05/11/2009 7:29 AM
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– Four former Grand Rapids Griffins players took home medals at the 2009 IIHF World Championship, the sport’s premier annual international event that concluded Sunday in Switzerland.
(1999-01) earned a gold medal for the second straight year, thanks to Russia’s 2-1 win over Canada on Sunday. He tallied five points (1-4—5) in nine tournament games, most notably the game-winning power play goal with 1:47 remaining in Russia’s 3-2 semifinal victory over the United States on Friday.
(2001-02) and Joel Kwiatkowski
(2000-02) each claimed a silver medal for Canada, with Spezza accounting for his country’s lone goal in the gold medal game to cap off an 11-point tournament (7-4—11).
(2006-07) played a huge role in sending the United States home empty-handed, as he stopped 37 of 39 shots in Sweden’s 4-2 win over the U.S. in the bronze medal game on Sunday. He appeared in three contests, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.59 goals against average and a 0.900 save percentage.
Six other Griffins alumni participated in the tournament, including the Czech Republic’s Martin Prusek
(2001-02) and Karel Rachunek
(1999-00), Latvia’s Aigars Cipruss
(1996-97), Slovakia’s Rastislav Pavlikovsky
(1999-01), Norway’s Anders Myrvold
(2003-04), and Germany’s Michael Hackert
(2005-06). Complete statistics and results for the 2009 IIHF World Championship can be found at iihf.com
Sunday also marked a memorable day for the large contingent of former Griffins now playing for the Detroit Red Wings. Making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, Justin Abdelkader
earned his first NHL point with an assist on the first goal of Detroit’s 4-1 win over Anaheim. Jiri Hudler
(2003-06) scored the game-winner, Darren Helm
added insurance with his first tally of the playoffs with 3:08 remaining, and Jonathan Ericsson
and Brett Lebda
(2003-06) chipped in assists to help put the Red Wings one win away from the Western Conference Finals.
Defenseman Sergei Kolosov
and right wing Darren McCarty
were recalled by the Red Wings on Sunday, swelling Detroit’s ranks of former Griffins to 17, including 10 members of the 2008-09 squad. Griffins head coach Curt Fraser
, assistant coach Jim Paek
and equipment manager Brad Thompson
have also joined Detroit to assist its hockey operations department for the duration of the playoffs.
Four other Griffins graduates remain alive in the chase for the Stanley Cup, including Anaheim’s Sheldon Brookbank
(2001-03), Boston’s Shane Hnidy
(1997-98; 2000-01), Pittsburgh’s Mark Eaton
(2004-05) and Vancouver’s Pavol Demitra