This Week’s Games
Fri., Jan. 4 - Oklahoma City Barons at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / Sirius XM NHL Network Radio / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 5 - GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves - 8 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., Jan. 6 - GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals - 4 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Dec. 28 - Toronto Marlies 2 at GRIFFINS 3 SO - 17-9-1-1, 36 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sat., Dec. 29 - Toronto Marlies 3 at GRIFFINS 1 - 17-10-1-1, 36 pts. (T1st)
Mon., Dec. 31 - Rockford IceHogs 1 at GRIFFFINS 3 - 18-10-1-1, 38 pts. (1st)
In With the New: The Griffins are hoping that the success they enjoyed on home ice to end the year, winning five of the first six games of their season-high seven-game homestand, will continue this week. The team will conclude that stretch and begin a three-in-three on Friday versus Oklahoma City at 7 p.m. before embarking on a four-game road trip. Grand Rapids will visit Chicago on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST and finish the weekend in Milwaukee on Sunday at 4 p.m. The trip will continue next week with games against Rockford on Wednesday and Friday, as the Griffins open a stretch of seven of their first nine games of 2013 coming away from Van Andel Arena.
Going Out in Style: Monday’s New Year’s Eve contest versus Rockford fell the Griffins’ way, as the team broke a tie with the IceHogs for the top spot in the Midwest Division and moved two points ahead of their rivals with a 3-1 victory. Landon Ferraro opened the scoring when he cashed in on a rebound from a Jeff Hoggan shot 2:01 into the first period, but Rockford’s Dylan Olsen tied the game in the second period. Two goals from Tomas Tatar put Grand Rapids ahead for good and the team held on for a 3-1 victory. The Griffins are now 7-8-1-0 all time on New Year’s Eve, winning four of their last five NYE games, including each of the last three.
Weekend Split: The Griffins and Toronto Marlies squared off twice last weekend at Van Andel Arena, with each team winning once. The visitors got off to a strong start on Friday night, outshooting the Griffins 8-4 in the first period and getting a goal from Will Acton to open the scoring. Grand Rapids responded with power play goals from Brendan Smith in the second period and Riley Sheahan early in the first period, but Toronto knotted the game midway through the third after Matt Frattin scored on a penalty shot. Overtime provided each team with several chances, including some wide-open hockey with two full minutes of 3-on-3 action, but the game required a shootout to decide. A spin-o-rama goal by Gustav Nyquist and a five-hole conversion by Francis Pare put the Griffins in the driver’s seat, and Petr Mrazek, who made 26 saves in regulation, steered aside four of the five Marlies attempts to seal the 3-2 victory for Grand Rapids. The Griffins got an early goal from Nyquist on Saturday, as he struck for his 10th of the season just 52 seconds into the contest, but Toronto scored three unanswered goals to end the Griffins’ winning streak at four.
Friday Promos: Friday’s game versus Oklahoma City is College Night, presented by H&R Block. All fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs and $1 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last, and college students can show their ID to purchase an upper bowl ticket for $13 (or $11 in advance at The Zone) and stop by the McFadden’s concourse table to receive a free pass to the post-game party at McFadden’s. Every Friday night is a Griffins WGRD D-Zone night. Fans can avoid the concession lines and have $1 beers and $1 hot dogs served to their seats. Visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to purchase D-Zone seats. Finally, fans can ride The Rapid busses 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.
Pack Your Bags: The Griffins’ season-high seven-game homestand will continue with Friday’s home game versus Oklahoma City, but the team will see seven of its first nine games of 2013 played on the road. Grand Rapids has played the fewest road games in the league (11), but it boasts the third-best record away from home at 8-3, which included a six-game road winning streak from Nov. 3-Dec. 7 that ranks as the second longest in the AHL this season. The Griffins’ road winning percentage of 0.727 trails only Syracuse (13-3-0-2, 0.778) and Springfield (10-3-1-0, 0.750).
Top of the Pack: Following Friday’s contest versus Oklahoma City, the Griffins will begin a stretch of five consecutive intra-division games, which could spell good news for a Griffins team that has had great success against the Midwest Division. Grand Rapids has posted a 10-4-1-0 record, tying them for the second-best divisional winning percentage (0.700) along with Worcester (13-5-1-1, 0.700). Only the South Division’s Houston Aeros (14-5-1-1, 0.714) have been better against their own division.
Clear Crease: Both Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum gave the Griffins exceptional goaltending during the month of December, as the team posted an 8-4 record and a 7-3 mark on home ice after a season-high 10 home games. Mrazek currently sits fifth in the AHL with a 2.12 goals against average and is tied for eighth with a 0.923 save percentage. His 11 wins tie for 11th in the league, and he boasts the best winning percentage (0.786) in the circuit. McCollum ranks 18th in the league with a 2.51 goals against average, as Grand Rapids is just one of three teams to have two goalies among the AHL’s top 20 in GAA, along with Abbotsford (Barry Brust and Danny Taylor) and Albany (Jeff Frazee and Keith Kinkaid). Mrazek posted a 5-2 record, a 1.71 GAA and a 0.937 save percentage in his seven December appearances, while McCollum was 3-2 with a 1.99 GAA, a 0.925 save percentage and one shutout.
