and Houston (3-0) at Van Andel Arena…Jimmy Howard made 32 saves against the Amerks on New Year’s Eve for his second shutout of the season, while Stefan Liv did the honors on Saturday with 24 stops against the Bulldogs, recording his first North American shutout and his first win at Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids has allowed only one goal in the last 183:49 of regulation time, and two goals in the last 186:49 overall.

Punch the Clock: Josh Langfeld accomplished what is believed to be a first in Griffins history last week, playing six games in six nights. He skated for Grand Rapids last Tuesday (two assists), Friday (goal), Saturday (assist) and Sunday (goal), sandwiching a two-game callup to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday (assist) and Thursday (scoreless). On Jan. 2, following another recall to Detroit, he played his seventh game in eight nights.

Giant Killer: Three times during December the Americans brought their premier North Division ranking into Van Andel Arena, and three times Jimmy Howard and the Griffins’ defense shut down one of the AHL’s elite teams. His numbers against Rochester during December were 3-0 with a 1.00 goals against average, a 0.966 save percentage and one shutout.

A Cause for Celebration: By winning their 10th annual New Year’s Eve home game, the Griffins broke a four-game losing streak in the event (0-3-1-0) and improved to 3-6-1-0 alltime in their annual party. With the victory, they also finished the 2006 calendar year with a 46-25-4-4 record (0.633).

Dressed to the Nines: The tuxedo-style jerseys worn by the Griffins on New Year’s Eve were auctioned to fans after the game, raising $6,960 – including a high bid of $600 for Matt Hussey’s sweater – for Bauer Elementary School.

Miller Time: By totaling four goals, seven points and a plus-four rating in four games last week, Kip Miller earned the Griffins’ nomination for AHL Player of the Week. He had a hand in all five Griffins goals (2-3—5) in their consecutive shutouts of Hamilton and Rochester, giving him points in seven of the last nine games (5-6—11). Miller, who scored his 400th pro goal last Tuesday against Peoria and appeared in his 1,200th pro game on Saturday versus Hamilton, is currently tied for ninth in AHL scoring with a team-high 39 points (15-24—39).

Transactions: Dec. 27: F Josh Langfeld recalled by Detroit (NHL). Dec. 29: F Josh Langfeld assigned by Detroit (NHL). Jan. 2: F Josh Langfeld recalled by Detroit (NHL). D Danny Syvret reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) from the Canadian National Team. Jan. 3: D Tom Galvin assigned to Muskegon (UHL).

On Again, Off Again: Grand Rapids’ penalty killers have been very streaky over the last two months. They allowed a power play goal in 11 consecutive games – one shy of the franchise record – from Nov. 4-26, before shutting out the opposition for 32 straight opportunities over five-plus games (Nov. 26-Dec. 9). The Griffins then surrendered power play goals in seven straight outings (Dec. 13-26) before denying Milwaukee, Hamilton and Rochester on 17 combined attempts last weekend.

Honor Roll: Griffins center Kip Miller has been chosen by the AHL to serve as the playing captain for the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star Team at the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, Jan. 28-29 in Toronto. Miller, 37, becomes the second Griffin in four seasons chosen to captain the PlanetUSA squad, following former defenseman Travis Richards’ selection for the 2004 event in Grand Rapids. He’ll make his first AHL All-Star Classic appearance; he was voted to the starting lineup in 2002 as a member of the Griffins after scoring 56 points (21-35—56) in just 41 games but missed the event after signing with the New York Islanders in mid-season. Miller was chosen MVP of the 1998 IHL All-Star Game after notching three goals, including two in an All-Star record span of 18 seconds during the first period.

Vote for AHL All-Stars: Fan balloting for the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic at theahl.com will conclude this Sunday, Jan. 7 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The players receiving the most votes by position will earn berths in the starting lineups of both the Canadian AHL All-Star team and the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star team at the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, to be held Jan. 28-29 in Toronto. A committee of AHL coaches will select the remaining All-Stars, and all 27 clubs will be represented on the final rosters. By completing the official ballot, fans will be entered to win various prizes, including the grand prize of a team-signed authentic 2007 AHL All-Star jersey. Ten second-prize winners will each win an autographed commemorative magazine from the event, and 10 third-prize winners will each receive an official 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic T-shirt.

Scouting Report

Fri., Jan. 5 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (24-6-2-2) – Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza – 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: First of two meetings overall, first and only in Wilkes-Barre. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 2-0-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Pittsburgh Penguins. Head Coach: Todd Richards (1st season). Notes: Penguins coach Todd Richards is the older brother of former Griffins defenseman Travis…Another former GR blueliner, Wade Brookbank, now plays for Wilkes-Barre…Griffins center Matt Hussey spent his first four pro seasons with the baby Pens, totaling 107 points (51-56—107) in 269 games…Wilkes-Barre’s 0.765 winning percentage is second-best in the AHL, and it possesses an impressive 12-3-1-0 mark at home…The Pens lead the league in power play at 23.1%.

Sat., Jan. 6 at Albany River Rats (18-14-2-0) – Times Union Center – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second and final meeting overall, first and only in Albany. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 0-1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliations: Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Tom Rowe (1st season). Notes: The River Rats have not qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs since 2000, a six-year drought that is twice as long as any other AHL team’s…Albany is in its first year of affiliation with the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes, following 13 seasons with the New Jersey Devils…David Gove had a 17-game stint with the Griffins in 2001-02, scoring six points (2-4—6)…The Rats’ penalty killers rank next-to-last in the AHL at 76.3%...Albany won the first-ever meeting of the clubs by a 3-2 count on Nov. 11 at Van Andel Arena.

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