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10/17/2005 4:24 PM - Griffins Players Lead AHL in Goals, Assists and Points

This Week’s Games

Wed., Oct. 19 - GRIFFINS at San Antonio Rampage - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Fri., Oct. 21 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 8:35 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Sat., Oct. 22 - Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Last Week’s Results

Wed., Oct. 12 - GRIFFINS 5 at Cleveland Barons 2 - 2-0-0-0, 4 pts. (T1st, North Division)
Fri., Oct. 14 - GRIFFINS 3 at Hamilton Bulldogs 1 - 3-0-0-0, 6 pts. (1st)
Sat., Oct. 15 - Houston Aeros 3 at GRIFFINS 2 - 3-1-0-0, 6 pts. (T1st)

Omaha Stakes: After becoming the last Western Conference team to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten, the Griffins will try to continue their fast start this week with road games in San Antonio (Wed.) and Houston (Fri.). They’ll return to Van Andel Arena this Saturday to host their first-ever meeting with the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, affiliate of the Calgary Flames and one of four teams new to the AHL this season.

Explosive Start: Starting with their six-goal output on opening night, the Griffins have displayed one of the AHL’s most dynamic offenses in the early going. In jumping out to a 3-1 start that has them tied for first in the North Division, the Griffins have outscored their opposition by a 16-9 margin. The 16 goals are their second-most ever through four games (17 in 2000-01), the nine goals allowed tie for third-fewest (seven twice), and the plus-seven scoring margin ranks second (plus-8 in 2004-05). If they can maintain their four-goals-per-game pace, the Griffins would accumulate 320 this season, shattering their record of 279 from 2000-01.

Top of the Charts: A Griffin leads the league in each major scoring category, led by Jiri Hudler’s six goals and 10 points, and Kent McDonell’s seven assists. McDonell (0-7—7) and Eric Manlow (2-5—7) are tied for ninth in the AHL scoring race, while Hudler and Manlow are tied for first with a plus-five rating.

Well-Traveled: Thanks to Friday’s 3-1 win at Hamilton, Grand Rapids has started 2-0 on the road for the fifth time in six seasons (2003-04 being the exception). The Griffins’ 5-2 win last Wednesday in Cleveland extended their remarkable winning streak in road openers to seven, a stretch during which they’ve out-scored their adversaries by a cumulative 29-12 margin.

Hardware for Hudler: Jiri Hudler was named the CCM Vector/American Hockey League Player of the Week on Monday, after tallying four goals, six points and a plus-four rating in three games. Hudler notched a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s 5-2 win at Cleveland, scored a pair of goals - including the game-winner - in Friday’s 3-1 victory at Hamilton, then capped off the week with another goal and assist in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Houston. Hudler’s six goals and 10 points both lead the AHL and stand as the greatest totals ever accumulated by a Griffin through the first four games of a season. He has registered at least one goal and two points in each game thus far in 2005-06. Hudler became the sixth Griffin all-time to be named AHL Player of the Week and the first since goaltender Joey MacDonald was honored on Feb. 16, 2004.

Movin’ On Up: With 93 points (35-58—93) in 113 games over his three seasons with Grand Rapids, Hudler is just two points shy of tying current Red Wing Mark Mowers (42-53—95 in 94 games) for tenth place on the Griffins’ career scoring list. Hudler’s 58 assists already place ninth all-time on the club.

Everybody Chips In: Fifteen of the 19 Griffins skaters who’ve earned ice time have recorded at least one point, including three – Jiri Hudler (6-4—10), Eric Manlow (2-5—7) and Kent McDonell (0-7—7) – who have points in all four games. Twelve multi-point games have already been logged, including four by Hudler and three by Manlow.

Tenacious D: In Wednesday’s win at Cleveland, Derek Meech achieved a feat accomplished by only one other defenseman in franchise history. His four points (1-3—4) matched the Griffins’ blueliner record set by Karel Rachunek (0-4—4) on Feb. 11, 2000 against Houston, and he became just the seventh defenseman in team history to log three or more assists in a single game.

Power Supply: The Griffins were awarded a franchise-record 13 power play chances on Saturday but converted just once in a 3-2 loss to Houston. Despite its struggles, Grand Rapids’ power play unit still stands fourth in the AHL at 24.1% (7-for-29), while its penalty killers rank 12th at 85.3% (29-for-34).

On the Shelf: Defenseman Travis Richards (knee) and goaltender Joey MacDonald (back) have yet to make their 2005-06 debuts.

Farewell: The Griffins on Monday assigned a pair of forwards, sending Brad Bonello to the ECHL’s Toledo Storm and Ryan Keller to the Muskegon Fury of the United Hockey League.

This Week in Griffins History: Oct. 17: The Griffins score twice in the third period to register their first-ever come-from-behind win, 2-1 at Houston (1996). Oct. 18: Before their eighth consecutive opening night sellout crowd (10,834), the Griffins defeat defending Calder Cup champion Houston, 4-2 (2003). Oct. 19: Bob Craft of Crown Point, Indiana, becomes the Griffins' two-millionth fan in their 208th regular season home game since 1996 (2001). Oct. 20: The Red Wings assign veteran NHL goaltender Curtis Joseph to Grand Rapids for conditioning during his rehabilitation from off-season ankle surgery (2003). Oct. 21: Michigan State alum Chad Alban makes 20 saves to lead the Griffins to a 1-0 win over Orlando (2000). Oct. 22: With a 3-1 victory at San Antonio, head coach Danton Cole equals Bruce Cassidy’s franchise record of 95 wins, set from 2000-02 (2004). Oct. 23: Yves Sarault's power play goal with 38 seconds left caps Grand Rapids' third-period comeback in a 2-1 win over Cincinnati (1999).

Scouting Report

Wed., Oct. 19 at San Antonio Rampage (3-3-0-0) – SBC Center – 8 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in San Antonio. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 18-9-1-0-0 Overall, 10-4-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Pat Conacher (1st season). Stampede Stories: The Rampage finished sixth in the West last season at 27-45-3-5, missing the playoffs for the second time in their three seasons…Grand Rapids went 6-2 against San Antonio last season, including a perfect 4-0 mark at the SBC Center…Steve Gainey paces the Rampage with three goals and eight points…Ex-NHLer Steve Passmore owns a 0.926 save percentage this season.

Fri., Oct. 21 at Houston Aeros (3-1-0-0) – Toyota Center – 8:35 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, first of two in Houston. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 26-20-6-1-4 Overall, 11-11-4-0-3 Road. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Rob Daum (1st season). Aero Dynamics: Erik Westrum, who leads the Aeros with four goals and nine points, scored a pair of near-identical power play goals in the win over the Griffins Saturday, banging home rebounds of Kurtis Foster shots…Josh Harding stopped 38 GR shots for the win, boosting his save percentage to 0.928…Houston knocked off 3-0 Peoria and 3-0 Grand Rapids in consecutive road games last week.

Sat., Oct. 22 vs. Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights (2-2-0-0) – 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 Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames. Head Coach: Ryan McGill (1st season). Knight Moves: The Knights begin their first season of play at the Omaha Civic Auditorium…Former Hartford bench boss Ryan McGill is their head coach…They’ve scored only six goals in their four games but have allowed just seven, enabling them to go 2-2 so far.

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