Working Overtime: Following last Friday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Toronto Marlies, the Griffins improved to 6-0-1-1 in extra time games, with a 3-1 record in both overtime and shootouts. Only two teams have had a higher winning percentage after regulation than Grand Rapids (0.750) – Norfolk, which is 6-0-1-0 (0.857) and St. John’s, which is 5-0-0-1 (0.833). Additionally, the Griffins have the fifth-highest shootout conversion percentage, tallying seven goals on 18 attempts (0.389) and the second-best shootout save percentage at 0.875 percent (14-of-16 attempts), trailing only Connecticut (5-of-5) in that department.
Very Special Teams: The Griffins’ power play has been heating up during the season-high seven-game homestand, converting on six of its last 21 attempts (28.6 percent). The team has moved to seventh in the AHL in power play efficiency, currently sitting at 19.1 percent on the season. Additionally, the Griffins have only surrendered two power play goals in their last five games, killing off 13 of 15 opportunities (86.7 percent). The Griffins also rank second in the AHL with five shorthanded goals, due in part to Landon Ferraro, who is tied for the league lead with four shorthanded points.
Penalty Shot Rarity: In last Friday night’s 3-2 shootout win over Toronto, Marlies forward Matt Frattin joined a select club after he raced in on Petr Mrazek and converted a penalty shot at 9:26 of the third period to tie the game at two. Frattin becomes just the sixth player in franchise history to score on a penalty shot against the Griffins, joining Raymond Giroux (HOU, 2005), Lucas Lawson (HAM, 2006), Brett Engelhardt (TOR, 2007), Akim Aliu (RFD, 2010) and Aaron Voros (TOR, 2011). Frattin broke a streak of six straight penalty shot saves, since Voros scored on Jordan Pearce on March 23, 2011. The team had also saved 12 of its last 13 and 19 of its last 21 attempts.
Roster Moves: The Griffins have seen a pair of forwards rejoin the team this week from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. The Red Wings on Sunday reassigned center Brent Raedeke to the Griffins from the Walleye. Raedeke, 22, has four points (1-3—4) in 14 games with the Griffins this season and 38 career points (20-18—38) in 147 AHL games, all with Grand Rapids. In his ECHL debut, the Regina, Saskatchewan, native tallied a goal in two games with the Walleye. Raedeke recorded career highs in all offensive categories in 64 games with the Griffins last season, registering 21 points (11-10—21) and 33 penalty minutes. On Wednesday, the Red Wings reassigned right wing Andrej Nestrasil to the Griffins. A native of Prague, Czech Republic, Nestrasil has skated in three games with the Griffins this season, showing a plus-one rating and no points. The second-year pro boasts an ECHL-best 11-game active point streak, which ranks as the fourth-longest in the circuit this season. He now owns a share of the team scoring lead after racking up 18 points (4-14—18) in 11 games since Nov. 30, including a career-high five-point night (2-3—5) in Toledo’s 9-4 win over Fort Wayne on Monday.
Milestones: Tomas Tatar is one point from 200 as a pro and one game from 300 as a pro. He also passed Kip Miller (75) and claimed fourth place in franchise history in goals after scoring twice on Monday versus Rockford, now sitting one goal behind Jamie Tardif (78) for third place…Joakim Andersson is one goal from 50 as a pro and will skate in his 300th professional contest with his next appearance…Tom McCollum is one win shy of tying Pokey Reddick for seventh in franchise history with 35 victories and one game played away from passing Ian Gordon (95) for fourth all time…Adam Almquist is three points shy of 50 as a pro.
ECHL Honors: Two current Griffins were honored in the ECHL this week. On Wednesday, Andrej Nestrasil was named the AMI Graphics ECHL Plus Performer of the Month after posting the league’s best plus-minus rating in December. The second-year pro was a plus-13, capping off a month where he scored points in every game (currently holding an 11-game point streak) with a five-point (2-3—5) performance and a plus-five rating at Fort Wayne on New Year’s Eve. East Grand Rapids native Luke Glendening on Thursday was selected to the ECHL All-Star Game. Glendening, who was recalled to Grand Rapids on Dec. 18, led the Walleye at the time of his recall and was tied for eighth in the ECHL in both goals (14) and plus minus (+13).
