10/05/2009 3:12 PM
This Week’s Game
Sat., Oct. 10 - GRIFFINS at Toronto Marlies - 3 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Result
Sat., Oct. 3 - GRIFFINS 3 at Peoria Rivermen 1 - 1-0-0-0, 2 pts. (T1st, North Division)
For Starters: Following Saturday’s 3-1 win at Peoria, Grand Rapids is now 10-2-2-0 all time both in season openers and road openers. The Griffins have earned points in each of their last 11 road debuts (9-0-2-0) as well as in seven straight season openers (5-0-2-0). This Saturday in Toronto, the Griffins will try to start 2-0 for the fourth time in the last six seasons (2007-08, 2005-06, 2004-05).
A Long Time Coming: After starting the season with five straight road games, the Griffins will make their Van Andel Arena debut on Friday, Oct. 23 against the Abbotsford Heat at 7 p.m., the start of an unprecedented three-game weekend to open their home schedule. Single-game tickets for all 40 home games are now on sale at all Star Tickets outlets, including the Zone and Meijer stores, or online through griffinshockey.com, while group, full-season and mini-plan ticket packages are available by calling the Griffins at (616) 774-4585.
Dazzling Debut: Rookie netminder Thomas McCollum, the Red Wings’ top pick in the 2008 draft, made 23 saves on Saturday and slammed the door over the final 53:28 to lead Grand Rapids to its 3-1 win at Peoria and earn the Griffins’ nomination for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award. At 19 years, nine months, he became the youngest goaltender to ever play for the Griffins (Mathieu Chouinard was 20 years, five months when he won his pro debut with Grand Rapids on Oct. 6, 2000 vs. Cleveland), and he became the first Griffin to win his pro debut since Jimmy Howard on Oct. 28, 2005 (6-2 vs. Iowa). McCollum currently leads the AHL in both goals against average (1.00) and save percentage (0.958, tied).
Welcome Back: Goaltender Daniel Larsson was assigned to the Griffins by the Red Wings on Sunday. Larsson, 23, accompanied the Red Wings as an emergency third goaltender during their season-opening trip to his native country of Sweden. The former top goaltender and rookie of the year in the Swedish Elite League enjoyed an outstanding debut with the Griffins last season, going 22-12-2 with a 2.76 goals against average, a 0.907 save percentage and a team-high five shutouts. He represented the Griffins in the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic and set a single-season franchise record with a 13-game home point streak (11 wins, one overtime loss, one shootout loss) from Oct. 26, 2008 to Feb. 20, 2009.
A Good Start: Rookie left wing Dick Axelsson had a goal and an assist on Saturday in his North American debut, giving him the early team leadership in points.
Milestones: Jamie Tardif, who played his 200th pro game on Saturday, needs two points for 100 as a pro…Doug Janik’s next game will be the 400th of his AHL career, while Mike Walsh is three games shy of 200 as a pro…Janik also needs two points for 100 in the AHL…Following his goal on Saturday, Evan McGrath needs three points to become the 20th player to reach 100 points in a Griffins uniform and two goals to reach 50 as a pro…Jeremy Williams’ next goal will be his 100th as a pro…Andy Delmore is six points away from 400 for his career.
No Average Joe: The Griffins could face one of the top netminders in their history this Saturday when they travel to Toronto for a matinee with the Marlies. Toronto’s Joey MacDonald, who played for the Griffins from 2002-07, ranks among Grand Rapids’ all-time leaders with 16 shutouts (1st), 164 games played (2nd), 9208:13 minutes played (2nd), 88 wins (2nd), 4,251 saves (2nd), a 0.921 save percentage (T3rd) and a 2.37 GAA (6th).
Home Cooking: This Saturday’s game in Toronto represents a homecoming for a number of Griffins. Forwards Kris Newbury and Jeremy Williams spent the last four seasons with the Marlies and Maple Leafs, while Toronto native Brad May played his 1,000th NHL game as a member of the Leafs last spring. Evan McGrath (Oakville), Paul Crosty (Brampton) and Newbury (Brampton) are natives of the Toronto area, while Cory Emmerton, Thomas McCollum and Ryan Oulahen all played in Brampton.
Dog-Gone It: The Griffins will host their second annual “Pups and Pucks” Fall Walk-a-Thon next Monday, Oct. 12 from 5-8:30 p.m. at Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary in Lake Odessa. Griffins players, coaches and front office staff will walk rescued dogs for pledges collected by members of the Griffins Booster Club, while fans can make online pledges. All animal lovers are encouraged to attend, with or without a dog to walk, and enjoy a host of activities, including live music, a BBQ, hay rides, a petting zoo, and a K-9 costume contest. For more information, visit griffinshockey.com.
And Colorado Makes 30: When defenseman Kyle Quincey skated onto the ice last Thursday during Colorado's 5-2 win against San Jose at Denver's Pepsi Center, it marked a milestone for Grand Rapids’ franchise, as a former Griffin has now played for all 30 NHL teams. Quincey, who made his NHL debut with Detroit on a recall from Grand Rapids on Nov. 25, 2005, joined the Avalanche in a July trade from Los Angeles, setting the stage for the achievement. Since Pavol Demitra suited up for St. Louis on March 17, 1997 to become the first Grand Rapids alum to play in the NHL, 101 others have graduated from the Griffins, most recently Detroit's Ville Leino on Jan. 31, 2009.
Sat., Oct. 10 at Toronto Marlies (1-0-0-0) – Ricoh Coliseum – 3 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 2:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 15-14-1-0 Overall, 6-9-0-0 Road. Season Series: First of six meetings overall, first of three in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Dallas Eakins (1st season). Notes: New Marlies assistant coach Derek King played four seasons in Grand Rapids (1999-00; 2002-04), where he ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders with 264 games played (7th), 73 goals (3rd), 130 assists (4th), 203 points (4th), a plus-71 rating (2nd), 25 power play goals (T3rd) and 657 shots (4th)…Toronto, which beat Hamilton 3-2 in a shootout on Sunday to open its season, finished fourth in the North Division last season with a 39-29-5-7 record before falling to Manitoba in six games in the North Division Semifinals…Marlies sniper Jiri Tlusty posted 13 points (3-10—13) in just seven games against the Griffins last season.