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AT IT AGAIN

This Week’s Games
Wed., March 2    Rockford IceHogs at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., March 4    GRIFFINS at Charlotte Checkers    7:30 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., March 5    GRIFFINS at Charlotte Checkers    7:30 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Tues., Feb. 23    GRIFFINS 5 at Chicago Wolves 0    30-20-1-1, (62 points, 3rd Central Division)
Fri., Feb. 26    Iowa Wild 1 at GRIFFINS 4    31-20-1-1, (64 points, 4th)
Sat., Feb. 27    Iowa Wild 0 at GRIFFINS 3    32-20-1-1, (66 points 4th)
Sun., Feb. 28     Chicago Wolves 3 at GRIFFINS 4 OT    33-20-1-1, (68 points, 3rd)



Opening Faceoff: Victorious in five straight contests, the Griffins close out a four-game homestand on Wednesday against Rockford. After Wednesday’s game, the Griffins will have 20 games remaining on the schedule and 14 of those will be played on foreign ice. The Griffins are positioned third in the division, fourth in the Western Conference and eighth in the league with a 33-20-1-1 (0.618) record.

Last Time Out: Grand Rapids needed a rally on Sunday against Chicago to keep the winning ways going. Trailing 3-1 entering the last 20 minutes, Tomas Nosek brought the Griffins to within one just 1:25 into the period before Robbie Russo knotted up the score with 2:42 remaining. In overtime, Andy Miele delivered the game-winner with just 35 ticks left. Sunday's win capped a perfect 3-0 weekend for the Griffins as they swept their three-in-three stretch of games inside Van Andel Arena.

This Week’s Promotions: In honor of March being Brain Injury Awareness Month, the Griffins and the Brain Injury Association of Michigan are teaming up to present the fourth annual Brain Injury Awareness Game on Wednesday.

Russo Named Player of the Week: The American Hockey League on Monday announced that Griffins rookie defenseman Robbie Russo has been selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Feb. 28, 2016. Russo tallied two goals and five assists (2-5—7) along with a plus-8 rating as Grand Rapids finished the week a perfect 4-0 and extended its winning streak to five games. Russo becomes the second Griffin this season to garner weekly league accolades after Tomas Jurco was honored on Nov. 22. He is also the second Grand Rapids defenseman ever to earn the player of the week nod, following the selection of rookie Clay Wilson on Dec. 26, 2005.

Affiliation Battle: The Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks will do battle in an Original Six matchup Wednesday night in the Motor City while their affiliate clubs, Grand Rapids and Rockford, will meet up on the west side of the state. Detroit and Chicago are playing for the first time this season while the Griffins own a 4-2 mark against the IceHogs.

Scoring Streaks: The Griffins are outscoring opponents 21-6 during their five-game winning streak…Rookie Robbie Russo has points in four consecutive contests (2-5—7) and leads the league with a plus-37 rating...The team leader in assists with 30, Mark Zengerle has helpers in four of the last five (0-5—5)...Andy Miele has points in five of the last six (3-2—5), including the game-winner in overtime on Sunday against Chicago...Anthony Mantha is responsible for nine points (5-4—9) in the last seven games. 

Home Ice: The Griffins conclude a four-game homestand on Wednesday against Rockford. Grand Rapids has won six of its last seven home games and has secured points in 21 of its last 26 games (20-5-1-0) at Van Andel Arena. Against Central Division opponents at home, the Griffins are 18-3-1-0 (0.841).

Road Warriors: Following Wednesday’s game against Rockford, the Griffins will play 14 of their final 20 games on the road. Grand Rapids recorded a six-game road winning streak from Nov. 21-Dec. 26, but since then have not been able to piece together two wins in a row, going 6-7-0-0 in the last 13 away contests.
 
Coreau Recalled: The Detroit Red Wings on Monday recalled goaltender Jared Coreau from the Griffins. Coreau suited up in Detroit’s 3-2 overtime win at Dallas on Monday but did not play. Should he appear with the Red Wings, he will become the 154th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. Coreau has anchored a consistent presence between the pipes for the Griffins this season as he is categorized in the AHL’s top five for wins (26, tied for second), shutouts (four, tied for third), goals against average (2.27, fourth) and save percentage (0.928, third). Coreau’s 26 wins places him in rare Griffins company as only six other goalies have reached the 25-victory plateau in the franchise’s 20-year history. The third-year professional executed his fourth shutout of the campaign on Feb. 23 at Chicago, marking the most bagels in a season since Daniel Larsson recorded five in 2008-09.
 
