This Week’s Games
Fri., Nov. 29 Texas Stars at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Nov. 30 Texas Stars at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Nov. 20 Milwaukee Admirals 0 at GRIFFINS 5 11-4-1-1, 24 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Fri., Nov. 22 GRIFFINS 2 at Iowa Wild 1 12-4-1-1, 26 pts. (1st)
Sat., Nov. 23 GRIFFINS 2 at Chicago Wolves 1 13-4-1-1, 28 pts. (1st)
Back on Track: Grand Rapids returned to its winning ways last week with three consecutive victories against Midwest Division foes, defeating the Milwaukee Admirals 5-0 at home on Wednesday, the Iowa Wild 2-1 at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday and the Chicago Wolves 2-1 on Saturday at Allstate Arena. Chicago and Milwaukee account for three of the Griffins’ four regulations losses this season. The team’s current three-game winning streak is the second-longest streak of the season, behind a seven-game run that was snapped by the Admirals in a 2-1 loss on Nov. 13.
The Midwest: The Griffins (13-4-1-1, 28 pts.) extended their lead over the Midwest Division with three wins last week, and have held on to the first-place spot since Nov. 3. Second place belongs to the Milwaukee Admirals (9-4-3-1, 22 pts.), followed by the Rockford IceHogs (10-10-1-0, 21 pts, 3rd). Despite dropping two contests last weekend, the Chicago Wolves (9-7-0-2, 20 pts.) hang on to fourth place, and the Iowa Wild (6-11-0-0, 12 pts.) remain in last place after dropping three contests in a row.
Home for the Holidays: After playing consecutive games on the road last weekend, the Griffins return home for the longest home stand of the season (Nov. 29-Dec. 14). The seven-game stretch will begin with back-to-back games this weekend against the Texas Stars on Friday and Saturday.
Teddy Bear Toss: Fans are asked to bring a new store-tagged teddy bear or stuffed animal to throw on the ice when the Griffins score their first goal during Friday’s contest versus Texas. All stuffed animals collected will be donated to Hug-A-Bears of Kent County. Hug-A-Bears serves the community to donate teddy bears to children and families in crisis. Approximately 4,000 bears have been given to those in need, serving local schools and organizations such as the Kent County Adoption Court and Spectrum Health’s Bereavement Center, Camp Compass, Burn Camp and outpatient surgical centers. The game also gives fans the opportunity to enjoy $2 hot dogs and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. College students can 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 also a Griffins D-Zone night, where fans can have $2 beers and $2 hot dogs served directly to their seats and also a Free Ride Friday, permitting any fan to enjoy complimentary fare on the Rapid
Calendar Giveaway: 5,000 fans at Saturday’s game against Texas will receive a 2014 Griffins team calendar presented by Fox Motors, while supplies last. The calendar features pictures from the team’s 2013 Calder Cup championship run, and includes game and giveaway schedules. Saturday night also gives fans the opportunity to redeem Fan 4 Packs and Pepsi Reading Goals bookmarks. Children with Reading Goals bookmarks who have completed the three hours of reading can redeem their bookmark for two free upper level tickets to any of the following games: Nov. 30; Dec. 11 and 20.
Road Warriors: Dating back to the playoffs, the Griffins are 14-2-1-1 in their last 18 road games, including 9-2-1-1 this season. The Griffins (Oct. 26-Nov. 8) are tied with the Abbotsford Heat (Oct. 30-Nov. 15) for the longest road winning streak this season with five victories, but claim sole possession of the longest road point streak (Oct. 4-Nov. 8, nine points). Grand Rapids has the sixth-highest road penalty-killing record (86.2%) in the league.
Jump Starts: When scoring first this season, Grand Rapids holds a 10-2-0-1 record. The Griffins also tie for first in the league with the Norfolk Admirals and the Rochester Americans for goals scored in the first period (21).
Right Wing Leaders: Right wing Tomas Jurco (10-12—22) usurped the team’s point lead last weekend from right wing Gustav Nyquist (7-14—21), who has earned a full-time roster spot with the Detroit Red Wings. Jurco is tied for fourth in the AHL in scoring. Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (7-6—13) and defenseman Ryan Sproul (5-8-13) continue to deliver for the Griffins, tying for third in team scoring.
