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BUSINESS TRIP

Justin Abdelkader


This Week’s Games
Fri., March 12 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Sat., March 13 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Sun., March 14 - GRIFFINS at Rochester Americans - 3 p.m. - NHL Network / ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Thu., March 4 - GRIFFINS 3 at Peoria Rivermen 4 - 25-34-2-2, 54 pts. (7th, North Division)

Fri., March 5 - Manitoba Moose 1 at GRIFFINS 4 - 26-34-2-2, 56 pts. (7th)

Sat., March 6 - Manitoba Moose 2 at GRIFFINS 1 OT - 26-34-3-2, 57 pts. (7th) 

Lay of the Land: Needing to close a 13-point gap that separates them from the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division, the Griffins this week embark on a season-high six-game road trip that begins Friday at first-place Hamilton. Grand Rapids, which will play 10 of its final 15 regular season contests away from Van Andel Arena, sits seventh with 57 points, putting it 13 points behind fourth-place Manitoba (70), nine behind fifth-place Lake Erie (66) and three behind sixth-place Toronto (60) in the battle for that final postseason berth.

Reasons to Cheer: Grand Rapids, which earned a 4-1 win over the Moose on Friday before falling 2-1 in overtime in Saturday’s rematch, earned points in consecutive home games for the first time since Dec. 9-11. Saturday’s sellout crowd of 10,834 brought the Griffins’ weekend attendance to 20,395, their largest two-game total this season. For the season, the Griffins rank fourth in the 29-team AHL with an average attendance of 6,851, trailing only three teams (Hershey, Manitoba and Chicago) who boast a combined winning percentage of 0.665.

Griffins to Pump Gas: They usually spend their evenings filling the net and pumping their fists in celebration. But on Tuesday, Griffins players will fill tanks and pump fuel as part of the team’s inaugural Pumping Gas fundraiser at three local Marathon / J & H Family Stores locations. The event, a benefit for D.A. Blodgett for Children and St. John’s Home, will feature more than a dozen Griffins players volunteering their time to pump gas for customer donations from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at three Marathon stations (all players and times subject to change): Cottonwood Express – 8407 Cottonwood Dr., Jenison (4:30-6 p.m. – Cory Emmerton, Jakub Kindl, Logan Pyett; 6-7:30 p.m. – Travis Ehrhardt, Jan Mursak, Tomas Tatar); Plainfield Marathon – 2171 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids (4:30-6 p.m. – Justin Abdelkader, Mattias Ritola; 6-7:30 p.m. – Paul Crosty, Sergei Kolosov);  and Remembrance Marathon – 3434 Remembrance Rd. NW, Grand Rapids (4:30-6 p.m. – Thomas McCollum, John Vigilante;  6-7:30 p.m. – Evan McGrath, Francis Pare).

Playhouse Raffle Ends April 9: The season-long raffle for the Griffins/Van Andel Arena playhouse has just one month remaining. This spectacular custom-built playhouse, donated by Out on a Limb Playhouses of Grand Haven, includes amenities such as a 22” HD television, a Sony PlayStation 3 game system with EA Sports’ NHL 2010 video game, two stadium-style seats, a custom-made bench modeled after those in the Griffins' locker room, an “ice-rink” floor with dasher boards, a Griffins hanging scoreboard light, a built-in street hockey net and much more! The winner will also receive free delivery and site preparation/landscaping within 50 miles of Grand Rapids. Raffle tickets are available for $5 each or five for $20 and may be purchased at the playhouse display in the Van Andel Arena lobby before any Griffins game, on the concourse during intermission, or at griffinshockey.com/playhouse. The drawing will be held during the second intermission of the Griffins’ regular season home finale on April 9, and all proceeds will benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation.

New Faces: Last Friday marked the home debuts of the four newest members of the Griffins: 19-year NHL veteran Brad May, Norwegian Olympian Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, and deadline-day acquisitions Riley Armstrong and Jordan Owens. May, who had played 1,129 career regular season and playoff games in the NHL before skating in his first minor league contest for the Griffins on Thursday in Peoria, picked up an assist against the Rivermen for his first AHL point.

