03/12/2013 3:24 PM
This Week’s Games
Wed., March 13 - Chicago Wolves vs. GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., March 16 - GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals - 8 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., March 17 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 4:05 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., March 8 - Hamilton Bulldogs 1 at GRIFFINS 2 - 33-19-2-2, 70 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sat., March 9 - Lake Erie Monsters 1 at GRIFFINS 2 - 34-19-2-2, 72 pts. (1st)
Sun., March 10 - GRIFFINS 5 at Hamilton Bulldogs 1 - 35-19-2-2, 74 pts. (1st)
Perfect Weekend: For the third straight weekend, the Griffins played three games in three days, this time finishing with a perfect 3-0 record. It marked the first time since Oct. 23-25, 2009 that the team went undefeated during a three-in-three. Grand Rapids began the stretch with back-to-back tightly-contested games in front of sellout Van Andel Arena crowds on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the team earned a 2-1 victory over Hamilton after two goals from Tomas Jurco and a 30-save performance from Petr Mrazek. The following night, the Griffins duplicated the 2-1 victory over Lake Erie, getting goals from Jeff Hoggan and Louis-Marc Aubry. Grand Rapids completed the weekend and extended their winning streak to an AHL-best four games on Sunday, beating the Bulldogs 4-1 on the road. Gustav Nyquist reclaimed sole possession of the AHL scoring lead with three points (1-2—3), while Chad Billins, Riley Sheahan and Hoggan also scored.
Rivalry Week: The Griffins will pit their four-game winning streak against division rivals this week in an effort to extend their division lead. Grand Rapids will host Chicago on Wednesday at 7 p.m., looking to build on the eight-point cushion they hold on the Wolves in the Midwest Division. Wednesday’s contest is just one of two home games the Griffins will have in a 13-game stretch (March 10-April 6), as the Griffins will begin a three-game road trip to kick off the weekend. Grand Rapids will visit Milwaukee on Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT and Peoria on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. EDT before concluding the trip with a rematch against the Rivermen next Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. EDT.
Chasing Number One: Grand Rapids has taken advantage of its four-game winning streak to pad its lead in the Midwest Division to eight points and move within two points of Texas for the top seed in the Western Conference, following the Stars’ five-game winless streak. The Griffins also trail Charlotte by one point, but they have played two fewer games than the Checkers and one fewer game than the Stars. The Griffins currently rank seventh in the AHL with 74 points, also trailing the Eastern Conference’s Syracuse (79), Binghamton (78), Providence (75) and Springfield (75).
Back on Top: After being held pointless in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, Gustav Nyquist reclaimed sole possession of the AHL scoring lead on Sunday with his fourth three-point performance in his last eight games (Feb. 23-March 10). The Halmstad, Sweden, native now leads Syracuse’s Tyler Johnson (31-26—57) by three points, boasting 60 points (23-37—60) in 57 games. Recalled to Detroit on Tuesday, Nyquist leads the Griffins in goals and assists, topping the 58 points (22-36—58) he recorded in 56 games during his rookie campaign of 2011-12. He also leads the club with 18 multipoint contests after his goal and two assists on Sunday at Hamilton.
Pack the Van: Home games on Friday and Saturday were successful on the ice – with identical 2-1 victories over Hamilton and Lake Erie, respectively – but they were also successful off the ice, as the team enjoyed its fifth and sixth sellouts of the 2012-13 season. The Griffins’ sixth sellout of the season on Saturday surpassed their total from the last two seasons combined (one in 2011-12, four in 2010-11) and are their most in any season since 2008-09 (six). Grand Rapids has sold out five of its 10 home games since Jan. 25. The Griffins’ average attendance through 32 home games is 7,351, moving them past Lake Erie (7,331) into fourth place in the AHL and representing a 3.2% year-to-date increase over last season. Through 32 games in 2011-12, their average was 7,121, en route to a season-ending 7,253.
Shut-Down: The Griffins’ defense has been on display in each of the team’s last four victories, allowing only four goals during the stretch (March 3-10). The team last allowed no more than one goal in each of four consecutive games almost 10 years ago, during a stretch from March 13-18, 2003, when they allowed only three goals. The last time the team let up a total of four goals in a four-game stretch was Dec. 20-27, 2008. Additionally, the Griffins have allowed just one goal in four of their last five games, a first since Dec. 20-31, 2008, when they allowed just five goals against over a six-game span.
