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PIECE OF THE PIE

This Week’s Games
Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS // Fri., March 17 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves // Sat., March 18 // 8 p.m. // Allstate Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. on Friday and 7:35 p.m. on Saturday
Watch: AHLLive.com both nights, The U Too (Chicago) on Friday and CW50 (Chicago) on Saturday   
Season Series: 3-1-0-0 Home, 3-1-0-0 Road, 6-2-0-0 Overall. Ninth and 10th of 10 meetings overall, fifth of five at Van Andel Arena and fifth of five at Allstate Arena.
All-Time Series: 38-22-2-4-2 Home, 39-29-0-2-0 Road, 77-51-2-6-2 Overall.
NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues
Noteworthy: Chicago is just one point back of Grand Rapids in the Central Division.

GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals // Sun., March 19 // 6 p.m. // UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 5:35 p.m.
Watch: AHLLive.com   
Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Road, 5-3-0-0 Overall. Ninth of 12 meetings overall, fourth of six at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
All-Time Series: 35-31-5-5-5 Road, 83-57-7-6-7 Overall. 
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: With a rivalry dating back to the International Hockey League days, the Griffins have faced the Admirals more than any other opponent in their history as the two clubs will meet up for the 161st time on Sunday.

Last Week’s Results
Tues., March 7    GRIFFINS 3 at San Antonio Rampage 0    38-16-1-2 (79 points, 1st Central)
Wed., March 8    GRIFFINS 4 at Texas Stars 5    38-17-1-2 (79 points, 1st)
Sat., March 11    GRIFFINS 0 at San Jose Barracuda 1 SO    38-17-1-3 (80 points, 1st)
Sun., March 12    GRIFFINS 4 at Stockton Heat 5 SO    38-17-1-4 (81 points, 1st)

Opening Faceoff: The Griffins concluded their season-high seven-game road trip with a 3-2-0-2 mark following back-to-back shootout losses in California last weekend. Grand Rapids continues to lead the Central Division standings while placing third in the Western Conference and tying for fourth in the league with a 0.675 points percentage. The Griffins’ return to Van Andel Arena on Friday will mark the first home contest since Feb. 25 and commence a three-games-in-three-nights weekend.

This Week’s Promotions: Friday against Chicago is a St. Patty’s Day Celebration presented by Spectrum Health Neurosciences and fans can enjoy $2 hot dogs/$2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last.

Last Week’s Recap: On Tuesday, Jimmy Howard made his fourth conditioning start of the season with the Griffins and turned aside 21 shots to shut out San Antonio, 3-0. Howard was recalled by Detroit the next day. On Wednesday at Texas, Grand Rapids held a 4-2 lead with 5:03 remaining in the third period but the Stars scored three goals in a span of 1:34 to come back and win. The Griffins surrendered two shorthanded tallies in the third frame, tying a franchise record for most SHG against. Facing San Jose for the second-time ever on Saturday, Jared Coreau delivered his second AHL shutout of the season behind 32 saves but the Griffins fell 0-1 in a shootout. Grand Rapids suffered a 0-1 SOL for only the fourth time in franchise history and first since Nov. 10, 2010 versus Milwaukee. Concluding the road trip on Sunday at Stockton, Joe Hicketts delivered the game-tying goal with 16 seconds remaining in regulation but the Griffins lost 4-5 in a shootout.

Follow the Leader(s): Matt Lorito (19-33—52), Ben Street (22-26—48), Martin Frk (21-22—43), Evgeny Svechnikov (16-22—38) and Tomas Nosek (14-24—38) lead the team in points...Lorito’s 52 points tie for fourth in the AHL...Svechnikov ties for 10th among rookies in scoring…Rookie Dan Renouf has 57 PIM to pace the team…Captain Nathan Paetsch has a team-best plus-15 rating…Jared Coreau ranks seventh with a 2.23 GAA and ties for sixth with a 0.924 save percentage...Eddie Pasquale’s 2.45 GAA and 0.917 save percentage are both 14th in the league.

