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GRIFFINS BUILDING MOMENTUM AT SEASON'S MIDPOINT

This Week’s Games
Wed., Jan. 11 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Fri., Jan. 13 - Texas Stars at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Sun., Jan. 15 - GRIFFINS at Charlotte Checkers - 3 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Jan. 6 - GRIFFINS 4 at Abbotsford Heat 3 - 14-13-4-2, 34 pts. (T3rd, North Division)

Sat., Jan. 7 - GRIFFINS 2 at Abbotsford Heat 1 OT - 15-13-4-2, 36 pts. (3rd)

Double Down: After going 0-4 in their first two trips to Abbotsford, the Griffins were finally victorious at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre – twice. On Friday, the Griffins got out to a 2-0 lead against the Heat and held on for a 4-3 victory. The following night, Brian Lashoff’s goal with 1:01 left in overtime gave the Griffins their second straight victory over the Heat, and a season-best three-game winning streak. Friday’s victory ended the Heat’s eight-game winning streak over the Griffins, dating back to the 2009-10 season. Each team ended that season series with a 2-1-1-0 record, but the Heat hold the advantage in the all-time series, where the Griffins hold a 4-6-1-1 record.

On Tap: The Griffins will open up the home portion of their 2012 schedule this week with a pair of games against West Division teams. The Houston Aeros will visit Van Andel Arena on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and the Texas Stars will meet the Griffins for the first time this season on Friday at 7 p.m. The Griffins will then travel to Charlotte for the first time ever for first of two games against the Checkers on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Winning Ways: The Griffins enter this week earned points in six straight (3-0-3-0) contests. It marks the Griffins’ best point streak since they posted an eight-game run (7-0-1-0) from Feb. 27-March 16, 2011. The three-game winning streak also ties a season high set Nov. 29-Dec. 3. Additionally, the Griffins are carrying a season-best six-game home point streak (4-0-2-0) which began on Dec. 2. They did not lose at home in regulation during the month of December (5-2-3-2) in a stretch that has seen them earn points in 13 of their last 15 games (8-2-3-2).

Close Calls: Grand Rapids has had 20 games this season, including six straight, decided by one goal, tying them for the fourth-most one-goal games in the AHL. The team has posted a 9-5-4-2 record in these contests. Additionally, the Griffins have seen nine of their last 15 games head to extra time, where they’ve recorded a 4-0-3-2 mark.

Promotions: The first two home games of 2012 mean that there is a lot going on at Van Andel Arena this week. Wednesday’s game versus Houston is “Wednesday Night is Hockey Night,” which allows fans to show their ticket to that night’s game for great specials before and after the game at participating Arena District restaurants and bars. Visit griffinshockey.com/hockeynight for a list of participating locations. Additionally, if the Griffins beat the Aeros on Winning Wednesday, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next Wednesday game, Jan. 25 versus Rochester. The first 300 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a free t-short. Friday’s game versus the Texas Stars means fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs and $1 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. Fans can also ride the Rapid to and from any Friday game and enjoy complimentary fare by showing their ticket to that night’s game. Visit ridetherapid.org for schedule information, routes and maps.

Welcome to Charlotte: After the two home games this week, the Griffins will travel to Charlotte for their first-ever visit to the Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday at 3 p.m. It will mark the 51st arena, 43rd city and 21st state in which the Griffins have played since their 1996 inception (including Grand Rapids and Van Andel Arena).

High-Five: Griffins goaltender Tom McCollum achieved a new personal best last week, winning his fifth consecutive game. The 22-year-old netminder won three straight games with the Griffins from Nov. 29-Dec. 3 before being reassigned by the Red Wings to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. He was recalled on Dec. 31 and played versus Milwaukee that night, tying his career-best four-game winning streak (Oct. 24-Nov. 13, 2009). After winning on Saturday at Abbotsford, McCollum now sits with a 6-3 record and a team-best 2.78 goals against average and 0.909 save percentage.

Red Hot: Griffins forward Francis Pare has been red-hot of late, recording assists in each of the Griffins’ past six games (Dec. 21-Jan. 7). In addition to being a personal best, his six-game assist streak is the longest of any Griffin this season, while his six-game point streak (2-6—8) ties Jamie Johnson for the longest of the season (Nov. 25-Dec.9). Previously, Pare had an assist streak of four games (Dec. 19-Dec. 26, 2008) and a point streak of five games (most recently March 11-18, 2011).

The Gang’s All Here: The Griffins started 2012 without the services of three of their top six scorers in Joakim Andersson, Chris Conner and Gustav Nyquist. As the Red Wings had some players return from injuries, they were able to return all three to the Griffins: Andersson last Wednesday, Nyquist on Sunday and Conner on Monday. Andersson became the 123rd alumnus of the Griffins to play in an NHL game when he made his debut on Jan. 23 versus St. Louis. Andersson skated in four games with Detroit, recording a plus-one rating. Nyquist has missed the Griffins’ previous four contests after being recalled to Detroit last Thursday. He recorded his first NHL point when he assisted on a goal by former Griffin Cory Emmerton on Jan. 3 at Dallas. Conner returns to the Griffins after being recalled by the Red Wings on Nov. 30. Despite missing the team’s last 14 games, Conner still sits fourth on the Griffins with 23 points (7-16—23) in 20 games. He recorded one goal and two assists in seven games while in Detroit.

Estoclet Assigned: The Griffins on Monday assigned forward Adam Estoclet to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Estoclet has skated in 12 games for the Griffins this year, tallying one goal, one assist and four penalty minutes. The 22-year-old has also recorded 13 points (5-8—13) in 12 games with the Walleye this season.

