This Week’s Games
Wed., Jan. 23 - Oklahoma City Barons at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Jan. 25 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 26 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 16 - GRIFFINS 0 at Charlotte Checkers 1 - 21-12-2-2, 46 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Thu., Jan. 17 - GRIFFINS 5 at Charlotte Checkers 3 - 22-12-2-2, 48 pts. (1st)
Sat., Jan. 19 - GRIFFINS 11 at Rockford IceHogs 6 - 23-12-2-2, 50 pts. (1st)
Off and On: The Griffins’ offense amped up late last week after struggling early in the week. Last Wednesday at Charlotte, the team failed to convert on 28 shots and fell 1-0 to the Checkers, despite surrendering a season-low 17 shots. The following night, Grand Rapids once again held Charlotte to 17 shots, but peppered the home team’s goal with 41 attempts and saw its offense come alive with five goals – thanks in part to Francis Pare (two goals) and Joakim Andersson (goal, two assists), who each returned from injuries to help the Griffins to a 5-3 win. The offense continued to roll on Saturday when the team scored a franchise-record 11 goals in a wild 11-6 victory that was overshadowed by a bench-clearing brawl and 230 combined penalty minutes that was both the highest total in franchise history and the highest in the AHL this season. Mitch Callahan led the charge offensively with his first career hat trick, while eight different Griffins recorded multipoint games.
A Welcome Return: Saturday’s game in Rockford marked the Griffins’ seventh road game in an eight-game stretch (Jan. 5-19), but the team will return to Grand Rapids this week for three home games before the league’s all-star break to begin a stretch of five of six games (Jan. 23-Feb. 6) at Van Andel Arena. Grand Rapids will host Oklahoma City on Wednesday before back-to-back games against Houston on Friday and Saturday – all at 7 p.m. – before a trio of players (Chad Billins, Petr Mrazek and Gustav Nyquist) will depart for the AHL Skills Competition on Sunday and the AHL All-Star game on Monday at 7 p.m.
Homegrown: Wednesday’s game versus Oklahoma City will mark the Griffins debut of NHL veteran right wing and East Kentwood native Mike Knuble, who the Griffins signed to a professional tryout on Monday. Knuble, 40, will become the second Greater Grand Rapids native to play for the Griffins, joining East Grand Rapids’ Luke Glendening. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Knuble has numerous ties to the area, as he helped the East Kentwood High School Falcons to a state championship in 1990, was drafted by Detroit (fourth round, 76th overall) in 1991, played four seasons for the University of Michigan (1991-95), and made his NHL debut with the Red Wings in 1996-97 before helping the team to their second straight Stanley cup in 1998. He and his family currently make their home in East Grand Rapids as well. Knuble has played 1,040 NHL games, recording 540 points (274-266—54) over 16 seasons with the Red Wings, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. Currently an NHL free agent, he has been skating with the Griffins periodically since training camp. The 6-foot-3, 223-pound forward will become one of just four players to have played in over 1,000 NHL games before debuting for the Griffins, joining Chris Chelios, Kelly Miller and Brad May. Knuble last played in the AHL with the Adirondack Red Wings during the 1996-97 season.
CCM/AHL Player of the Week: The AHL announced on Monday that Griffins center Joakim Andersson has been selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 20. A native of Munkedal, Sweden, Andersson returned to the Griffins’ lineup on Thursday at Charlotte after missing eight games (Dec. 31-Jan. 16) with an injury and recorded a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win over the Checkers. He followed up the performance with a career-high four points (1-3—4) during Saturday’s 11-6 win at Rockford, giving him seven points (2-5—7) in two contests last week. Additionally, Andersson was named First Star and tallied the game-winning goal on both nights. He has five game-winning goals this season, which ties for second in the AHL. Andersson’s selection ends more than a three-year drought since the last time a Griffin was named AHL Player of the week, when Francis Pare claimed the honors on Dec. 13, 2009. In recognition of his achievement, Andersson will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Griffins home game.