On the Plus Side: Among the 18 Griffins skaters who have appeared in 10 or more games this season, 14 find themselves with a positive plus/minus rating including seven who are in double digits. Rookie Robbie Russo paces the league at +37 and trails the leader on the Griffins single-season list by only four (Ivan Ciernik, +41, 2000-01). Russo has been on the ice 23 times when the opponent scores, and that includes three power play goals and two empty netters.
 
Win Some and Lose Some: The Griffins own a 33-20-1-1 (0.618) record through 55 games. Take a look at how Grand Rapids’ numbers stack up between its 33 wins and 22 (including overtime and shootout) losses:
 

  GF GA Saves PP Chances PP Goals PP% Opp. PP Chances Opp. PP Goals PK% SF SA
W (33) 4.27 1.73 30.45 4.18 0.85 20.29% 3.76 0.42 88.71% 34.00 32.18
L (22) 1.50 3.77 28.36 4.32 0.36 8.42% 3.64 0.95 73.75% 33.82 32.14


Against the Best: The Griffins own a 26-16-1-1 (0.614) record against teams with a winning record this season, including an 18-9-0-1 (0.660) mark against teams with a winning percentage greater than 0.600 as of March 1. Grand Rapids has also posted a 30-11-1-1 (0.721) record against its Central Division rivals, going 9-4-0-0 (0.692) versus the top two teams (Rockford, Milwaukee).
 
You Again: Dating back to Jan. 30’s matchup at Milwaukee, the Griffins are in a stretch of playing 18 consecutive games against divisional foes. Grand Rapids travels to Chicago on March 13 before a trek to Texas on March 16 halts the streak of Central Division collisions.
 
Back-to-Back-to-Backs: Take a look at how the statistics compare for Grand Rapids when it plays on consecutive nights:

  First Night Second Night Third Night
W 10 10 1
L 7 7 1
GF 3.94 2.94 3.00
GA 2.59 2.82 3.50
PP% 20.99% 11.48% 18.18%
PK% 87.30% 80.33% 55.56%
SF 34.53 32.76 35.00
SA 34.12 33.53 28.50


Griffins Leaders:
Andy Miele (12-28—40), Eric Tangradi (18-20—38) and Anthony Mantha (17-21—38) continue to pace the offense, ahead of Martin Frk (22-13—35), Mark Zengerle (5-30—35) and Robbie Russo (4-23—27).
 
McCollum Chasing Records: The Griffins all-time leader in goaltender appearances (213), Tom McCollum used 29 saves to shut out the Iowa Wild on Saturday and earn his 95th win as a Griffin. He ranks second in club history for both wins (95) and saves (5,312), trailing Joey MacDonald in both categories (109 wins; 5,362 saves). McCollum recorded his seventh shutout as a Griffin on Saturday, tying him with Jared Coreau and current Detroit Red Wing Petr Mrazek for fifth on the franchise’s all-time list.
 
The Central Conversation: Despite a 2-8-0-1 record and a last-place 0.227 winning percentage to begin the season, the Griffins have rebounded with a 31-12-1-0 mark to climb into contention in the Central Division. Overall, the Griffins place third in the division, fourth in the Western Conference and eighth in the AHL.
 
Free Hockey: In their nine games that have gone to either overtime or a shootout, including Sunday’s 4-3 win in the extra session against Chicago, the Griffins post a 0.778 winning percentage – second-highest in the league (6-1 in OT, 1-1 in SO).
 
Whoa, Nellie: Named the franchise’s 10th head coach on June 19, 2015, Todd Nelson has already attached his name to several records in Griffins lore. In the first season under Nelson’s watch, Grand Rapids has set franchise records for overall win streak (15, Nov. 18-Dec. 26) and home win streak (14, Nov. 11-Jan. 15). Now in his sixth season as an AHL head coach, including five spent in Oklahoma City with the Barons, Nelson claimed his 200th career AHL win (209-131-13-35) in Grand Rapids’ 3-2 overtime win against Lake Erie on Jan. 20.
 
Goal Scoring: Partly attributable to the Griffins’ current eighth-place standing in the AHL is the fact they rank in the top 10 for both goals for (3.16, fourth) and goals against (2.55, sixth) per game. In fact, Grand Rapids is one of two non-division leading teams (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) to place in the top 10 in both categories. 
 
Magic Numbers: The Griffins are 31-3-1-0 when scoring three or more goals and 23-3-0-0 when allowing two or fewer…Grand Rapids is 18-4-0-0 when leading after one period, 21-2-0-0 when leading after two and 25-7-1-0 when striking first.
 
