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04/03/2006 5:27 AM - Magic Number for Clinching Regular Season Title is Six Points

This Week’s Games

Wed., April 5 - GRIFFINS at Cleveland Barons - 7:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., April 8 - GRIFFINS at Syracuse Crunch - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Sun., April 9 - GRIFFINS at Rochester Americans - 6:05 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Fri., March 31 - GRIFFINS 5 at Manitoba Moose 4 OT - 53-16-1-4, 111 pts. (1st, North Division)

Sat., April 1 - GRIFFINS 2 at Manitoba Moose 4 - 53-17-1-4, 111 pts. (1st)

Hardware Haul: The Griffins claimed both the North Division title (Sam Pollock Trophy) and the Western Conference regular season championship (N.R. “Bud” Poile Trophy) with Friday’s 5-4 overtime win at Manitoba, marking their third division crown in five AHL seasons (Central in 2003, West in 2002) and their fifth in the last seven seasons overall. They’ve reduced their magic numbers for winning the AHL's regular season championship (Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy) to six points over both Portland and Wilkes-Barre. Grand Rapids leads both clubs by seven standings points, 111 to 104.

Looking Ahead: After finishing their road slate with three divisional games this week, the Griffins will complete their regular season schedule on Easter weekend by hosting a pair of West Division foes at Van Andel Arena. Approximately 3,000 tickets are left for the contest against the San Antonio Rampage on Friday, April 14, while only 2,000 remain for the season finale versus the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday, April 15.

For the Record: Numerous individual and team records were set, tied or extended by the Griffins in Friday’s win:
• The victory extended Grand Rapids' franchise-record winning streak to 11 (broken on Saturday) and marked the team's 53rd win of the season, tying the record set in 2000-01;
• Jiri Hudler’s three assists gave him 57 on the season, breaking the team standard of 55 set by Michel Picard and Jeff Nelson in 1996-97; Bryan Helmer’s overtime goal marked his 53rd point of the season, tying the franchise record for defensemen established last year by Niklas Kronwall; and Jimmy Howard extended his team-record winning streak to 12 (broken on Saturday);
• The win gave the Griffins a 12-1 record for March, marking their best month ever in terms of wins (tied, 12-3-0 in Dec. 2000) and winning percentage (0.923). Incidentally, their 8-0 home record during March was their first flawless frame ever at Van Andel Arena, as they tied the franchise record for home wins in a month (8-1-0-0 in Feb. 2004).

Facts and Figures: The Griffins’ 53 wins rank fifth in AHL history, while 54 would tie for third…Ryan Oulahen’s first goal against the Moose on Saturday marked the Griffins’ 300th this season, making them the first AHL team since 1998-99 Providence to reach that plateau…Friday’s 5-4 victory at Manitoba improved Grand Rapids’ overtime records to 6-1 this season and 28-9 all time…Grand Rapids has rallied in eight of its last nine wins and in 10 of its last 13 victories…The Griffins have won 10 games this season when trailing after two periods, most in the league. They earned their AHL-high seventh road victory under such circumstances on Friday in Manitoba…Grand Rapids has won 11 of its last 12 games and 14 of its last 16 contests.

Remaining Carrots: The Griffins – as a team and individuals – still have a lot to shoot for over the final five games of the regular season. They need:
• One win to set a new franchise record with 54 (their current total of 53 ties the mark set in 2000-01);
• Two standings points to tie the franchise record of 113 (2000-01);
• Two road wins to tie their own AHL record of 26 (2002-03);
• Two wins in their final two home games to tie the franchise record of 31 (2000-01) and equal their 10-game home winning streaks accomplished in 2003-04 and 2000-01;
• Three home points to tie the franchise record of 65 (2000-01);
• Four wins to tie the AHL record of 57 (Binghamton, 1992-93);
• Six standings points to clinch the AHL’s regular season championship (Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy) and home-ice advantage throughout the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs;
• 14 power play goals to tie the AHL record of 124 (Nova Scotia, 1980-81);

• Darryl Bootland needs five goals to become the second 30 goal/300 PIM player in AHL history (HER Carl Mokosak, 1985-86), and 20 penalty minutes to tie Matt Ruchty’s franchise record of 364 (1996-97);

• Jimmy Howard needs a win in his next home decision to tie Mathieu Chouinard’s franchise-record nine-game home winning streak (2000-01);

• Jiri Hudler needs eight points to tie Michel Picard’s franchise record of 101 (1996-97);

• Donald MacLean leads Binghamton’s Denis Hamel by two goals (53 to 51) in the race for the AHL’s top goal-scoring honors (Willie Marshall Award).

