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Derrick Walser
11/05/2007 2:14 PM -

Goaltender Jimmy Howard Returns from Detroit

This Week’s Games
Fri., Nov. 9 - GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs - 8:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., Nov. 10 - Toronto Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Thu., Nov. 1 - Rochester Americans 3 at GRIFFINS 1 - 5-4-0-0, 10 pts. (T3rd, North Division) 

Fri., Nov. 2 - GRIFFINS 3 at Rochester Americans 5 - 5-5-0-0, 10 pts. (T4th)

Big Shots from the “Big Smoke”: This Saturday, the Griffins will entertain the best team from the AHL’s first month when the Toronto Marlies pay a visit to Van Andel Arena. At 8-0-0-2, the Marlies reside in first place in the North Division and stand as the only team in the league that has not suffered either a regulation or overtime loss. Toronto’s plus-19 scoring margin (42-23) is tops in the AHL, an advantage built largely through spectacular special teams play. The Marlies rank third on the power play at 21.7% and fifth in penalty killing at 89.5%.

A Salute to GR’s Heroes: During Saturday’s game, the Griffins will honor Grand Rapids’ finest with pre-game and in-game salutes of local police officers, firefighters and paramedics. Some of these men and women will be on the ice with service vehicles during the first intermission for a brief presentation in their honor. In addition, the Griffins and SportClips will team up to benefit the VFW Operation Uplink, with SportClips giving $5 hair cuts to fans on the concourse during the game. All proceeds will help provide free phone cards to troops and hospitalized veterans to connect more than 60,000 military families around the world this holiday season. Finally, an O’Charley’s O’pen Skate and a Griffins autograph session will both take place after the game.

Howard Returns: Goaltender Jimmy Howard, 3-1-0 with a 3.00 goals against average and a 0.902 save percentage in four games with the Griffins this season, was assigned to Grand Rapids for conditioning by Detroit on Sunday. Recalled on Oct. 25, he served as the backup to Chris Osgood during each of the Red Wings’ last four wins. In anticipation of the move, the Griffins on Saturday released netminder Cody Rudkowsky from his pro tryout, returning him to ECHL Phoenix. Rudkowsky made his Griffins debut in relief on Oct. 28, stopping eight of nine shots in a 7-1 loss to Peoria.

Road Warriors: Grand Rapids has tied its third-best road start in team history at 5-1, matching a 5-1 mark in 2001-02 and trailing only a 6-0 record in 2004-05 and a 5-0-1-0 slate in 2002-03. The Griffins suffered their first road loss on Friday in Rochester following a 5-0 start, falling shy of the franchise records for longest road winning streak (7, 10/16/04-12/3/04) and longest road unbeaten streak (8, 1/6/02-2/2/02, 5-0-3-0).

Friendly Confines?: Conversely, the Griffins have started 0-4 at home for the first time in their 12-year history, having been outscored 18-5 in those games. Grand Rapids had not lost four consecutive games in regulation at Van Andel Arena since enduring a team-record seven-game slide from Dec. 11, 2004 to Jan. 15, 2005. In 2002-03, the Griffins started with three losses and a tie before finally earning a victory in their fifth game at Van Andel Arena.

Out-Manned: With Rochester scoring a pair of 5-on-3 goals in both of its victories over the Griffins last week, seven of the 14 power play goals scored by opponents this season have come with Grand Rapids down two men. By contrast, all eight power play goals scored by the Griffins thus far have come during 5-on-4 situations.

Hartigan Nets AHL Nomination: The Griffins on Monday nominated center Mark Hartigan for the Rbk/AHL Player of the Week award, after he tallied two points (1-1—2) in two games last week. Both points came during Friday’s 5-3 loss at Rochester, earning him third star honors. Hartigan ranks among Grand Rapids’ leaders with four goals (T1st) and seven points (T3rd).

Consistent Forces: Brett Engelhardt (3-4—7) has yet to be held off the scoresheet in consecutive games this season. Meanwhile, a host of Griffins players has yet to experience a scoring drought of more than two games: Mark Hartigan (4-3—7), Jonathan Ericsson (2-3—5), Garrett Stafford (3-2—5), Carl Corazzini (4-4—8) and Mark Cullen (2-7—9)…Randall Gelech has registered points in four of the last five games (1-3—4).

Stick Drive Continues: Detroit Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman joined approximately 150 players from West Michigan youth hockey associations on the ice during the first intermission of last Thursday’s game against Rochester to kick off the Fifth Third Bank stick drive for the Griffins Youth Foundation. Now through Nov. 17, fans are encouraged to donate new or gently used hockey sticks at all Grand Rapids-area Fifth Third Bank locations. The sticks will be used by the hundreds of underserved, underprivileged and at-risk children who participate in the foundation’s programs.

Red Wings Jersey Auction: Twenty-three autographed, game-issued Detroit Red Wings jerseys are being made available for public bidding throughout the 2007-08 season through exclusive auctions that begin at and conclude after select Griffins home games. Online bidding, which begins at $250 per jersey, will establish the starting bids for silent auctions that will take place on the arena concourse during Griffins games. Subsequently, the highest bids from the silent auctions will serve as the starting bids for live post-game auctions. The first three jerseys – Johan Franzen, Jimmy Howard and Mikael Samuelsson – are now online, with the silent and live auctions set for Nov. 23. Proceeds from the auctions will benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation. For more information and a complete auction schedule, visit

Scouting Report

Fri., Nov. 9 at Rockford IceHogs (6-3-1-1) – Rockford MetroCentre – 8:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through All-Time/Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, first of two in Rockford. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Mike Haviland (1st season). Notes: Grand Rapids’ 5-1 loss to Rockford on Oct. 20 marked the Griffins’ worst home-opening defeat in franchise history…IceHogs head coach Mike Haviland spent the last two seasons as the bench boss in Norfolk, where he coached current Griffins Carl Corazzini (2005-07) and Mark Cullen (2005-06)…Long-time Griffins nemesis Wade Flaherty ranks among the AHL’s leaders with a 0.945 save percentage (2nd) and a 2.01 GAA (8th)…Leading scorer Evan Brophey (1-8—9) is tied for sixth among AHL rookies in points.

Sat., Nov. 10 vs. Toronto Marlies (8-0-0-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through All-Time Series: 7-7-0-0 Overall, 4-3-0-0 Home. Season Series: First of eight meetings overall, first of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (2nd season). Notes: Defenseman Derrick Walser was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for October, after notching a point in each of Toronto’s eight games. His 12 points (6-6—12) tie for the lead among AHL blueliners…David Ling (3-13—16) is tied for fourth in the league scoring race and first in assists...Scott Clemmensen, who spent four seasons as Martin Brodeur’s seldom-used understudy in New Jersey, has a perfect 6-0 record to go with a 2.00 GAA (T6th AHL).

Griffins Game Rewind

Nov. 2 at Rochester
Recap (3-5 L)
WOOD Radio Highlights: 1 2 3
Official Game Report

Nov. 1 vs. Rochester
Recap (1-3 L)
Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3
Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

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