Fantastic Frk: Martin Frk paces the team and ties for sixth in the league with 22 goals (22-13—35). Grand Rapids is a perfect 5-0 when Frk charts two or more goals in a game.
 
Clear Influence: A veteran of over 1,100 professional games including 938 in the NHL, 37-year-old Daniel Cleary has made his presence felt on the ice during his first season as a Griffin. Despite Cleary registering only 10 points (1-9—10) on the season, in the 27 games the 19th year pro is in the lineup the Griffins post a staggering 21-5-1-0 (0.796) record.
 
Walleye World: A recent 8-1-1-0 stretch has the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye atop the North Division standings with a 35-14-2-3 record (75 points). The Walleye lead second-place Wheeling (26-23-2-3) by 18 points. Former Griffins Shane Berschbach (22-34—56) and A.J. Jenks (21-23—44) pace the offense. Rookie netminder Jake Paterson, Detroit’s second pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, shows a 12-8-1-1 record with a 2.29 GAA and 0.922 save percentage as an understudy to former Michigan State Spartan Jeff Lerg (22-6-1-2, 2.10 GAA, 0.927%). While spending 15 games with the Griffins earlier this season, Paterson made his first career AHL start on Jan. 13 at Charlotte and recorded 38 saves in a 4-3 loss. Former Walleye Joel Chouinard is currently on a professional tryout with the Griffins.

Scouting Report


Wednesday, March 2 vs. Rockford IceHogs (30-14-6-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 18-8-1-2 Home, 28-22-3-5 Overall. Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Home, 4-2-0-0 Overall. Seventh meeting of eight overall, fourth of four at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (5th season). Notes: The Rockford IceHogs rank first in the Central Division, second in the Western Conference and fifth overall with a 30-14-6-4 record (0.648)...The IceHogs are 3-4-3-0 over their last 10 games and are winless in their last two (0-1-1-0)...Rockford is 14-6-5-1 on the road, edging out their opponents by a margin of 84-73…Rookie Vinnie Hinostroza leads the IceHogs in points (13-19—32), while Tanner Kero is the leading goal scorer (16-10—26)…Michael Leighton’s 26 wins between the pipes are tied with Jared Coreau for second-most in the league and he also ranks 12th in GAA (2.45) and has tallied four shutouts…The IceHogs place 23rd overall (15.5%) in the power play and 22nd (81.3%) in the penalty kill...In a 3-2 win over Rockford on Nov. 18, the Griffins snapped the IceHogs’ 10-game point streak…Grand Rapids’ 9-1 win at Rockford on Feb. 5 snapped the IceHogs’ seven-game point streak and also tied a Griffins franchise record for largest margin of victory…The eight-goal margin also marked the largest ever home loss for the IceHogs in the team’s AHL era…Mitch Callahan recorded his third career hat trick and a career-best five points (3-2—5) in Feb. 5’s victory...Rockford came away with a 4-2 meeting in Illinois in the last meeting between the clubs (Feb. 14)…Martin Frk (6-0—6) and Callahan (3-3—6) lead Grand Rapids in point production against the IceHogs.  


Friday, March 4 at Charlotte Checkers (27-22-3-3) – Bojangles’ Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 5 at Charlotte Checkers – Bojangles’ Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:05 p.m. each night Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 6-5-0-1 Road, 12-13-0-1 Overall. Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Road, 3-3-0-0 Overall. Seventh and eighth meetings of eight overall, third and fourth of four at Bojangles’ Coliseum. NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes. Head Coach: Mark Morris (1st season). Notes: The Charlotte Checkers are fifth in the Central Division, ninth in the Western Conference and 17th overall with a 27-22-3-3 (0.545) record…Charlotte is 2-6-1-1 in its last 10…In a 5-3 win at Charlotte on Jan. 12, the Griffins ended the Checkers 12-game point streak…The Checkers are just 11-12-2-1 at home compared to 16-10-1-2 on the road…Charlotte is tied for the league lead in the power play (22.9%) and have scored 54 of its 158 goals (34.2%) while on the man advantage…Derek Ryan leads the team in point production (17-25—42) but was recalled to the Hurricanes on Monday…Former Michigan State Spartan Jake Chelios, and son of former Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios, has 26 points (5-21—26) in 52 games…Rookie Daniel Altshuller is 17th in GAA (2.54)…Grand Rapids’ five-game winning streak started against the Checkers on Feb. 20 at Van Andel Arena, when the Griffins scored the game’s final five goals en route to a 5-2 victory…Andy Miele (3-5—8) and Martin Frk (5-2—7) lead Grand Rapids in six games against Charlotte.