Wednesday Promotions: All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 4-2 win over Rochester on Dec. 7 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to this game. Tickets can be redeemed at The Zone during business hours (M-F 10-6; Sat. 10-2) and at the box office on the day of the game. If the Griffins beat the Barons, all fans in attendance may redeem their ticket to the Griffins game on Wednesday, Feb. 6 versus Houston. The first 1,000 fans through the turnstiles will receive Thundersticks courtesy of Amway, while the first 450 to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a t-shirt. For every Wednesday home game through March, fans can show their ticket at 17 Arena District restaurants and bars -- including Peppino's Sports Grille, home of the Griffins' Wednesday post-game parties with the players -- to enjoy Happy Hour specials before the game and Hockey Night specials afterward. Visit griffinshockey.com/hockeynight for a list of participating establishments. Every Wednesday, fans can enjoy a buy-one, get-one-free deal on a 16 oz. Pepsi all game long at any concession stand that sells fountain drinks. Fans who present their Grand Rapids Public Library card or Kent District Library card at the Van Andel Arena box office on the day of the game or at The Zone anytime during the store’s regular business hours to save $7 off the price of a Lower Level Faceoff ticket (regularly $18 in advance and $20 day of game). Limit four tickets per card per person, subject to availability.
Unfriendly Confines: The Griffins earned wins last week in two buildings that have not been kind to the team in the past. After dropping a 1-0 decision on Wednesday, the Griffins fell to 0-3 at the Time Warner Cable Arena and 0-6 all time against Charlotte. Grand Rapids reversed its bad fortunes on Thursday, earning its first-ever victory over the Checkers on Thursday with a 5-3 win. The club went on to earn its second victory of the season at Rockford’s BMO Harris Bank Center, when it beat the IceHogs 11-6. The Griffins are now 4-8-2-2 all time on the road against the IceHogs, having won two of their last three in the road against the IceHogs after winning just once in Rockford over three seasons (2009-12) and twice in five seasons (2007-12).
Rapid Growth: Gustav Nyquist’s two points on Thursday at Charlotte pushed him to 100 points with the Griffins, making him the fifth-fastest Griffin to reach 100 point. Nyquist needed just 102 games to reach the century mark, reaching 100 points one game faster than Derek King (103). Only Michel Picard (81), Kip Miller (87), Jeff Nelson (97) and Donald MacLean (98) tallied 100 points quicker than Nyquist. Of his current teammates, it took Tomas Tatar 147 games and Francis Pare 163 games to reach the milestone.
Defensive Debut: The Red Wings recalled defenseman Brian Lashoff on Monday morning, and the 22-year-old defenseman made the drive to Columbus to make his NHL debut with Detroit that night. The Albany, N.Y., native made an immediate impact, recording his first NHL goal – and Detroit’s first goal of the 2013 season – to open the scoring with a shot from the point that beat Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. Lashoff, the Griffins’ 126th NHL graduate, became the first Grand Rapids alum since Cory Emmerton (Jan. 22, 2011, DET vs. CHI) to score a goal in his NHL debut. The third-year pro went on to log a plus-one rating, two shots and 18:18 of ice time, including 4:33 on the penalty kill and several shifts in overtime. Detroit eventually defeated Columbus 4-3 in a shootout. Lashoff is expected to remain in the lineup for the team’s home opener tonight versus Dallas at 7:30 p.m.
All-Star Trio: The AHL announced on Thursday that Chad Billins, Petr Mrazek and Gustav Nyquist have been selected to play for the Western Conference AHL All-Star Team at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held on Sunday and Monday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. Billins, 23, has needed no time to transition to the professional ranks after a four-year career at Ferris State University, racking up 16 points (1-15—16) in his first 16 games and posting a plus-12 rating from Dec. 7-Jan. 19. He currently has 20 points (1-19—20) in 39 games, tying for the team defenseman scoring lead. Mrazek, 20, made his AHL debut on Nov. 3 at Texas and set a franchise record by winning his first six starts (Nov. 3-23). He has allowed two or fewer goals in 13 of his first 20 appearances, currently showing a 13-5-1 record with a 2.33 goals against average and a 0.913 save percentage. Nyquist, 23, leads the Griffins and ranks fourth in the AHL with 40 points (14-26—40) in 39 games. The second-year pro has 19 points (6-13—19) in his last 15 games, including a team-best eight-game point streak from Dec. 28-Jan. 11).
