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GRIFFINS PREPARE FOR THREE-IN-THREE IN TEXAS FOLLOWING SIX-GAME HOME STAND

This Week’s Games
Fri., Jan. 24    GRIFFINS at Texas Stars    8:30 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 25    GRIFFINS at Texas Stars    8 p.m.    ESPN 96.1 / AHLLive.com
Sun., Jan. 26    GRIFFINS at San Antonio Rampage    5 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 15    Chicago Wolves 1 at GRIFFINS 3     26-10-1-2, 55 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Fri., Jan. 17    Abbotsford Heat 0 at GRIFFINS 3    27-10-1-2, 57 pts. (1st)
Sat., Jan. 18    Abbotsford Heat 3 at GRIFFINS 2    27-11-1-2, 57 pts. (1st)

Multiple Leads: The Griffins will hit the road this week for a three-in-three in Texas, with games against the Texas Stars on Friday and Saturday and the San Antonio Rampage on Sunday. On Saturday, Grand Rapids concluded a six-game home stand over the course of two weeks with a 4-2 record. The Griffins defeated the Chicago Wolves 3-1 on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena, with Jordin Tootoo tallying his first two-goal game since April 5, 2011, when he was with the Nashville Predators. On Friday, Tom McCollum earned his second shutout of the season and seventh of his career in a 3-0 blanking of the Abbotsford Heat. The Calgary affiliate bounced back on Saturday, earning a 3-2 victory over its Western Conference foe. The Griffins ranked first overall in the league heading into Saturday’s contest, but dropped to third after their loss. Still, Grand Rapids leads the Western Conference by two points over the Stars and leads the Midwest Division by 11 points over the second-place Wolves.

The Midwest Division: Since Nov. 3, Grand Rapids (27-11-1-2, 57 pts.) has maintained sole possession of the Midwest Division lead, staying well ahead of a three-team battle for second place. Currently, the Chicago Wolves (21-14-2-2, 46 pts.) rank second after posting a division-best 6-2-2-0 record through the last 10 games. The Milwaukee Admirals (18-12-5-3, 44 pts.) are just two points behind the Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs (18-19-4-2, 42 pts.) are trailing closely behind in fourth. The Iowa Wild (17-16-3-2, 39 pts.) still remain in fifth despite an active three-game point streak. The Griffins own the best goals for (139) and goals against (93) ratio and have the second-lowest number of penalty minutes (536), just one minute more than Chicago (535).

Gone Streakin’: After earning his first two-point game since 2011, Jordin Tootoo has gone on a three-game point streak (two goals, two assists) after tallying two goals last Wednesday in a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Wolves. Tootoo’s current streak marks the first time he has tallied points in consecutive contests since joining the Griffins. Landon Ferraro is also enjoying a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists) since last Wednesday. In contrast, both Mitch Callahan and David McIntyre had their three-game point streaks snapped in last Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Abbotsford Heat.

Moscow’s Pride: Rookie defenseman Alexey Marchenko has been a solid cog in the Griffins machine since joining the organization. A third-year pro and first-year Griffin, Marchenko has tallied 16 points (2-14—16) and eight penalty minutes through 36 games and was named to the AHL All-Star Classic Team earlier this month. Marchenko leads all AHL rookies in plus/minus (plus-18) and ranks fifth overall. Selected by Detroit in the seventh round (205th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Marchenko made his NHL debut with the Red Wings on Jan. 4 in Dallas, becoming the 140th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, and finished the game with a plus-two rating.

Hot Wings: Right wing Tomas Jurco (13-19—32, 1st) and right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (13-18—31, 2nd) have been two of the hottest Griffins this season, consistently ranking first and second among Griffins top scorers. Pulkkinen, a native of Vantaa, Finland, holds the team’s longest point streak this season, earning three goals and seven assists from Nov. 29-Dec. 18. In his second season as a Griffin and third year pro, Pulkkinen posts a plus-16 rating, 20 penalty minutes, two game-winning goals and an 11.8 shooting percentage. Jurco made his NHL debut with Detroit on Dec. 15 versus the Tampa Bay Lightning and scored his first NHL goal and point in his second NHL game on Dec. 17 versus the Anaheim Ducks. The Kosice, Slovakia, native leads the Griffins in game-winning goals with three and has led the team in scoring since Gustav Nyquist earned his full-time roster spot with Detroit. Among Jurco’s 2013-14 accolades include a plus-10 rating, 14 PIM and a 14.3% shooting percentage. Since being recalled to the Wings on Jan. 14, Jurco has appeared in three games with Detroit and recorded two PIM.

