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GRIFFINS MOVE TO AHL'S MIDWEST DIVISION

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins are moving to the American Hockey League’s Midwest Division for the 2012-13 season, joining the Chicago Wolves, Milwaukee Admirals, Peoria Rivermen and Rockford IceHogs.

After playing the last seven seasons as members of the North Division, the Griffins have been reunited with longtime and cross-lake rivals Chicago and Milwaukee for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign, when all were part of the AHL’s West Division.

The three teams have been fierce competitors since the Griffins’ inaugural 1996-97 season in the International Hockey League, with Grand Rapids serving as a division rival to Milwaukee for five different seasons (1999-02 and 2003-05) and Chicago for three (2001-02 and 2003-05). Throughout their 16-season history, the Griffins have played more games against Milwaukee (116, with a 56-42-7-5-6 record) and Chicago (96, 49-39-2-4-2) than any other clubs.

This change was one of several to emerge from the AHL Board of Governors’ Annual Meeting, held this week at Hilton Head Island, S.C., including Abbotsford’s move to the North Division and Charlotte’s switch to the renamed South Division.

The regular season schedule format and Calder Cup Playoffs format are still to be determined, and the complete playing schedule for the 2012-13 regular season, which begins Oct. 12, will be announced later this summer. But the AHL made announcements on several other fronts today:

Video Review - The Board has approved the use of a video goal-review system for AHL games beginning with the 2012-13 season.

Rules Changes - The AHL has adopted the following rule changes recently approved for use in the National Hockey League:

Rule 67.2 (“Handling the Puck”) now calls for a minor penalty “any time a player places his hand over the puck while it is on the ice in order to conceal it from or prevent an opponent from playing the puck.”

Rule 76.4 (“Face-offs”) states that “both players facing off are prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the face-off.” Violation of this rule will result in a minor penalty for delay of game.

• The Board has also approved a test of a variation on Rule 81 (“Icing”) at the request of the NHL, that will, in the event of a potential icing violation, complete the play should a defending player be the first to reach the end zone face-off dots and provided the puck has crossed the goal line at that point. This rule will be in effect until Nov. 19, 2012, at which time its continued use will be determined by the Board. This was the only rules test approved.



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