Flying High: After finding his footing at the end of the 2012-13 season, right wing Tomas Jurco has elevated his game even further this season. Jurco’s 2013-14 accolades include 22 points (10-12—22), a plus-nine rating, two game-winning goals and an 18.5% shooting percentage. Jurco has tallied points in 12 out of 19 contests and has also registered multiple points in eight matches, including a hat trick on Nov. 15 in a 5-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs at home. Last week, Jurco earned points in two out of three contests, notching a goal in Friday’s 2-1 victory over Iowa and two assists in Saturday’s 2-1 win against Chicago.
Mrazek’s Mojo: Bouncing back after three consecutive losses from Oct. 18-25, Griffins netminder Petr Mrazek improved his winning streak to six games and his record to 7-3 by helping the team to three victories last week, including a 16-save, 5-0 shutout on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena. The shutout marked Mrazek’s second of the season; he earned his first with the Detroit Red Wings in a 5-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 2, when he blocked 14 of 14 shots. Mrazek ranks sixth in the league for goals against average at 2.10, and posts an impressive 0.925 save percentage. After stopping 78 of 80 shots he faced last week, Mrazek was in the running for the CCM/AHL Player of the Week, but the honor instead went to Dustin Tokarski of the Hamilton Bulldogs, who stopped 98 of the 100 shots he faced in three starts (3-0-0, 0.67 goals-against average, .980 save percentage, one shutout), helping the Bulldogs pull into a tie for first place in the AHL’s North Division. Mrazek and Tokarski, a former member of the 2011-12 Norfolk Admirals, are the last two goalies to have backstopped their team to the Calder Cup championship.
Making Waves: Griffins defenseman Ryan Sproul (5-8—13) is the third highest-scoring rookie blueliner in the league, and he ties for eighth overall among league d-men. Sproul (plus-10) leads all AHL rookies in plus/minus, with Xavier Ouellet (plus-eight) ranking third. Sproul has enjoyed three multiple-point games this season: Oct. 4 at Rochester (two goals), Oct. 30 vs. Charlotte (one goal, one assist) and Nov. 6 vs. Rockford (three assists).
Three-Point Games: Defenseman Adam Almquist and right wing Mitch Callahan both enjoyed three-point games last Wednesday in the Griffins’ 5-0 triumph over the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena. Almquist registered three assists, marking his second three-assist game of the season (Oct. 4 vs. RCH). Callahan tallied three goals in the contest, recording his second career hat trick and first of the season. Last Wednesday marked the second home game in a row in which a Griffin scored a hat trick. Tomas Jurco tallied three goals on Nov. 15 versus Rockford, with Gustav Nyquist assisting on each of his markers.
Two For Me, One For You: The Griffins rank second in the AHL in goals scored per game, averaging 3.74, while the team ranks third in goals allowed at 2.42. Overall, the Griffins have outscored their opponents 71-46 and outshot them 591-544.
Close Shaves: Aside from suffering a 5-0 loss to the Charlotte Checkers on Oct. 25, each of the Griffins’ six losses have been decided by one goal. Four of the one-goal losses came during regulation, and the other two were accounted for in an overtime (4-3 OTL at TOR, Oct. 5) and a shootout (5-4 SOL at RFD, Oct. 19).
Eaves Drops In: On Nov. 15, right wing Patrick Eaves was assigned to the Griffins by the Detroit Red Wings. Eaves, 29, has appeared in 417 regular season games over the course of nine NHL seasons with Ottawa, Carolina and Detroit, producing 141 points (72-69—141) and 145 penalty minutes. Originally the Ottawa Senators’ first selection (29th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound forward signed with Detroit as a free agent on Aug. 4, 2009. The Calgary, Alberta, native has skated in 175 games with Detroit since 2009, notching 51 points (27-24—51) and 46 PIM, including three scoreless games this season. Since joining the Griffins, Eaves has contributed a point in all three of his appearances, including the game-winning goal on Saturday against the Chicago Wolves, as he scored a power play goal with 49 seconds remaining in the game.