Magic McCollum: Fifth-year pro Tom McCollum continues to produce between the pipes for the Griffins this season, yielding a 17-8-1 record and a 2.11 goals against average through 29 appearances for Grand Rapids. Backed up by rookie goaltender Jared Coreau, who returned from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye upon Petr Mrazek’s recall to Detroit on Dec. 11, McCollum has posted two shutouts this season, including Friday’s 3-0 freezing of the Abbotsford Heat. His five career shutouts rank him seventh all time among Griffins goaltenders. McCollum’s 60th victory in a Griffins uniform on Jan. 11 made him just the third goalie to reach that plateau, joining eventual NHLers Joey MacDonald (109) and Jimmy Howard (90). McCollum enjoyed a six-game winning streak from Oct. 4-Nov. 6 to begin the season, tying with Mrazek’s 2012-13 franchise-best goaltending start. Currently, the Sanborn, New York, native ranks fourth overall among league goaltenders and ties for second in wins this season with Joni Ortio of the Abbotsford Heat and Jeremy Smith of the Springfield Falcons (17).

Team Leaders: Tomas Jurco (13-19—32), who was recalled to the Wings on Jan. 14, leads the team in scoring, followed closely by Teemu Pulkkinen (13-18—31). Pulkkinen (plus-16) has appeared in nine more games than Jurco (plus-10). Cory Emmerton (10-19—29), who was recalled by Detroit on Jan. 16, has sole possession of third place, while Mitch Callahan (16-8—24) ranks fourth after tallying a goal and two assists over the course of last week. Triston Grant leads the team in penalty minutes (73), while Brennan Evans (68) ranks second and Jordin Tootoo (56) ranks third. Pulkkinen (110) has taken the most shots on the team and Callahan (108) and Landon Ferraro (107) have also been consistent shooters.

Hirschfeld and Novak Join Griffins: The Griffins on Tuesday signed forwards Alden Hirschfeld and Travis Novak to professional tryouts. Hirschfeld, 25, has appeared in 33 games with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye this season, capturing 22 points (5-17—22) and 10 penalty minutes. Last season, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward split time between the AHL’s Providence Bruins and the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays. He tallied eight points (4-4—8) on each team for 16 total points through 55 total appearances. Novak, 25, has spent the past two seasons with the Walleye, posting 57 points through 90 total games and 23 points (8-15—23) this season. Prior to joining Toledo, the Lethbridge, Alberta, native was a member of the WCHA’s St. Cloud State Huskies from 2008-12 along with current Griffins defenseman Nick Jensen, when he earned 71 points (34-37—71) in 143 career games.

Sochi-Bound: On Jan.7, Grand Rapids forward Tomas Jurco last was named to the Slovakian Olympic Team that will compete at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, next month. Jurco is set to become just the fifth player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics while an active Griffin, joining Sergei Kolosov (2010 Belarus), Niklas Kronwall (2006 Sweden), Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (2010 Norway) and Julien Vauclair (2002 Switzerland). Teamed on the Slovakian squad with former Griffins Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Tatar, the 2013 Calder Cup and 2011 Memorial Cup champion will be among a contingent of 11 Griffins alumni competing for seven different nations during the Games.

