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MOOSE RAMPAGE AWAITS GRIFFINS AT VAN ANDEL ARENA

This Week’s Games
Manitoba Moose at GRIFFINS // Wed., Feb. 15 // 11 a.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM at 10:35 a.m.
Watch: AHLLive.com   
Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Home, 1-0-0-0 Overall. Second of four meetings overall, second of two at Van Andel Arena.
All-Time Series: 26-10-1-1-5 Home, 48-25-1-1-7 Overall.
NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets
Noteworthy: The Griffins have won three straight home games against Manitoba, outscoring the Moose 16-4 during that stretch.

San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS // Fri., Feb. 17 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS // Sat., Feb. 18 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. both nights
Watch: AHLLive.com both nights   
Season Series: 0-0-0-0 Home, 0-0-0-0 Overall. First and second of four meetings overall, first and second of two at Van Andel Arena.
All-Time Series: 18-12-1-3-1 Home, 36-26-1-5-2 Overall.
NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche
Noteworthy: Ben Street captained the Rampage in 2015-16, his only season in San Antonio. Street was limited to 15 games due to injury but totaled 21 points (7-14—21) and was named San Antonio’s IOA/American Specialty Man of the Year for his community involvement.

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Feb. 8    Manitoba Moose 1 at GRIFFINS 4    30-13-1-2 (63 points, 1st Central)
Fri., Feb. 10    GRIFFINS 2 at Iowa Wild 4    30-14-1-2 (63 points, 1st)
Sat., Feb. 11    GRIFFINS 4 at Iowa Wild 3 SO    31-14-1-2 (65 points, 1st)

Opening Faceoff: The Griffins have won four of their last six and continue to lead the Central Division while placing second in the Western Conference and fourth in the AHL with a 0.677 points percentage (31-14-1-2). Grand Rapids begins a five-game homestand with a matinee affair against the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday. 

This Week’s Promotions: Wednesday against Manitoba is the Griffins’ 16th annual matinee game. Approximately 2,500 students and teachers will arrive at 9 a.m. to take part in many unique learning experiences prior to the game’s start time of 11 a.m. Wednesday against the Moose will also be a Winning Wednesday presented by Farm Bureau Insurance. Every time the Griffins win at home on Wednesday, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next Wednesday game. All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ win against the Moose on Feb. 8 can redeem their ticket stub for a free time to this game (11 a.m. start) or the March 29 game against Milwaukee (7 p.m. start). The Griffins host their sixth annual Purple Community Game to benefit Van Andel Institute on Friday against San Antonio. On Friday, fans can also enjoy $2 hot dogs/$2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. Saturday is Toy Night presented by Flagstar Bank. Additionally, the first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a plush Griff, courtesy of Flagstar Bank.

Last Week’s Recap: The Griffins defeated Manitoba 4-1 last Wednesday. Jimmy Howard, making his second consecutive start with Grand Rapids after being assigned by Detroit for conditioning, stopped 16 shots to earn the win before departing midway through the third period for precautionary reasons. On Friday at Iowa, the Griffins lost for only the third time in 14 games at Wells Fargo Arena, dropping a 4-2 decision. Grand Rapids got redemption a night later as Tyler Bertuzzi delivered the decisive goal in a 4-3 shootout victory against the Wild.

Follow the Leader(s): Ben Street (15-23—38), Matt Lorito (12-26—38), Tomas Nosek (14-22—36), Martin Frk (17-15—32) and Mitch Callahan (11-19—30) lead the team in points…Street and Lorito tie for 19th in the AHL in scoring...Evgeny Svechnikov’s 29 points (14-15—29) tie for 13th among rookies in scoring while Kyle Criscuolo’s 28 (12-16—28) tie for 17th...Robbie Russo’s 27 points (6-21—27) are the most among team defensemen and tie for 13th among league blueliners…A season after leading the league with a +40 rating, Russo’s +14 ties for 17th this year...Dan Renouf has 48 PIM to pace the team…Eddie Pasquale’s 2.23 GAA and 0.923 save percentage both tie for fifth in the AHL...If he met the 900 minutes benchmark (currently with 604:32 minutes), Cal Heeter’s 2.18 GAA would tie for fourth and his 0.931 save percentage would be second in the league.

