This Week’s Games
Fri., Feb. 22 - GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs - 8:05 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Feb. 23 - San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., Feb. 24 - San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS - 4 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Feb. 15 - Lake Erie Monsters 3 at GRIFFINS 5 - 28-16-2-2, 60 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sun., Feb. 17 - Charlotte Checkers 1 at GRIFFINS 2 - 29-16-2-2, 62 pts. (1st)
Winning Weekend: The Griffins won a pair of home games last week to tie a season high with four consecutive home victories (Feb. 2-15). With its four top scorers out of the lineup (Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson in Detroit and Landon Ferraro missing due to injury), Grand Rapids scored five goals for the second consecutive game en route to a 5-3 win versus Lake Erie on Friday. Mitch Callahan tallied twice, while Chad Billins, Nathan Paetsch and Jeff Hoggan combined for the three unanswered goals that made the difference. The winning streak was extended to four on Sunday during the Griffins debut of Jonas Gustavsson. The 28-year-old goaltender made 26 saves while Triston Grant and Andrej Nestrasil scored for the Griffins to help the team to a 2-1 victory over Charlotte. It marked the second time that the Griffins have beaten the Checkers in the teams’ eight meetings, and it was the first time they won on home ice.
Three-in-Three: Grand Rapids could make February a perfect month at Van Andel Arena if it can beat San Antonio on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. On Friday, the team will meet the Rockford IceHogs for the eighth and final time this season. The teams last squared off on Jan. 19 in a game that featured Griffins records for goals scored (11) and combined penalty minutes (230) – both still standing as the highest total in each category in the AHL this season. The game also saw six players suspended as the result of a bench-clearing brawl. San Antonio’s weekend appearances mark the only time this season it will visit Van Andel Arena, as the teams will meet just one more time this season (March 28 at San Antonio).
One and Done: The Griffins were joined by NHL netminder Jonas Gustavsson last week, as the 28-year-old was assigned by Detroit for conditioning after being sidelined for the beginning of the Red Wings’ regular season with a groin injury. Gustavsson was nearly flawless in his Griffins debut, stopping 26 of 27 shots, with his lone goal against coming off a fluky deflection that sailed over his shoulder. His victory made Red Wings goalies 4-0 all time when making their Griffins debuts during conditioning stints, joining Curtis Joseph (20 saves in a 4-1 win over Utah on Oct. 24, 2003), Chris Osgood (22 saves in a 6-3 win at San Antonio on Oct. 19, 2005) and Manny Legace (20 saves and an assist in a 7-2 win over Hamilton on Dec. 30, 2005) in the win column. In six career AHL games, Gustavsson now owns a 4-1-1 record with a 1.11 goals against average and a 0.956 save percentage. Additionally, he became the Griffins’ 130th NHL graduate when he entered Detroit’s game on Tuesday in Nashville. He surrendered two goals on 18 shots and 49 minutes, taking a loss in a 4-3 overtime win for the Predators.
Balanced Attack: The Griffins have seen consistent scoring all throughout the lineup this season with 11 players who have 20 or more points, which is the second-highest total of 20-point scorers in the AHL. Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Landon Ferraro, Joakim Andersson, Riley Sheahan, Francis Pare, Chad Billins, Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch, Adam Almquist and Brendan Smith have all cracked that plateau for the Griffins. The Connecticut Whale are the only team to have 12 in that category, with a group that includes former Griffins Kris Newbury and Logan Pyett. Charlotte, Portland and Springfield are the only other teams to have 10 or more.
