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GRIFFINS FACE AHL POWERS ON ROAD

This Week’s Opposition Boasts Combined Winning Percentage of 0.697

This Week’s Games

Mon., Jan. 31 - GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose - 8:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/WHTC 1450 AM

Tue., Feb. 1 - GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose - 8:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Fri., Feb. 4 - GRIFFINS at Philadelphia Phantoms - 7:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Sat., Feb. 5 - GRIFFINS at Rochester Americans - 7:35 p.m. - Comcast Local TV/WOOD/WHTC

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 26 - GRIFFINS 0 at Edmonton Road Runners 3 - 21-18-1-1, 44 pts. (T4th, West Division)

Thu., Jan. 27 - GRIFFINS 1 at Edmonton Road Runners 3 - 21-19-1-1, 44 pts. (T4th)

Sat., Jan. 29 - Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 2 - 21-20-1-1, 44 pts. (T4th)

Stern Test: Tonight’s first visit to Winnipeg’s new MTS Centre begins a daunting four-game road swing for the Griffins, who will face three teams that stand in either first or second place in their divisions and own a combined 0.697 winning percentage (115-43-7-18). Their two-game trip to Manitoba will be followed by games on Friday in Philadelphia and Saturday in Rochester, as the Griffins put their 12-7-0-1 road mark (0.625) up against their opponents’ combined 56-25-4-7 home record (0.668).

Wakeup Call: Grand Rapids, which has lost its last three games overall and its last two away from home, currently finds itself out of a playoff spot for the first time this season. The top four teams in the West Division will qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs, and San Antonio’s 5-4 shootout win at Cincinnati last night dropped the Griffins into a tie for fifth place with Houston at 44 points. Still, the Griffins have five games in hand on third-place Cincinnati (50 points) and eight in hand on San Antonio (46 points).

Lights, Camera, Action: Saturday’s game at Rochester will be televised live at 7:30 p.m. across the state of Michigan. Comcast Local will provide a feed of the home team’s telecast, with Amerks broadcaster Don Stevens handling play-by-play and former NHLer John Bednarski providing color. In addition to the AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Feb. 13, Comcast Local will also televise Griffins games on Feb. 20, March 19 and 30, and April 12.

Surveying the Damage: Entering play on Dec. 17, the Griffins sat atop both the West Division and the Western Conference with an 18-7-1-0 record, after rattling off 13 wins in their previous 17 games. Beginning with that night’s 3-1 loss at Utah, Grand Rapids has posted a 3-13-0-1 mark in its last 17 games, falling out of playoff positioning and into a tie for fifth place in the division race…The Griffins are 1-8-0-0 in their last nine at home, including six defeats by a single goal, and 2-6-0-1 in their last nine on the road following a 10-1-0-0 start…In Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Milwaukee, the Griffins fell behind by a 2-0 count for the third straight game, the 12th time in their last 17 outings and the seventh time in their last eight home games. In all, Grand Rapids’ opponent has scored the first goal in 13 of the last 17 games.

Looking Ahead: Saturday’s game against the Amerks will conclude of stretch of seven-of-eight on the road for the Griffins. They’ll return to Van Andel Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 9 to host Houston and begin a string of three straight games and six of seven contests within friendly confines.

Call an Exorcist: Prior to the last meeting between the Griffins and Phantoms, on Feb. 29, 2004 at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids had won 10 consecutive home games and was unbeaten in 16 at home, both franchise records. Beginning with their controversial 5-3 loss to the Phantoms that night and including results from the 2004 playoffs, the Griffins have since won 12 of 33 home games (12-19-2-0) and 28 of 67 contests overall (28-36-2-1).

Shoot for the Stars: Two members of the Griffins have been selected to participate in the 2005 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held in mid-February at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall will start for the PlanetUSA All-Star squad, while goalie Joey MacDonald will be a reserve for the Canadian All-Star team. The 2005 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, Feb. 13 can be watched live throughout Michigan on Comcast Local at 7 p.m., while the All-Star Game on Monday, Feb. 14 will be televised live nationwide on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.

Re-Writing the Record Books: Joey MacDonald has 52 career wins as a Griffin, putting him just two behind Marc Lamothe and three behind leader Mike Fountain on the franchise’s all-time list. MacDonald, whose 13 career shutouts are already the most in team history, broke Lamothe’s career saves record (2,530) on Saturday against Milwaukee and now stands at 2,541. He needs five games played and 435:36 minutes played to tie Lamothe’s other franchise records (103 / 5972:42).