Stick to 60: After playing a league-high six overtime games in the first 14 games of the season and another four during an eight-game stretch from Dec. 22-Jan. 9, the Griffins have had 18 straight games decided in regulation since a 5-4 shootout win on Jan. 23 versus Oklahoma City. That represents the team’s longest regulation-only stretch since a 29-game run from Jan. 18-March 26, 2008. Grand Rapids has been strong in extra time this season, as their 0.667 post-regulation winning percentage (8-0-2-2) is tied for third in the league. Only Wilkes-Barre Scranton (11-0-2-1, 0.786) and Rockford (7-0-1-1, 0.778) have been better after 60 minutes of play. The Griffins also hold the highest shootout percentage in the league, as its shooters have converted 15-of-37 opportunities (0.405), while the team’s goalies have stopped 27-of-35 attempts (0.771), which is the league’s fourth-best shootout save percentage.
Winning Wednesday: Wednesday’s game versus Chicago is another Amway Winning Wednesday. All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 2-0 win over the Houston Aeros on Feb. 6 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to this game. Tickets can be redeemed at The Zone during business hours (M-F 10-6; Sat. 10-2) and at the box office the night of March 13. If the Griffins beat the Chicago Wolves, all fans in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next Wednesday game, April 10 vs. Chicago. The box office will be open following the game for redemptions. Additionally, the first 300 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a gift. Amway will also provide Thundersticks to the first 1,500 fans through the turnstiles. For the final time this season, show your Griffins ticket at 17 Arena District restaurants and bars -- including Peppino's Sports Grille, home of the Griffins' Wednesday post-game parties with the players -- to enjoy Happy Hour specials before the game and Hockey Night specials afterward. Visit griffinshockey.com/hockeynight for a list of participating establishments. Fans can present their Grand Rapids Public Library card or Kent District Library card at the Van Andel Arena box office on the day of the game or at The Zone anytime during the store’s regular business hours to save $7 off the price of a Lower Level Faceoff ticket (regularly $18 in advance and $20 day of game). Limit four tickets per card per person, subject to availability. Finally, children with Griff’s Reading Goals bookmarks who have completed the required three hours of reading can redeem their bookmark for two free upper level tickets to this game.
Jumping Ahead: The Griffins have scored first an AHL-high 38 times in their 58 games this season, showing a 24-11-2-1 record after scoring first. The team has also been able to hold leads often, trailing an AHL-low 12 times after 40 minutes of play. Only seven other teams have trailed fewer than 20 times heading into the third period, with Chicago being the closest to Grand Rapids at 15.
Wolf Tamers: Grand Rapids is 5-0 against Chicago this season, and goaltender Tom McCollum has played a major role in the team’s success. McCollum has posted a 4-0 mark, a 1.45 goals against average and a 0.946 save percentage in three appearances against the Wolves, including a 20-save shutout on Dec. 7 – his 23rd birthday.
Roster Moves: The Red Wings on Tuesday recalled Gustav Nyquist from the Griffins, assigned Tomas Tatar to the Griffins and reassigned Gleason Fournier from the Griffins to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. A native of Halmstad, Sweden, Nyquist saw a six-game point streak come to an end on Friday versus Hamilton, but the 23-year-old has racked up 15 points (6-9—15) over his last nine games, including four three-point outings. In 121 career games with the Griffins, Nyquist has recorded 122 points (46-76—122) and 52 penalty minutes. Tatar, 22, ranks second on the Griffins with 39 points (19-20—39) in 44 games. The Ilava, Slovakia, native ranks among the Griffins’ all-time leaders with 83 goals (3rd), 103 assists (7th), 186 points (6th) and 15 game-winning goals (3rd) in his 248 career AHL games. He owns eight points (5-3—8) in 27 career NHL contests. Fournier, 21, has skated in 21 games with the Griffins this season, recording four points (1-3—4) and 23 penalty minutes. A native of Rimouski, Quebec, Fournier has eight points (2-6—8) and 37 penalty minutes in 34 career games with Grand Rapids and 18 points (2-16—18) and 40 penalty minutes in 65 games with Toledo.
