This Week’s Games
Wed., Feb. 15 - GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves - 8 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Feb. 18 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Feb. 10 Houston Aeros 5 at GRIFFINS 1 19-19-4-4, 46 pts. (4th, North Division)
Sat., Feb. 11 Houston Aeros 5 at GRIFFINS 4 19-20-4-4, 46 pts. (4th)
Sun., Feb. 12 San Antonio Rampage 4 at GRIFFINS 7 20-20-4-4, 48 pts. (4th)
Busy Weekend: Grand Rapids finished up a season-high five-game homestand last weekend by playing three home games in three nights for just the eighth time in franchise history. It posted a 2-3 record during that stretch, but finished on a high note. On Friday, the Griffins surrendered three first-period goals to Houston, and despite 30 shots in the final two periods, they were only able to solve Aeros’ netminder Matt Hackett once in a 5-1 loss. They were stronger the following night, getting out to a 3-1 lead early in the second period, but the Aeros rallied to take a 4-3 lead midway through the third period. The Griffins appeared ready to send the game into overtime when Joakim Andersson scored with 46 seconds left to tie the game at four, but Houston’s Jon DiSalvatore scored just 17 seconds later to give his team a 5-4 regulation win. The loss didn’t sit well with the Griffins, who roared out to a 3-0 lead in the first 2:57 of Sunday’s game versus San Antonio. The Rampage rallied several times, but a Chris Minard hat trick proved to be the difference in a 7-4 Griffins victory.
On Tap: The Griffins will play their first road game since before the all-star break (Jan. 28 at Peoria) when they visit Chicago on Wednesday at 8 p.m. It’s the first of just two road games for Grand Rapids in the month of February, as it is in the middle of a stretch that sees 13 of 17 games being played at Van Andel Arena. After taking on the Wolves, the Griffins will then begin a stretch of three straight games, and five of six overall, at home on Saturday at 7 p.m. versus the Peoria Rivermen.
Purple Game: The result of this Saturday’s contest versus the Peoria Rivermen will be reflected by much more than the scoreboard, as the Griffins have partnered with the Van Andel Institute (VAI) for their first-ever “Purple Game.” Nearly everything at Van Andel Arena will be in sync with the color associated with cancer survivors throughout the night. The Griffins will wear special purple jerseys that will be autographed and auctioned to the public in the Fifth third Bank Vault restaurant after the game, with proceeds benefiting VAI. Other purple elements include 10,000 purple t-shirts and 2,500 white and purple rally towels that will be given away to fans before the game; purple polo shirts worn by the Griffins staff; purple concession items such as cotton candy, sno cones, and cupcakes; purple VAI logos embedded in the arena’s ice surface; and purple game production elements, including songs, videos and LED graphics. Four-year-old Clayton Kendall, a two-time cancer survivor from Grant, Mich., will drop the ceremonial first puck before the game, and a salute to cancer survivors will take place during the first intermission. During the second intermission, one-of-a-kind speed painter Dan Dunn and his Paintjam act will take place at center ice to create a portrait of a famous personality that will be auctioned at a later date through VAI. Fans who would like to attend the game and support fundraising for cancer research can order their tickets through a special promotional code that will allocate $3 of their ticket price to VAI. Visit griffinshockey.com/promocode and enter the code “purple.” One hundred percent of the funds raised through the Purple Game will go directly to research at VAI. The Griffins have “purpled out” their web site, Facebook page and Twitter page to call attention to the night. Fans who change their profile picture to a “Purple Game” badge, or who post on its wall or tweet about the game, will be entered in a raffle for several prizes, including an overnight stay at the Downtown Courtyard by Marriott.