Weekend Promotions: This Saturday versus San Antonio, 2,500 fans will receive a Francis Pare bobblehead, courtesy of Harold Zeigler Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Fiat. Over 300 kids and 44 teams will play 140 games at Van Andel Arena from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. during the Griffins’ sixth annual Cross-Ice Jamboree. Last year’s participating associations included Rockford, Grand Valley, HAWK, Holland Nationals, Michigan Nationals, Kalamazoo, Capital Centre, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Muskegon and Battle Creek. Visiting Van Andel Arena for the first time are the traveling circus-themed mascots known as The Fur Circus, who will entertain fans during the game and on the ice during both intermissions. Fans can also bring their skates to the rink and take to the ice after the game for the J&H Family Stores Post-Game Open Skate. Finally, fans can enjoy $16 in total ticket savings and unlimited popcorn refills when you purchase four or more Griffins tickets with the Saturday Night Popcorn Pack. The package is valid for games on Jan. 26; Feb. 23; March 9 and April 13. Visit griffinshockey.com/popcorn for more information. Sunday’s rematch against the Rampage will include every popular Sunday promotion, like dollar Pepsi drinks and ice cream from 3-5 p.m. Select Griffins players will sign autographs following the game from the team’s bench, presented by Huntington Bank. Fans can present their Grand Rapids Public Library card or Kent District Library card at the Van Andel Arena box office on the night 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. Finally, children with Griff’s Reading Goals bookmarks who have completed the required three hours of reading can redeem their bookmark for two free upper level tickets to the game.
Best Behavior: The last meeting between the Griffins and Rockford IceHogs featured a franchise-record 230 combined penalty minutes between the teams in a game that included 14 fighting majors and 13 game misconducts. After the first two games of the season series drew a combined 16 penalty minutes for the Griffins, the team has racked up 291 penalty minutes in their last five games against Rockford. The Griffins currently rank 12th in the AHL with an average of 18.16 penalty minutes per game, but they would fall to 26th in the league (13.61) if those five games were not included.
Last Time Around: In addition to setting franchise penalty minute records on Jan. 19 at Rockford, the Griffins’ victory that night 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. Additionally, Grand Rapids was 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 still rank as 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.
Motown Update: The Red Wings have seen increased contributions from Griffins players they have recalled over the past few games…Tomas Tatar is tied for eighth on the team with four points (2-2—4) in eight games after recording two goals and one assist over back-to-back games last week versus Anaheim and St. Louis…Brian Lashoff ranks seventh on the team in ice time with an average of 18:38 after cracking the 20-minute threshold in four of the team’s last seven games. He recorded his first NHL assist and second point last week, bringing him to one goal, one assist and four penalty minutes in 12 career games…Joakim Andersson recorded his first two NHL points last Friday against Anaheim, now showing one goal and one assist in six games with the Red Wings this season…Petr Mrazek, who was assigned to Grand Rapids on Monday, is 1-1 with a 2.02 goals against average and 0.922 save percentage after his first two NHL starts…Gustav Nyquist also got into a game with Detroit, logging 13:02 of ice time and registering one shot on goal last Friday versus Anaheim.
Pothole in the Road: Grand Rapids has ranked among the AHL’s best road teams this season but lost back-to-back road games on Feb. 8-9 for just the third time this season, falling 4-3 and 7-5 to Oklahoma City. Despite the setback, the team’s 0.643 road winning percentage (13-7-0-1) ranks fifth in the AHL, behind Syracuse (0.750), Springfield (0.717), Charlotte (0.679) and Texas (0.673). Friday’s game at Rockford marks the Griffins’ last road game in February before a season-high 11 away from home in March.
League Leaders: Gustav Nyquist is tied for fifth in the AHL with 45 points (18-28—45) in 48 games…Petr Mrazek ranks eighth in the AHL with a 2.26 goals against average…Landon Ferraro leads the league with six shorthanded points…Chad Billins is tied for 18th among rookies and for 13th among defensemen with 26 points (3-23—26) in 49 games. He also shares the AHL lead with a perfect three-for-three shootout percentage…Riley Sheahan is tied for 18th among AHL rookies with 26 points (14-12—26) in 47 games and is tied for fifth with a plus-12 rating.
