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GRIFFINS LOOKING TO MAKE UP GROUND IN NORTH DIVISION THIS WEEK

This Week’s Games
Wed., Dec. 14 Rockford IceHogs at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Fri., Dec. 16 GRIFFINS at Lake Erie Monsters 7:30 p.m.  ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Sat., Dec. 17 GRIFFINS at Lake Erie Monsters 7:30 p.m. ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Dec. 9 GRIFFINS 3 at Milwaukee Admirals 4 SO 10-11-1-1, 22 pts. (4th, North Division)

Sat., Dec. 10 GRIFFINS 2 at Rockford IceHogs 3 SO 10-11-1-2, 23 pts. (4th)

Sun., Dec. 11 GRIFFINS 1 at Chicago Wolves 3 10-12-1-2, 23 pts. (4th)

The Ups and Downs: Grand Rapids entered last week riding a three-game winning streak, after beating Toronto twice and Chicago once to close out November and begin December. The Griffins were unable to keep the winning streak going, but they did extend their point streak to a season-best five games, losing in a shootout on both Friday and Saturday to begin their second three-in-three of the season. On Friday, the Admirals rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits and spoiled Joey MacDonald’s return to the lineup, winning 4-3 in a shootout. The Griffins were the club who came back on Saturday at Rockford, as Joakim Andersson tied the game in the final minute of regulation to send the game to extra time, but the IceHogs prevailed in a 3-2 shootout decision. Grand Rapids concluded the trip with a visit to Chicago on Sunday, but the Wolves got out to a two-goal first-period lead to stop the Griffins’ point streak at five in a 3-1 win.

On Tap: The Griffins will look to extend their home winning streak to three games when they host the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The IceHogs have gotten the best of the Griffins this season, winning all three contests against the team, the most recent coming on Saturday in a 3-2 shootout decision. The Griffins will then hit the road for a pair of games against the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday and Saturday, both starting at 7:30 p.m.

Race for the North: The North Division continues to be the most tightly-contested division in the AHL, with only four points separating second-place Rochester from fifth-place Hamilton. Toronto has an eight-point lead in the division, sitting with a 15-7-3-1 record and 34 points, while the Griffins sit fourth, one point ahead of the Bulldogs and one point behind Lake Erie. The team has a chance to make up some ground with two games at Lake Erie this Friday and Saturday. The Griffins have had great success against their North Division rivals, boasting a 7-2 record inside the division this season, a record better than that of their foes: Hamilton (6-6), Lake Erie (4-5), Rochester (4-5-2-1) and Toronto (6-4-2-0).

Redemption Wednesday: All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 5-2 win over Hamilton on Nov. 23 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to Wednesday’s game versus Rockford. Additionally, if the Griffins beat the IceHogs, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to next Wednesday’s game versus Abbotsford. Tickets can be redeemed at The Zone during business hours (M-F 10-6; Sat. 10-12) and at the box office before the game. Wednesday also marks the return of the popular “Wednesday is Hockey Night” promotion. Before or after every Wednesday game through February, fans can show their Griffins ticket to receive great food and drink specials at participating Arena District restaurants and bars, including Peppino’s Sports Grille, home of the Griffins’ Wednesday post-game parties. Visit griffinshockey.com/hockeynight for a list of participating restaurants (subject to change).

Extra Time: Sixty minutes has not been enough to decide a winner in four of the last six Griffins games. The team saw a pair of games go to a shootout last week, first on Friday at Milwaukee and again the following night in Rockford, but the Griffins were unable to emerge victorious. They won the other two post-regulation contests in overtime; on Nov. 29 at Toronto, with Landon Ferraro netting the game-winner, and again on Dec. 3 versus Chicago, when Joakim Andersson ended the game on a breakaway. The Griffins’ shootout record is 1-2 on the season, with Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith each capitalizing on two of three shootout attempts, while their overtime record is 2-1.

Mac is Back: Goaltender Joey MacDonald returned to action last weekend after missing a month (Nov. 9-Dec. 9) of game action due to a concussion. MacDonald returned to the lineup on Friday in the team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Milwaukee Admirals. The Pictou, Nova Scotia, native steered aside 29 of 32 shots during the game, plus three of five attempts during the shootout. Despite his extended absence from the lineup, MacDonald still sits among AHL leaders with a 2.31 goals against average (T11th), a 0.923 save percentage (12th) and two shutouts (T5th).

Time in Toledo: With Joey MacDonald returning to the lineup last weekend, the Red Wings reassigned goaltender Tom McCollum to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye on Dec. 7. McCollum made the most of his opportunity with Grand Rapids after joining the team on Nov. 7, leading the Griffins to three straight wins from Nov. 29-Dec. 3 before being assigned to Toledo.

Parkes Promoted: The Red Wings on Saturday reassigned forward Trevor Parkes from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye to the Griffins. Parkes has recorded one assist in 16 contests with the Griffins this season, entering back into the lineup Saturday at Rockford. Parkes appeared in four contests with the Walleye since being assigned on Nov. 28, tallying his first four professional goals.