Smashing Debut: Jimmy Howard today was named the Koho/AHL Goaltender of the Month. He posted a perfect 11-0 record during March, with a 1.80 goals against average and a 0.936 save percentage, and his overall 12-game winning streak shattered the previous team mark of eight (Mike Fountain, 2000-01). A top candidate for Rookie of the Year, Howard places among the league leaders with a Griffins-rookie-record 25 wins (T5th, 25-5-2), a 2.65 GAA (T12th) and a 0.907 save percentage (20th). He has led the team to points in 23 of his last 25 decisions (21-2-1-1). This marks the second major award in two weeks for the former top pick of the Detroit Red Wings, as he was named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week on March 20. Howard became only the second Griffins goalie to win the AHL’s monthly award, following Simon Lajeunesse’s honor in January 2002.

Hundred for Hudler?: Only 95 players in AHL history have eclipsed the 100-point plateau, but Jiri Hudler is attempting to join that exclusive club. Hudler’s 93 points – currently second in the league and 11 off Houston’s Kirby Law – put him on track for 99, which would fall two shy of the franchise mark set by Michel Picard in 1996-97. Just the second player in franchise history to reach 93 points, the third to score 36 goals and first to bag 57 assists, Hudler could join Derek King (83 points in 2000-01) as the only Griffins to win a scoring title.

Nobody Does it Better: After breaking Michel Picard’s nine-year-old franchise record for goals (46) on March 5 versus Rochester, Donald MacLean became the first AHL player in five seasons to hit the 50-goal plateau with two lamplighters on March 12 at Chicago. His most recent milestone came March 23 at Cleveland, when his 53rd goal broke the Grand Rapids pro hockey record set by George Parker of the 1950-51 IHL Rockets. Here’s just a sampling of MacLean’s incredible numbers this season:

0 – Griffins players who have led the league in goals (Binghamton’s Denis Hamel stands second with 51);
0.58 – MacLean’s goals-per-game average for his Griffins career (previous franchise record = 0.45, Mark Mowers);
0.73 – His goals-per-game average this season (franchise record = 0.56, Michel Picard in 1996-97);
4 – Hat tricks, a franchise record and most for an AHL player since 2002-03;
8 – Consecutive games in which he scored a goal (Feb. 25-March 14), breaking the team record of six;
16 – Players in AHL history who have scored at least 54 goals, his next increment;
19 – Consecutive games in which he recorded a point (Jan. 6-Feb. 18), breaking the team record of 17;
21 – Power play goals scored, a franchise record (13 – Jeff Nelson, 1996-97);
32 – Games, out of the last 37, in which he has recorded a point (33-20—53);
39 – Games, out of the last 45, in which he has recorded a point (41-24—65);
52 – Goals scored in his last 64 outings (0.81 per game);
53 – Goals scored this season, tying for 17th in AHL history;
56 – His current goal-scoring pace, a total that would tie for eighth in AHL history;
82 – Points this season, seventh in the AHL and sixth on the Griffins’ single-season chart;
252 – Shots on goal, a franchise record (250 – Glen Metropolit, 1998-99).

Spread the Wealth: The Griffins’ offense has been incredibly productive and balanced this season. Grand Rapids has set franchise records for the number of players with 20 goals (7), 50 goals (1), 20 assists (12), 30 assists (7), 40 assists (4), 30 points (12), 40 points (10), 50 points (8) and 60 points (5), while tying the marks for players with 30 goals (2), 40 goals (1), 10 assists (17), 80 points (2) and 90 points (1).

League Leaders: Jiri Hudler: 36 goals (T5th), 57 assists (3rd), 93 points (2nd), seven game-winning goals (T3rd) and two overtime goals (T1st); Donald MacLean: 53 goals (1st), 82 points (7th), 21 power play goals (2nd), eight game-winning goals (2nd), two overtime goals (T1st) and a plus-17 rating (T19th); Eric Manlow: 45 assists (T14th) and 67 points (T20th); Valtteri Filppula: 45 assists (T14th) and a plus-22 rating (T5th); Tomas Kopecky: 29 goals (T20th) and a plus-20 rating (T10th); Kent McDonell: 14 power play goals (T19th) and five game-winning goals (T14th); Bryan Helmer: 42 assists (T20th), a plus-24 rating (4th) and 53 points (T5th among defensemen); Darryl Bootland: 344 penalty minutes (2nd); Nate DiCasmirro: Plus-26 rating (T2nd); Matt Ellis: Three shorthanded goals (T11th) and a plus-17 rating (T19th); Clay Wilson: Plus-17 rating (T19th); Jimmy Howard: 25 wins (T5th), a 2.65 GAA (T12th) and a 0.907 save percentage (20th); Joey MacDonald: 17 wins (T20th) and two shutouts (T13th).