Milestone Tracker: Tom McCollum set a new career high with his victory on Friday versus Lake Erie with his 12th win of the season. His next win will tie him with Ian Gordon for sixth in franchise history with 42 victories…Gleason Fournier is four games shy of 100 as a pro…Jeff Hoggan is three goals shy of 150 as a pro, one assist from 150 as a pro and three points from 300 as a pro…Nathan Paetsch is seven points away from 200 as a pro.
Walleye Watch: The Toledo Walleye had a busy week last week, posting a 2-0-2-0 record in their stretch of four games in five nights. The team currently sits four points back of the Cincinnati Cyclones for first place in the North Division after going 10-2-2-0 over their last 14 games. After making his season debut with Grand Rapids last Friday versus Lake Erie, Willie Coetzee returned to Toledo to move back into a tie for the team scoring lead with 41 points (20-21—41) in 45 games. He shares the lead with Andrej Nestrasil who has 41 points (11-30—41) in 40 games with Toledo and three points (1-2—3) in eight games with Grand Rapids. Jordan Pearce also returned to Toledo last week and earned the decision in a 6-3 win over Fort Wayne with 32 saves. He now ranks among ECHL leaders with a 2.57 goals against average (10th), a 0.908 save percentage (T18th), 13 wins (T19th) and two shutouts (T4th). Toledo will play three games in three nights this week, hosting Wheeling on Friday, Fort Wayne on Saturday and Cincinnati on Sunday.
Fri., Feb. 22 at Rockford IceHogs (24-25-1-1) – BMO Harris Bank Arena – 8:05 p.m. EST
TV: 23 Weather Now (WIFR-DT 23.2 Rockford) at 8:05 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: 13-14-3-3 Overall, 4-8-2-2 Road. Season Series: 5-1-1-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Road. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth of four in Rockford. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (2nd season). Notes: Rockford was tied for second in the Midwest Division before the teams’ last meeting (Jan. 19) but now finds itself sitting fifth after going 2-7 following that game before winning back-to-back games last week…Martin St. Pierre (17-21—38 in 51 games) and Brandon Pirri (16-22—38 in 51 games) are tied for the IceHogs’ scoring lead…Rockford defenseman Adam Clendening is 12th among rookies and tied for sixth among defensemen with 28 points (4-24—28) in 48 games…The IceHogs lead the AHL with 1,251 penalty minutes, averaging 24.53 penalty minutes per game…Rockford is fourth in the league with a 21.4 percent power play efficiency…The IceHogs have the AHL’s ninth-best offense, averaging 3.04 goals per game…Rockford left wing Wade Brookbank was the 56th Griffins alum to skate in the NHL. Brookbank led Grand Rapids with 337 penalty minutes during the 2000-01 season, the fourth-highest single season total in franchise history.
Sat., Feb. 23 vs. San Antonio Rampage (23-23-1-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 24 vs. San Antonio Rampage – Van Andel Arena – 4 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. (Sat.) and 3:40 p.m. (Sun.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 33-18-1-3-0 Overall, 16-8-1-2-0 Home. Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall. 0-0-0-0 Home. Second and third of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Chuck Weber (2nd season). Notes: The Rampage had struggled on the road this season, but they’ve won four of their last six during their season-high nine-game road trip which wraps up on Sunday…Jon Rheault leads San Antonio with 34 points (16-18—34) in 46 games…The Rampage are currently without goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who ranks among the league’s goaltending leaders with 994 saves (4th), a 0.920 save percentage (10th) and three shutouts (T11th), and Drew Shore, who is 10th among rookies with 30 points (10-20—30) in 41 games, both currently with the parent Panthers…San Antonio’s Dov Grumet-Morris ranks 15th in the AHL with a 2.44 goals against average…The Rampage are 7-2-1-1 against the Midwest Division this season…San Antonio is tied for eighth in the league on the penalty kill (84.9 percent) but ranks 26th on the man advantage (13.5 percent).