This Week’s Games
Wed., Jan. 25 - Rochester Americans at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Jan. 27 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 8 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 28 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 8 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Tue., Jan. 17 - GRIFFINS 5 at Charlotte Checkers 6 - 15-16-4-3, 37 pts. (5th, North Division)
Fri., Jan. 20 - Lake Erie Monsters 0 at GRIFFINS 5 - 16-16-4-3, 39 pts. (T4th)
Sat., Jan. 21 - Rochester Americans 4 at GRIFFINS 3 SO - 16-16-4-4, 40 pts. (4th)
On the Rise: After starting last week with two straight losses to the Charlotte Checkers last Sunday and Tuesday, the Griffins found themselves at the bottom of the North Division. After taking three out of four points this weekend against division rivals, the Griffins are back in fourth place and within striking distance of a higher position. They begin the week just one point behind third-place Hamilton and four behind Wednesday’s opponent, second-place Rochester. Grand Rapids opened the weekend with a convincing 5-0 win over the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday, led by Joey MacDonald’s 20th shutout as a Griffin. The following night, the Griffins lost a two-goal lead to Rochester, who emerged victorious in a shootout to take a 4-3 victory, its third straight victory over the Griffins this season. The three points helped the Griffins leap over the Monsters in the standings, now leading by one point with two games in hand.
Staying Home: Fans will have plenty of chances to see the Griffins coming up, as the team is currently in its busiest home stretch of the season. Grand Rapids finishes up a three-game homestand against Rochester on Wednesday at 7 p.m., before departing for Peoria for a pair of games against the Rivermen on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. The Griffins will then play five straight games at home to begin February, in a month that sees just two road games. The team will play at Van Andel Arena for eight of 10 contests that month in a stretch that sees 13 of 17 games played at home overall. The favorable home schedule lends well to a Griffins team that has lost just once in regulation (5-1-2-2) in their past 10 home contests.
Winning Wednesday: If the Griffins beat the Rochester Americans on Wednesday, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next Wednesday game, Feb. 22 versus Hamilton. Additionally, the first 300 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a free t-shirt. Before and after the game, fans can enjoy “Wednesday Night is Hockey Night” by showing their ticket to that night’s game to receive great food and drink specials at participating Arena District restaurants and bars. Visit griffinshockey.com/hockeynight for a list of participating restaurants (subject to change).
Immediate Impact: Forward Chris Minard returned to the Griffins lineup last Sunday against Charlotte after missing the first half of the season with a concussion. Minard posted 35 points (18-17—35) in 79 games last season and was one of the hottest Griffins during the second half of the season, with 15 of his goals coming in the team’s final 40 games. The Owen Sound, Ontario native made up for lost time quickly, scoring two goals in last Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to Charlotte and adding a third to seal a 5-0 decision over Lake Erie on Friday.
Battle for the North: Three of the Griffins next five games are against North Division opponents. Grand Rapids has had great success in its own division, with a 9-3-1-1 record, but they have yet to beat Wednesday’s opponent, the Rochester Americans, in three attempts. The Amerks bested the Griffins 7-2 on Oct. 16 and 2-1 on Nov. 12 before needing a shootout on Saturday to beat the Griffins 4-3. Rochester leads Grand Rapids by four points in the North Division standings, having played one more game.
All-Star Weekend: Immediately following the game at Peoria on Saturday, forward Gustav Nyquist will depart for Atlantic City, N.J. to represent the Griffins in the AHL All-Star Classic. The Skills Competition will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m., and the All-Star Game on Monday at 7 p.m. Both events will be televised live by Fox Sports Detroit PLUS. Nyquist will be joined by a number of former Griffins: Darren Haydar (Chicago), Krys Kolanos (Abbotsford), Chris Mueller (Milwaukee), Clay Wilson (Abbotsford) and Ryan Keller (Oklahoma City), who was named to the event today as a replacement. Additionally, former Griffins defenseman and current Oklahoma City head coach Todd Nelson will serve as the head coach for the Western Conference team.
Keep Your Friends Close: Two of Rochester goaltender Drew MacIntyre’s six victories this season have come against the Griffins, as he stopped 43 of 44 shots in a 2-1 Americans’ victory on Nov. 12 after also beating the Griffins 7-2 on Oct. 16. MacIntyre, who appeared in 37 games for Grand Rapids from 2004-06, has a 15-5-1 record against the Griffins since departing for the Manitoba Moose in the 2006-07 season, including a 4-0 record in his last five appearances and a 9-2 record since the start of the 2008-09 season. MacIntyre was also the Moose’s netminder during the team’s seven-game playoff victory over Grand Rapids in 2007, during which he posted a 1.65 GAA and 0.942 save percentage against his former club. MacIntyre didn’t play in the Americans’ 4-3 shootout victory over Grand Rapids on Saturday.