Matinee Games: Wednesday marks the 16th annual matinee game as the Griffins have hosted a weekday game with an early start time every year since the 2001-02 campaign. Grand Rapids owns a 9-5-0-1 (0.633) record in home matinee games and have outscored opponents 39-38 in those 15 games. In last season’s home matinee game on Jan. 27, the Griffins were shut out 4-0 by the Toronto Marlies. Wednesday will be the third overall weekday early start time this season for Grand Rapids as the Griffins won 7-1 at Chicago on Dec. 15 (noon ET start) and lost 3-1 at Rockford on Jan. 16 (2 p.m. ET start).

On the Power Play: The Griffins lead the league with a power play percentage of 27.1% (56/207) and have recorded at least one goal while on the man advantage in four of the last five games, 15 of the last 18, 20 of the last 24 and 33 of the last 39. The Griffins have relied on the power play for 35.0% of their goals (56 of 160), the second-highest percentage in the AHL behind only Toronto’s 35.5% (54 of 152). The power play has been keyed by Tomas Nosek (7-16—23), Matt Lorito (4-16—20), Martin Frk (11-9—20) and Ben Street (6-13—19), who lead the team in points. Nosek’s 23 points are third in the AHL while Frk is second in the league in power play tallies, as 11 of his team-leading 17 markers on the year have come with more skaters. Mitch Callahan has been on the ice 37 times during a power play goal, tops on the team. Of the Griffins’ 56 power play goals, 28 have been scored with five forwards on the ice, 15 with four forwards and one defensemen, 11 with three forwards and two defensemen, one with three forwards and one defenseman and one with six forwards.

Chasing PP History: To put in perspective the success of the Griffins’ power play thus far, the franchise record for highest power play percentage in a season is 21.8%, set in 2005-06. Through 48 games, the 2005-06 team stood at 21.6% while on the man advantage (70/324). The 2005-06 club, which played 80 regular season games, also scored 120 PPG, the most in team history. The Springfield Indians hold the AHL record for highest power play percentage in a season, finishing at 26.78% in 1993-94.

Russian Influence: Rookie Evgeny Svechnikov has accumulated 12 points (4-8—12) during his 10-game point streak, which is the longest run on the team this season. In fact, Svechnikov’s 10-game point streak is the longest by a Griffin since Francis Pare’s 10-game run from March 24-April 13, 2012. Detroit’s first choice, 19th overall, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Svechnikov has skated in all 48 games this year and ties for eighth among first-year AHL players with 14 goals.

Fantastic Frk: Martin Frk has three goals in the last three games and banked six points (3-3—6) over the course of his last five games. The fourth-year pro paces the team with 17 goals and has tied a career high with 11 power play tallies. Eleven PPGs tie for 10th-most in a single season in franchise history.

Between the Pipes: With Jared Coreau on recall in Detroit, goaltenders Eddie Pasquale and Cal Heeter have stepped up their games. Pasquale has points in 14 of his 19 starts on the season, ties for fifth with a 2.23 goals against average and has two shutouts. Heeter has won eight of his 10 starts for the Griffins this season and is a combined 18-3 between the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye and Grand Rapids. If he met the 900 minutes requirement, Heeter’s 2.18 GAA would tie for fourth and his 0.931 save percentage would be second in the league. In fact, if Heeter’s minutes met the 900 minutes benchmark, all three goalies who have played a game with the Griffins this season would rank inside the league’s top five in GAA. In his last eight appearances, Pasquale has let in just 13 goals (1.84 GAA) and stopped 206-of-219 (0.941) shots while Heeter has given up 12 goals (1.98 GAA) and saved 180-of-192 (0.938) in his last six starts.

Start It Up: The Griffins’ 0.677 points percentage is the fourth-best record in franchise history after 48 games, trailing only the 2000-01 (34-10-4, 0.750), 2005-06 (33-12-1-2, 0.719) and 2008-09 (29-9-6-4, 0.708) teams.