Nyquist’s Call: Last Thursday, the Detroit Red Wings recalled right wing Gustav Nyquist. Nyquist, 24, led the Griffins in scoring and was tied for fourth in the AHL with 21 points (7-14—21) in 15 games before being recalled. Originally Detroit’s third choice (121st overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Nyquist split his 2012-13 season between Detroit and Grand Rapids before helping the Griffins to their first-ever Calder Cup championship. A native of Halmstad, Sweden, Nyquist has appeared in 137 games with Grand Rapids since 2011, notching 143 points (53-90—143) and 60 penalty minutes. Nyquist made his season debut with the Wings last Thursday in a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, ending a seven-game losing streak for Detroit. Nyquist tallied two goals, including a goal just 17 seconds into the contest and the eventual game-winning marker, and was named the first star of the game. Nyquist has appeared in every game with the Wings since being recalled.
The Legacy: With Gustav Nyquist’s recall to Detroit, he leaves behind a huge mark on Griffins franchise history. Nyquist appeared in 137 games with Grand Rapids, tallying 53 goals, 90 assists, 143 points, a plus-24 rating, 60 penalty minutes, 17 power play goals, four game-winning goals, 371 shifts and went 9-for-16 in the shootout. In just his 137 appearances, Nyquist ranks among the Griffins’ all-time leaders with 90 assists (8th) and 143 points (10th). He is tied for fourth with nine shootout goals while ranking 10th in shootout percentage (0.563). Nyquist is one of only four players in franchise history to play in at least 100 games and average more than one point per game. The others include Michel Picard (380 pts. in 364 games, 1.0440 per game), Kip Miller (208 pts. in 203 games, 1.0246 per game) and Donald MacLean (107 pts. in 104 games, 1.0288 per game). Nyquist and Picard are the only players in Griffins history to lead the team in scoring in consecutive seasons. Furthermore, Nyquist set the franchise’s rookie scoring record with 58 points in 2011-12, and he became the fifth-fastest player to score 100 points (102 games).
Veteran Overflow: With the arrivals of Cory Emmerton, Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves from Detroit, the Griffins are overstocked in terms of veteran players. Last Wednesday, Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan and assistant captain Brennan Evans were both healthy scratches, ending a 116 game streak for both Hoggan and Evans, who had appeared in every regular season and playoff contest with the Griffins since the beginning of the 2012-13 season. Left wing Triston Grant and defenseman Nathan Paetsch also qualify as veterans. The veterans continue sitting out on a rotating basis, with Paetsch missing both road games last weekend and Grant sitting out on Saturday.
Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (5-6-2-0) ended a four-game losing streak on Saturday with a 6-2 decision over the Evansville Icemen in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,000 at the Huntington Center. Forward Trevor Parkes (10-7—17), who leads in scoring for the Walleye, scored two goals, and forward Kevin Lynch (4-4—8) and center Louis-Marc Aubry (1-1—2) both notched a goal and an assist. Martin Frk (3-4—7) and Max Nicastro (0-4—4) also contributed to the scoring, each adding an assist. Despite the team’s victory, the Walleye rank fifth in the North Divison.
Fri., Nov. 29 vs. Texas Stars (10-6-2-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 30 vs. Texas Stars – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.) Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 10-7-1-2 Overall, 5-3-0-2 Home. Season Series: First and second of four meetings overall, first and second of two at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Willie Desjardins (2nd season). Notes: The Texas Stars rank second in the West Division, 11 points behind the Abbotsford Heat, who currently lead the league…The Stars rank first overall in shots for per game, averaging 37.45, while the Griffins rank eighth with 31.11. Texas also ranks seventh in shots against, averaging 28.10, while Grand Rapids ranks ninth with 28.63…Center Travis Morin (11-17—28) leads the league in scoring, four points ahead of second-place Nikita Kucherov (13-11—24) of the Syracuse Crunch and Mike Hoffman (10-14—24) of the Binghamton Senators. Morin ranks second overall in assists (17), ties for first in power play points (12) and claims sole possession of power play assists (10). From Oct. 18-Oct. 23, Morin posted five goals in four straight games and from Oct. 19-Nov. 1, he tallied eight assists in six games. Morin is currently on a five-game point streak and five-game assist streak…Right wing Colton Sceviour (14-8—22) ranks second on the team in scoring behind Morin, while former Griffin Chris Mueller (7-11—18) ranks third.