Thank You, Fans: After gathering crowds of 10,549, 8,165 and 10,091 in its past three games, Grand Rapids has moved into second place in the AHL in attendance, averaging 6,843 fans per game. The Griffins have brought in a total of 109,480 fans in their 16 home games so far, trailing only the Hershey Bears, who average 9,440 fans per contest.

Number One: The Griffins currently rank first in the AHL in shots per game, averaging 34.24. The team has recorded under 30 shots just once in its past eight games, while recording over 40 shots on nine different occasions. The results have paid off for the Griffins, who now sit eighth in the AHL with a 3.06 goals-per-game average.

Unlikely Hero: Brian Lashoff was the hero on Saturday, scoring the overtime winner against Abbotsford to give the Griffins the 2-1 decision. Lashoff has now scored goals in three straight games for his first-ever goal streak, chipping in four points along the way (3-1—4). Lashoff has five goals and four assists in 34 games this season, after being held goalless in 43 games with the team from 2009-11.

All-Star Classic: Griffins left wing Gustav Nyquist has been selected to play for the Western Conference All-Star Team at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held Jan. 29-30 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Nyquist leads the Griffins with 30 points (9-21—30) in 30 games, tying him for 11th in overall AHL scoring and second among all rookies. Nyquist, who made his NHL debut on Nov. 1 versus Minnesota, has played in four games with the Red Wings this season and recorded his first NHL point when he assisted on a goal by former Griffin Cory Emmerton in the Red Wings’ 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars on Jan. 3.

Who’s Hot?: Jamie Johnson saw a five-game point streak (1-4—5) end on Friday at Abbotsford, but he has recorded nine points (3-6—9) in his past eight games overall…Tomas Tatar has a four-game point streak (2-3—5)…Captain Garnet Exelby has four points (2-2—4) in his past five games…Brent Raedeke is heating up, with six points (3-3—6) in his last six games…Brian Lashoff has goals in his past three contests, marking his first goal streak as a pro…Francis Pare has eight points (2-6—8) in his last six games…Tom McCollum has won five straight starts.

Milestone Watch: Brent Raedeke played in his 100th game as a Griffin on Saturday at Abbotsford, while Greg Amadio played in his 200th…Francis Pare passed Matt Ellis for sixth all time in Griffins history with 70 goals. He is two goals away from tying Darryl Bootland for fifth all time (72)…Tom McCollum and Willie Coetzee are each four games away from 100 as a pro…Brendan Smith is six away from that marker, while one point will give him 50 as a Griffin…Chris Conner is three points shy of 200 in the AHL…Fabian Brunnstrom is three points away from 50 in the AHL…Tomas Tatar became the 15th Griffin to hit 50 goals when he scored on Friday at Abbotsford.

Scouting Report

Wed., Jan. 11 vs. Houston Aeros (19-8-2-7) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 35-29-6-3-6 Overall, 20-12-2-1-3 Home. Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: John Torchetti (1st season). Notes: The Aeros are tied for second in the tightly-contested West Division, sitting three points behind the Oklahoma City Barons (50) at 47 points, along with the Abbotsford Heat…Houston is tied for the fewest regulation losses in the league with eight but has dropped a league-high nine games in extra time this season, including seven in a shootout…Aeros goaltender Matt Hackett is among AHL leaders with 13 wins (T6th), a 2.29 goals against average (7th) and a 0.922 save percentage (9th)…Houston is among the top road teams in the AHL, boasting a 12-2-0-2 record away from home…The Aeros are led in scoring by Jon DiSalvatore, who has 28 points (11-17—28) in 36 games.

Fri., Jan. 13 vs. Texas Stars (15-16-1-2) – 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: 6-4-0-2 Overall, 3-1-0-2 Home. Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Jeff Pyle (1st season). Notes: The Stars currently sit last in the West Division with 33 points…Texas is led in scoring by Travis Morin, who is tied for fourth in the AHL with 28 assists (4-28—32)…Stars forward Matt Fraser is tied for fourth in AHL rookie scoring with 29 points (19-10—29) in 34 games…Texas has received solid goaltending from Andrew Raycroft since he was sent down from Dallas. Raycroft is 1-0-1 with a 2.40 goals against average and 0.912 save percentage…Stars forward Mike Hedden skated in three games with the Griffins last year, recording one assist…Texas head coach Jeff Pyle was briefly an assistant for the Griffins in 1997-98, stepping behind the bench for the final 20 games of the season.

Sun., Jan. 15 at Charlotte Checkers (21-13-2-1) – Time Warner Cable Arena – 3 p.m.
TV: Time Warner Cable Special Events 520 (Carolinas) at 3 p.m. Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 2:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, first of two in Charlotte. NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes. Head Coach: Jeff Daniels (2nd season). Notes: The Checkers lead the Midwest Division with 45 points…The Griffins played the Checkers for the first time on Nov. 5, losing 2-1…Charlotte is led in scoring by Jon Matsumoto, who has 29 points (13-16—29) in 37 games. The team could be without the services of its second-leading scorer, Jerome Samson (15-12—27 in 37 games), who was recalled by Carolina on Tuesday, and captain Brett Sutter, who was recalled by the Hurricanes on Jan. 5…The Checkers have the sixth-best penalty kill in the league at 84.4 percent…The Checkers average the fourth-fewest goals against per game (2.54), due in part to the goaltending of Mike Murphy, who sports a 13-9-0 record, a 2.56 goals against average and a 0.915 save percentage.

Griffins Game Rewinds
Jan. 6 - GR 4 at ABB 3
ESPN Radio Highlights:  Tatar Goal   Lashoff Scores   MacDonald Save
Official Game Report

Jan. 7 - GR 2 at ABB 1 OT
WOOD Radio Highlights:  Exelby Goal   Lashoff Winner
Official Game Report



 



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