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GRIFFINS ENJOY SECOND-FASTEST START EVER

Ville Leino


This Week’s Games
Wed., Oct. 29 - Syracuse Crunch at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Fri., Oct. 31 - GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Sat., Nov. 1 - Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Sat., Oct. 25 - Hamilton Bulldogs 4 at GRIFFINS 6 - 3-0-1-0, 7 pts. (T4th, North Division) 

Sun., Oct. 26 - Norfolk Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 6 - 4-0-1-0, 9 pts. (T2nd) 

Fun Times: The Griffins will try to build on their torrid 4-0-1-0 start by hosting the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday before staging a home-and-home set against the Milwaukee Admirals this Friday in Wisconsin and Saturday at Van Andel Arena. Wednesday marks the first Winning Wednesday of the season. If Grand Rapids beats the Crunch, all fans in attendance can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to the Griffins’ Nov. 26 game versus Manchester. Saturday’s game against Milwaukee is “Bobble the Vote ’08.” Just three days before Election Day, fans are encouraged to arrive early and cast their vote by choosing a bobblehead of either John McCain or Barack Obama in a Griffins jersey. One thousand bobbleheads of each candidate will be available to fans, who will select their favorite upon entering the arena’s main Fulton Street entrance. The first candidate to run out of bobbleheads wins! After the game, fans can enjoy an open skate and an autograph session with Griffins players.

Sprinting From the Gate: The Griffins are off to the second-best start in the franchise’s 13 seasons at 4-0-1-0, trailing only their 5-0 start from 2004-05…Grand Rapids and Providence (5-0-1-0) are the only two teams in the AHL that have not suffered a regulation loss…The Griffins’ 0.900 winning percentage is tops in the Western Conference.

Offensive Firepower: Grand Rapids has scored at least six goals in three consecutive games for the first time ever. Its 26 total goals are its most ever through the season’s first five games, eclipsing the 22-goal output of the 2005-06 squad that went on to claim the AHL’s regular season title. In addition, the Griffins have tallied six goals in consecutive home games for the first time since Dec. 1-5, 2001.

String of Success: The Griffins have won four straight games for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign, when they strung together six consecutive victories between Jan. 27-Feb. 17, 2007. In addition, dating back to the end of last season, they have points in seven straight games (6-0-1-0), their longest run since an identical stretch from Dec. 29, 2006-Jan. 10, 2007.

Firing on All Cylinders: The Griffins are averaging 5.20 goals per game to rank second in the league and 35.0 shots per game to place third…Grand Rapids’ power play is sixth in the league (22.6%, 7-31).

Muskegon Mogul: Center Justin Abdelkader was nominated by the Griffins for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award today. He recorded four goals in two games last week, including his first professional hat trick on Sunday against Norfolk. Abdelkader leads all AHL rookies with a team-high six goals, having lit the lamp in four of his five games thus far, and he ranks among the league’s overall leaders in goals (T3rd), power play goals (three, T5th) and shooting percentage (0.545, 1st).

Lein On Me: Left wing Ville Leino paces Grand Rapids and is tied for 11th in AHL scoring with nine points (4-5—9) in just five games. The only Griffin to record a point in every game this season, he has had a hand in each of the team’s three game-winning goals, scoring the first two before setting up Ryan Oulahen’s decisive tally on Sunday. Leino has recorded multiple points in each of the last three contests, including his first two-goal game (Saturday) and first three-point outing (Sunday, all assists).

Lights, Camera, Action!: Griffins forwards Justin Abdelkader, Cory Emmerton and Mattias Ritola are among four Detroit Red Wings prospects featured in the next installment of Fox Sports Detroit’s “Under the Lights” series. “Under the Lights: Red Wings Prospect Camp – Living the Dream” chronicles this trio and Detroit’s 2008 first-round draft pick, Thomas McCollum, through every moment of the Red Wings’ September prospect camp in Traverse City. The episode premieres this Thursday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Click here for a preview.

Jump on Them Early: Grand Rapids has outscored its foes 12-3 in the first period, tying for the largest scoring margin for any AHL team in any period this season (Iowa, 12-3 in the third). From the first period on, though, the Griffins and their opponents have both scored 14 goals.

Congrats to Curt: With Saturday’s 6-4 victory over Hamilton, Curt Fraser became the third coach in franchise history to win his Van Andel Arena debut, joining Guy Charron (1998-99) and Bruce Cassidy (2000-01). In addition, with Grand Rapids having earned nine of a possible 10 points thus far, Fraser owns the second-best five-game start of the eight head coaches in franchise history, trailing only Bruce Cassidy’s perfect 5-0 start in 2004-05.

Everyone Contributes: No fewer than seven Griffins are averaging at least one point per game: Ville Leino (4-5—9), Justin Abdelkader (6-1—7), Darren Haydar (3-4—7), Mattias Ritola (3-4—7), Landon Wilson (2-3—5), Darren Helm (0-4—4 in three games) and Francis Pare (2-1—3 in two games).

For Openers: Saturday’s 6-4 win over Hamilton snapped the Griffins’ two-year losing streak in home openers. All time, Grand Rapids is now 8-5 in its first home game of the season. In addition, the Griffins extended their remarkable sellout streak in home openers to 13 years, as 10,834 fans witnessed the victory.

Milestones: Ryan Oulahen gained sole possession of ninth place on the Griffins’ all-time games played list with his his 233rd regular season contest on Saturday. After Sunday’s appearance, he now stands just two games shy of eighth-place Todd Nelson at 236…Darren Haydar needs three assists for 300 as a pro…Prior to earning his second victory of the season on Saturday against the Bulldogs, Jimmy Howard logged his 70th win as a Griffin during the team’s 4-3 shootout win over Lake Erie on Oct. 18, joining Joey MacDonald (88 wins) as the only Griffins to reach that plateau.

Scouting Report

Wed., Oct. 29 vs. Syracuse Crunch (5-1-0-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 13-5-0-0-0 Overall, 7-2-0-0-0 Home. Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets. Head Coach: Ross Yates (3rd season). Notes: Syracuse has a pair of former Grand Rapids defensemen in Clay Wilson (2005-06), who leads the Crunch with four goals and seven points (tied), and captain Dan Smith (2006-07)…Syracuse ranks third in the AHL in goals per game (4.0), one spot behind Grand Rapids…Griffins goaltender Jimmy Howard was born in Syracuse, while head coach Curt Fraser’s only prior AHL experience came as an associate coach with the Crunch in 1994-95.

Fri., Oct. 31 at Milwaukee Admirals (2-4-0-1) – Bradley Center – 8 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 1 vs. Milwaukee Admirals – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:59 p.m. (Fri.) and 6:35 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 45-30-7-4-4 Overall, 26-13-2-1-1 Home, 19-17-5-3-3 Road. Season Series: First and second of eight meetings overall, first of four in both Milwaukee and Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Lane Lambert (2nd season). Notes: Griffins captain Darren Haydar played his first four pro seasons with Milwaukee, leading the Admirals to the 2004 Calder Cup and earning AHL Rookie of the Year honors in 2003…Milwaukee’s power play ranks fifth in the AHL at 23.1%...Admirals netminder Drew MacIntyre played two seasons with the Griffins (2004-06) and still holds the franchise’s regular season record for the most saves in a home game (45 in a 4-3 overtime loss to Houston on 11/5/04).
 

Griffins Game Rewind

Oct. 26 - 6-3 W vs. NOR
GriffVision Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: 1 2 3
Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3
Photo Gallery
Official Game Report


Oct. 25 - 6-4 W vs. HAM
GriffVision Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: 1 2
Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3 4
Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

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