The Puck Stops Here: Tied for the league-lead in goals against per game (2.40), the Griffins are on pace to allow only 182 goals total, which would be the fourth-lowest amount ever in franchise history (166 in 2003-04, 177 in 2002-03 and 178 in 2001-02). Grand Rapids is on track to average 2.39 goals against, which would tie with the 2000-01 team for the fourth-lowest total (2.08 in 2003-04, 2.21 in 2002-03 and 2.23 in 2001-02). 

Specialty Teams: In addition to having the league’s top power play unit, the Griffins rank 14th in penalty killing at 82.0%. Grand Rapids’ combined power play and penalty kill percentage of 109.1, is second on the circuit behind only San Jose’s 109.5.

Current Streaks: Tomas Nosek has assists in four of the last five games (0-5—5)...Matt Lorito (2-4—6) and Martin Frk (3-3—6) both have six points in the last five contests...Tyler Bertuzzi has seven points (2-5—7) in the last seven games. 

Fast Starts: The Griffins are outscoring opponents 50-32 in the first period, and their plus-18 difference is the largest in the league. Grand Rapids’ 50 first-period markers are the most in the AHL. The Griffins have 30 first goals, tied for second in the league, and are 25-3-1-1 (0.867) when striking first.

You Again: Grand Rapids has played 48 games thus far with 44 coming against Central Division foes. The Griffins post 29 divisional victories, the most among teams in the Central. Grand Rapids has held either of the top two spots in the division since Nov. 12 and been the division leaders since Jan. 7.

Home Sweet Home: Winners in 10 of their last 14 on home ice, the Griffins are 17-7-0-2 at Van Andel Arena this season and their 36 points are tied for third in the league. 

Miller Time: Assigned by Detroit on Jan. 31, forward Drew Miller made his Griffins debut during last Wednesday’s victory versus Manitoba and recorded his first point as a Griffin on an assist in last Saturday’s win at Iowa. Drew becomes the fourth Miller cousin to skate with the Griffins, joining Kelly, Kevin and Kip. Kelly played in Grand Rapids during the 1999-00 season and compiled eight points (4-4—8), a plus-11 rating and eight PIM in 26 contests. Kevin appeared in 137 games from 1999-00 and 2003-04 and totaled 102 points (47-55—102), a plus-15 rating and 73 PIM. Kip, a 1990 Hobey Baker award winner at Michigan State, played in 203 games with the Griffins from 2000-02, 2004-05, 2006-07 and recorded 208 points (75-133—208), a plus-19 rating and 104 PIM. Miller is playing his first season in the AHL since spending part of the 2008-09 campaign with the Iowa Chops.

Howard Recalled: The Detroit Red Wings last Friday recalled goaltender Jimmy Howard from his conditioning stint with the Griffins. Howard split his two starts with the Griffins while showing a 3.35 goals against average and a 0.870 save percentage. He left last Wednesday’s 4-1 victory against Manitoba midway through the third period for precautionary reasons after stopping 16 shots and earning the win. Howard made his first appearance with Grand Rapids since May 6, 2009, during Feb. 4’s 5-4 loss to Milwaukee, setting a franchise record for longest time between appearances (2,831 days, or seven years, eight months and 28 days). The 32-year-old is 5-7-1 in 17 games with the Red Wings this season, while showing a 1.96 GAA and a 0.934 save percentage. The 6-foot-1, 218-pound netminder has not played in the NHL since sustaining an injury during Detroit’s 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Dec. 20.

Showing Discipline: The Griffins are the least penalized team in the league, averaging just 10.06 penalty minutes per contest. In fact, Grand Rapids is on pace to log 765 PIM, which would break the franchise record for fewest PIM in a season set by the 2014-15 team with 869. Dan Renouf leads the team with 48 PIM and is on track for 76 this season, which would make him the first team PIM leader to not break the century mark (previous low: Brennan Evans, 111 PIM in 2013-14).

Magic Numbers: The Griffins are 25-3-1-1 when scoring the game’s first goal, 21-1 when leading after one period and 24-1-1-0 when leading after two periods…Grand Rapids is 30-2-0-1 when scoring three goals or more and 1-12-1-1 when scoring two or less.