Long Road Ahead: The Griffins have held sole possession of the top spot in the Midwest Division since a Dec. 31 victory versus Rockford, but they also had the benefit of playing a home-heavy schedule. The team has played a league-low 26 road contests, but that will soon change. The team is in the middle of the busiest road month of the season, with a season-high 11 games away from home in March. After Wednesday, the Griffins will play 10 of their next 11 games on the road, with only four home dates in a 44-day span (Feb. 25-April 9). The stretch also includes a season-high seven-game road trip to open up the final month of the season (March 28-April 6). The Griffins have excelled on the road for much of the season with a 16-9-0-1 road record, which is the fourth-best road winning percentage (0.620) in the AHL, trailing Syracuse (0.727), Charlotte (0.688) and Texas (0.683). Grand Rapids also has the AHL’s best offense away from home, averaging 3.73 goals per game, as well as a road power play that ranks fifth in the league (20.6 percent).
Top of the Midwest: With four straight games coming against Midwest Division rivals (March 13-19), the Griffins are looking to improve on their 15-7-2-1 record against their own division, which ties for the third-highest intra-division winning percentage. Only Syracuse (15-6-0-1, 0.705) and Binghamton (17-8-1-1) have been better within their own division.
More League Leaders: Gustav Nyquist has an AHL-leading 60 points (23-37—60) in 57 games, tying for third in the league with 37 assists and for second with 25 power play points…Landon Ferraro leads the circuit with six shorthanded points (3-3—6)…Petr Mrazek ranks among the league’s top goaltenders with a 2.25 goals against average (T8th), a 0.919 save percentage (T12th), 20 wins (8th) and three shootout victories (T6th)…Riley Sheahan is tied for 11th among AHL rookies with 35 points (16-19—35) in 56 contests…Chad Billins is tied for 15th among rookies and ranks ninth among defensemen and fourth among rookie defensemen with 32 points (7-24—32) in 58 games. He’s also the only player in the league to go a perfect three-for-three in shootouts.
Motown Update: Tomas Tatar is tied for eighth on the Red Wings and for 18th among NHL rookies with seven points (4-3—7) in 18 contests, but he was assigned to Grand Rapids on Tuesday…Joakim Andersson has six points (3-3—6) in 16 games with Detroit and is tied for fourth on the team with a plus-five rating…Brian Lashoff has four points and an average ice time of 18:15 in 21 games with the Red Wings…Recalled by Detroit on Tuesday, Gustav Nyquist has seven points (1-6—7) in 20 career games with the Red Wings, having skated in two games with the team this season.
Milestone Tracker: Tom McCollum’s win on Sunday at Hamilton moved him into a tie with Ian Gordon for sixth place in franchise history with 41 wins. McCollum also passed Marc Lamothe in saves last week, ranking third in Griffins history with 2,547 saves…Nathan Paetsch skated in his 300th AHL game on Friday versus Hamilton and is three points away from 200 as a pro…Mitch Callahan appeared in his 100th game as a Griffin on Saturday versus Lake Erie…Jeff Hoggan’s goal on Saturday gave him 150 as a pro…Francis Pare is two goals shy of becoming the second Griffin to reach 100 goals, and he sits two assists away from tying Derek King for fourth place all-time with 130.
Walleye Watch: With just 10 games to play in the regular season, the Toledo Walleye rank second in the ECHL’s North Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 31-22-5-4 record, having lost in regulation just five times in their last 20 games (10-5-5-0)…Willie Coetzee leads the team with 53 points (23-30—53) in 54 games, having racked up 16 points (5-11—16) and five multipoint games over his last 11 contests…After just nine games, Trevor Parkes sits 15th on Toledo with 18 points (9-9—18). He has 22 points (13-9—22) in 13 career ECHL games…Jordan Pearce ranks among the ECHL’s top netminders with a 2.70 goals against average (16th), 15 wins (T17th) and two shutouts (T9th). The Walleye will play four games in five days this week, starting on Wednesday when they host Greenville. The team will then play the Wheeling Nailers three days in a row – on the road on Friday, and at home on Saturday and Sunday.