Stepping it Up: Center Jamie Johnson has continued his strong play of late, enjoying a team-best six-game point streak that came to an end on Saturday at Rockford. Johnson recorded three goals and four assists from Nov. 25-Dec. 9 to put him at 11 goals and seven assists for the season. After starting the season with just one point in the team’s first eight games, Johnson’s production has ignited with 17 points in 15 games from Oct. 29-Dec. 9, adding two point streaks of at least five games and being held pointless in just three of those contests.

Clutch Scorer: The Griffins have seen increased goal production from center Joakim Andersson. He failed to score a goal in the team’s first 14 games but recorded seven assists along the way. Andersson has since scored seven goals in the next 10-game stretch. The 22-year-old Swede has scored two big goals for the Griffins in the past four games: the overtime-winning goal on Dec. 3 versus Chicago, and the game-tying goal on Saturday at Rockford with 47 seconds left in regulation that forced overtime and secured the Griffins one point.

Making His Mark: The Griffins continue to be without the services of forward Chris Conner, who was the team’s leading scorer when he was recalled by the Red Wings on Nov. 30. Conner is still tied for 18th in AHL scoring, despite missing the Griffins’ last five games, with 23 points (7-16—23) in 20 games. The Livonia, Mich., native has recorded two points in five games with the Red Wings, notching his first point as a Red Wing while being named the game’s third star during last Thursday’s 5-2 win versus Phoenix. The following game, he scored his first goal of the season in Detroit’s 7-1 win over Winnipeg.

Milestone Watch: Several Griffins are approaching personal milestones…Francis Pare is two goals from tying Matt Ellis (69) for sixth in franchise history, one assist from tying Jeff Nelson (87) for seventh in franchise history (and two from tying Glen Metropolit for sixth) and one point from breaking a tie with Ellis (153) and tying Jamie Tardif (154) for sixth in Griffins’ history…Joey MacDonald is five games shy of 200 as a Griffin and 400 as a pro…Jamie Johnson is five games away from his 600th professional contest…Doug Janik is eight penalty minutes away from 200 as a Griffin and 900 as a pro…Tomas Tatar is six penalty minutes shy of 100 as a Griffin.

Scouting Report

Wed., Dec. 14 vs. Rockford IceHogs (10-13-1-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through ESPN961.com. All-Time Series: 7-13-2-3 Overall, 5-6-0-1 Home. Season Series: 0-2-0-1 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Home. Fourth of four meetings overall, second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (1st season). Notes: The Griffins have struggled against Rockford recently, losing five of their last six to the IceHogs, and are winless (0-6-1-1) in Rockford since claiming a 5-4 shootout win on Jan. 2, 2010…The IceHogs are led by Brandon Pirri, who has 24 points (10-14—24) in 25 games to tie for 14th in AHL scoring…Rockford defenseman Brian Connelly is tied for the lead among AHL defenseman with 21 points (2-19—21) in 25 games…The IceHogs have benefitted from the addition of Rostislav Olesz, who has 12 points (6-6—12) in in 11 games since being assigned by Chicago…Rockford will also have the services of Ben Smith, who was assigned by Chicago on Monday. Smith has 10 points (6-4—10) in nine games for Rockford…The IceHogs have received strong goaltending from Carter Hutton since recalling him from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Hutton has a 2.75 GAA and 0.921 save percentage in five appearances…Griffins defenseman Garnet Exelby served as the IceHogs’ captain last season.

Fri., Dec. 16 at Lake Erie Monsters (11-13-1-1) – Quicken Loans Arena – 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 17 at Lake Erie Monsters – Quicken Loans Arena – 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Ohio at 7:30 p.m. (Fri.). My43 WUAB-TV (Cleveland) at 7:30 p.m. (Sat.). Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 7:15 p.m. both nights. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through ESPN961.com. All-Time Series: 18-12-1-4 Overall, 6-6-1-4 Road. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second and third of six meetings overall, first and second of three in Lake Erie. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: David Quinn (3rd season). Notes: Grand Rapids beat Lake Erie in the teams’ first meeting this season, shutting out the Monsters 3-0 on Nov. 2…Lake Erie’s strength this season has been goaltending, as netminder Cedrick Desjardins leads the AHL with a 1.70 GAA and 0.946 save percentage…Monsters defenseman Tyson Barrie is tied for 12th among the league’s blueliners, and second among rookie defensemen, with 14 points (3-11—14) in 26 games…Lake Erie is low scoring (26th in the AHL with a 2.38 goals-per-game average) but is tied for the eighth-lowest in goals against (2.65)…David van der Gulik leads the Monsters in scoring with 19 points (6-13—19) in 21 games. 

Griffins Game Rewinds
Dec. 9 - GR 3 at MIL 4 SO
ESPN Radio Highlights:  Smith scores   Tatar goal   Admirals' winner
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

 
Dec. 10 - GR 2 at RFD 3 SO
AHLLive Video Highlights
ESPN Radio Highlights:  Andersson ties it   Rockford winner
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report
 

Dec. 11 - GR 1 at CHI 3
AHLLive Video Highlights
ESPN Radio Highlights: Chicago up two   Tatar scores late
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

 


 



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