All-Star Duo: On Jan. 9, the American Hockey League announced  that Grand Rapids head coach Jeff Blashill and defenseman Alexey Marchenko have been selected to participate in the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Assante Wealth Management, which will be held Feb. 11-12 at the Mile One Center in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The AHL All-Star Team, a 20-man squad consisting of the league’s top contributors, will battle Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in a two-day competition. The 2014 All-Star Classic will mark the first time that a Swedish Hockey League team has competed in North America. Blashill, 40, will be the first Griffins head coach in 12 years to lead an AHL All-Star Team, following Bruce Cassidy’s participation in the 2002 AHL All-Star Classic. Blashill will be joined by Rob Zettler, head coach of the Syracuse Crunch, whom the Griffins defeated in the 2013 Calder Cup Finals. In 2012-13, his first season as a head coach at the pro level, Blashill led the Griffins to the Calder Cup, marking the first championship in the franchise’s 17-year history. Blashill was named by the Detroit Red Wings as the ninth head coach in Grand Rapids Griffins history on June 25, 2012. Marchenko, 22, is just the third rookie defenseman in Griffins history to be named to the AHL All-Star Team, following in the recent footsteps of Chad Billins (2013), also a member of the 2014 AHL All-Star Team representing Abbotsford, and Brendan Smith (2011). The Moscow, Russia, native has had a storybook inaugural season with the Griffins, tallying 16 points (2-14—16), a plus-18 rating and eight penalty minutes through 36 games. On Jan. 4, Marchenko finished with a plus-two rating in his NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings, becoming the 140th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL.

Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (12-20-3-0) dropped a two-game road set against the Reading Royals last Friday and Saturday, giving up five goals in each contest. On Friday, Toledo fell 5-2 despite a late two-goal rally in the third period. On Saturday, the Walleye once again struck late with a three-goal third period, but were unable to earn the tying mark and fell, 5-4, at Santander Arena. The Walleye rank fifth in the North Division, 11 points behind the fourth-place Fort Wayne Komets.

Scouting Report

Fri., Jan. 24 vs. Texas Stars (25-11-2-3) – Cedar Park Center – 8:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 25 vs. Texas Stars – Cedar Park Center – 8 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. (Fri.) and ESPN 96.1 7:40 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 12-7-1-2 Overall, 5-4-1-0 Road. Season Series: Third and fourth of four meetings overall, first and second of two at Cedar Park Center. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Willie Desjardins (2nd season). Notes: The Stars and Griffins have met twice this season at Van Andel Arena, with Grand Rapids taking both contests (5-4, Nov. 29; 5-1, Nov. 30)…Since Nov. 2, Texas is on a 10-game home winning streak and posts a 7-2-1-0 record through the last 10 games…The Stars (55 pts.) recently seized the West Division lead from the Abbotsford Heat (54 pts.) and trail the Griffins (57 pts.) by only two points for the Western Conference lead...Forwards Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour will both play for the AHL All-Star Classic Team, alongside Griffins defenseman Alexey Marchenko and head coach Jeff Blashill…Morin has a commanding lead in scoring over the league with 55 points (24-31—55). The next highest-scoring player in the AHL is Mike Hoffman of the Binghamton Senators with 45 points (18-27—45) and Sceviour ranks third (25-18—43). Sceviour and Morin rank first and second, respectively, for goals overall…Stars rookie Curtis McKenzie (13-25—48) leads league rookies in scoring…When scoring first, Texas holds a 20-4-1-3 record compared to Grand Rapids’ 17-3-0-1 record...Texas’ power play (29.5%) ranks first overall, while its penalty kill (87.7%) ranks third overall.

Sun., Jan. 26 vs. San Antonio Rampage (15-21-1-3) – AT&T Center – 5 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 4:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 34-20-1-3-0 Overall, 17-11-0-1-0 Road. Season Series: 0-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. First of four meetings overall, first of two at the AT&T Center. NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Peter Horachek (1st season). Notes: San Antonio ranks fifth in the West Division, trailing the fourth-place Oklahoma City Barons by four points…Rookie center Vincent Trocheck (12-15—27) leads the team in scoring, despite posting a minus-10 rating, and ranks eighth overall among league rookies…San Antonio ranks 28th in the league, leading only the Hartford Wolf Pack and the Utica Comets...Rampage goaltender Jacob Markstrom has blocked 25 of 28 shootout attempts…San Antonio averages 34.25 shots per game.



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