This Week’s Games
Wed., Feb. 27 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Fri., Feb. 29 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 8 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Sun., March 2 - Lake Erie Monsters at GRIFFINS - 4 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Last Week’s Results
Tue., Feb. 19 - San Antonio Rampage 4 at GRIFFINS 5 - 22-26-2-5, 51 pts. (5th, North Division)
Fri., Feb. 22 - Manitoba Moose 4 at GRIFFINS 1 - 22-27-2-5, 51 pts. (5th)
Sat., Feb. 23 - Manitoba Moose 0 at GRIFFINS 1 - 23-27-2-5, 53 pts. (5th)
Sun., Feb. 24 - GRIFFINS 1 at Quad City Flames 6 - 23-28-2-5, 53 pts. (5th)
A Check of the Standings: Grand Rapids, which will conclude a three-game road trip with games this Wednesday in Hamilton and Friday in Peoria, continues to reside in fifth place in the North Division race, 13 points in back of Manitoba, 12 behind Hamilton and seven behind Syracuse in the chase for what are likely the final two playoff spots in the division.
Mark Your Calendars: While the NHL’s Trade Deadline of 3 p.m. Tuesday could affect the Griffins’ roster, AHL teams are also focused on their league’s Clear Day deadline, set for this Thursday at 3 p.m. Only those 22 players listed on a team’s Clear Day roster are eligible to compete in the remainder of the AHL regular season and in the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs, unless emergency conditions arise as a result of recall, injury or suspension. Teams may also add signed junior players or players on amateur tryout contracts after Clear Day, but only once their respective junior or college seasons are complete.
Griff’s Carnival: It will be a special day for kids this Sunday when the Griffins host the Lake Erie Monsters at 4 p.m. Griff’s Carnival will feature Mascot Mania, with more than 20 local mascots entertaining the crowd and playing a broomball game during the second intermission. Face-painting, sign-making, balloons, a first-intermission hockey game with kids from the Griffins Youth Foundation, an O’Charley’s Post-Game Open Skate, and a post-game autograph session with three players are all on the agenda.
Reading Day with the Griffins: In conjunction with Sunday’s festivities, the team will present the inaugural “Reading Day with the Griffins” to celebrate the start of Reading Month. Children’s author Brad Herzog will meet parents and kids from 3-5 p.m. on the concourse and sign copies of his new book, E is for Extreme. Six of Herzog’s books will be among 18 hockey, sports and Michigan-themed books that will be available for fans to purchase at 20 percent off listed prices, with all proceeds benefiting the Griffins Youth Foundation. All kids 12 and younger are invited to participate in a children’s storybook costume contest, dressing as their favorite character for a chance to win savings bonds from Independent Bank and prize packages from the John Ball Zoo, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, the Griffins and local restaurants. Parents must register their children at griffinshockey.com/costumecontest by Thursday at 5 p.m. Finally, both the Grand Rapids Public Library and the Kent District Library will have tables on the concourse to sign up new patrons, and all current library card holders can get a 2-for-1 deal on tickets at the Van Andel Arena box office on game day (limit two complimentary tickets per card).
Making the Show: Garrett Stafford made his NHL debut on Saturday in Detroit’s 4-1 loss at Vancouver, earning 8:29 of ice time and becoming the 91st Griffins alumnus in the franchise’s 12-year history to play in the NHL. Fellow defenseman and AHL All-Star Jonathan Ericsson made his first appearance for the Red Wings the night before in a 1-0 loss at Calgary, becoming graduate no. 90 and logging an impressive 22:39 of ice time (5th on the team) over 34 shifts (2nd). A total of 12 former Griffins are currently on the Red Wings’ roster, including three other regulars from this season’s squad: All-Star netminder Jimmy Howard, leading scorer Mark Hartigan and defenseman Kyle Quincey.
Hurray for Howard: Although he owns a tough-luck 0-2 record in four games with the Red Wings this season, Jimmy Howard shows a solid 2.13 GAA to go with his sparkling 0.926 save percentage.
Lemieux Nets AHL Nomination: The Griffins today nominated right wing Francis Lemieux for the Rbk/AHL Player of the Week award, after he posted three goals and a plus-one rating in four games last week. After notching a goal in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over San Antonio, he accounted for all of his team’s goal scoring in two games against Manitoba: a 4-1 loss on Friday and a 1-0 victory on Saturday. His three-game goal streak – which tied for the Griffins’ season high – and four-game point streak were broken on Sunday, but he shows three goals and an assist in six games with the Griffins since his Feb. 8 trade from Hamilton.