Home Sweet Home: Winners in five of their last six on home ice, the Griffins are 21-8-0-2 at Van Andel Arena this season and their 44 points are tied for fourth in the league. The Griffins own a plus-42 goal differential inside friendly confines, the third highest in the AHL. Friday against Chicago will be the first home game since Feb. 25, a stretch of 19 days. 

Road Crew: Following a 4-5 shootout loss at Stockton last Sunday, the Griffins concluded their season-high seven-game road trip with a 3-2-0-2 mark. The road swing that began Feb. 28 in Cleveland and ended Sunday in Stockton covered five cities, three time zones and – including two bookend travel days – lasted 15 days. The trip marked only the sixth time in franchise history the Griffins played seven or more consecutive games on foreign ice. The 2008-09 team played a club-record eight in a row on the road from March 22-April 5. See how the Griffins have fared in their six lengthy road trips:

Season 2016-17 2013-14 2012-13 2008-09 2002-03 1999-00
Length 7 games 7 games 7 games 8 games 7 games 7 games
Record 3-2-0-2 4-2-0-1 4-2-0-1 3-5-0-0 4-3-0-0 6-1-0-0


On Track: Owning a 38-17-1-4 record (81 points), the Griffins are on pace to finish the season with 102 points. Grand Rapids has amassed 100 or more points five times previously (115 in 2005-06, 113 in 2000-01, 111 in 1999-00, 106 in 2002-03 and 100 in 2013-14).

Resiliency: In the 17 games following a regulation loss this season, the Griffins post a 13-3-0-1 (0.794) record.  

Two in Detroit: Robbie Russo and Mitch Callahan remain on recall with the Detroit Red Wings. The 161st Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, Russo debuted with Detroit during the team’s 3-2 loss at Toronto on March 7. Russo has appeared in four games while averaging 15:27 of ice time and showing a minus-two rating. Callahan made his season debut with the Wings in a 3-2 overtime loss at Calgary on March 3. Callahan has skated in three games and is averaging 7:13 time on ice.

Rise and Shine: The Griffins today signed forward Dominik Shine to an amateur tryout for the remainder of this season and to a standard player’s contract for 2017-18. Shine, 23, played the last four seasons at Northern Michigan University (WCHA), where he tallied 97 points (48-49—97) and 185 penalty minutes in 131 games and served as a two-time alternate captain. During his senior year, Shine paced the conference with 20 goals in 33 contests en route to his second-straight 30-point season and was named to the All-WCHA Third Team.

Heeter Assigned to Walleye: The Griffins today assigned goaltender Cal Heeter to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Heeter has won 10 of 12 games in Grand Rapids this season, including his last three. If he met the minutes requirement, the 6-foot-4 netminder would rank among the AHL’s leaders with a 2.07 goals against average (3rd) and a 0.933 save percentage (1st). Reeling off eight consecutive victories to begin the 2016-17 campaign with the Walleye, Heeter is 11-1-0 in 12 games in Toledo while totaling a 3.01 GAA and a 0.897 save percentage.

Coreau Returns: Assigned by Detroit last Thursday, Jared Coreau started both games for the Griffins last weekend. He turned aside 31 shots in a 0-1 shootout loss at San Jose on Saturday to record his second AHL shutout of the season and 11th career. In 21 games with Grand Rapids this season, the fourth-year pro sports a 12-7-2 record, a 2.23 GAA and a 0.924 save percentage. The 158th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, Coreau shows a 5-4-3 mark to go along with a 3.46 GAA, a 0.887 save percentage and two shutouts in 14 games during his first season with the Red Wings. See where Coreau stacks up in Grand Rapids’ goaltending record book:

Career Stat Rank Next Up
57 W 4th 3rd - 90 - Howard
11 SO 3rd 2nd - 14 - Howard
98 GP 5th 4th - 103 - Lamothe
5687:08 Min 5th 4th - 5972:42 - Lamothe
2,670 saves 4th 3rd - 4849 - Howard