Offensive Fireworks: The Griffins posted their second-best offensive output of the season on Sunday, scoring seven goals against San Antonio. Chris Minard led the way with his second hat trick as a Griffin, and the team’s fourth line was productive, with Mitch Callahan and Trevor Parkes each chipping in goals that were assisted by Louis-Marc Aubry. The Griffins lead the Western Conference with a 3.23 goals-per-game average, which is the fifth-best in the AHL. They will face a tough test this week, as they match up against one of the AHL’s stingiest defenses on Wednesday; Chicago is fourth in the league with a 2.57 goals against average. The conference’s best two offenses will battle on Saturday, as Peoria is seventh in the AHL, averaging 3.08 goals per game.
Chris’ Comeback: Chris Minard missed the Griffins’ first 36 games this season while recovering from a concussion, but he’s quickly become one of the hottest players in the lineup. Minard has 11 points (9-2—11) in 12 games this season and posted back-to-back three-point games on Saturday versus Houston and Sunday versus San Antonio. His nine goals are tied for the fifth-best on the club, while his 23.1% shooting percentage is fourth in the AHL.
Fantastic First Year: With an assist on Saturday night versus Houston, Gustav Nyquist is now in sole possession of fifth place on the franchise’s single-season rookie points leaderboard. Nyquist has 45 points (15-30—45) in 44 games, trailing only Kevyn Adams (22-25—47 in 1996-97), Francis Pare (24-24—48 in 2008-09), Justin Abdelkader (24-28—52 in 2008-09) and Glen Metropolit (20-35—55 in 1997-98). The Halmstad, Sweden, native is currently riding a four-game point streak (3-2—5) and is tied for ninth in the AHL with 45 points (15-30—45) in 44 games. He leads league rookies in assists and is second to Norfolk’s Cory Conacher in points.
Will He Stay or Go?: Goaltender Joey MacDonald has started four straight games for the Detroit Red Wings and is stating his case to remain with the team for the rest of the season. The 32-year-old netminder has appeared in five games in all, sporting a 3-1-1 record with a 1.87 goals against average and a 0.926 save percentage. He can help the Red Wings make history tonight, if they can beat the Dallas Stars and win their NHL-record 21st straight home game. MacDonald also has posted an 11-11-3 record, a 2.63 goals against average, a 0.913 save percentage and three shutouts in 26 appearances with the Griffins this season. He ranks first among the Griffins’ all-time goaltending leaders with 210 games played, 109 wins, 20 shutouts and 5,352 saves.
Reds, Whites and Brews: On Monday, Feb. 20, the Griffins will hang up their skates for an evening and support Easter Seals Michigan for the inaugural Reds, Whites and Brews wine and beer tasting benefit at the Goei Center (818 Butterworth St. SW). Griffins players will serve beer and wine samples to nearly 150 guests at the event, which will also feature live music, hors d’oeuvres by YoChef Catering Company, and silent and live auctions. The event will run from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $30 (or two for $50) at essmichigan.org or by phone at (616) 942-2081.
Roster Move: The Griffins on Friday traded center Adam Estoclet to the Abbotsford Heat. Estoclet appeared in 12 games with the Griffins, recording one goal, one assist and four penalty minutes. The Naperville, Illinois, native also skated in 26 games with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, tallying 23 points (7-16—23), a plus-nine rating and 10 penalty minutes. The 22-year-old is in his first professional season after a four-year career at Dartmouth College.
League Leaders: The Griffins have several players near the top of various AHL statistical categories. Gustav Nyquist is tied for ninth in the AHL with 45 points (15-30—45) in 44 games, which places him second among rookies. He is also tied for the rookie lead and third in the AHL with four shootout tallies…Garnet Exelby is third in the league with 150 penalty minutes…Chris Minard’s 21.9% shooting percentage is fourth in the AHL…Brendan Smith is among league leaders in several defensive scoring categories with 28 points (T8th), eight goals (T6th), two shorthanded goals (T1st), two shorthanded assists (T1st), four shorthanded points (1st) and three shootout goals (T1st)…Doug Janik is third among defensemen with a plus-16 rating...As a team, the Griffins rank first in the AHL in shots per game, averaging 34.46.