All-Star Facts: Grand Rapids is one of just three teams in the league to send a trio of players to the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic, marking the first time since 2006 (Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler and Donald MacLean) the team has done so. Additionally, it’s the first time the Griffins have sent a forward, defenseman and goaltender since 2002 (F Chris Bala, F Kip Miller, F Petr Schastlivy, D John Gruden, G Martin Prusek) and the first time the team has ever sent two rookies. Additionally, Gustav Nyquist is the first Griffin since Niklas Kronwall (2004 and 2005) to appear in the event in back-to-back seasons. Petr Mrazek is the first-ever rookie netminder and first goaltender since Daniel Larsson (2009) to be selected.
Fight Night at the BMO: This season’s contests between the Griffins and Rockford IceHogs have been heated, culminating in a second period bench-clearing brawl during an 11-6 Grand Rapids victory on Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Thirteen players (eight from Rockford, five from Grand Rapids) were ejected from the game following the brawl, which resulted in the majority of the game’s 230 combined penalty minutes (139 for Rockford, 91 for Grand Rapids). The combined tally makes it both the most-penalized game in franchise history and the highest total in the AHL this season (beating out 152 minutes between Syracuse and Binghamton on Oct. 20). The Griffins’ franchise record for penalty minutes (112 on Nov. 24, 2010 at Toronto) remains intact, while Rockford’s total of 139 sets a Grand Rapids franchise record for most opponent penalty minutes in a game (previously 113, set by the San Antonio Dragons on Oct. 22, 1996). The teams will meet once more this season, Feb. 22 in Rockford.
Record-Setting Offense: In addition to setting franchise penalty minute records, the Griffins’ victory over Rockford on Saturday was the best offensive performance in franchise history, setting a new record for goals for at 11. The Griffins had previously scored 10 goals on two occasions (Oct. 24, 2001 vs. Cincinnati and Nov. 27, 2010 at Chicago) before Mitch Callahan’s third goal of the game set a new mark on Saturday. Additionally, Grand Rapids is the first team to score 11 goals in a game since Dec. 30, 2005 (Chicago 11 vs. Peoria 5) and the first team to score 11 in a road game since Nov. 25, 1998 (Providence 14 at Syracuse 2). The 17 combined goals marked the highest total in the AHL this season, but were one off of the Griffins’ all-time mark of 18, set during the 10-8 win at Chicago on Nov. 27, 2010.
Career Day: Saturday’s game at Rockford featured 17 goals scored, but only Mitch Callahan scored more than one goal. Griffins players racked up 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) during the game, and several players had career nights…Adam Almquist recorded his first-ever three-point game (1-2—3)…Joakim Andersson set new career highs with three assists and four points…Callahan’s hat trick served as his first-ever professional multipoint game…Landon Ferraro notched his first career three-point game (1-2—3)…Gleason Fournier scored his second career AHL goal and set a career-high with 15 penalty minutes…Luke Glendening tallied three assists, marking his first three-point game as a pro…Jeff Hoggan set both career highs and Griffins season bests with four assists and five points.
Weekend Promotions: Friday’s game versus Houston 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. Saturday’s game will feature a Griff garden gnome giveaway for the first 2,000 fans, courtesy of Comerica Bank. The Griffins will wear special red jerseys that will be signed by the respective player and auctioned off in the Fifth Third Bank Vault following the game to benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation. During the second intermission, fans will be treated to a performance by Sasha, who will showcase her acrobatic abilities and her archery talents. Finally, fans can bring their skates to the rink and take to the ice after the game, presented by J&H Family Stores.
Road Warriors: After splitting a back-to-back with Charlotte and beating Rockford on Saturday, the Griffins finished a stretch of seven of eight games on the road with a 4-2-0-1 record, bringing their road record to 12-5-0-1 this season, which ranks fourth in the league. The team’s road winning percentage of 0.694 trails only Syracuse (16-4-0-2, 0.773), Springfield (13-4-2-0, 0.737) and Charlotte (14-4-2-2, 0.727). Grand Rapids will play five of its next six at home, only four road games in February before a season-high 11 in March.
