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Ride 8-1-1-0 Run into Season’s Second Half

This Week’s Games
Fri., Jan. 13 Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., Jan. 14 Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results

Wed., Jan. 4 GRIFFINS 1 at Hamilton Bulldogs 4 24-11-1-2, 51 pts. (1st, North Division)

Fri., Jan. 6 GRIFFINS 6 at Houston Aeros 5 25-11-1-2, 53 pts. (1st)

Sat., Jan. 7 GRIFFINS 5 at San Antonio Rampage 2 26-11-1-2, 55 pts. (1st)

Welcome Back: With points in nine of their last 10 games (8-1-1-0), the Griffins return to Van Andel Arena this week to start a six-game homestand, their longest of the season. Grand Rapids, which owns a four-point lead over Manitoba atop the North Division, boasts a 13-2-1-2 home record (0.806) that ranks third among all AHL teams.

Wild Weekend: The Griffins will play host to the Chicago Wolves for the second and final time this season on Friday, before welcoming the Milwaukee Admirals to town on Saturday. Friday’s game 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 70s-inspired funk-rock group Righteous. In addition, fans will have the chance to meet their favorite players during the Fox Motors Post-Game Autograph Session.

Halfway Home: At the midpoint of their 80-game schedule, the Griffins team and several players are on pace to reach significant milestones or set franchise records:

  • Grand Rapids is on schedule to become the third squad in franchise history to earn 50 wins and the fourth to register 100 points. The records of 53 wins and 113 points were set in 2000-01, and the Griffins are currently on track for 52 wins and 110 points.
  • The Griffins have scored an AHL-high 156 goals, their most ever through 40 games and 56 more than their 2004-05 edition – an increase of 56%. On their current pace, the Griffins – who scored only 200 goals last year – would accumulate 312 goals, smashing their record of 279 from 2000-01.
  • Grand Rapids has already tallied 60 power play goals, more than its total from the entire 2004-05 season (55) and just seven shy of the team record set in 2002-03.
  • With an AHL-high 51 points (21-30—51), Jiri Hudler is bidding to break the franchise scoring record (Michel Picard, 101 points in 1996-97) and become the second Griffin to win a league scoring title (Derek King, 83 points in 2000-01). He and Donald MacLean (21 goals) could join Picard (46 goals in 1996-97) as the only Griffins to light the lamp 40 times in one season, and Hudler’s projected 60 assists would eclipse the current team standard of 55 (Jeff Nelson and Picard in 1996-97).
  • Eric Manlow’s 28 assists and 10 power play goals, MacLean’s eight power play goals, Kent McDonell’s seven power play goals, Hudler’s 127 shots and Darryl Bootland’s 185 penalty minutes would all break current franchise records upon extrapolation.

    Oh, What a Night: Down 3-0 in the opening frame and 4-1 in the third period on Friday in Houston, the Griffins rallied for an incredible 6-5 regulation win over the Aeros. Grand Rapids scored five power play goals in the final 20 minutes – a franchise record for a game, much less a period – to snap the Aeros’ winning streaks of eight straight overall and seven in a row at home, and hand Houston just its third regulation loss this season at the Toyota Center. The Griffins had scored as many as four power play goals in a game just four times previously, and their five tallies tied a team record for goals in a period (regardless of type), accomplished seven times before.

    Smashing Debut: 21-year-old Valtteri Filppula, who played five too many games in Finland’s top league from 2003-05 to be considered an AHL rookie, is nonetheless staking his claim as one of the league’s top youngsters. He currently owns a nine-game point streak (4-9—13) – tying for the eighth-longest in franchise history – and has points in 20 of his last 23 games with the Griffins (11-21—32). Filppula, who has registered points in every contest since returning from his December debut with the Red Wings, ranks among the AHL’s leaders with 39 points (T10th) and 24 assists (T11th).

    Transactions: Today, the Griffins released defenseman Ryan Jorde from his pro tryout and assigned center Brad Bonello to the Toledo Storm (ECHL). Jorde, who returns to the Fort Wayne Komets (UHL), went scoreless in three games with the Griffins after signing last Tuesday. Bonello has one assist in eight games with Grand Rapids this season.

    Who’s Hot?: Eric Manlow has three assists in the last two games and five multi-point efforts in the last 10 contests…Prior to sitting out Saturday’s game due to injury, Tomas Kopecky had points in three straight contests (2-1—3) and seven of 10 games (3-6—9)…Donald MacLean has points in nine of the last 10 games (9-6—15)…Kent McDonell has points in nine of his last 11 outings (4-7—11)…Eric Himelfarb contributed three assists during the Griffins’ two weekend wins…Jiri Hudler has points in seven of the last 10 affairs (5-10—15)…Darryl Bootland has a five-game point streak (3-5—8), including three two-point efforts.

