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10/11/2005 11:13 AM - First Divisional Tests Precede Saturday’s Home Game Against Houston

This Week’s Games

Wed., Oct. 12 - GRIFFINS at Cleveland Barons - 7:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Fri., Oct. 14 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Sat., Oct. 15 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Last Week’s Result
Sat., Oct. 8 - Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 6 - 1-0-0-0, 2 pts. (T2nd, North Division)

Go For Two: Following their 6-3 rout of Milwaukee in their season opener, the Griffins will attempt to start 2-0 at home for the third consecutive season when they host the Houston Aeros this Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. With last Saturday’s win over the Admirals, Grand Rapids improved to 8-2 all-time in season openers and 7-3 in home openers, winning its Van Andel Arena debut for the third straight year.

Lucky Seven?: Grand Rapids will try to extend its impressive winning streak in road openers to seven this Wednesday, in a 7:05 p.m. start against Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena. Since 1999, the Griffins have outscored their hosts by a cumulative 24-10 margin in their road debuts, helping give them a 7-2 all-time mark in road openers.

Northern Exposure: After playing as members of the West (2001-02; 2003-05) and Central (2002-03) divisions during their first four AHL seasons, the Griffins now find themselves in the North Division, alongside Cleveland, Hamilton, Manitoba, Rochester, Syracuse and Toronto. This week’s trips to Cleveland (Wed.) and Hamilton (Fri.) mark Grand Rapids’ first intra-divisional contests of the season.

Hurray for Hudler: After the Griffins fell behind 1-0 early in their season opener, Jiri Hudler scored two first-period goals – on his only two shots of the game – to give Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead. He later added two power play assists en route to the 6-3 win over Milwaukee, finishing with first star honors and three power play points (1-2—3). Hudler’s performance earned him a nomination for the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week award.

A Helping Hand: Kent McDonell’s four assists on Saturday fell one shy of the Griffins’ single-game record, held by Chris Bala (Jan. 10, 2002 at Chicago).

Explosive Start: The Griffins’ six goals versus Milwaukee marked their most ever for both a season opener and a home opener, eclipsing the production of their 5-3 win over the Michigan K-Wings on Oct. 3, 1997. In addition, the performances by Jiri Hudler and Kent McDonell tied the Griffins record for points in a season opener, established by Michel Picard (1-3—4) in 1997.

Power Surge: Grand Rapids’ four power play goals on Saturday tied a single-game franchise record set twice before, most recently on Feb. 24, 2002 versus Utah. With four goals in six opportunities, the Griffins’ 66.7% conversion rate leads the AHL.

On the Shelf: Saturday’s season opener was the first ever missed by Griffins defenseman Travis Richards, who is rehabbing a knee injury suffered during Red Wings training camp in Traverse City. The Griffins also started the season without the services of all-star goaltender Joey MacDonald, who continues his recovery from off-season back surgery.

Oh Captain, My Captain: Matt Ellis, 24, was named the Griffins’ seventh captain on Oct. 6, becoming the youngest Grand Rapids player to ever attain the captaincy. Travis Richards, Bryan Helmer and Kent McDonell were named the alternate captains. The Griffins’ previous six captains were Blake Sloan (29 years old in 2004), Richards (31 in 2001), Ed Patterson (26 in 1999), Danton Cole (31 in 1998), Kerry Huffman (29 in 1997) and Don McSween (32 in 1996).

Lebda Makes 70: Defenseman Brett Lebda, who appeared in all 80 games with Grand Rapids last season as a professional rookie, made his debut for the Detroit Red Wings in their season-opening win over St. Louis on Oct. 5, becoming the 70th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL (Nashville’s Mark Eaton became no. 71 that same night.) Lebda, who scored his first NHL goal in the opener and added an assist the next night, was assigned to Grand Rapids prior to Saturday’s game. He extended his Griffins consecutive games played streak to 87, the longest active streak on the team.

A Cause for Celebration: Last Saturday’s capacity crowd (10,834) at Van Andel Arena marked the tenth opening night sellout for the Griffins in as many seasons, as well as the franchise’s 100th sellout all-time.

