02/08/2012 11:48 AM
This Week’s Games
Fri., Feb. 10 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Feb. 11 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., Feb. 12 - San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS - 5 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Feb. 3 - Hamilton Bulldogs 5 at GRIFFINS 2 - 18-18-4-4, 44 pts. (5th, North Division)
Sat., Feb. 4 - Hamilton Bulldogs 2 at GRIFFINS 5 - 19-18-4-4, 46 pts. (T3rd)
Mirror Image: Following the AHL All-Star break, the Griffins opened up their schedule by splitting a pair of games against the North Division-rival Hamilton Bulldogs. Grand Rapids enjoyed great success against the Bulldogs in the teams’ first three matchups, posting a 3-0 record and outscoring them 16-2. Hamilton exacted some revenge on Friday night, spoiling the Griffins’ five-game winning streak over the Bulldogs with a 5-2 decision. Grand Rapids struck back the following night, beating Hamilton by the same score. Jordan Pearce made 32 stops in his first start since Dec. 30 versus Peoria and Gustav Nyquist had his first two-goal game as a pro to lead the way for the Griffins.
Wild West: Grand Rapids will play three home games in three nights for the first and only time this season, with each contest coming against a team from the West Division. Houston will be in town Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., while San Antonio will visit on Sunday at 5 p.m. The Griffins have excelled at home recently, as last Friday’s loss to Hamilton was just the team’s second regulation loss at home since Nov. 27 (7-2-2-2). This weekend marks just the eighth time ever that the Griffins will play three home games in as many nights.
Promotions: This weekend’s three home games in three nights means there will be a variety of promotions and entertainment at Van Andel Arena. Fri. vs. Houston: The popular dollar beers and hot dogs will run from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. Fans can ride the Rapid busses the game and enjoy complimentary fare by showing their ticket to that night’s game. Visit ridetherapid.org for schedule information, routes and maps. College students can purchase a lower bowl ticket for $13 (or $11 in advance at The Zone) and stop by the McFadden’s concourse table to receive a free pass to the post-game party at McFadden’s as part of College Night. Finally, fans who wish to sit in the WGRD D-Zone can avoid concession lines and get $1 beers and $1 hot dogs served to their seats by visiting griffinshockey.com/dzone to purchase tickets. Sat. vs. Houston: Thanks to J&H Family Stores, the first 4,000 fans will receive a deck of Griffins playing cards and can enjoy the post-game open skate. Fans can also purchase the Fan 4 Pack, which includes four tickets and $12 in concession cash for a great low price. Visit griffinshockey.com/f4p for more information. Sun. vs. San Antonio: Thanks to Michigan Office Solutions, 2,500 fans will receive a Brendan Smith Griffins bobblehead. Fans can also enjoy $1 breadsticks and Pepsi drinks from 4-6 p.m. and live music from Jaded 8 as part of “Sunday is Fun Day!” Sunday is also “Senior Sunday,” allowing fans 55 and older with ID to purchase a Lower Level Center Ice ticket for $15 and play bingo in the arena banquet room from 4-5 p.m., sponsored by MapleCreek Retirement Community. The fun continues after the game with the J&H Family Stores post-game open skate and a post-game autograph session on the concourse that is exclusive to season-ticket holders.
Crowded Picture: After splitting the weekend set with Hamilton, the Griffins are no closer to knowing their playoff fate. The Griffins enter this week tied for third place in the North Division with Lake Erie, sitting one point ahead of Hamilton and five points behind second-place Rochester. The Americans also hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, with the Griffins having three games in hand. Grand Rapids trails just two teams (San Antonio and Milwaukee) in the bid for the final postseason spot.
On the Offensive: Through 45 games this season, the Griffins have lit the lamp 143 times, the most of any team in the Western Conference. The team is also tops in the conference (and sixth in the AHL) with a 3.18 goals per game average, which is due in large part to their AHL-best 34.42 shots per game average – 1.42 shots better than second-place St. John’s. Grand Rapids had recorded at least 30 shots in 11 straight games until being held to 29 on Friday versus Hamilton.
Sizzling Smith: With his two-assist performance in Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs, Griffins defenseman Brendan Smith extended his point streak to seven games (Jan. 20-Feb. 4), breaking a tie with Jamie Johnson (Nov. 25-Dec. 9) and Francis Pare (Dec. 21-Jan. 7) for the longest Griffins point streak on the season. Smith has tallied nine points (3-6—9) over those seven games. The run has seen him climb all the way to eighth place in scoring among league defenseman, with 26 points (8-18—26) in 39 games. The Mimico, Ontario, native also leads all defenseman in shorthanded goals (2), shorthanded points (4) and shootout goals (3) and is tied for fifth with eight goals.
Back on Track: Goaltender Jordan Pearce made his first start since Dec. 30 versus Peoria on Saturday in the team’s 5-2 win over Hamilton. Pearce recorded his second win of the season and first since an 8-0 shutout of Hamilton on Nov. 11 after making 32 saves on 34 shots. Pearce, who won a team-best 20 games with the Griffins as a rookie last season, has registered a 1.78 goals against average and a 0.940 save percentage in his last three appearances.