Walleye Watch: The Toledo Walleye currently sit two points out of first place in the North Division with an 18-13-0-2 record on the season. Willie Coetzee and Andrej Nestrasil share the team scoring lead at 31 points apiece. Coetzee has posted 31 points (14-17—31) in 32 games, while Nestrasil has 31 points (10-21—31) in 30 games. Max Nicastro recorded his first two professional assists with Toledo last week, now showing three points (1-2—3) and a plus-six rating in six games. Jordan Pearce sports a 9-5 record alongside a 2.84 goals against average and a 0.896 save percentage in 15 appearances. The Walleye will also play a three-in-three this weekend, visiting Kalamazoo on Friday at 7:30 p.m. before hosting Orlando on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and the same K-Wings club on Sunday at 5:05 p.m.
Great Skate Winterfest: Griffins fans can enjoy a day full of winter-inspired events, sports demonstrations and family activities starting at noon on Saturday, Jan. 12 as part of the 2013 Great Skate Winterfest, which will run for 34 consecutive hours next Saturday and Sunday at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. The fifth annual Winterfest will run from 12-10 p.m. on Saturday, leading into the Griffins’ game versus the Peoria Rivermen at 7 p.m. that night. Following the contest, Griffins players will make their way to Rosa Parks Circle for the 11th annual Great Skate, which features at least one player skating with fans for 24 consecutive hours – 10 p.m. on Saturday to 10 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, for a complete list of events, or to make a donation to a Griffins player, visit griffinshockey.com/greatskate.
Fri., Jan. 4 vs. Oklahoma City Barons (17-11-1-3) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. and SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92) at 7 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 6-4-1-1 Overall, 3-2-0-1 Home. Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Edmonton Oilers. Head Coach: Todd Nelson (3rd season). Notes: Oklahoma City boasts the league’s top two scorers in forward Jordan Eberle (24-25—49 in 32 games) and defenseman Justin Schultz (17-28—45 in 32 games), and four of the top 12 including Taylor Hall (13-20—33 in 24 games) and Mark Arcobello (9-21—30 in 30 games)…The Barons also have the top power play in the AHL at 25.7 percent…Oklahoma City averages the fourth-most goals per game (3.34) but have struggled to find a balanced offense, with only six players who have more than four goals. Those six (the four listed above plus Teemu Hartikainen and Ryan-Nugent Hopkins) have accounted for 75.7 percent of the team’s goals…Barons netminder Yann Danis ranks fourth in the AHL with 1438:03 minutes played and second with 703 saves…Griffins forward Triston Grant had 15 points (11-4—15) and 163 penalty minutes in 53 games with the Barons last season…Oklahoma City head coach Todd Nelson became the first player ever signed by the Griffins on July 24, 1996. The defenseman recorded 67 points (11-56—67) in 236 career games with Grand Rapids from 1996-02.
Sat., Jan. 5 at Chicago Wolves (14-11-3-1) – Allstate Arena – 8 p.m. EST
TV: MY50 Chicago at 8 p.m. Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 53-39-2-4-2 Overall, 26-23-0-2-0 Road. Season Series: 4-0-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Road. Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Chicago. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Scott Arniel (1st season). Notes: Four players are tied for the Wolves’ scoring lead, as Brett Sterling (9-9—18), Jordan Schroeder (8-10—18), Andrew Ebbett (6-12—18) and Zack Kassian (6-12—18) all have 18 points…The Griffins have won all four meetings against the Wolves this season…Chicago has struggled on special teams, ranking 25th on the power play (13.3 percent) and 26th on the penalty kill (79.6 percent)…Wolves goaltender Matt Climie ranks 17th in the AHL with a 2.49 goals against average…Chicago is the fourth-least penalized team in the AHL, averaging 13.86 minutes per game…Former Griffin Darren Haydar is the second-highest active AHL scorer (behind Toronto’s Keith Aucoin) and led the Griffins with 80 points (31-49—80) in 2008-09.
Sun., Jan. 6 at Milwaukee Admirals (15-13-2-1) – BMO Harris Bradley Center – 4 p.m. EST
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 3:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 57-44-7-5-6 Overall, 24-23-5-4-3 Road. Season Series: 1-2-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Fourth of eight meetings overall, first of four in Milwaukee. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Dean Evason (1st season). Notes: Michael Latta leads Milwaukee in both scoring (5-16—21 in 31 games) and penalty minutes (88)…Three rookies rank among the top six scorers on the Admirals: Austin Watson (11-7—18), Patrick Cehlin (6-8—14) and Mattias Ekholm (4-10—14)…The Admirals are the second-least penalized team in the league, averaging 12.77 penalty minutes per game…Milwaukee goaltender Jeremy Smith ranks 13th in the AHL with a 2.36 goals against average, alongside a 0.914 save percentage and an 11-11-1 record…Admirals forward Chris Mueller made his professional debut with Grand Rapids in 2007-08, playing two games after finishing his four-year career at Michigan State University…Griffins forward Triston Grant played two seasons in Milwaukee from 2008-10, setting career highs in all categories in 2009-10 with 25 points (12-13—15) and 236 penalty minutes in 74 games.