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12/27/2004 8:11 AM - Annual New Year’s Eve Bash Features Spectacular Fireworks Show

This Week’s Games
Tue., Dec. 28 - Cincinnati Mighty Ducks at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Fri., Dec. 31 - Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results

Wed., Dec. 22 - GRIFFINS 2 at Cleveland Barons 3 SO - 18-9-1-1, 38 pts. (2nd, West Division)

Thu., Dec. 23 - GRIFFINS 1 at Chicago Wolves 3 - 18-10-1-1, 38 pts. (T2nd)

Sun., Dec. 26 - Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 2 at GRIFFINS 1 - 18-11-1-1, 38 pts. (3rd)

Auld Lang Syne: The Griffins will bid a fond farewell to a successful 2004 with two home games this week, as they take a calendar-year record of 42-29-5-1 (0.584) into Tuesday’s rematch with Cincinnati and Friday’s Annual New Year’s Eve Bash versus Hamilton. Tuesday is College Night, and students who show their current student ID at the box office or The Zone can purchase a lower bowl ticket for just $10 (a $7 savings; limit two tickets per student).

Out With a Bang: This Friday, the largest indoor fireworks show ever staged in West Michigan will bring a raucous conclusion to 2004. The spectacular four-to-five-minute post-game show will feature 600 pieces of pyrotechnic effect being shot from points across the ice surface and from the arena rafters. As part of the night’s festivities, every fan will receive a noisemaker that they’ll use to help ring in the New Year as it arrives in other parts of the world. A Max & Erma’s Post-Game Family Fun Skate with WSNX will take place after the fireworks, and fans can enjoy the pre-game Friday Fun Fest, featuring live music, games and activities on the arena concourse. In addition, as with every Friday home game, fans may purchase a “Subway Family Four Pack,” offering four tickets, four Subway Fresh Meal Deals and parking, for just $44.

Unfamiliar Territory: The Griffins’ 2-1 defeat to Cincinnati on Sunday gave Grand Rapids its first five-game winless streak (0-4-0-1) in more than two years, since going 0-3-0-2 from Nov. 28-Dec. 6, 2002. The loss also snapped the Griffins’ four-game winning streak against Cincinnati and dropped Grand Rapids into third place in the West Division, two points behind new leader Chicago and one in back of Milwaukee. The Griffins had sat in either first or second in the standings since Nov. 27.

Well, There’s Your Problem: Since claiming a 4-2 win at Utah on Dec. 15, the Griffins have been outscored 13-5 during their five-game losing streak.

Hard-Luck Joey: Joey MacDonald has suffered his first four-game losing streak since last season (0-3-1), despite posting a 1.98 GAA and a 0.944 save percentage (134-142) in those contests. He has allowed exactly two goals in each game, but the Griffins have totaled only four goals in support of him.

Miller Time: Michigan native and 15-year veteran Kip Miller signed an AHL contract with the Griffins on Sunday, returning to both the team and league that he led in scoring before departing for the NHL nearly three years ago. The 35-year-old center totaled 81 points (21-60—81) in 138 games with the Washington Capitals over the last two seasons, including a 2002-03 campaign during which he recorded a personal NHL-best of 50 points (12-38—50) in 72 contests. After making his return in Sunday’s loss to Cincinnati, Miller has played 76 career games with the Griffins, showing 91 points (37-54—91) for a franchise-record 1.20 scoring average.

Road Warriors: Despite dropping three straight decisions away from home, the Griffins still own the AHL’s second-best road record (10-3-0-1, 0.750) and the best road start in franchise history (tying the 21 points – 9-2-1-2 – earned in 2002-03). However, their success away from home stands in contrast to their record at Van Andel Arena, where they’ve won just eight of their 17 outings (8-8-1-0).

Manlow Among Boys: Eric Manlow has lit the lamp in seven of the last 10 games, including a five-game goal streak (Dec. 7-15) that ended one game shy of the franchise record. He leads the Griffins with 13 goals and five power play tallies, places second with 23 points and ties for third with 10 assists.

