04/15/2008 7:10 AM
Attendance Accomplishments: Saturday’s crowd of 9,563 enabled the Griffins to finish with a 0.5 percent increase in attendance over 2006-07 and register two straight seasons of increased attendance for the first time in their 12-year history. Grand Rapids, which averaged 9,447 fans (87% of capacity) over its five home games after being eliminated from playoff contention, drew 275,905 fans this season. The Griffins’ average of 6,898 ranked fifth out of 29 AHL teams, their highest placement in seven seasons in the league.
No Easy Mark: The Griffins bagged one final pelt for their wall by sweeping their two-game weekend home set against Manitoba, dropping their rival from second to third place in the North Division. Grand Rapids’ victories cost the Moose home-ice advantage against the blazing Syracuse Crunch – winners of 15 straight games who finished on a 20-0-0-3 run – in their upcoming playoff series.
On a High Note: Grand Rapids won three of its last four games overall, including its final two contests at Van Andel Arena, enabling the team to reach 70 points on the season and secure fifth place in the North Division. The Griffins ended the campaign with a 0.500 mark at Van Andel Arena (18-18-1-3), a significant accomplishment considering they lost their first seven home games in regulation. They won 18 of their final 32 games within friendly confines (18-11-1-2, 0.609).
Unfamiliar Territory: The Griffins missed the playoffs for just the third time in their 12 seasons. For first-year head coach Mike Stothers, it marks the first time in his six seasons as a head coach and his last 14 seasons as a coach at the NHL, AHL and OHL levels that his team will not participate in the postseason.
In Closing: The Griffins on Saturday won their final game of the year (regular season or playoffs) for just the second time in franchise history, joining the 1998-99 squad that missed the playoffs but finished the regular season with a 1-0 shootout win at Detroit on April 18, 1999. Grand Rapids is now 5-7 all time in regular season finales, having broken a five-game skid in such affairs, and 7-5 all time in its final regular season home games, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Black Aces: Following Saturday’s game, seven Griffins players – Jimmy Howard, Kyle Quincey, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Darren Helm, Mattias Ritola and Cory Emmerton – were recalled by the parent Detroit Red Wings to provide depth and serve as “black aces” for their playoff run. They have been reunited with nine other former Griffins on the Red Wings’ playoff roster, swelling the ranks of Grand Rapids alumni in Hockeytown to 16. Head coach Mike Stothers, assistant coach Jim Paek, and equipment manager Brad Thompson have also joined the Wings.
King Carl: With 24 goals, 36 assists and 60 points, Carl Corazzini became just the third player in Griffins history to lead the team in all three scoring categories, something which was accomplished in each of the team’s first four seasons but not once in between (Michel Picard in 1999-00, 1997-98 and 1996-97, Glen Metropolit in 1998-99). He also became the first player to ever lead the team in games played (80, tied), goals, assists, points, power play goals (12) and game-winning goals (5). Metropolit led all but games played in 1998-99, while Picard finished first in each category except power play goals in 1996-97…Corazzini also led the AHL and set a single-season franchise record with 274 shots on goal, snapping the mark established by Donald MacLean (271) in 2005-06.
Breaking Out: Evan McGrath, who scored the overtime game-winner on Saturday against the Moose, finished the season with the first three-game goal streak of his career. He was one of the Griffins’ most improved players over the stretch run, posting 22 points (12-10—22) over the final 30 games after registering only 13 points (6-7—13) in his first 48 contests.
One Small Step: On Friday, Kyle Quincey became the 17th player in Griffins history to log 200 regular season appearances.
Ironmen: Carl Corazzini and Jamie Tardif played in each of the Griffins’ 80 games, joining 15 previous players who appeared in each regular season contest for Grand Rapids.
Youth Movement: Darren Helm finished the campaign with 31 points (16-15—31), tying for the ninth-highest point total by a rookie in franchise history.
Mr. Consistency: Garrett Stafford ranked third on the Griffins and tied for 11th among AHL defensemen with 44 points (11-33—44), marking the fourth time in his five pro seasons that he finished among the league’s top 17 blueliners in scoring.
Green and White: On Friday, Chris Mueller became the 14th former Michigan State player to skate for Grand Rapids, swelling the Griffins’ contingent of Spartan alumni to twice the size of any other school (Michigan is second with seven). MSU players who’ve gone on to don a Griffins sweater include Bryan Adams, Chad Alban, Sean Berens, Danton Cole, Rustyn Dolyny, Jon Insana, Don McSween, Kelly Miller, Kevin Miller, Kip Miller, Brock Radunske, Dominic Vicari and Mike Watt.
Thanks for the Memories: Darren McCarty’s tenure as a Griffin came to a conclusion on March 7 when he was recalled from his conditioning loan by Detroit. McCarty, who signed a pro tryout with Grand Rapids on Feb. 4 and was assigned by the Red Wings upon signing a one-year contract on Feb. 25, made an indelible impression on Griffins hockey during his five-week stint. The right wing tallied five goals, 10 points and 21 penalty minutes in 13 games with the AHL club, earning Grand Rapids’ nomination for the CCM/AHL Player of the Month award for February. McCarty provided one of the most memorable performances in franchise history during his Van Andel Arena debut on Feb. 15, when he tallied his second career hat trick in a 6-3 win over the Lake Erie Monsters. After scoring 5:53 into the first period, 2:17 into the second and 2:45 into the third, he capped off his four-point evening – the first of his 16-year career – with an assist on Grand Rapids’ final goal. During the Griffins’ 5-3 home win over Toronto on March 5, McCarty earned an assist on Ryan Oulahen’s game-winning goal 45 seconds into the third period, in what marked his final appearance with Grand Rapids.
Honor Roll: Two Griffins received significant individual honors from the AHL this season. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson played for PlanetUSA at the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic, where he was a teammate of goalie Jimmy Howard. Howard also was named the AHL Goaltender of the Month for December and was chosen as the Griffins’ American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year.
Simply the Best: Three Griffins ranked among the AHL's individual leaders during the regular season:
One for the Books: Three Griffins enjoyed seasons that ranked statistically among the best in franchise history:
Take Me to Your Leaders: Following this year’s performances, four Griffins rank among the franchise’s all-time top 10 statistical leaders (regular season):
In the Show: With the advancement of nine current or former Griffins to the NHL this season, Grand Rapids has now sent 95 players on to the NHL during its 12 seasons of play. Forty-one Griffins alumni logged ice time with a record 19 different NHL teams during the 2007-08 regular season, combining to play 1,529 games while accumulating 182 goals, 355 assists, 537 points, 73 wins and 10 shutouts. (* Played for Grand Rapids this season.)
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