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THREE-IN-THREE UPON RETURN FROM HOLIDAY

This Week’s Games
Cleveland Monsters at GRIFFINS // Fri., Dec. 29 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS at Cleveland Monsters // Sat., Dec. 30 // 7 p.m. // Quicken Loans Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. on Friday, ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday
Watch: AHLLive.com
Season Series: First and second of eight meetings overall, first of four at Van Andel Arena, first of four at Quicken Loans Arena
All-Time Series: 26-13-1-2 Home, 18-14-3-7 Road, 44-27-4-9 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets
Noteworthy: The two-game set this weekend will pit the last two Calder Cup champions against each other.

Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS // Sun., Dec. 31 // 6 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 5:35 p.m.
Watch: AHLLive.com   
Season Series: 1-0-1-0 Home, 2-0-1-0 Overall. Fourth of 10 meetings overall, third of five at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 49-27-2-2-2 Home, 87-59-7-7-7 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: The Griffins have points in four straight regular season matchups between the teams.

Last Week’s Results
Thu., Dec. 21    GRIFFINS 4 at Chicago Wolves 5    10-15-1-3 (24 points, 7th)
Fri., Dec. 22    GRIFFINS 3 at Iowa Wild 2 SO    11-15-1-3 (26 points, 7th)
Sat., Dec. 23    GRIFFINS 2 at Rockford IceHogs 3 SO    11-15-1-4 (27 points, 6th)

Opening Faceoff: The defending Calder Cup champion Griffins earned three out of a possible six points last week and place sixth in the Central Division with an 11-15-1-4 (0.435) record. Grand Rapids returns from its holiday break this week with a three-in-three, beginning Friday at home against the Cleveland Monsters.

Follow the Leaders:
Points: Matt Lorito (9-13—22)
Goals: Matthew Ford (12)
Assists: Ben Street (17)
PIM: Dylan McIlrath (60)
Plus-Minus: Turner Elson (+6)
Goaltender Wins: Jared Coreau (8)
Goals Against Average: Coreau (2.93)
Save Percentage: Coreau (0.900)

Last Week’s Notes:
Thursday at Chicago: Grand Rapids jumped out to a 3-0 lead 17:04 into the matinee contest but Chicago responded with a 5-0 run over a 17:11 stretch spanning the second and third periods...Tyler Bertuzzi (2-1—3) and Ben Street (0-3—3) both recorded three-point outings...Street is the third Griffin this season (Matt Puempel, Oct. 27; Turner Elson, Oct. 6) to notch three assists in a single game…Matt Lorito, who made his return to the lineup after missing four games due to injury, recorded two power play assists...Colin Campbell and Robbie Russo scored goals 13 seconds apart in the first period, the fastest consecutive tallies since Mitch Callahan and Jeff Hoggan potted two goals in 10 seconds on March 19, 2016 at Texas...The Griffins had their three-game winning streak in matinee games snapped…Grand Rapids outshot its seventh straight opponent. 
Friday at Iowa: Matthew Ford scored with 1:47 remaining in regulation to even the score...Both of Grand Rapids’ wins against Iowa this season have come in shootouts...Jared Coreau recorded six saves in the skills competition and Ben Street, Axel Holmstrom and Dominic Turgeon all tallied shootout goals, with Turgeon’s being the decider...Friday’s eight-round shootout was the Griffins’ longest since going 10 rounds versus Hamilton on April 5, 2014 at Van Andel Arena (2-1 SOW)...Grand Rapids outshot Iowa 32-23, the eighth straight opponent the Griffins have bettered in the shot category.
Saturday at Rockford: Matthew Ford potted the game-tying goal with two seconds left in regulation…Saturday marked Grand Rapids’ fifth and final visit of the season to the BMO Harris Bank Center…The Griffins finished 0-2-0-3 at Rockford…Grand Rapids needed a shootout to decide its game for the second consecutive night...Jared Coreau recorded 31 saves, including eight in overtime. 

This Week’s Promotions: On Friday against Cleveland, fans can enjoy $2 beers and $2 hot dogs from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. Sunday is the 21st annual New Year’s Eve Celebration presented by Farm Bureau Insurance. After the game, fans are encouraged to stick around Van Andel Arena for West Michigan’s Largest Indoor Fireworks Show, as well as participate in the open skate.

Bertuzzi in Detroit: Tyler Bertuzzi recorded his first NHL point on an assist during the Red Wings’ 3-1 loss at the New Jersey Devils last night. Bertuzzi has skated in three games with Detroit this season and is averaging 13:11 of ice time. He has totaled 14 points (7-7—14) and 34 PIM in 16 appearances with the Griffins this year.

