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GRIFFINS DEPART FOR SEASON-HIGH SEVEN-GAME ROAD TRIP

This Week’s Games
Thu., March 13    GRIFFINS at San Antonio Rampage    8 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., March 14    GRIFFINS at Oklahoma City Barons    8 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., March 15    GRIFFINS at Oklahoma City Barons    8 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Wed., March 5    Chicago Wolves 2 at GRIFFINS 4    36-17-2-3, 77 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Fri., March 7    Iowa Wild 0 at GRIFFINS 4    37-17-2-3, 79 pts. (1st)
Sat., March 8    Iowa Wild 3 at GRIFFINS 1    37-18-2-3, 79 pts. (1st)


Third Seven: Last Wednesday, the Griffins twice rallied from one-goal deficits to earn their sixth consecutive victory, 4-2, over the Chicago Wolves at Van Andel Arena. Upon shutting out the Iowa Wild, 4-0, last Friday at home, the Griffins extended their now-broken winning streak to seven games, the third such streak this season. The Griffins’ seven-game streak was their fourth winning streak of six or more games under head coach Jeff Blashill (second all time to Greg Ireland’s five). Center Cory Emmerton scored two goals in the first frame, including his third shorthanded tally of the season, defenseman Adam Almquist earned his 40th (assist) and 41st (goal) points and goaltender Petr Mrazek stopped all 16 shots he faced to earn his third AHL shutout of the campaign. The streak would end at seven for Grand Rapids, however, as the team fell to Iowa, 3-1, in a rematch on Saturday at home. Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen put away the lone goal for the Griffins in the contest. Grand Rapids ranks first in the Midwest Division, second in the Western Conference and third overall.

Midwest Race: A reign they’ve held since Nov. 3, the Griffins (37-18-2-3, 79 pts.) remain in first place in the Midwest Division, now seven points ahead of their second-place division rival, the Chicago Wolves (35-18-4-2, 76 pts.). The Rockford IceHogs (30-24-5-3, 68 pts.) sit in third and have lost their last two games, while the Milwaukee Admirals (27-19-6-6, 66 pts.) rank fourth. Bouncing back from a five-game losing streak, the Admirals are now on a four-game winning tear, keeping them in the eighth-place playoff spot by two points. The Iowa Wild (23-25-6-4, 56 pts.) rank fifth. The Griffins have scored the most goals in the division (194), while allowing the fewest goals against (146). Grand Rapids has also tallied the fewest number of penalty minutes (770).
 
Mrazek’s Mojo: Goaltender Petr Mrazek has once again found his sweet spot, earning victories in his last seven appearances with Grand Rapids. Posting an 18-5-1-2 record and a 0.928 save percentage, Mrazek backstopped the Griffins to their crucial 4-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves last Wednesday, earning third-star honors, and walked away with his third shutout of the season on Friday in a 4-0 blanking of the Iowa Wild at home, earning third-star honors again. Mrazek’s 2.01 goals against average ranks first among league goaltenders, while Tom McCollum’s 2.32 GAA ranks 10th. Mrazek’s active seven-game winning streak is the second-longest goaltender winning streak of the season behind his 10-game string from Oct. 30-Feb. 1, which included an extended stay with the Wings during the streak. On Saturday, the Ostrava, Czech Republic, native was recalled by Detroit to fill in for an injured Jonas Gustavsson.
 
Pulkkinen on the Prowl: Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen returned from a four-game point drought to streak nine points (seven goals, two assists – Feb. 26-March 8) in the last six games, including a three-point performance in a 5-1 sinking of the Milwaukee Admirals on Feb. 26. In the victory, Pulkkinen scored two goals in nine seconds, which is the shortest amount of time between any two goals for the Griffins this season. The AHL record for the fastest two goals by one player is five seconds, established by Norm Corcoran of the Hershey Bears in 1951 and matched by Jimmy Bartlett of the Providence Reds in 1958 and by Dennis Olson of the Springfield Indians in 1959. For both goals, Pulkkinen blasted the puck past the Admirals’ Marek Mazanec from the top of the right circle in near-identical fashion. The Vantaa, Finland, native leads the Griffins in scoring with 26 goals and 25 assists, ties for a team-high plus-20 rating and has popped off 175 shots, the most of any Griffin, yielding a 14.9% shooting percentage. Pulkkinen is also the owner of the Griffins’ longest point streak (eight games) and ties with center Cory Emmerton (Nov. 30-Dec. 18) for the longest goal streak (three games) on two separate occasions (Nov. 3-8; Feb. 26- March 1). Technically qualifying as a rookie despite spending four professional seasons in Finland, Pulkkinen ranks second in scoring among league rookies (51 pts.), ranks first in goals (26), first in shots and first in plus/minus. Pulkkinen (51 pts.) currently ranks fourth on the Griffins’ all time top single-season rookie scorers behind Justin Abdelkader (52 pts., 2008-09), Glen Metropolit (55 pts., 1997-98) and Gustav Nyquist (58 pts., 2011-12). However, Pulkkinen became the highest rookie goal-getter in franchise history with his 25th goal of the season last Friday in a 4-0 shutout of the Iowa Wild at Van Andel Arena.

For/Against: The Griffins average 3.23 goals per game, good enough to tie for fourth in the AHL, and the team averages a 2.43 goals against average, which ranks first in the league.