League Leaders: With four points apiece, Jiri Hudler and Kent McDonell are tied for 12th in the AHL in scoring. Hudler’s two goals also tie for fifth, while McDonell’s four assists tie for second…Drew MacIntyre’s 0.917 save percentage ranks 10th…Valtteri Filppula (1-1—2) and Kyle Quincey (0-2—2) are tied for fourth in scoring among rookies, while Quincey is also tied for seventh among defensemen.

Almost Like Being There: In conjunction with B2 Networks and the AHL, live video broadcasts of every Griffins game this season will be offered through a link at Any fan worldwide with a high-speed internet connection will be able to watch the action for just $6, while listening to Bob Kaser’s play-by-play.

This Week in Griffins History: Oct. 11: Griffins host their first-ever game at Van Andel Arena before a sold-out crowd of 10,834, but fall by a 3-1 score to Orlando. Darin Smith scores the first Griffins goal in the new facility (1996). Oct. 12: Grand Rapids claims its first AHL win with a 4-1 triumph at Hamilton (2001). Oct. 13: A stifling Griffins defense sets a home record and ties a franchise mark by allowing only 12 shots in a 2-0 victory over the Hershey Bears. The 12 shots mark the Bears' fewest in their 64-year history (2001). Oct. 14: A 3-1 victory at Chicago gives Grand Rapids its first 4-0 record in team annals (2000). Oct. 15: Before their ninth consecutive opening night sellout at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins rally for a 3-2 shootout win over Cleveland. It’s the first shootout decision for Grand Rapids since March 28, 2001, during the team’s final season in the IHL (2004). Oct. 16: In a 5-3 win at Cleveland, Joe Murphy becomes the first player in franchise history to score three power play goals in one game, and just the third to record two in one period (2001).

Get Your Tickets: Tickets for all Griffins regular season home games can be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets Plus locations (including Meijer stores), by phone through Star Tickets Plus at 800-585-3737, or via the web at Full season tickets, five- and 10-game value plans, and group ticket packages are available through the Griffins office at (800) 2-HOCKEY.

Scouting Report

Wed., Oct. 12 at Cleveland Barons (0-1-0-0) – Quicken Loans Arena – 7:05 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: First of 10 meetings overall, first of five in Cleveland. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 13-8-0-0-1 Overall, 5-5-0-0-1 Road. NHL Affiliation: San Jose Sharks. Head Coach: Roy Sommer (5th season). Spy Glass: The Barons finished seventh in the North Division in 2004-05 with a 35-37-2-6 record, missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons…Former Griffins defenseman Ed Campbell is the lone veteran on Cleveland’s roster…Grand Rapids went 5-2-0-1 against the Barons last season, including a 2-1-0-1 mark at Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena)…Cleveland was held scoreless in 10 power play chances during its season opener on Saturday, losing 4-1 to Rochester.

Fri., Oct. 14 at Hamilton Bulldogs (0-0-0-0) – Copps Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: First of eight meetings overall, first of four in Hamilton. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 8-5-1-0-0 Overall, 4-3-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliations: Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers. Head Coach: Don Lever (1st season). Dog Days: Hamilton’s 38-29-7-6 record last season was good for fourth place in the North Division. The Bulldogs lost 4-0 to Rochester in the division semis…Friday’s game marks the season opener for Hamilton…The Dogs return two of the AHL’s top rookies from last season in forward Corey Locke and goalie Yann Danis…Grand Rapids was 1-3 against Hamilton last season, including losses in both road matchups.

Sat., Oct. 15 vs. Houston Aeros (1-1-0-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:05 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 26-19-6-1-4 Overall, 15-8-2-1-1 Home. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Rob Daum (1st season). Aero Dynamics: The Aeros beat out the Griffins by six points last season for the final playoff spot in the West Division. After finishing 40-28-6-6, Houston lost 4-1 to Chicago in the division semis…Five-time 20-goal scorer Kirby Law is off to a fast start, tying for second in the AHL with six points (2-4—6)…Two-time AHL defenseman of the year Curtis Murphy (2003, 2004) has returned to the team after a season in Russia.

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