Familiar Foes: The Griffins’ 11-6 win at Rockford helped the team improve to a 13-5-2-1 record within the Midwest Division, marking the third-best intra-division winning percentage (0.690) in the AHL. Only Syracuse (13-5-0-0, 0.722) and Abbotsford (11-4-0-2) have had more success in their own division.
They’re Back: With the NHL season opening on Saturday, 20 Griffins alumni found spots on seven NHL teams: Boston (Chris Kelly), Buffalo (Matt Ellis, Ville Leino), Calgary (Jiri Hudler), Chicago (Sheldon Brookbank), Detroit (Justin Abdelkader, Cory Emmerton, Jonathan Ericsson, Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, Brian Lashoff, Tom McCollum, Jan Mursak, Kyle Quincey), Florida (Tomas Kopecky) and Ottawa (Chris Neil, Jason Spezza).
Milestone Watch: Tomas Tatar recorded his 180th point as a Griffin on Thursday at Charlotte, passing Jiri Hudler to take sixth place in franchise history…Nathan Paetsch played in his 500th professional game on Wednesday at Charlotte…Joakim Andersson scored his 50th pro goal on Thursday and is two points away from 100 as a pro…Adam Almquist and Landon Ferraro each surpassed 50 professional points on Saturday at Rockford…Gustav Nyquist recorded his 100th point as a Griffin on Thurdsay…Tom McCollum is one game shy of becoming the fourth goaltender in franchise history to reach 100 games…Louis-Marc Aubry is two games shy of 100 as a pro. Ferraro is three games shy of the same marker.
Walleye Watch: The Toledo Walleye earned back-to-back wins last week, beating Fort Wayne 5-3 on Friday and Evansville 2-1 on Saturday to close a five-game road trip. Only one player with a Griffins connection remains on Toledo after Jordan Pearce was reassigned to Grand Rapids last week – Willie Coetzee. Coetzee tallied twice in the win on Friday over Fort Wayne and will represent Toledo in the ECHL All-Star Game tomorrow, in place of Luke Glendening. Coetzee leads the Walleye with 35 points (16-19—35) in 39 games. Toledo will host a three-in-three this weekend, welcoming Kalamazoo on Friday, Bakersfield on Saturday and Evansville on Sunday.
Wed., Jan. 23 vs. Oklahoma City Barons (19-16-2-3) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 7-4-1-1 Overall, 4-2-0-1 Home. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Second of four meetings overall, second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Edmonton Oilers. Head Coach: Todd Nelson (3rd season). Notes: Oklahoma City’s roster was hit hard by the NHL lockout, as six of their top seven scorers and starting goaltender were recalled to Edmonton, leaving just three players (Mark Arcobello, Martin Marincin and Josh Green) who have double-digit point figures…Arcobello leads the Barons with 32 points (10-22—32) in 38 games…Jordan Eberle (25-26—51) and Justin Schultz (18-30—38), among the players recalled to Edmonton, are still first and second in the AHL in scoring…The Barons boast the best power play (24.1 percent) and worst penalty kill (77.4 percent) in the league…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.
Fri., Jan. 25 vs. Houston Aeros (18-15-4-3) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 26 vs. Houston Aeros – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. each night. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 37-32-6-3-7 Overall, 17-18-4-2-3 Road. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second and third of six meetings overall, first and second of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: John Torchetti (2nd season). Notes: Houston has struggled of late, winless in its last six (0-4-2-0) with just two wins in its last 10 (2-5-3-0)…Jason Zucker leads the Aeros in scoring with 34 points (16-18—34) in 36 games, which ties for 14th in the league and ranks second among all rookies…Houston goaltender Matt Hackett is second in the AHL in minutes (1905:53) and tied for second in losses (15)…Aeros defenseman Brian Connelly is ties for 12th among AHL blueliners with 22 points (2-20—22) in 33 games…Houston is the second-least penalized team in the league, averaging 12.25 minutes per game…The Aeros have the league’s eighth-best power play (20.2 percent) but second-worst penalty kill (77.8 percent)…Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan won a Calder Cup with Houston in 2003 and recorded 47 points (27-20—47) in 142 games with the Aeros from 2002-04.