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald ranks among the AHL’s leaders with 14 wins (T4th), four shutouts (T1st), a 1.93 GAA (5th) and a 0.936 save percentage (T4th)…Niklas Kronwall, who leads the Griffins in scoring, ranks first among league blueliners with 27 points and nine goals, while his 18 assists tie for fourth…Eric Himelfarb’s 15 points (6-9—15) tie for fourth on the Griffins and tie for 13th among AHL rookies. He leads all first-year players and is tied for fourth overall in the AHL with two shorthanded goals.

Milestones: Defenseman Bryan Helmer’s power play goal that tied the game with 41 seconds left in regulation in Cleveland on Wednesday marked the 100th goal of his 12-year pro career…Todd Robinson, who stands third on the Griffins with 16 points and second with 13 assists, needs just one point to reach 500 for his pro career (138-360—498).

Missing in Action: Jiri Hudler, who is currently in the Czech Republic alongside his ailing father, has missed the last 15 Griffins games…Tomas Kopecky has missed the last 14 games due to a broken finger…Kory Karlander has sat out the last six games after suffering a broken left foot.

Shootout Stories: Despite forcing overtime on Bryan Helmer’s power play goal at 19:19 of the third period Wednesday in Cleveland, the Griffins went on to fall to the Barons by a 3-2 count in a shootout. The defeat marked Grand Rapids’ first shootout loss of the season (3-1) and their first since dropping a 4-3 home decision to Orlando on Feb. 14, 2001. The Griffins, now 39-46 all-time in shootouts, have scored on eight of their 17 shootout attempts (47.1%), while Joey MacDonald and Drew MacIntyre have turned away 14 of the opposition’s 19 shooters (73.7%). Todd Robinson improved his perfect shootout record to three-for-three by notching the Griffins’ lone tally on Wednesday.

So Long: Forward Derek Edwardson, whom the Griffins signed to a pro tryout last Wednesday, was released on Friday. Edwardson, second in the ECHL’s scoring race with 30 points (13-17—30) in 26 games, went scoreless in two games with Grand Rapids during his AHL debut.

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
• Power Play: 26-for-177, 14.7% (17th)
• Penalty Killing: 155-for-173, 89.6% (2nd)
• Penalty Minutes: 19.94 avg. (26th)
• Goals For: 2.45 avg. (17th)
• Goals Against: 2.13 avg. (3rd)
• Shots For: 29.55 avg. (19th)
• Shots Against: 29.94 avg. (12th)
• Attendance: 5,917 avg. (10th)

This Week’s Scouting Report

Tue., Dec. 28 vs. Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (13-17-0-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Season Series: 4-1-0-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Home. Sixth of 10 meetings overall, fourth of five in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 20-7-2-0 Overall, 10-3-2-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Head Coach: Brad Shaw (3rd season). Just Ducky: The last seven meetings between the Griffins and Ducks, including all five this season, have been decided by a single goal…Former Ferris State star Chris Kunitz has three goals in just two games against Grand Rapids…Top NHL prospect Stanislav Chistov leads Cincy with four points (2-2—4) in the series…The Ducks have won three straight and four of five, logging victories over conference powers Grand Rapids, Chicago, Milwaukee and Edmonton.

Fri., Dec. 31 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (11-13-4-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7:30 p.m.
TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 7-2-1-0 Overall, 3-1-1-0 Home. NHL Affiliations: Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Doug Jarvis (2nd season). Dog Eat Dog World: Hamilton’s lone win in five tries at Van Andel Arena came by a 4-0 count on Dec. 13, 2002…Center Corey Locke (8-8—16) is among the AHL’s top rookies, while 2004 all-star Tomas Plekanec leads the squad with 17 points (7-10—17)…The Bulldogs have lost their last three games, all on the road, but are still 7-7-2-1 away from Copps Coliseum…Hamilton’s scoring average of 2.03 and its power play rate of 9.4% both rank last in the league.

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