McCarty Remains: After signing a one-year contract with the Red Wings on Monday, Darren McCarty was assigned to the Griffins on a 14-day conditioning loan. Since joining Grand Rapids on a professional tryout three weeks ago, McCarty has tallied four goals, three assists, 19 penalty minutes and an even rating in nine games with the AHL club. He provided one of the most memorable performances in Griffins history during his Van Andel Arena debut on Feb. 15, when he tallied his second career hat trick in a 6-3 win over Lake Erie. After scoring 5:53 into the first period, 2:17 into the second and 2:45 into the third, McCarty capped off his four-point evening – the first of his 16-year career – with an assist on Grand Rapids’ final goal.
Attendance Continues to Climb: Saturday’s 1-0 win over Manitoba was witnessed by the Griffins’ third sellout (10,834) of the season, bringing their attendance to 188,439 through 29 home games (6,498 avg., sixth in AHL). That number represents a year-to-date increase of 9.1% over 2006-07, when the Griffins eventually finished with their largest attendance in four years. Last season, Grand Rapids welcomed 172,831 fans through its first 29 home games.
Player News and Notes: Adam Berkhoel made 18 saves for the first shutout of his AHL career on Saturday against the Moose, becoming the 16th goalie in Griffins history to blank an opponent and the 11th to win a game 1-0…Dan Turple made his AHL debut with the Griffins on Sunday in Quad City, stopping six of seven shots in one period of relief work…Evan McGrath saw a four-game point streak (1-4—5) snapped by the Flames…Jason Jozsa earned an assist against Quad City for his first AHL point.
A Flying Leap: Friday’s game at Peoria will mark the second time the Griffins have played on Leap Day. They dropped a 5-3 home decision to Philadelphia on Feb. 29, 2004.
Finding a Way: With the Griffins’ top three defensemen – Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey and Garrett Stafford – all recalled to the Red Wings within the previous nine days, goalie Adam Berkhoel and the six blueliners who played in Saturday’s win entered the evening with only 314 combined games of AHL experience. By contrast, Manitoba’s back seven came in with 1,020 games under their belt, including 311 for former Griffin Danny Groulx.
From One Extreme to the Other: The Griffins’ last six games have been a study in contrast for their offense. Grand Rapids exploded for 15 goals over those first three games (Feb. 15-19), its highest three-game total since potting the same number from Oct. 28-Nov. 4, 2006. However, they were limited to just a single goal in each of their three games over the weekend (Feb. 22-24), the first time since a five-game drought almost four years ago (March 8-19, 2004) that they did not manage at score least two goals in any of three consecutive games.
Fun While it Lasted: With its 6-1 win over Grand Rapids on Sunday, Quad City became the first opponent in Griffins history to sweep a season series of at least four games
Wed., Feb. 27 at Hamilton Bulldogs (29-21-2-5) – Copps Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 18-17-1-0-2 Overall, 8-10-0-0-0 Road. Season Series: 3-3-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Road. Seventh of eight meetings overall, third of four in Hamilton. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Don Lever (3rd season). Notes: The defending Calder Cup champions lead the Griffins by 12 points in the race for what will likely be the final playoff berth in the North Division…Grand Rapids has totaled one goal in its last two meetings with the Bulldogs…Corey Locke has five goals and seven points in five games against the Griffins…Jaroslav Halak is 2-0 with a 0.50 GAA and a 0.979 save percentage versus Grand Rapids…The Dogs rank third in the AHL in penalty killing at 86.3%.
Fri., Feb. 29 at Peoria Rivermen (29-21-4-4) – Peoria Civic Center-Carver Arena – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 8-8-0-1 Overall, 4-4-0-0 Road. Season Series: 1-3-0-1 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Road. Sixth and final meeting overall, third in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Dave Baseggio (2nd season). Notes: Peoria, fourth place in the West Division, is 1-8-0-1 in its last 10 games, narrowing the gap between fourth and seventh place in that division to a single point…Carl Corazzini leads active Griffins with three goals against the Rivermen…Peoria is 12-13-2-3 at home…Peoria’s Martin Kariya paces all players with six points (3-3—6) in the season series…Rivermen goalies have surrendered just seven goals to the Griffins over the last four meetings.
Sun., March 2 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (19-25-4-7) – Van Andel Arena – 4 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 3:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time/Season Series: 4-1-0-1 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. Seventh of 10 meetings overall, third of five in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Joe Sacco (1st season). Notes: The sixth-place Monsters stand four points behind the Griffins in the North Division…Darren McCarty notched his second pro hat trick and first four-point game in his Van Andel Arena debut on Feb. 15, a 6-3 win over Lake Erie…Mark Cullen leads all players with five goals and seven points in the season series.