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12/19/2005 5:54 PM - Five-Game Home Stand Runs Thursday Through New Year’s Eve

This Week’s Games

Wed., Dec. 21 - GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Thu., Dec. 22 - Hershey Bears at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Fri., Dec. 23 - Cleveland Barons at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results

Wed., Dec. 14 - GRIFFINS 0 at Toronto Marlies 5 - 18-8-0-2, 38 pts. (2nd, North Division)

Fri., Dec. 16 - GRIFFINS 1 at Rochester Americans 4 - 18-9-0-2, 38 pts. (2nd)

Sat., Dec. 17 - GRIFFINS 3 at Toronto Marlies 6 - 18-10-0-2, 38 pts. (2nd)

Sun., Dec. 18 - GRIFFINS 4 at Syracuse Crunch 3 - 19-10-0-2, 40 pts. (2nd)

Welcome Home: Following this Wednesday’s tilt in Milwaukee - which will complete a five-game road trip and mark the Griffins’ 15th road contest in a span of 21 games (Nov. 6-Dec. 21) - the Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena for five straight games. On Thursday, the Griffins will entertain Hershey in their first meeting with the Bears since March 30, 2003. On Friday, Grand Rapids will try to improve upon its 3-1 record versus Cleveland this season. The homestand will continue after Christmas with games on Dec. 28 and 30, as well as the Griffins’ annual New Year’s Eve bash.

Friday Fun: This Friday’s game against Cleveland will feature the Subway Four-Pack (four tickets to the game, four coupons for Subway Fresh Meal Deals and parking for $44) and the Bud True Music Happy Hour. From 6-7 p.m. on the concourse, fans 21 and older can enjoy $2.25 drafts and live music by acoustic guitar rocker Spencer Mulder. It's also Student Night, as all high school and college students who show their I.D. at the Van Andel Arena box office on game night will receive a lower bowl ticket for just $10. Finally, fans will have the chance to meet their favorite players during the Fox Motors Post-Game Autograph Session.

Three-Peated Success: Following Sunday’s 4-3 win at Syracuse, the Griffins are 9-3-0-0 this season when playing three games in three nights, including a perfect 4-0 mark in the third contest. They’ll endure their fifth such gauntlet this Wednesday through Friday.

Rally Caps: The Griffins on Sunday rallied for their 14th come-from-behind victory this season, netting third-period goals from Kent McDonell and Eric Manlow to pull out a 4-3 decision at Syracuse. Grand Rapids has trailed at some point in 13 of its last 14 wins.

Shake it Off: The Griffins’ five regulation losses in their last six games (1-5-0-0) match the total from their first 25 outings this season (18-5-0-2)…Grand Rapids is 4-7-0-1 in its last 12 games following its 15-3-0-1 start.

Busy Man: As the result of a busy schedule back-and-forth between the Griffins and Red Wings, yesterday’s contest in Syracuse marked Jiri Hudler’s ninth game in 13 nights and his 12th contest in 18 nights.

If at First You Don’t Succeed: Grand Rapids has scored first in only 12 of its 31 games this season. The Griffins are 9-1-0-2 when scoring the game’s opening goal, compared to 10-9-0-0 when falling behind 1-0.

Four Score and Eight Seasons Ago: Prior to yesterday’s 4-3 win, the Griffins had allowed four or more goals in five straight games, one shy of an ignominious franchise record set from Feb. 1-15, 1998. The last time they surrendered at least four goals in five consecutive games was Feb. 27-March 7, 1998.

For the Record: The Griffins’ five straight regulation losses (Dec. 9-17) comprised their worst stretch since dropping six in a row from Dec. 23, 2004-Jan. 8, 2005…Grand Rapids’ recent regulation losing streak on the road - five straight games from Dec. 2-17 – ended one shy of the team mark of six, set twice before (most recently Jan. 27-Feb. 17, 1999).

Comings and Goings: The Griffins today experienced their busiest in-season day of transactions since the 2003-04 season, with six players either arriving or departing. The Red Wings assigned left wing Valtteri Filppula and goaltender Jimmy Howard, and recalled goaltender Joey MacDonald. In addition, the Griffins recalled center Jeff Nelson from the Muskegon Fury (UHL), and assigned forwards Scott Cameron and Ryan Keller to the Dayton Bombers (ECHL) and Fury, respectively. Filppula, summoned by the Wings last Wednesday, became the 75th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL and notched his first point with an assist in Detroit’s 3-2 overtime loss at Florida on Thursday. Filppula, who also skated in Detroit’s 6-3 win at Tampa Bay on Saturday, ranks third on the Griffins with 11 goals (tied), 15 assists and 26 points in 27 games. Howard has split the season between Grand Rapids and Detroit, posting a 4-2-1 record, a 2.91 GAA and a 0.898 save percentage with the Griffins. He made his NHL debut with the Wings on Nov. 28 and now shows a 1-2-0 record with a 2.99 GAA and a 0.904 save percentage in four starts for Detroit. MacDonald, who has yet to make his NHL debut, becomes the seventh Griffin this season to be called-up to the parent club. Grand Rapids’ all-time leader with 75 wins, he has played 12 games since recovering from off-season back surgery, owning a 5-4-1 record with a 3.87 GAA and a 0.877 save percentage. Nelson, who previously played for the Griffins during the 2003-04 and 1996-97 seasons, ranks among the franchise’s career leaders with 48 goals (T7th), 85 assists (6th), 133 points (6th), and 17 power play goals (T6th). He leads the United Hockey League with 49 points and 34 assists, while also contributing 15 goals in 23 contests. Cameron went scoreless in his three-game debut with the Griffins over the weekend after signing a professional tryout on Friday. He currently leads Dayton and is tied for ninth in the ECHL with 29 points (9-20—29). Keller returns to the Fury tied for 16th in the UHL scoring race with 26 points (12-14—26). He registered his first AHL goal Dec. 9 at Milwaukee, accounting for his lone point in eight games with Grand Rapids.

