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03/27/2006 4:59 PM - Need Five Wins in Last Seven Games to Tie AHL Record

This Week’s Games

Fri., March 31 - GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose - 8:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., April 1 - GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose - 8:30 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Thu., March 23 - GRIFFINS 4 at Cleveland Barons 1 - 50-16-1-4, 105 pts. (1st, North Division)

Sat., March 25 - Rochester Americans 1 at GRIFFINS 4 - 51-16-1-4, 107 pts. (1st)

Sun., March 26 - Rochester Americans 2 at GRIFFINS 3 - 52-16-1-4, 109 pts. (1st)

Scorching Run: Sunday’s 3-2 win over Rochester marked the Griffins’ franchise-record and AHL season-high 10th consecutive victory, supplanting their nine-game run from Dec. 22, 2000 to Jan. 12, 2001 as the longest winning streak in their 10 seasons. After claiming 13 wins in their last 14 games, they need five wins in their final seven contests to tie the single-season AHL record of 57, set by Binghamton in 1992-93.

On the Road Again: Grand Rapids will conclude the road portion of its regular season schedule with a five-game journey that ties for its longest trip of the season. The stretch begins this weekend in Winnipeg with a Friday-Saturday set against the Manitoba Moose, and concludes on April 9 in Rochester. The Griffins won’t return to Van Andel Arena for nearly three weeks, as they’ll close out the regular season by hosting San Antonio on Friday, April 14 and Milwaukee on Saturday, April 15.

Keep Climbing: The Griffins earned their league-high 52nd victory of the season on Sunday, marking the second-most wins in franchise history (53 in 2000-01) and tying for the fifth-most in the AHL’s 70 seasons. The most recent AHL teams to reach 52 wins were Rochester (52) and Providence (56) in 1998-99…Grand Rapids’ league-leading 109 points are the third-most in franchise history, behind only the squads from 2000-01 (113) and 1999-00 (111).

Updating the Race: Grand Rapids enjoys a 17-point lead over Syracuse in the North Division race, as it takes aim at its third division title in five AHL seasons (Central in 2003, West in 2002) and the fifth in its 10 seasons overall. The Griffins’ magic numbers are as follows:

• North Division championship (Sam Pollock Trophy) – Four points over Syracuse;
• Western Conference regular season championship (Norman R. “Bud” Poile Trophy) – Five points over Houston, four over Syracuse and one over Milwaukee;
• AHL regular season points championship (Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy) – Ten points over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, eight over Portland, five over Houston, four over Syracuse, one over Hartford and one over Milwaukee.

You’re Unbelievable: Grand Rapids, which has rallied in seven of its last eight wins and in nine of its last 12 victories, maintains the AHL’s leadership with 52 wins, 109 points and a 0.747 winning percentage. With seven games left on their schedule, the Griffins own a nine-point lead over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the chase for the AHL’s regular season title.

Griffins’ NHL Alumni Now 80 Strong: Former Griffin Alexandre Giroux (2001-02) was recalled from Hartford on Saturday and made his NHL debut that night for the New York Rangers in their 4-3 shootout loss at Tampa Bay. In doing so, Giroux became the 80th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, while the Rangers became the record 18th NHL team this season to have a former Griffin play for them.

Smashing Debut: After being named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week last Monday (4-0, 1.46 GAA, 0.943%), rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard set a franchise record on Thursday by earning his ninth straight victory, eclipsing Mike Fountain’s eight-win run from 2000-01. He extended that record streak to 11 on Sunday by making 33 saves in the 3-2 win over Rochester. A top candidate for AHL Rookie of the Year, Howard places among the league leaders with a Griffins rookie-record 24 wins (T5th, 24-4-2), a 2.56 GAA (8th) and a 0.911 save percentage (15th). During March alone, he is 10-0 with a 1.58 GAA and a 0.944 save percentage, and he has led the team to points in 22 of his last 23 decisions (20-1-1-1).

Of Note: The Griffins’ franchise-record streak of 13 straight games with a power play goal was snapped on Saturday by Rochester…Grand Rapids’ opponents are 1-for-4 in penalty shots this season following Daniel Paille’s (ROC) miss on Saturday. Foes have attempted seven penalty shots since the Griffins were last awarded one on March 17, 2004...Saturday’s jersey auction grossed $9,110 for Bauer Christian Reformed Church, including a high bid of $650 for Matt Ellis’ sweater. The Griffins’ three jersey auctions this season raised $34,070 for charity.

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 last Thursday, 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 48);
0.60 – MacLean’s goals-per-game average for his Griffins career (previous franchise record = 0.45, Mark Mowers);
0.75 – His goals-per-game average this season (franchise record = 0.56, Michel Picard in 1996-97);
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;
32 – Games, out of the last 35, in which he has recorded a point (33-20—53);
39 – Games, out of the last 43, in which he has recorded a point (41-24—65);
52 – Goals scored in his last 62 outings (0.84 per game);
53 – Goals scored this season, tying for 17th in AHL history;
58 – His current goal-scoring pace, a total that would rank sixth in AHL history;
82 – Points this season, fourth in the AHL and sixth on the Griffins’ single-season chart.

Hundred for Hudler?: Only 94 players in AHL history have eclipsed the 100-point plateau, but Jiri Hudler is attempting to join that exclusive club. Hudler’s 90 points – currently third in the league and nine off the leader, Houston’s Kirby Law – put him on track for 98, which would fall three shy of the franchise mark set by Michel Picard in 1996-97. Just the second player in franchise history to reach 90 points, the third to score 36 goals and the third to bag 54 assists, Hudler could join Derek King (83 points in 2000-01) as the only Griffins to win a scoring title.