Purple is In: Navy blue, red, metallic silver and metallic gold are the official team colors of the Griffins, but purple was also included on Friday night, when the team hosted its second annual “Purple Community Game” to benefit the Van Andel Institute and cancer research. When fans arrived for the 7 p.m. contest against the Hamilton Bulldogs, they noticed that nearly everything at Van Andel Arena was in sync with the color associated with cancer survivors, including purple jerseys worn by the Griffins, autographed and auctioned off to the public in the Fifth Third Bank Vault restaurant after the game, with proceeds benefiting VAI; 10,000 purple t-shirts handed out as fans enter the arena; purple shirts worn by the Griffins’ staff; purple concession items such as beer, cotton candy, sno cones, popcorn and cupcakes; purple VAI logos embedded in the arena’s ice surface; and purple game production elements, including songs, videos and LED graphics. Additionally, Haley Gort, a resident of Caledonia, Mich., who returned to her high school’s basketball team last month after battling cancer for two years, dropped the ceremonial puck before the game, and a salute to cancer survivors took place during the first intermission. The Griffins also “purpled out” their web site and social media pages to call attention to this special night. At any time, fans can text “PURPLE” to 50555 to donate $10 to VAI.
Wed., March 13 vs. Chicago Wolves (29-19-4-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast Network 100 (Chicago) at 7 p.m. Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 54-39-2-4-2 Overall, 27-16-2-2-2 Home. Season Series: 5-0-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. Sixth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Scott Arniel (1st season). Notes: Former Griffin Darren Haydar leads Chicago with 44 points (17-27—44) in 51 games. As the captain of the Griffins in 2008-09, Haydar recorded 80 points (31-49—80). Haydar is also tied for the AHL lead with five shootout goals…Wolves center Andrew Ebbett saw a 10-game point streak (Dec. 30-March 9) end on Sunday versus Rockford…Chicago goaltender Matt Climie ranks 15th in the league with a 2.36 goals against average and is tied for third with five shutouts…The Wolves average just 12.05 penalty minutes per game, the lowest in the league…Chicago’s penalty kill is tied for 25th in the league at 80.7 percent…Eric Kattelus, who was a camp tryout for the Griffins this fall, has six points (2-4—6) in 19 games for Chicago…Griffins defenseman Brett Skinner had 23 points (3-20—23) in 37 games for the Wolves in 2008-09.
Sat., March 16 at Milwaukee Admirals (28-24-3-3) – BMO Harris Bradley Center – 8 p.m. EDT
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 59-44-7-5-7 Overall, 24-23-5-4-5 Road. Season Series: 3-2-0-1 Overall, 2-0-0-1 Road. Seventh of eight meetings overall, fourth of four in Milwaukee. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Dean Evason (1st season). Notes: Taylor Beck leads Milwaukee with 39 points (11-28—39) in 48 games…Admirals netminder Magnus Hellberg, the reigning AHL Goaltender of the Month, is 18th in the league with a 2.51 goals against average…Milwaukee is the fifth-least penalized team in the league, averaging 13.72 penalty minutes per game…The Admirals are 18-10-1-2 against the Midwest Division…Milwaukee has struggled on special teams this season, ranking 29th on the power play (11.3 percent) and 28th on the penalty kill (79.6 percent)…Admirals forward Chris Mueller made his professional debut with Grand Rapids in 2007-08, playing two games after finishing his four-year career at Michigan State University…Griffins forward Triston Grant played two seasons in Milwaukee from 2008-10, setting career highs in all categories in 2009-10 with 25 points (12-13—15) and 236 penalty minutes in 74 games.
Sun., March 17 at Peoria Rivermen (25-27-4-3) – Carver Arena – 4:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 3:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 20-25-3-2 Overall, 13-11-0-1 Road. Season Series: 2-3-1-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Road. Seventh of 10 meetings overall, fourth of five in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Dave Allison (1st season). Notes: The Griffins have lost four straight games to the Rivermen (Dec. 5-March 2)…Peoria has struggled over its last 10 games, posting a 3-6-0-1 record…T.J. Hensick leads the Rivermen with 52 points (14-38—52) in 59 games. He is tied for seventh in the league in scoring and is tied with Manchester’s Linden Vey for first in assists…Peoria’s Derek Nesbitt is fourth in the AHL with 187 shots…The Rivermen are 27th in the league on the power play (11.8 percent)…The Rivermen rank 25th in the league in goals for (2.44 per game) and goals against (3 per game)…Peoria head coach Dave Allison was the first-ever Griffins head coach, sporting a 70-55-19 record from 1996-98…Griffins defenseman Brennan Evans spent the past two seasons with Peoria, registering 21 points (5-16—21) and 238 penalty minutes.