Who’s Hot?: Eric Manlow has goals in three of the last five games (4-1—5) and five of the last 10 games (6-3—9), and points in eight of the last 13 games (6-6—12)…Tomas Kopecky, who three-game goal streak (5-1—6) and six-game point streak (6-3—9) were snapped on Saturday, still has points in 12 of his last 17 outings (10-8—18)…Kent McDonell has assists in three of the last five games (0-4—4)…Valtteri Filppula owns a four-game point streak (1-4—5)…Kyle Quincey has consecutive two-assist outings…Jiri Hudler has points in 14 of the last 18 games (10-12—22) and 16 of 22 games (11-17—28)…Darryl Bootland has points in four of his last five appearances (2-3—5).

This Week in Griffins History: April 3: Brent Peterson's two goals lead a 5-1 rout of conference champion Detroit (1999). April 4: Griffins avenge their humbling 6-0 home loss to Toronto on March 17 by dealing the Roadrunners a 6-0 defeat of their own at the Ricoh Coliseum. The shutout is Joey MacDonald’s sixth of the season, equaling the team record, and the team’s tenth of the campaign, establishing a new mark (2004). April 5: For the fourth time in a span of 25 games, the Griffins score in the final minute with their goalie pulled to tie a game and force a shootout, in an eventual 3-2 triumph at Michigan. The win gives Grand Rapids 100 points (101) for the first time in the team’s four seasons (2000). April 6: Griffins claim the IHL’s Huber Trophy as regular season champions with a 2-1 win at Utah (2001). April 7: Griffins earn their team-record 52nd win and complete their home schedule with an amazing 31-7-3 record thanks to their record eighth shutout, a 6-0 whitewash of Detroit. The win puts Grand Rapids 32 games above .500 for the first time ever (52-20-7). Mike Fountain ties a team record with his sixth shutout of the season, while Derek King also matches a franchise mark by recording four assists. The Griffins’ 31 home wins are the most of any pro team (2001). April 8: Joey MacDonald makes 38 saves in a 4-2 win at Utah, tying Mike Fountain’s team record with his 34th victory of the year (2005). April 9: Joey MacDonald pushes his franchise-record streaks to 31 consecutive games played and 24 straight starts, but an injury forces him to leave midway through a 4-3 loss at Utah (2005).

Scouting Report

Wed., April 5 at Cleveland Barons (24-45-2-3) – 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: 8-1-0-0 Overall, 4-0-0-0 Road. Tenth and final meeting overall, fifth of five in Cleveland. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 21-9-0-0-1 Overall, 9-5-0-0-1 Road. NHL Affiliation: San Jose Sharks. Head Coach: Roy Sommer (5th season). Spy Glass: Since suffering a 4-2 home loss to the Barons on Dec. 10, the Griffins have outscored Cleveland by a 25-7 count while winning five straight meetings…With Cleveland’s impending move to Worcester, Mass., this will mark the final meeting between the Griffins and Barons…Grand Rapids is 6-1-0-1 over the last two seasons at Quicken Loans Arena, where it has won its last five visits.

Sat., April 8 at Syracuse Crunch (43-22-4-3) – Onondaga County War Memorial – 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: 5-0-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Road. Sixth and final meeting overall, third of three in Syracuse. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 8-1-0-0-0 Overall, 4-0-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets. Head Coach: Gary Agnew (6th season). Feel the Crunch: Syracuse stands third in the North Division, one point behind Manitoba with two games in hand…This season, the Crunch are 0-4-0-1 (0.100) against Grand Rapids and 43-18-4-2 (0.687) against the rest of the AHL…The Griffins have won eight of nine meetings in the all-time series.

Sun., April 9 at Rochester Americans (34-36-2-2) – Blue Cross Arena – 6:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 5:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fourth and fifth of six meetings overall, second and third of three in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 8-6-1-0-0 Overall, 4-2-1-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres. Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth (6th season). American Pride: The Amerks’ streak of 16 straight playoff appearances – the third-longest in AHL history – will come to an end with their next loss or the next point earned by Toronto…Since losing 4-1 in Rochester on Dec. 16, the Griffins have won the last four meetings by a combined 17-4 score.

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