New Year’s Eve: With the exception of the 1999-00 season, Grand Rapids has hosted a game on New Year’s Eve every year since the franchise’s inception in 1996 as Sunday will mark the 21st annual New Year’s Eve Celebration and the 18th consecutive calendar closer. The Griffins post a 9-9-1-1 (0.500) record on NYE. Sunday’s tilt will mark the fifth time Grand Rapids and Milwaukee have met to bring in the New Year, with the Griffins owning a 3-1 record, including a victory over the Admirals to close 2015. The most lopsided game on NYE came during the 2008-09 season when Grand Rapids shut out Iowa, 6-0 at Van Andel Arena.

Model Year: Captain Matthew Ford potted his team-leading 12th goal of the season last Saturday to extend his point streak to five games (5-3—8) and his goal streak to four. The second-year Griffin has provided a bit of heroics in Grand Rapids’ last two games, scoring the game-tying goal at Iowa last Friday with 1:47 left in the game and then potting the game-tying tally with two seconds remaining in regulation at Rockford last Saturday. Ford’s five-game point streak ties with Eric Tangradi for a team-high this season and is his longest stretch since a career-high seven-game run lasted from Jan. 29-Feb. 9, 2016. His four-game goal streak is a team season high and is Ford’s longest since a four-game stretch from Dec. 20, 2015-Jan. 2, 2016. Ford leads all Griffins scorers with 10 points (7-3—10) in December and his seven goals in the month tie for third in the AHL.

Hot Street: Eighth-year pro Ben Street has racked up eight points (2-6—8) in the last six games. He’s banked five assists during his three-game assist streak, including a season-high three last Thursday at Chicago, to give him a team-high 17 on the season. Street’s nine points (2-7—9) in the month of December tie with Matt Lorito for second most on the team.

Cool Ranch Loritos: Matt Lorito has points in three straight games (2-3—5) during his return to the lineup after missing four contests due to injury.

Holiday Hustle: The Griffins play a total of four three-in-threes this season and three of those come in the month of December. Grand Rapids’ holiday break is bookended by two three-games-in-three-nights stretches (Dec. 21-23 and Dec. 29-31).

Missing Pieces:
Matt Puempel (9-12—21): out with injury for last seven games
Turner Elson (8-6—14): out with illness for last nine games
Tyler Bertuzzi (7-7—14): recalled by Detroit after the matinee game on Dec. 21

‘Tis the Season: Under Todd Nelson, the Griffins are 22-9-2-3 in the month of December, including an 11-2-1-2 mark at Van Andel Arena and 11-7-1-1 on the road.

Repeat Opponents: Starting Dec. 2 at Chicago and concluding Feb. 7 vs. Manitoba, the Griffins play 28 straight games against Central Division foes. Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, the Griffins are 84-47-3-7 (0.631) against the Central and hold a +83 scoring margin in those 141 games.

Cleveland Notes: When the Griffins and Monsters meet on Dec. 29 for the first of eight games this season, it will pit the last two Calder Cup champions against each other…Cleveland defeated Grand Rapids in six games in the 2016 Central Division Finals, as the Griffins handed the Monsters their only losses during their championship run…The Griffins have points in 23 of 34 games against the Monsters since the start of the 2014-15 season, including finishing 6-3-1-2 last season…Cleveland and Grand Rapids will meet four times between Dec. 29-Jan. 13. 

Cleveland Connections: A former Michigan Wolverine (1993-97), John Madden is in his second season as the Monsters’ head coach…Madden logged 898 games as a player in the NHL from 1998-2012 and won three Stanley Cups: New Jersey in 2000 and 2003 and Chicago in 2010…Nick Moutrey (2011-15) and Hayden Hodgson (2015-17) both played with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit…Terry Broadhurst and Axel Holmstrom were teammates with Skelleftea AIK in Sweden in 2015-16…Paul Bittner and Dominic Turgeon played together from 2012-16 with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and helped Portland win the 2012-13 league championship…John Ramage and Ben Street played together at the University of Wisconsin during the 2009-10 season...Head coach Todd Nelson played one season (1992-93) on the shores of Lake Erie for the IHL’s Lumberjacks, totaling 42 points (7-35—42) and 115 penalty minutes in 76 games...Assistant coach Ben Simon is a native of Shaker Heights, a Cleveland suburb...Captain Matthew Ford spent most of his first three pro seasons (2008-11) with the Monsters, totaling 69 points (39-30—69) in 126 appearances...Street played in 44 games with the Monsters in 2014-15 and accumulated 39 points (9-30—39). 