All About Chances: The Griffins are averaging the most shots in the league (33.98) and the sixth-most goals (3.33) while tying for the fewest goals against (2.40) and surrendering the 15th-fewest shots (29.42).

Spreading the Wealth: The Griffins have seven players with double-digit goal totals, which ties for fourth-most in the league. Martin Frk leads Grand Rapids with 17 goals.

Rookie Production: The Griffins have played eight rookies this season, which surpasses last year’s total of seven. Those eight rookies have combined for 105 points (42-63—105), which equates to 26.3% of the team’s goals (42/160), 23.4% of the assists (63/269) and 24.6% of the points (105/427).

Milestones: With 11 goals this season, Mitch Callahan has 88 in his career to rank third all-time in franchise history…He trails only Francis Pare (102) and Michel Picard (158) in the record books…Callahan’s 173 career points (89-84—173) are eighth-most in team history, six behind Jiri Hudler for seventh…Captain Nathan Paetsch has 118 career assists to rank sixth all-time in team history…Paetsch is 12 behind Derek King for fifth…Tomas Nosek recorded his 100th point as a Griffin while assisting on Martin Frk’s second-period goal last Friday…Frk’s goal also marked his 100th point as a Griffin…Second-year pro Tyler Bertuzzi played in his 100th game as a Griffin last Saturday at Iowa…Todd Nelson notched his 250th career win as an AHL head coach following last Wednesday’s 4-1 victory against Manitoba…The Griffins have had 10 players in franchise history play in 300 or more regular season contests with the club, including three who reached the benchmark this season – Callahan on Oct. 14 vs. Chicago, Paetsch on Nov. 18 vs. Texas and Brian Lashoff on Jan. 28 vs. Stockton.

Three in Detroit: Jared Coreau, Nick Jensen and Anthony Mantha remain on recall with the Detroit Red Wings. Coreau, the 158th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, shows a 5-3-3 record, a 3.27 GAA, an 0.893 save percentage and two shutouts in 13 games. Jensen, the 159th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, has skated in 23 games, recording seven points (2-5—7), a plus-three rating and four PIM. Jensen scored his first NHL goal on Jan. 31 versus New Jersey. Mantha ties for third on the team with 29 points (13-16—29), a plus-15 rating and 27 PIM in 41 contests.

Walleye Report: Under first-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye are tied for the most points in the league with a 33-12-2-1 mark (69 points). Rookies Tyson Spink (23-29—52), Tylor Spink (17-33—50) and former Griffin Shane Berschbach (10-39—49) lead the team in scoring. Second-year pro Jake Paterson, Detroit’s second pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is 23-9-1 while placing sixth with a 2.58 goals against average and tying for 10th with a 0.907 save percentage. Griffins-contracted Cal Heeter, who is on recall in Grand Rapids, is 10-1 between the pipes and shows a 3.03 GAA and a 0.898 save percentage.

Moose Crossing: The Griffins have won three straight home games against Manitoba, outscoring the Moose 16-4 during that stretch. The Moose returned to the AHL last season following a four-year absence and their last victory at Van Andel Arena came on Nov. 5, 2010 (6-5 W).

Rampage Stampede: Since the 2011-12 season, the Griffins are 3-4-2-1 (0.450) at home against San Antonio, including going winless in five of the last six meetings (1-3-1-1). In that same time frame, Grand Rapids is 5-10-3-2 overall (0.375) against the Rampage and were swept in all four matchups last season.

Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play back-to-back games a total of 27 times this season. Compare the statistics for when the Griffins have played on consecutive nights:

  First Night Second Night
W 8 13
L (incl. OT, SO) 8 3
GF 2.75 3.94
GA 2.31 2.31
PP % 22.73% 29.03%
PK % 78.95% 85.25%
SF 33.81 32.19
SA 28.94 32.81

Win Some, Lose Some: Compare the statistics for the Griffins during their 31 wins and 17 (including overtime and shootout) losses:

  GF GA PP % PK % SF SA
W (31) 4.29 1.84 30.71% 86.84% 34.65 29.65
L (17) 1.59 3.41 21.21% 71.70% 32.76 29.00