Injury Bug: A plethora of Griffins has missed time lately due to injuries, including Todd Jackson (eight straight games), Travis Richards (seven games) and Nate DiCasmirro (four games).

Short End of the Stick: The Griffins have experienced an incredible season-long disparity in two-man advantages. Opponents have received more than twice as many 5-on-3’s (41 to 17) and have scored 11 more goals in those situations (13 to 2). Grand Rapids has capitalized on only 11.8% of its two-man advantages, while foes have cashed in 31.7% of the time.

Explosive Offense: Grand Rapids has scored an AHL-high 114 goals, its most ever through 31 games (109 in 2001-02) and 38 more than its 2004-05 edition – an increase of 50%. In addition, the Griffins have scored five or more goals 11 times, already crushing their total of seven from last season. If they can maintain their current pace, the Griffins – who scored only 200 goals last year – would accumulate 294 goals this season, breaking their record of 279 from 2000-01.

League Leaders: Jiri Hudler stands near the top of the AHL with 16 goals (T5th), 22 assists (T5th) and 38 points (3rd)…Eric Manlow ranks among the leaders with 21 assists (T8th) and 32 points (T8th)…Drew MacIntyre is 13th with a 2.53 GAA…Darryl Bootland’s 162 penalty minutes lead the circuit.

Start Slow, Finish Strong: The Griffins have been outscored 41-23 in opening periods this season before gaining control, holding scoring advantages of 37-36 in the second period and 50-27 in the third.

This Week in Griffins History: Dec. 19: David Hymovitz's power play marker with 11:26 left gives the Griffins a 3-2 win at Manitoba (2001). Dec. 20: Grand Rapids hosts its 50th sellout (10,834 fans) as the Griffins drop a 4-2 decision to Las Vegas (1997). Dec. 21: Marc Lamothe makes 30 saves and Michel Picard scores the game’s lone goal in a 1-0 Griffins victory at Cleveland (2002). Dec. 22: Nathan Robinson is named AHL Player of the Week after collecting four goals, five points and a plus-three rating in three games (2003). Dec. 23: Griffins lose in a shootout for the fourth straight game and the fifth time in six outings, 3-2 at Detroit (1998).

Scouting Report

Wed., Dec. 21 at Milwaukee Admirals (19-7-1-1) – Bradley 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: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Fourth of eight meetings overall, second of four in Milwaukee. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 37-21-7-1-3 Overall, 14-13-5-1-3 Road. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (3rd season). Ships Ahoy: The Admirals are 10-2-1-0 in their last 13 outings, including a 5-2 win over the Griffins at the Bradley Center on Dec. 9…Milwaukee’s 9-2-0-0 home record ranks among the AHL’s best…The Admirals boast one of the league’s top goaltending tandems in Brian Finley (7-1-0, 1.99 GAA, 0.929%) and Pekka Rinne (11-6-1, 2.25 GAA, 0.913%).

Thu., Dec. 22 vs. Hershey Bears (19-5-2-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 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 two meetings overall, first and only in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 4-0-0-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals. Head Coach: Bruce Boudreau (1st season). Bear Necessities: The last meeting of these clubs was in the Griffins’ 2002-03 home finale, a 2-0 win over the Bears on March 30, 2003…Hershey’s 0.733 winning percentage is second best in the AHL and has kept it just five points behind Wilkes-Barre in the East Division race…Tomas Fleischmann, who ranks third on the Bears with 23 points (8-15—23), was the Red Wings’ second selection in the 2002 draft, between top pick Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula. He joined the Capitals organization as part of the Robert Lang trade (2/27/04).

Fri., Dec. 23 vs. Cleveland Barons (13-18-1-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 3-1-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Home. Fifth of 10 meetings overall, third of five in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 16-9-0-0-1 Overall, 9-4-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: San Jose Sharks. Head Coach: Roy Sommer (5th season). Spy Glass: Cleveland’s 4-2 win on Dec. 10 broke the Griffins’ five-game series winning streak…Nolan Schaefer has posted a 5-1-0 record with a 1.88 GAA and a 0.920 save percentage for the San Jose Sharks this season…The Barons have allowed 117 goals, tied for worst in the AHL.

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