Team Leaders: Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (26-25—51) leads the Griffins in scoring and registers a plus-20 rating through 60 games, tying Mitch Callahan for the team high. Defenseman Adam Almquist (3-39—42), who ranks fourth among league defensemen, ranks second on the team, followed by center Calle Jarnkrok (13-23—36), who was traded to the Nashville Predators by Detroit last Wednesday. Center Cory Emmerton (14-21—35), who was recalled by Detroit yesterday, ranks fourth and Callahan (21-12—33) ranks fifth. Three of the Griffins’ top-six scorers (Jarnkrok, Emmerton and Tomas Jurco) are not currently active on the roster. Brennan Evans (99) leads the team in penalty minutes and is just one infraction away from crossing the 100-minute threshold. Pulkkinen has rifled off the most shots of any Griffin (175), but Emmerton’s 15.2 shooting percentage (14 goals on 92 shots) ranks first on the team.

Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (18-34-3-1) snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones at U.S. Bank Center last Friday. The Walleye earned a second victory against the Cyclones on Saturday, 5-4, in a shootout thanks largely in part to two goals by Kevin Lynch. Walleye head coach Nick Vittuci stepped down from his position on Feb. 25, making way for interim head coach Dan Watson, who is now 2-3 since taking the reins of the squad. Trevor Parkes (17-17—34), who is currently with the Griffins, continues to rank first on the team in scoring, while forward Travis Novak (10-20—30) ranks second, and Alden Hirschfeld (9-20—29) ranks fourth. Both Novak and Hirschfeld are currently signed to professional tryouts with Grand Rapids. Toledo (40 pts.) ranks fifth in the North Division, 22 points behind the fourth-place Evansville IceMen.

Marchenko Out: The Griffins’ 2014 AHL All-Star defenseman Alexey Marchenko suffered an ankle injury in a game against the Milwaukee Admirals on Feb. 23. Marchenko had surgery for a severe high ankle sprain and is expected to be out for the remainder of the regular season.

Detroit Trades Jarnkrok: The Detroit Red Wings last Wednesday traded center Calle Jarnkrok, along with forward Patrick Eaves and a conditional third-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, to the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward David Legwand. A native of Gavle, Sweden, Jarnkrok ranks third on the Griffins in scoring with 36 points (13-23—36) in 57 games. Detroit’s second choice (51st overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Jarnkrok spent the previous four seasons with Brynas of the Swedish Elite League, tallying 118 points (44-74—118) in 185 games. The 6-foot, 188-pound center helped his team to an SEL championship in 2012 and assisted his country in earning a gold medal at the 2013 World Championships.

40-Point Blueliners: Defenseman Adam Almquist tallied his 40th (assist) and 41st (goal) points of the 2013-14 campaign last Friday against the Iowa Wild, marking the fifth time in Griffins franchise history that a defenseman has tallied at least 40 points in a single season. Other defensemen to earn the same milestone include Bryan Helmer (56 pts., 2005-06); Niklas Kronwall (53 pts., 2004-05) and Garrett Stafford (45 pts., 2008-09; 44 pts., 2007-08). Almquist ranks fourth among league d-men and ranks second overall in assists.
 

Scouting Report

Thu., March 13 at San Antonio Rampage (24-25-3-6) – AT&T Center – 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: 34-21-1-4-1 Overall, 17-11-0-2-0 Road. Season Series: 0-1-1-1 Overall, 0-0-1-0 Road. Final meeting of four overall, second of two at San Antonio. NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Peter Horachek (1st season). Notes: In the four-game season series, the Rampage have taken three victories thus far; a regulation win, an overtime win and a shootout win…All three of the Griffins’ netminders this season have been solved by the Rampage – Jared Coreau (6-4 OTL, Jan. 15), Tom McCollum (2-1 SOL, Feb. 14) and Petr Mrazek (3-0 L, Feb. 15)…The Rampage rank fifth in the West Division, 12th in the Western Conference and 23rd overall…In its last 10 games, San Antonio posts a 5-4-0-1 record and is currently on a three-game losing streak…San Antonio has had a strong showing at home, yielding a 13-8-3-3 record on friendly ice, contrasting their 11-17-0-3 record away from the AT&T Center…The Rampage post a 21.7% home power play record and an 80.3% home penalty killing record…San Antonio averages 33.34 shots per game, which ranks second in the league, but allows an average of 31.69 shots against (24th)…Rookie center Vincent Trocheck (16-25—41), who is not active on the Rampage roster, leads the team in scoring, while right wing Bobby Butler (18-19—37) ranks second and right wing Mark Mancari (9-23—32), who played in 44 games with the Chicago Wolves earlier this season, ranks third.

Fri., March 14 at Oklahoma City Barons (28-24-1-7, 64 pts.) – Cox Convention Center – 8 p.m.
Sat., March 15 at Oklahoma City Barons – Cox Convention Center – 8 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:40 p.m (Fri. and Sat.) Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 9-7-1-1 Overall, 5-2-0-1, 3-4-1-0 Road. Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, first and second of two at Cox Convention Center. NHL Affiliation: Edmonton Oilers. Head Coach: Todd Nelson (4th season). Notes: The Barons rank third in the West Division, ninth in the Western Conference and 18th overall…During his playing career, Barons head coach Todd Nelson was the first player ever signed by the Griffins and tallied 11 goals and 56 assists in 236 games with the club as a defenseman through four seasons. Nelson also spent one season as an assistant coach with Grand Rapids (2002-03)…Center Roman Horak (19-26—45) ties with center Anton Lander (17-28—45) for the Barons’ scoring lead, while defenseman Brad Hunt (9-30—39) ranks third…Hunt (two goals, two assists) and center Mark Arcobello (one goal, three assists) have tallied the most points against the Griffins for Oklahoma City…The Barons have struck most often in the third period (72 goals), but struggle to get off to a lead in the first-period (45 goals).


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