Who’s Hot?: Jamie Johnson saw a three-game assist streak end last Friday versus Houston, but he recorded five points (1-4—5) in two games last weekend to give him 12 points (3-9—12) in the team’s last 10 games. He’s also assisted on Chris Minard’s last six goals…Minard enters this week coming off back-to-back three-point games (4-2—6) and has eight points (6-2—8) in his last six outings…Gustav Nyquist is riding a four-game point streak (3-2—5) and has eight points (4-4—8) in his last six games…Fabian Brunnstrom has eight points (3-5—8) in the team’s last six games…Rookies Trevor Parkes (1-2—3) and Louis-Marc Aubry (0-3—3) have points in two of their last three appearances. Aubry has six points (1-5—6) in his last six games.
Milestone Watch: Tom McCollum appeared in his 100th professional game on Saturday versus Houston, and Brian Lashoff did the same on Sunday versus San Antonio…Chris Conner is two appearances shy of 400 games as a pro and two goals away from 100…Francis Pare is currently tied with Darryl Bootland for fifth in franchise history with 72 goals, and his next goal will tie him for fourth with Derek King…Chris Minard is three goals away from 150 in the AHL…Doug Janik is three points away from 200 as a pro…Garnet Exelby and Joakim Andersson will set new AHL-bests with their next assists, the 11th of the season for Exelby and 16th for Andersson. Andersson and Sebastien Piche are one assist away from 50 as professionals…Logan Pyett will tie Derek King for 10th place in games played (264) with four more appearances.
Wed., Feb. 15 at Chicago Wolves (27-18-1-3) – Allstate Arena – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 49-38-2-3-2 Overall, 24-23-0-1-0 Road. Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Third of four meetings overall, second of two in Chicago. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Craig MacTavish (1st season). Notes: Chicago currently sits second in the Midwest Division with 58 points…The Wolves’ 2.57 goals against average is the fourth-lowest in the AHL, and co-starters Matt Climie (2.39) and Eddie Lack (2.46) rank 10th and 13th in the league, respectively. Climie is also second in the AHL with a 0.927 save percentage…Wolves defenseman Kevin Connauton is tied for first among AHL defensemen with 10 goals, including six on the power play…Former Griffin Darren Haydar is second on Chicago with 39 points (12-27—39), trailing only Mark Mancari, who leads the team with 20 goals. Mancari has four goals against the Griffins this season, three of which came in a 5-4 overtime win for Grand Rapids on Dec. 3…Griffins captain Garnet Exelby won a Calder Cup with Chicago as a first-year pro in 2001-02. Exelby recorded seven points (3-4—7) and 257 penalty minutes in 75 regular season games with the Wolves, adding four assists in 25 playoff contests.
Sat., Feb. 18 vs. Peoria Rivermen (26-21-2-1) – 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: 18-21-2-2 Overall, 7-11-2-1 Home. Season Series: 1-1-1-0 Overall, 0-0-1-0 Home. Fourth of four meetings overall, second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Jared Bednar (2nd season). Notes: The Rivermen currently sit eighth in the Western Conference with 55 points…Peoria’s 154 goals scored are the second-best in the Western Conference, trailing only Grand Rapids (155)…Rivermen forward T.J. Hensick is third in the AHL with 62 points (18-44—62) in 50 games. His 26 power play points rank fourth in the league and factor into Peoria’s second-place power play at 21.4%...Rookie defenseman Cade Fairchild leads the AHL with a plus-28 rating…Peoria goaltender Ben Bishop is near the top of the league with a 2.30 goals against average (6th), 22 wins (1st), 2083:48 minutes (3rd), 1,003 saves (2nd), six shutouts (1st) and a 0.926 save percentage (3rd)…Former Griffin Danny Syvret is tied for fourth among AHL blueliners with 31 points (4-27—31) in 50 games. Syvret scored the overtime-winner in the teams’ first meeting of the season, Dec. 30 in Grand Rapids…Peoria’s penalty killing is 10th in the AHL at 83.3%.