Rare Breed: Currently among the league leaders with 24 goals (T35th) and 325 penalty minutes (2nd), Darryl Bootland on March 17 became the first AHL player in 11 years to post 20 goals and 300 PIM in the same season. Former Griffin Matt Ruchty was the last of eight players in league history to accomplish the feat, notching 26 goals and 348 PIM for Albany in 1994-95. Next up for Bootland is the 30/300 club, which has only one AHL member: Carl Mokosak of the 1985-86 Hershey Bears (30/312).

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 (11), 40 points (10), 50 points (8) and 60 points (5), while tying the marks for players with 30 goals (2), 40 goals (1), 80 points (2) and 90 points (1).

League Leaders: Jiri Hudler: 36 goals (5th), 54 assists (3rd), 90 points (3rd), seven game-winning goals (T3rd) and two overtime goals (T1st); Donald MacLean: 53 goals (1st), 82 points (4th), 21 power play goals (2nd), eight game-winning goals (2nd), two overtime goals (T1st) and a plus-18 rating (T10th); Eric Manlow: 45 assists (T11th) and 65 points (T17th); Tomas Kopecky: 28 goals (T18th) and a plus-20 rating (T4th); Valtteri Filppula: 42 assists (T18th) and a plus-19 rating (T8th); Kent McDonell: 14 power play goals (T19th) and five game-winning goals (T12th); Bryan Helmer: 42 assists (T18th), a plus-23 rating (3rd) and 52 points (T5th among defensemen); Darryl Bootland: 325 penalty minutes (2nd); Nate DiCasmirro: Plus-26 rating (2nd); Matt Ellis: Three shorthanded goals (T8th) and a plus-18 rating (T10th); Jimmy Howard: 24 wins (T5th), a 2.56 GAA (8th) and a 0.911 save percentage (15th); Joey MacDonald: 17 wins (T19th) and two shutouts (T13th).

Who’s Hot?: Eric Manlow has goals in four of the last eight games and points in seven of the last 11 games (4-6—10)…Tomas Kopecky owns a five-game point streak (5-3—8) and has points in 11 of his last 15 outings (9-8—17)…Matt Ellis had a four-game scoring streak (3-1—4) snapped on Saturday, but he still has points in six of the last eight games (4-2—6)…Jiri Hudler’s five-game point streak (3-3—6) ended that night as well, but he still has points in 13 of the last 16 games (10-9—19) and 15 of 20 games (11-14—25)…Darryl Bootland has points in each of his last three appearances (1-3—4).

This Week in Griffins History: March 27: Kip Miller earns his 1000th pro point with an assist in Grand Rapids’ 3-2 loss at Houston (2005). March 28: Griffins land three players on the AHL postseason All-Star teams. Goaltender Marc Lamothe is tabbed for the First All-Star Team, while left wing Michel Picard and right wing Mark Mowers are Second Team honorees (2003). March 29: Kip Miller ties a Griffins home record with four assists and Joey MacDonald records his fifth shutout of the season in 5-0 fashion over Cleveland (2005). March 30: Marc Lamothe ties a franchise record with his sixth shutout of the season, helping the Griffins complete their regular season home schedule with a 2-0 win over Hershey. Stacy Roest hits the 70-point plateau, joining with Michel Picard and Mark Mowers to give the Griffins three 70-point scorers for the first time ever. Grand Rapids finishes the year with an average attendance of 7,216, marking a first-ever increase of 2.4% for the franchise over the 2001-02 season (2003). March 31: Griffins clinch a first-round playoff bye and set a franchise record for shots allowed (12) in a 1-0 win at Houston. Mike Fountain’s third shutout of the season gives Grand Rapids a total of seven, establishing a new team record (2000). April 1: The Griffins become the eighth team in IHL history to post consecutive 50-win seasons with an 8-0 laugher at Cleveland. Grand Rapids earns its largest shutout ever and its largest margin of victory in a regular season game, while tying the record for goals scored in a road game. Slava Butsayev (3-2—5) and Ivan Ciernik (2-3—5) lead the attack, tying a team record for points in one game, while Mike Fountain earns his team-record 31st win (2001). April 2: A perfect 34-save performance by Joey MacDonald results in a 2-0 win at Utah, the Griffins’ franchise-record fourth road shutout of the season. The Griffins earn the Western Conference regular season title, set an AHL record with their 26th road win, tie a league standard with their 57th road point, and equal a franchise mark with their ninth shutout overall (2003).

Scouting Report

Fri., March 31 at Manitoba Moose (39-21-6-4) – MTS Centre – 8:30 p.m.
Sat., April 1 at Manitoba Moose – MTS Centre – 8:30 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. each night. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 4-1-0-1 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Road. Seventh and eighth of eight meetings overall, third and fourth of four in Winnipeg. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 29-13-1-0-4 Overall, 14-7-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Alain Vigneault (1st season). Got You ‘Pegged: Four of the six meetings this season have been decided by shootouts, with the Griffins winning three of the four…Grand Rapids prevailed 3-2 in the most recent clash (March 15 in GR), which featured a Griffins record and AHL season-high 14 shootout rounds…Manitoba begins the week in third place in the North Division, four points behind Syracuse…Donald MacLean has four goals and seven points in five games against the Moose, while Jimmy Howard is 2-0 with a 1.85 GAA and a 0.940 save percentage (63-67) in the series.

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