This Week’s Games
Fri., Oct. 23 - Abbotsford Heat at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Oct. 24 - Toronto Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., Oct. 25 - Abbotsford Heat at GRIFFINS - 5 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Thu., Oct. 15 - GRIFFINS 0 at Texas Stars 2 - 1-2-0-0, 2 pts. (T6th, North Division)
Sat., Oct. 17 - GRIFFINS 4 at San Antonio Rampage 7 - 1-3-0-0, 2 pts. (7th)
Sun., Oct. 18 - GRIFFINS 2 at San Antonio Rampage 7 - 1-4-0-0, 2 pts. (7th)
The Boys Are Back in Town: Following their record five-game season-opening road trip, the Griffins will finally make their Van Andel Arena debut this Friday, Oct. 23 against the Abbotsford Heat, the start of an unprecedented three-game weekend to begin their home schedule. Grand Rapids, which is aiming to sell out its home opener for the 14th consecutive season, will play three home games in three nights for just the fourth time in its history, capping off the weekend with a Saturday visit by the Toronto Marlies and a Sunday rematch with Abbotsford. Single-game tickets for all 40 home games are on sale at all Star Tickets outlets, including the Zone and Meijer stores, or online through griffinshockey.com, while group, full-season and mini-plan ticket packages are available by calling the Griffins at (616) 774-4585.
Promotional Highlights: Fri. vs. Abbotsford, Opening Night Celebration presented by Comcast: Pre-game laser light show, glow mugs to the first 5,000 fans, Dollar Beers and Dollar Dogs from 6-8 p.m. (while supplies last), College Night presented by McFadden’s, 2009-10 magnet schedules at the exits, and a post-game open skate. Sat. vs. Toronto: Laser light player intros, 2009-10 magnet schedules at the entrances, 2,500 Griffins posters at the exits, and Griffins post-game autographs in the Huntington Club. Sun. vs. Abbotsford: $1 Pepsi products and $1 Cole’s Breadsticks from 4-6 p.m., Griffins player card strips to the first 1,000 kids courtesy of Play N Trade Alpine, 2009-10 magnet schedules at the exits, Library Night, Reading Goals redemptions, and a post-game open skate. For complete information on all Griffins promotions, click here.
Griffins on ESPN: The Griffins games this Friday and Sunday against Abbotsford kick off a schedule of eight regular season contests that will be broadcast on ESPN 96.1 FM, the new all-sports sister station to the Griffins’ flagship, Newsradio WOOD 1300. Other dates include Dec. 13 and 27, Jan. 17, Feb. 21, and March 14 and 21.
Free Tickets for the Unemployed: Hundreds of local unemployed workers and their family members are receiving free tickets to Sunday’s game, thanks to the new “Griffins Give Back” program. Through this first initiative of the program, a minimum of 1,000 lower bowl tickets are being distributed this week through the two Grand Rapids offices of Michigan Works! (1560 Leonard NE and 622 Godfrey SW). While supplies last, those who visit Michigan Works! in person and present both proof of unemployment and a valid Michigan photo I.D. can receive up to four free tickets to Sunday’s game.
A Silver Lining: At 1-4-0-0, the Griffins are off to the slowest start in franchise history, but optimists should take note: after going 1-3-1-0 out of the gate during their previous worst start in 2002-03, they immediately ripped off a franchise-record 16-game point streak (11-0-3-2 from Oct. 25 to Nov. 30, 2002) that propelled them to a 48-22-8-2 record, the Central Division title, the Western Conference’s top playoff seed and an eventual Game 7 loss in the Western Conference Finals, their deepest playoff run since joining the AHL in 2001.
Youth Not Wasted on Young: Rookie left wing Tomas Tatar earned an assist in his Griffins debut on Sunday at the tender age of 18 years, 10 months and 17 days, becoming the youngest player to skate in the AHL this season.
Unfamiliar Feeling: Last Thursday’s 2-0 loss at Texas marked the first time in Curt Fraser’s tenure as head coach that the Griffins finished a game with a zero on the scoreboard. Grand Rapids was technically shut out once last season but earned the win with a 1-0 shootout decision over Quad City on Jan. 24, 2009. Prior to Thursday, the Griffins hadn’t finished a game with nothing to show for their efforts since a 2-0 loss at Toronto on April 2, 2008.
103 and Counting: Texas Stars center Aaron Gagnon, who appeared in 61 games for Grand Rapids last season, became the 103rd former Griffin to play in the NHL when he made his debut with the Dallas Stars in their 3-0 loss to Boston on Friday. He saw 9:06 of ice time before being reassigned to Texas on Sunday.
Get it Out of Your System: A few notables from last weekend and the start of the Griffins’ 2009-10 campaign:
• The Griffins enjoyed a 5-1 scoring advantage over the first four periods this season but have since been outscored 19-6 over the last 11 frames;
• Grand Rapids’ penalty killers denied 15 of 16 attempts (93.8%) over the first three games before killing off just four of 10 Rampage power plays in the two-game set at San Antonio;
• The six goals scored by San Antonio in the first period on Saturday tied a Griffins record for most goals allowed in a period (April 5, 2006 at Cleveland – 2nd) and equaled the total allowed by Grand Rapids over its first three games this season;
• The Griffins allowed seven goals in each game against San Antonio, marking just the second time in franchise history they’ve allowed seven or more goals in consecutive games (Dec. 8-9, 2001) and tying a team record for total goals surrendered in consecutive games (several times, most recently Feb. 8-10, 2009).
Milestones: Doug Janik’s first assist on Saturday at San Antonio marked the 100th point of his AHL career…Jamie Tardif needs one point for 100 as a pro…On Sunday, Mike Walsh logged the 200th game of his pro career…Evan McGrath needs two points to become the 20th player to reach 100 points in a Griffins uniform and two goals to reach 50 as a pro…Andy Delmore is five points away from 400 for his pro career.
Fri., Oct. 23 vs. Abbotsford Heat (3-0-2-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 25 vs. Abbotsford Heat – Van Andel Arena – 5 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:35 p.m. (Fri.) and 4:35 p.m. (Sun.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: First meeting. Season Series: First and second of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames. Head Coach: Jim Playfair (1st season). Notes: Heat coach Jim Playfair, who guided the Saint John Flames to a Calder Cup in 2001, spent the last six seasons as a coach for the parent club in Calgary, leading it to a 43-29-5-5 record in 2006-07 in his lone season as the Flames’ bench boss. He also spent two seasons as an assistant with the Michigan K-Wings (1996-98) of the original IHL…Abbotsford and Hamilton (3-0-0-1) are the only AHL teams without a regulation loss…Jason Jaffray, a long-time Griffins-killer with the Manitoba Moose, has five points (3-2—5) in as many games with the Heat.
Sat., Oct. 24 vs. Toronto Marlies (2-2-1-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 15-15-1-0 Overall, 9-5-1-0 Home. Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of six meetings overall, first of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Dallas Eakins (1st season). Notes: New Marlies assistant coach Derek King played four seasons in Grand Rapids (1999-00; 2002-04 as a player/assistant coach), where he ranks as one of the greatest players in franchise history with 264 games played (7th), 73 goals (3rd), 130 assists (4th), 203 points (4th), a plus-71 rating (2nd), 25 power play goals (T3rd) and 657 shots (4th). His last appearance at Van Andel Arena was on April 18, 2004, for Game 2 of the West Division Semifinals against Chicago…In eight games against the Griffins since the start of the 2008-09 season, Jiri Tlusty has racked up 15 points (4-11—15).