Recipe for Success: The Griffins continue to lead the league in shots on goal, averaging 34.43 shots per game – over a full shot (1.02) better than second-place St. John’s (33.41). The team has recorded 35 shots or more in nine of its past 13 games. That number could be improved this week, as both opponents are near the bottom of the league in shots against: Rochester sits 25th with a 31.98 shots against average, while Peoria is 29th at 33.31. Grand Rapids now sits sixth in the AHL with a 3.13 goals per game average, the best average of any team in the Western Conference.
Veteran Moved: The Griffins on Thursday traded defenseman Greg Amadio to the Springfield Falcons for left wing Mike Thomas. The move was made as the Griffins sat one veteran over the AHL’s five-man limit as Chris Minard joined Chris Conner, Garnet Exelby, Doug Janik and Jamie Johnson to fill the Griffins’ quota. Amadio, 30, had three assists and 108 penalty minutes in 29 games with the Griffins this season. Thomas, 21, joins the Griffins after playing in 24 games with Springfield this season, recording one goal, three assists and 16 penalty minutes. The first-year pro concluded a five-year career with the Saint John Sea Dogs by capturing the Memorial Cup while serving as captain in 2010-11.
A-Plus: Griffins defenseman Doug Janik is in a three-way tie for second place in the AHL with a plus-17 rating. He trails Peoria’s Cade Fairchild by just one for the league lead. Janik was a minus player on Saturday versus Rockford for just the fourth time since the beginning of November. He had achieved a plus rating in six of the previous nine games.
Milestone Watch: Several Griffins achieved personal milestones last week…Willie Coetzee appeared in his 100th pro game and Travis Ehrhardt played his 100th as a Griffin last Friday versus Lake Erie…Brendan Smith tallied his 50th point as a Griffin in the same game, and his next game will be his 100th as a pro…Francis Pare needs two games to tie Evan McGrath (262) for 10th all-time in franchise history, and he needs one goal to tie Darryl Bootland (72) for fifth all-time in goals…Two more games will give Fabian Brunnstrom 100 in the AHL and Tom McCollum 100 as a pro…Joakim Andersson’s next point will best his production totals from his rookie season, when he recorded 22 points (7-15—22) in 79 games. He needed only 37 games to hit 22 points (10-12—22) this season.
Wed., Jan. 25 vs. Rochester Americans (18-13-5-3) – 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: 29-21-1-1-3 Overall, 17-7-1-0-2 Home. Season Series: 0-2-0-1 Overall, 0-0-0-1 Home. Fourth of six meetings overall, second of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres. Head Coach: Ron Rolston (1st season). Notes: Rochester sits second in the North Division, four points ahead of Grand Rapids…The Americans have the fewest road wins (7) and second worst road power play (11.9), but they beat the Griffins 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday…The Americans are without the services of four players who are currently with the parent Sabres: forward Colin Stuart (8-9—17 in 25 games) and defensemen T.J. Brennan (7-10—17 in 29 games) and Brayden McNabb (1-9—10 in 19 games), but just received Joe Finley (1-2—3 in 30 games) back from Buffalo on Tuesday…Former Griffin Evan Rankin has recorded 12 points (7-5—12) in 13 games with Rochester since signing a tryout on Nov. 25. Rankin had a goal and an assist in 10 games with Grand Rapids last season…Rochester goaltender Drew MacIntyre played 37 games for the Griffins between 2004-06…The Griffins have two former Americans: Doug Janik (18-73—91 in 376 games from 2001-06) and Jamie Johnson (27-44—71 in 80 games in 2009-10).
Fri., Jan. 27 at Peoria Rivermen (20-19-2-1) – Carver Arena – 8 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 28 at Peoria Rivermen – Carver Arena – 8 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 7:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through ESPN961.com. All-Time Series: 17-20-2-2 Overall, 10-9-0-1 Road. Season Series: 0-0-1-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second and third of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Jared Bednar (2nd season). Notes: The Rivermen beat Grand Rapids in the team’s other meeting of the season, with former Griffin Danny Syvret giving Peoria a 4-3 win with 11 seconds left in overtime…Syvret played 57 games for Grand Rapids in 2006-07, recording 20 points (4-16—20). He is tied for seventh among league blueliners with 24 points (3-21—24) in 42 games…Rivermen forward T.J. Hensick is third in the AHL with 48 points (14-34—48) in 42 games…Peoria goaltender Ben Bishop ranks among league leaders with a 2.36 goals against average (12th), 17 wins (T2nd), 1726:07 minutes (3rd), 850 saves (2nd), six shutouts (1st) and a 0.926 save percentage (T5th) and was named to the AHL All-Star Classic as a replacement on Tuesday…Peoria defenseman Cade Fairchild leads the AHL with a plus-18 rating…Rivermen head coach Jared Bednar had 21 points (3-18—21) and 220 penalty minutes in 74 games with the Griffins in the 1998-99 season.