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02/21/2005 8:42 AM - Constance Ramos to Make Special Appearance on Saturday

This Week’s Games
Fri., Feb. 25 - Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Sat., Feb. 26 - San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/WHTC 1450 AM

Sun., Feb. 27 - GRIFFINS at Cincinnati Mighty Ducks - 5:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Feb. 18 - Milwaukee Admirals 2 at GRIFFINS 3 SO - 25-23-1-1, 52 pts. (5th, West Division)

Sat., Feb. 19 - GRIFFINS 0 at Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 3 - 25-24-1-1, 52 pts. (T5th)

Sun., Feb. 20 - Philadelphia Phantoms 6 at GRIFFINS 1 - 25-25-1-1, 52 pts. (T5th)

Where We Stand: The Griffins begin the week tied with San Antonio for fifth place in the West Division. Grand Rapids stands two points behind fourth-place Houston and eight points behind third-place Cincinnati in the race for a playoff spot, after falling to the 0.500 mark for just the second time this season.

Weekend Warriors: Three divisional contests are on this weekend’s agenda, including home contests against first-place Milwaukee on Friday and fifth-place rival San Antonio on Saturday. On Friday, students who “Bring Their ‘A’ Game” will be rewarded; the first 3,000 students with a report card will receive a barrel gym bag from Centennial Securities, and additional prizes will be awarded for the number of A’s on report cards. Also, 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. On Saturday, designer Constance Ramos from the popular ABC television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” will sign autographs in the arena lobby from 6:30 until 7:20 p.m. and drop the puck for the ceremonial faceoff. One lucky fan could win a home makeover, courtesy of Stock Building Supply, and the eighth Max & Erma’s Post-Game Family Fun Skate with WSNX will take place.

Coaching Firsts: The Griffins’ come-from-behind, 3-2 shootout win over division-leading Milwaukee on Friday marked Greg Ireland’s first win as Grand Rapids’ coach and his first head coaching victory at the AHL level. New assistant coach Chris Cichocki made his debut behind the Griffins’ bench during Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Cincinnati.

Re-Writing the Record Books: Joey MacDonald’s 3-2 shootout win over Milwaukee on Friday was his 55th victory as a Griffin, tying him with Mike Fountain for first on the franchise’s all-time list. He also appeared in his 104th game for Grand Rapids that night, moving past his good friend Marc Lamothe into sole possession of first place all-time (he’s now at 106). MacDonald, whose 13 shutouts and 2,743 saves are already the most in team history, is 23 minutes shy of tying Lamothe’s record for minutes played (5972:42).

Shootout Stories: The Griffins improved their shootout records to 5-1 this season and 41-46 all-time with Friday’s 3-2 triumph over Milwaukee. For the year, Griffins shooters have scored on 13 of their 27 shootout attempts (48.1%), while Joey MacDonald and Drew MacIntyre have turned away 22 of the opposition’s 29 shooters (75.9%). MacDonald stopped four of six Admirals attempts on Friday, while Jiri Hudler became the first player in team history to score twice in one shootout, providing one goal in the fourth round plus the game-clincher in the sixth.

Not Very Special: The Griffins have not scored a power play goal since going 2-for-6 during a 4-1 win at Philadelphia on Feb. 4. They are 0-for-26 over their last six games and 2-for-41 (4.9%) over their last 10. Meanwhile, starting with that same game against the Phantoms, Grand Rapids has allowed a power play goal in seven consecutive games, as opponents have converted 8-of-44 chances (18.2%).

Firing Blanks: The Griffins’ 3-0 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday marked the seventh time they’ve been shut out this season, three shy of the club record set in 2001-02. Frederic Cassivi, whose 39 saves were the second-most ever by an opposing goalie in a shutout effort, earned his second blanking of Grand Rapids in less than a year, dating to his 29-save, 3-0 win for Chicago on April 2, 2004.

The Curse Lives On?: Sunday’s 6-1 loss to Philadelphia continued a difficult 12-month stretch for the Griffins. When the Phantoms last came to town nearly one year ago (Feb. 29, 2004), Grand Rapids had won 10 consecutive home games and was unbeaten in 16 at home, both franchise records. Beginning with their controversial 5-3 loss to the Phantoms that night and including results from the 2004 playoffs, the Griffins have since won 14 of 37 home games (14-22-1-0) and 32 of 76 contests overall (32-42-1-1).