Mac in Motown: The Detroit Red Wings on Friday recalled goaltender Joey MacDonald from the Griffins. MacDonald has posted an 11-11-3 record, a 2.63 goals against average and a 0.913 save percentage in 26 appearances with the Griffins this season. He ranks first among the Griffins’ all-time goaltending leaders with 210 games played, 109 wins, 20 shutouts and 5,352 saves. MacDonald made his Red Wings season debut on Saturday, entering the game in relief of Ty Conklin and helping the Red Wings erase a two-goal deficit to force a shootout. His performance earned him a start on Monday at Phoenix, making 20 saves on 22 shots in a 3-1 loss. The 31-year-old netminder has a 1.73 goals against average and 0.933 save percentage in two contests with Detroit this season.
Reds, Whites and Brews: On Monday, Feb. 20, the Griffins will hang up their skates for an evening and support Easter Seals Michigan for the inaugural Reds, Whites and Brews wine and beer tasting benefit at the Goei Center (818 Butterworth St. SW). Griffins players will serve beer and wine samples to nearly 150 guests at the event, which will also feature live music, hors d’oeuvres by YoChef Catering Company, and silent and live auctions. The event will run from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $30 (or two for $50) at essmichigan.org or by phone at (616) 942-2081.
Who’s Hot?: Brendan Smith is currently on a seven-game point streak (3-6—9), the longest streak of any Griffin this season…Jamie Johnson has assists in three straight games (0-3—3) and seven points (2-5—7) in his last seven games overall…Gustav Nyquist has five points (3-2—5) in the team’s last three contests…Chris Minard scored five goals in his first eight games of the season…Fabian Brunnstrom is heating up with five points (2-3—5) in his last three games and 10 (3-7—10) over his last eight…After going pointless in 15 straight games, Doug Janik has five points (2-3—5) in his last five games.
Milestone Watch: Francis Pare has continued his ascent up the Griffins’ all-time franchise leaderboard. He passed Derek King in games played with his 265th on Saturday versus Hamilton, now sitting ninth all time. His 72nd career goal on the same night tied him with Darryl Bootland for fifth in franchise history, and his next goal will tie him with King for fourth…Tom McCollum’s next appearance will be his 100th as a pro…Brian Lashoff is three games shy of the same marker…Logan Pyett needs five games to crack the all-time top-ten in games played…Chris Conner is five games shy of 400 as a pro and two goals away from 100 as a pro…Doug Janik is four points shy of 200 as a pro.
Fri., Feb. 10 vs. Houston Aeros (23-12-3-9) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 11 vs. Houston Aeros – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:45 p.m. (Fri.) and WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through ESPN961.com (Fri.) and woodradio.com (Sat.). All-Time Series: 35-29-6-3-7 Overall, 20-12-2-1-4 Home. Season Series: 0-1-0-1 Overall, 0-0-0-1 Home. Third and fourth of six meetings overall, second and third of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: John Torchetti (1st season). Notes: Houston has lost just 13 games in regulation, one more game than it has lost in post-regulation play (three in overtime, nine in a shootout), holding the worst winning percentage (0.200) in the AHL after 60 minutes. Its first of two shootout wins on the season game against Grand Rapids on Jan. 11, a 3-2 victory at Van Andel Arena…The Aeros will be playing the second and third games this weekend of an 11-game road trip. They don’t play at home again until a pair of games against the Griffins on March 10 and 11…Houston goaltender Matt Hackett is 10th in the AHL with a 2.41 goals against average…Aeros forward Justin Fontaine is 12th in AHL rookie scoring with 30 points (10-20—30) in 47 games…Houston is the least penalized team in the AHL, averaging just 11.75 minutes per game…Jon DiSalvatore leads Houston in scoring with 34 points (14-20—34) in 48 games.
Sun., Feb. 12 vs. San Antonio Rampage (24-20-2-0) – Van Andel Arena – 5 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 4:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through ESPN961.com. All-Time Series: 31-16-1-3-0 Overall, 15-8-1-2-0 Home. Season Series: 0-0-1-0 Overall, 0-0-1-0 Home. Second of four meetings overall, second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Chuck Weber (1st season). Notes: San Antonio is one of the hottest teams in the AHL, posting an 8-2 record in its past 10 games…Dov Grumet-Morris, who joined the Griffins briefly on a tryout last season but did not play, has flourished with San Antonio, posting a 14-7 record with an AHL-best 0.929 save percentage and a 2.09 goals against average, which ranks third in the league…The Rampage’s Eric Selleck is third in the AHL with 140 penalty minutes…San Antonio has struggled on special teams, with a power play that ranks 28th in the league at 14.0 percent and a penalty kill at 26th (78.1)…Jon Matsumoto has nine points (4-5—9) in eight games with San Antonio since joining the team after a trade between Carolina and Florida. He has 43 points (17-26—43) in 49 games between Charlotte and San Antonio this season…Former Griffin Mark Cullen has 28 points (7-21—28) in 35 games with San Antonio this season. He also became the 121st Griffins alumnus to suit up for an NHL game when he made his NHL return with Florida on Nov. 29 at Carolina.