Milwaukee Notes: With a rivalry dating back to the International Hockey League days, the Griffins have faced the Admirals more than any other opponent in team history as the two clubs will meet up for the 168th time on Sunday…Bobby Butler scored the game-winning goal 3:25 into overtime to give Milwaukee a 2-1 win in the teams’ last meeting at Van Andel Arena on Dec. 16…Matthew Ford (2-1—3), Matt Puempel (1-2—3) and Eric Tangradi (1-2—3) lead the Griffins in scoring against the Admirals this season…Tom McCollum is 1-0-1 in two appearances against Milwaukee this year and posts a 1.46 GAA and a 0.952 save percentage…The Griffins have points in four straight regular season matchups between the teams (3-0-1-0)…Since the 2013-14 season, Grand Rapids posts a 28-13-2-0 (0.674) regular season record against Milwaukee, including a 16-5-1-0 mark in 22 games in West Michigan…That comes on the heels of an 18-24-4-4 (0.440) record the Griffins tallied against the Admirals from the 2006-07 season to 2012-13...Grand Rapids’ power play is 6-for-20 (30.0%) against Milwaukee this season while its penalty kill is 15-for-15.

Milwaukee Connections: Grand Rapids assistant coaches Ben Simon (18 GP in 2003-04) and Bruce Ramsay (3 GP in 1995-96) had cups of coffee on the other side of Lake Michigan during their playing days…Milwaukee claimed Mark Zengerle off waivers on Nov. 9…Zengerle played in 144 regular season games with the Griffins from 2014-16 and totaled 84 points (24-60—84), a plus-19 rating and 42 PIM while adding 15 points (2-13—15) in 24 Calder Cup Playoff contests…Tyler Moy and Luke Esposito were teammates at Harvard from 2013-17 and helped the Crimson reach the 2017 Frozen Four...Goaltender Jake Paterson, Detroit’s second choice (80th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, appeared in two games with the Griffins during the 2015-16 season, showing a 0-2-0 record, a 3.11 GAA and a 0.928 save percentage. 

Lashing Out: Ninth-year Griffin and two-time Calder Cup champion (2013, 2017) Brian Lashoff needs two games played to tie fellow two-time Cup champion Nathan Paetsch for fifth on the franchise’s all-time games played list.

Player Games Played
1. Travis Richards 655
2. Mitch Callahan 365
3. Michel Picard 364
4. Francis Pare 363
5. Nathan Paetsch 359
6. Brian Lashoff 357

Goalie Leaders: Eighth-year Griffin Tom McCollum and fifth-year Griffin Jared Coreau both rank in the top five in several categories in Grand Rapids’ all-time goaltending record book.

Games Played Minutes Wins Saves
1. Tom McCollum (239) 1. Tom McCollum (13481:45) 1. Joey MacDonald (109) 1. Tom McCollum (5996)
2. Joey MacDonald (210) 2. Joey MacDonald (11784:31) 2. Tom McCollum (106) 2. Joey MacDonald (5362)
3. Jimmy Howard (190) 3. Jimmy Howard (10886:40) 3. Jimmy Howard (93) 3. Jimmy Howard (4941)
4. Jared Coreau (130) 4. Jared Coreau (7527:55) 4. Jared Coreau (72) 4. Jared Coreau (3448)


Up and Down: With an 11-15-1-4 record through 31 games, take a look at how the statistics compare between the Griffins’ 11 wins and 20 (including overtime and shootout) losses. Nineteen of the 31 games have been decided by two or more goals. Grand Rapids has scored five or more goals in eight of its 11 victories.

  GF GA PP% PK% SF SA
W (11) 5.00 2.45 31.48% 90.00% 34.27 30.18
L (20) 1.80 3.90 12.66% 80.80% 33.10 30.55


Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play back-to-back games a total of 24 times this season. Grand Rapids plays its third of four three-in-threes this week. Compare the statistics for when Grand Rapids has played on consecutive nights:

  W L (incl. OT, SO) GF GA PP% PK% SF SA
First Night 3 7 3.40 3.70 25.00% 80.00% 32.10 30.00
Second Night 3 7 2.50 3.60 15.63% 82.69% 31.50 32.10
Third Night 0 2 1.50 2.50 14.29% 88.89% 37.00 32.00


Championship Effects: Since 2001-02, the year Grand Rapids joined the AHL, nine Calder Cup champions have gone on to qualify for the postseason in the following season, including the Griffins, who reached the conference semifinals in 2014 after winning the franchise’s first championship in 2013. Only one team in this 16-year span repeated as champions (Hershey in 2009 and 2010).

Walleye Report: Under second-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye continue to lead the Central Division with a 17-8-2-1 (37 points) record. Christian Hilbrich (12-11—23) and Erik Bradford (7-15—22) lead the team in scoring. Griffins-contracted Pat Nagle leads the league with 14 victories (14-2-2) and places 13th with a 2.57 GAA while Red Wings-contracted Matej Machovsky is 3-5-1 with a 2.49 GAA and a 0.914 save percentage.