Climbing the Charts: Blake Sloan played the 500th regular season game of his career on Sunday against Philadelphia…Saturday in Cincinnati, Danny Groulx became just the eighth player in Griffins history to appear in 200 regular season contests…Kip Miller, whose 65 assists and 106 points each place eighth in team history, needs one goal to tie Ivan Ciernik and Mark Mowers for tenth place (42) all-time…Nathan Robinson’s 91 career points are only four shy of tenth-place Mowers.

Kronwall Closes In: Niklas Kronwall is threatening Griffins records for offensive production by a defenseman. With a team-high 35 points (11-24—35), he needs just two points (37 – Aris Brimanis 1998-99), five goals (16 – Brimanis 1998-99) and six assists (30 – Travis Richards 2000-01) to tie the team standards.

Rising Rookie: Eric Himelfarb ranks second on the Griffins with 13 goals and 29 points, tying for seventh on the team’s single-season rookie scoring list. Himelfarb could challenge the franchise’s rookie records of 55 points (Glen Metropolit, 1997-98) and 22 goals (Kevyn Adams, 1996-97), as he is on pace for 44 and 20, respectively.

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald’s fourth shutouts tie for ninth in the league…Niklas Kronwall ranks among the AHL’s top blueliners with 11 goals (T2nd), 35 points (T3rd) and 24 assists (8th)…Bryan Helmer’s four power play goals tie for eighth among defensemen…Eric Himelfarb ranks among the AHL’s top rookies with 13 goals (6th), 29 points (8th), six power play goals (T4th) and two shorthanded goals (T2nd).

M*A*S*H Unit: Kory Karlander (27), Travis Richards (16), Ernie Hartlieb (12), Eric Manlow (10) and Brent Kelly (8) have all missed a string of games due to various injuries or illnesses.

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
• Power Play: 37-for-262, 14.1% (21st)
• Penalty Killing: 247-for-291, 84.9% (T11th)
• Penalty Minutes: 21.60 avg. (25th)
• Goals For: 2.37 avg. (22nd)
• Goals Against: 2.48 avg. (8th)
• Shots For: 29.79 avg. (18th)
• Shots Against: 30.29 avg. (15th)
• Attendance: 6,230 avg. (10th)

This Week’s Scouting Report

Fri., Feb. 25 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (35-16-2-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7:30 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: 2-2-0-0 Overall, 1-2-0-0 Home. Fifth of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 33-18-11-0 Overall, 20-8-2-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (2nd season). Ships Ahoy: All four meetings this season have been decided by one goal, with each team winning twice…Despite the Griffins’ win on Friday, the Admirals still lead the AHL with 19 road victories (19-9-2-3)…Milwaukee, 2-3-0-2 in its last seven, is in the midst of just its second three-game winless streak this season…The defending Calder Cup champs have a 10-point lead atop the West Division over Chicago…Their 3.19 scoring average ties for second in the league…Simon Gamache ranks third in AHL scoring (22-45—67)…Brian Finley’s 26 wins place second on the circuit.

Sat., Feb. 26 vs. San Antonio Rampage (23-29-2-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7:30 p.m.
TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM/WHTC 1450 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: 3-1-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Home. Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 15-8-1-0 Overall, 7-4-1-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Steve Ludzik (2nd season). On a Rampage: It’s been three and a half months since the last meeting of these teams, a 3-2 Griffins win at Van Andel Arena on Nov. 13…The contest will mark the end of San Antonio’s 12-game, 29-day road trip…The Rampage broke a four-game skid, topped off by consecutive shutouts, with a 3-1 win at Utah on Saturday…Erstwhile NHLer Jay Bouwmeester has a team-worst minus-17 rating…San Antonio ranks 26th in goals scored (2.16) and 27th in shots (26.22)…Former Griffins D-man Joel Kwiatkowski ranks second on the Rampage in scoring (9-18—27).

Sun., Feb. 27 at Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (28-24-1-3) – Cincinnati Gardens – 5:05 p.m.
TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 4:40 p.m. Season Series: 4-3-0-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Road. Eighth of 10 meetings overall, fourth of five in Cincinnati. All-Time Series: 20-9-2-0 Overall, 10-5-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Head Coach: Brad Shaw (3rd season). Just Ducky: Eight straight meetings between the Griffins and Ducks, including the first six this season, had been decided by a single goal prior to Cincy’s 3-0 win on Saturday…Cincinnati is now 17-6-0-2 at home, including a 12-1-0-1 mark since Dec. 18…Frederic Cassivi’s shutout on Saturday was the Ducks’ second-ever blanking of the Griffins and their first since Dec. 28, 2001…Kurtis Foster leads all AHL defensemen with 12 goals, one more than GR’s Niklas Kronwall.

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