Worth Noting: Eric Himelfarb has multiple points in three of his last five games, with just one scoreless game during that span (4-3—7)…Over his last three starts, Drew MacIntyre has posted one shutout, a 1.68 GAA and a 0.943 save percentage (83-88) but has just a 1-2-0 record to show for it…Kip Miller notched his 100th career point as a Griffin with his goal last Thursday in Edmonton (39-61—100 in 88 games).

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald ranks among the AHL’s leaders with 16 wins (T9th) and four shutouts (T4th)…Niklas Kronwall, who leads the Griffins in scoring, ranks among the AHL’s top blueliners with 10 goals (1st), 32 points (2nd) and 22 assists (T6th)…Bryan Helmer’s four power play goals tie for fifth among defensemen…Eric Himelfarb, who stands second on the Griffins in scoring, ranks among the AHL’s top rookies with 12 goals (T5th), 14 assists (T9th), 26 points (8th), six power play goals (4th) and two shorthanded goals (T1st).

M*A*S*H Unit: Tomas Kopecky (26 games), Kory Karlander (18), Travis Richards (7), Ernie Hartlieb (3) and Eric Manlow (1) have all missed a string of games due to various injuries.

Roster Moves: The Griffins on Saturday signed defenseman Greg Amadio and left wing Jeff Hutchins to pro tryouts and assigned defenseman Paul Ballantyne to the Toledo Storm of the ECHL. Amadio and Hutchins, who each played in the 2005 ECHL All-Star Game last Wednesday, made their Grand Rapids debuts in the 3-2 loss to Milwaukee.

Congratulations: Right wing Todd Jackson, who collected two assists in 30 games with the Griffins before being assigned to ECHL Toledo on Jan. 18, has lit the lamp in four of his six games with the Storm. He has five points (4-1—5) and a plus-four rating, helping Toledo post a 5-0-1 record since his arrival.

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
• Power Play: 35-for-229, 15.3% (T14th)
• Penalty Killing: 201-for-237, 84.8% (T13th)
• Penalty Minutes: 20.35 avg. (25th)
• Goals For: 2.40 avg. (20th)
• Goals Against: 2.42 avg. (8th)
• Shots For: 29.93 avg. (16th)
• Shots Against: 30.16 avg. (14th)
• Attendance: 6,317 avg. (10th)

This Week’s Scouting Report


Mon., Jan. 31 at Manitoba Moose (29-11-1-5) – MTS Centre – 8:30 p.m.
Tue., Feb. 1 at Manitoba Moose – MTS Centre – 8:30 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM (both nights) and WHTC 1450 AM (Mon. only) at 8:10 p.m. Season Series: First and second of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Winnipeg. All-Time Series: 23-10-4-0 Overall, 11-6-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Randy Carlyle (6th season). Moose Tracks: This is Manitoba’s first season in the new MTS Centre…The Moose are 10-2-0-3 in their last 15 but still find themselves five points behind North Division-leading Rochester…Manitoba’s Peter Sarno (9-39—48) stands second in the league in assists while Alex Auld (2.23 GAA) places 13th in the goalie rankings…Moose defenseman Wade Brookbank logged 337 penalty minutes as a Griffin during the 2001-02 campaign.

Fri., Feb. 4 at Philadelphia Phantoms (26-12-2-4) – Wachovia Spectrum – 7:05 p.m.
TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Season Series: First of two meetings overall, first and only in Philadelphia. All-Time Series: 3-1-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Philadelphia Flyers. Head Coach: John Stevens (5th season). Ghost Tales: The Phantoms set an AHL record with 17 consecutive wins from Oct. 22 to Nov. 27…Philly is 3-0 versus West Division clubs…The Phantoms own a plus-20 advantage in goals during the second period, but are just plus-one in the first and third periods combined…Antero Niittymaki stands third in the AHL with a 1.93 GAA…Despite their lofty record and their eighth-ranked scoring average (2.91), the Phantoms don’t have any player ranked higher than 39th in the league scoring race (Patrick Sharp – 15-19—34).

Sat., Feb. 5 at Rochester Americans (31-9-3-4) – Blue Cross Arena – 7:35 p.m.
TV: Comcast Local at 7:30 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM/WHTC 1450 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of two meetings overall, first and only in Rochester. All-Time Series: 6-4-1-0 Overall, 3-2-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres. Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth (5th season). The American Way: After going winless in their first six games, including a 4-0 loss at Van Andel Arena on Oct. 26, the Amerks have since posted an incredible 31-6-1-3 record to tie for the most points in the AHL…Former MSU great and East Lansing native Ryan Miller, cousin of Griffins center Kip, was named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week today. An AHL all-star, he leads the league with 25 wins and places fourth with a 0.933 save percentage…Rochester is 18-2-0-1 since Dec. 17…Center Chris Taylor is tied for 20th in league scoring (12-29—41)…The Amerks have won nine straight at home.


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