 

Fantastic Frk: Martin Frk is second on the team with 21 goals and has set a career high with 12 power play tallies. Frk’s 12 power play goals are the most in a season by a Griffin since Jeremy Williams banked 14 in 2009-10. In fact, 12 PPGs tie with Carl Corazzini (2007-08), Glen Metropolit (1998-99) and Michel Picard (1996-97) for seventh most in a single season in franchise history. One more and Frk can tie Jeff Nelson (1996-97) for sixth. Donald MacLean holds the team’s single-season power play goal record with 21, set in 2005-06. Frk logged 11 markers on the man advantage in 2015-16 and is the second player in team history to record consecutive seasons with double-digit power play goal totals (Eric Manlow in 2004-05 and 2005-06). Including his 27-goal haul from last season, Frk is the ninth player in franchise history to log consecutive 20-goal campaigns and the first since Teemu Pulkkinen in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Tomas Tatar recorded three-straight 20-goal seasons from 2010-13, the only player in team history to accomplish such a feat.

Hot Street: Seventh-year pro and first-year Griffin Ben Street leads the team with 22 goals, including 10 on the power play. Street has reached the 20-goal plateau in the AHL for the third time in his career (27 in 2011-12 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton; 28 in 2013-14 with Abbotsford). Street has seven points (5-2—7) in the last six games.

Current Streaks: Eric Tangradi has 15 points in his last 11 games (5-10—15)...Rookie Kyle Criscuolo has five points in the last four games (3-2—5)…Rookie Evgeny Svechnikov has 21 points in his last 21 outings (6-15—21).

On the Power Play: Grand Rapids continues to lead the league with a power play percentage of 26.9% (70/260). Grand Rapids has relied on the power play for 33.7% of their goals (70 of 208), the second-highest percentage in the AHL behind only Tucson’s 34.5% (50 of 145). The power play has been keyed by Martin Frk (12-13—25), Matt Lorito (4-20—24), Ben Street (10-13—23) and Tomas Nosek (7-16—23), who lead the team in points. Frk is third in the league in power play tallies, as 12 of his 21 markers on the year have come with more skaters. Mitch Callahan has been on the ice 39 times during a power play goal, tops on the team. Of the Griffins’ 70 power play goals, 31 have been scored with five forwards on the ice, 23 with four forwards and one defensemen, 14 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 60 games, the 2005-06 team stood at 21.9% while on the man advantage (89/407). 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.

Power Play Duo: With 12 power play goals from Martin Frk and 10 from Ben Street, the Griffins have had two or more players record double-digit PPG totals for the sixth time in franchise history and first since 2008-09 (Darren Haydar 16, Justin Abdelkader 10). 

The Puck Stops Here: Second in the league in goals against per game (2.45), the Griffins are on pace to allow only 186 goals total which would be the fifth-lowest amount ever in franchise history (166 in 2003-04, 177 in 2002-03, 178 in 2001-02, 185 in 2014-15).

Shots Fired: Martin Frk paces the league with 192 shots and is on track to finish with 243, which would tie for eighth most in franchise history and be the most since the 2007-08 season. As a team, the Griffins are second in the AHL, averaging 33.15 shots per game.

Specialty Teams: In addition to having the league’s top power play unit, the Griffins are ninth in penalty killing at 83.4%. Grand Rapids’ combined power play and penalty kill percentage of 110.3 is the highest on the circuit.

Bookends: The Griffins lead the league with a plus-25 goal differential (63-38) in the first period and place third with a plus-27 differential (75-48) in the final frame. Grand Rapids’ 63 first-period markers are second in the league and the Griffins are 30-3-1-1 (0.886) when striking first. 