Who’s Hot?: Justin Abdelkader extended his team- and career-high point streak to eight games (5-6—11) on Saturday, scoring 20 seconds into the third period to mark the Griffins’ fastest goal this season. His point streak is the longest active run in the AHL…Jeremy Williams saw his streaks of three consecutive multi-point games (3-4—7) and five straight games with a point (4-5—9) come to an end on Saturday, but he still has registered points in 14 of the last 17 outings (8-13—21). He scored his 10th and 11th power play goals of the season on Friday, tying for the ninth-highest single-season total in franchise history…Doug Janik has an assist in five straight contests (0-5—5), marking the AHL’s longest active assist streak and putting him just three games shy of the Griffins’ record set by Valtteri Filppula in 2006…Mattias Ritola has points in three straight games (1-3—4) and in eight of the last 11 contests (3-7—10).

If Only We Played in the North Division. Oh, Wait…: Of their 65 games thus far, the Griffins have played only 24 within the North Division, compiling a 12-10-1-1 mark (0.542) against their theoretical rivals. By contrast, they’ve staged 41 interdivisional contests against the West – the only division in which every team has a winning record – with a 14-24-2-1 record (0.378) to show for it.

Home Sweet Home?: Despite starting the season with eight straight wins at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids is now two games under 0.500 at home (16-18-1-0) after dropping 15 of its last 20 within friendly confines (4-15-1-0).

Scouting Report

Fri., March 12 at Hamilton Bulldogs (42-14-3-5) – Copps Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
Sat., March 13 at Hamilton Bulldogs – Copps Coliseum – 7 p.m.
TV: Cable 14 (Hamilton) at 7:30 p.m. (Friday only). Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:05 p.m. (Fri.) and 6:35 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 21-26-1-0-2 Overall, 9-15-0-0-0 Road. Season Series: 1-3-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Fifth and sixth of six meetings overall, second and third of three in Hamilton. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Guy Boucher (1st season). Notes: The Griffins went 3-0 at Copps Coliseum while upsetting the Bulldogs in the 2009 North Division Semifinals, but they’ve lost their last three regular season visits to Hamilton and are 3-12 in the Steel City in regular season play since Nov. 2005…The Bulldogs have won six of the last seven regular season meetings overall…Hamilton’s 0.719 winning percentage and 92 points both rank second in the AHL to Hershey (0.794, 100)…The Bulldogs have won eight straight games overall, as well as seven straight at home…The Bulldogs boast two of the league’s top three goalies in Cedrick Desjardins (1.90 GAA, 1st) and Curtis Sanford (2.05 GAA, 3rd), the backbones of a defense that has allowed a league-low 140 goals (2.19 per game).

Sun., March 14 at Rochester Americans (37-26-2-0) – Blue Cross Arena – 3 p.m.
TV: NHL Network at 3 p.m. Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 2:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 23-17-1-1-1 Overall, 10-11-0-1-0 Road. Season Series: 1-2-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Road. Fourth of six meetings overall, third and final in Rochester. NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Benoit Groulx (2nd season). Notes: Rochester’s 5-3 victory on Feb. 26 broke the Griffins’ five-game winning streak at Blue Cross Arena…Once 13-2-2-0 on home ice, the Amerks have since gone 8-9-0-0, starting with a 6-3 loss to Grand Rapids on Jan. 8…Rochester enters the week on a four-game winning streak that has moved it back into second place in the North Division…Jamie Johnson is tied for sixth in AHL scoring (23-39—62)…Former Griffin Clay Wilson is second among league defensemen with 47 points (11-36—47)…The Americans rank fifth in scoring (3.11 per game) and 22nd in goals allowed (3.05).
 

Griffins Game Rewinds

March 6 vs. MTB - 1-2 OTL
AHLLive Video Highlights
GriffVision Video Interview: Larsson
WOOD Radio Highlights: Abdelkader goal   Manitoba OT goal
Post-Game Sound Bites: Abdelkader   Larsson   Fraser
Official Game Report

March 5 vs. MTB - 4-1 W
GriffVision Video Highlights
GriffVision Video Interviews: Owens  Armstrong  Fraser
WOOD Radio Highlights: Williams goal 1   Williams goal 2   Pyett goal   Rissmiller EN goal
Post-Game Sound Bites: Williams   Owens   Armstrong   Fraser
Official Game Report

March 4 at PEO - 4-3 L
AHLLive Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: Abdelkader goal   Ritola SH goal   Williams PP goal   Rivermen GW goal
Official Game Report


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