    Back Support: Jimmy Howard, who recently joined Joey MacDonald as the only goalies in franchise history to earn three wins in three nights (Dec. 21-23), has helped the Griffins earn points in each of his last six starts (5-0-1-0) and in eight of his last nine appearances (7-1-1-0).

    Milestones: Jiri Hudler scored the 50th goal of his Griffins career on Saturday, tying him with Kip Miller for sixth place on the franchise’s all-time list and moving within one of Ed Patterson. His 134 points also rank sixth and put him just two behind Nelson, Miller and Glen Metropolit (136), while his 14 power play goals tie Nathan Robinson for 10th…Tomas Kopecky played in his 204th contest as a Griffin on Friday, moving past Danny Groulx into ninth place all time.

    League Leaders: Jiri Hudler stands at or near the top of the AHL with 21 goals (T2nd), 30 assists (2nd) and 51 points (1st)…Donald MacLean is also tied for second with 21 goals…Eric Manlow ranks among the leaders with 28 assists (T4th), 41 points (T7th) and 10 power play goals (T4th)…Valtteri Filppula’s 39 points tie for 10th…Darryl Bootland’s 185 penalty minutes place third on the circuit.

    Awaiting Our Shot: Including playoffs, Griffins opponents have attempted six penalty shots since Grand Rapids was last awarded one (Kevin Miller was denied by Toronto's Tyler Moss on March 17, 2004). Last Wednesday in Hamilton, Lucas Lawson beat Joey MacDonald at 19:26 of the first period, marking the third time since Dec. 2 that MacDonald has faced a penalty shot. Opponents are now 2-for-10 all time against Griffins goalies, including 2-for-6 against MacDonald, who has faced five penalty shots over the last two seasons.

    If at First You Don’t Succeed: Grand Rapids has scored first in just 17 of its 40 contests this season. The Griffins are 14-1-0-2 when scoring the game’s opening goal, compared to 12-10-1-0 when falling behind 1-0.

    This Week in Griffins History: Jan. 9: Griffins finish with a 2-2 tie against Utah and NHL veteran goalie Ron Tugnutt, who makes 24 saves. Michel Picard registers an assist, becoming the first Griffin to record 350 points (2004). Jan. 10: Despite missing 10 regulars from their lineup, the Griffins crush the Chicago Wolves by a 7-3 count at Allstate Arena. Kip Miller sets a franchise record with six points on the night (2 goals, 4 assists), while Chris Bala inks his name in the record books with five assists (2002). Jan. 11: Griffins run consecutive home game sell-out streak to 19 straight contests but fall to visiting Phoenix, 3-2 in a shootout (1997). Jan. 12: Joel Kwiatkowski is named as a replacement for injured teammate Travis Richards for the 2001 IHL All-Star Game. On the ice, the Griffins shut out Detroit 1-0, extending their record winning streak to nine games and tying another mark with their sixth straight home win (2001). Jan. 13: Derek King improves his team-record point streak to 17 games, the longest in the IHL since 1996-97, in a 4-2 loss to Chicago (2001). Jan. 14: Griffins come up with their biggest road effort of the season, trouncing host Chicago, 7-1, as Pavol Demitra tallies three goals and Kevyn Adams notches two scores for Grand Rapids (1997). Jan. 15: Facing nine former teammates from the 2001-02 season in a Grand Rapids reunion, the Griffins skate to a 2-2 tie against Binghamton. For the first time since Feb. 21, 2001, the Griffins do not face a shorthanded situation (2003).

    Scouting Report

    Fri., Jan. 13 vs. Chicago Wolves (14-14-2-5) – 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: 0-0-1-0 Overall, 0-0-1-0 Home. Second of four meetings overall, second and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 36-23-2-2-2 Overall, 17-10-2-1-2 Home. NHL Affiliation: Atlanta Thrashers. Head Coach: John Anderson (9th season). Hungry Like the Wolf: Grand Rapids’ 4-3 overtime loss to Chicago on Dec. 31 was its first in its last five overtime decisions…Former Griffin Kip Miller (2000-02;04-05), tied for fourth on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 136 points (50-86—136), had a goal and an assist for the Wolves in that game at Van Andel Arena…Chicago sits in sixth place in the West Division, putting its streak of 11 consecutive playoff appearances in early jeopardy.

    Sat., Jan. 14 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (23-11-2-1) – 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: 3-1-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 38-21-7-1-3 Overall, 23-8-2-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (3rd season). Ships Ahoy: Pekka Rinne ranks 11th in the AHL with a 2.49 GAA…The Admirals are 0-3-1-0 in their last four road games…Jimmy Howard made 23 saves at Milwaukee on Dec. 21 to record his first pro shutout (5-0) and the Griffins’ lone blanking of the season…The Griffins are averaging 4.5 goals per game against the Admirals.