Showing Discipline: The Griffins are the least penalized team in the league, averaging just 10.4 penalty minutes per contest. In fact, Grand Rapids is on pace to log 786 PIM, which would break the franchise record for fewest PIM in a season set by the 2014-15 team with 869. Rookie Dan Renouf leads the team with 57 PIM and is on track for 72 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 30-3-1-1 when scoring the game’s first goal, 27-1 when leading after one period and 28-2-1-0 when leading after two periods…Grand Rapids is 37-4-0-2 when scoring three goals or more and 1-13-1-2 when scoring two or less.

All About Chances: The Griffins are averaging the second-most shots (33.70) and goals (3.47) in the league while surrendering the second-fewest goals against (2.45) and the 15th-fewest shots (29.73).

Spreading the Wealth: The Griffins have nine players with double-digit goal totals, which ties for third most in the AHL. Ben Street (22) and Martin Frk (21) lead the team in goals and Grand Rapids is one of eight teams with a pair of 20-goal scorers.

Rookie Production: The Griffins have played eight rookies this season, which surpasses last year’s total of seven. Those eight rookies have combined for 139 points (53-86—139), which equates to 25.5% of the team’s goals (53/208), 24.5% of the assists (86/351) and 25.0% of the points (139/557).

Rookie Scoring: Two first-year players in particular are climbing up the franchise’s top single-season rookie scorers list. Evgeny Svechnikov has 38 points (16-22—38) in 59 games and is currently tied with Tomas Kopecky (2002-03) for ninth, while Kyle Criscuolo has 35 points (16-19—35) in 60 contests and ranks 17th. Teemu Pulkkinen holds the club’s all-time rookie scoring record with 59 points (31-28—59) in 2013-14. With 16 goals apiece, Svechnikov and Criscuolo are tied for 11th for top single-season rookie goal scorers.

Milestones: Captain Nathan Paetsch has 120 career assists to rank sixth all-time in team history…Paetsch is 10 behind Derek King for fifth…Paetsch needs six games to reach 350 as a Griffin…Only four players have amassed 350 or more games in Grand Rapids…Goaltender Jared Coreau needs two games played to reach 100 between the pipes…Four netminders in team history have appeared in 100 or more contests…Martin Frk played in his 200th game as a Griffin last Saturday at San Jose.

Milwaukee Notes: With a rivalry dating back to the International Hockey League days, the Griffins have faced the Admirals more than any other opponent in their history as the two clubs will meet up for the 161st time on Sunday…Eddie Pasquale is 3-0 against the Admirals this season, including two consecutive clean sheets (Dec. 21, Jan. 13)…The last goal scored by Milwaukee on Pasquale came at the 18:46 mark of the third period during the initial meeting of the season on Nov. 12.

Chicago Notes: Chicago is 2-5-1-0 (0.313) against Grand Rapids this season…In their 53 games against the rest of the AHL, the Wolves are 34-12-4-3 (0.708)…In the last two games at Allstate Arena, the Griffins are outscoring Chicago 12-3.    

Walleye Report: Under first-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye have clinched a Kelly Cup Playoff berth and post the best record in the league with a 43-14-2-1 (0.742) mark. Rookie Tyson Spink (31-38—69), former Griffin Shane Berschbach (16-49—65) and rookie Tylor Spink (22-42—64) lead the team in scoring. Second-year pro Jake Paterson, Detroit’s second pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is 29-11-1 while placing third with a 2.35 goals against average and tying for fifth with a 0.914 save percentage. Griffins-contracted Cal Heeter, who is on recall in Grand Rapids, is 11-1 between the pipes and shows a 3.01 GAA and a 0.897 save percentage.

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

  First Night Second Night
W
11 16
L (incl. OT, SO) 10 5
GF 2.81 4.19
GA
2.19 2.43
PP % 20.00% 31.33%
PK % 82.43% 86.08%
SF 32.52 32.10
SA 28.67 31.95


Win Some, Lose Some: Compare the statistics for the Griffins during their 38 wins and 22 (including overtime and shootout) losses:

  GF GA PP% PK% SF SA
W (38) 4.45 1.82 30.11% 86.33% 34.29 29.68
L (22) 1.77 3.55 21.69% 78.08% 31.18 29.82