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GRIFFINS OWN SIX-POINT DIVISION LEAD HEADING INTO FINAL SEVEN GAMES

This Week’s Games
Wed., April 2    Iowa Wild at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., April 4    Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.   
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., April 5    Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.  
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Fri., March 28    GRIFFINS 4 at Rockford IceHogs 5    41-20-2-4, 88 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sat., March 29    Rockford IceHogs 1 at GRIFFINS 4    42-20-2-4, 90 pts. (1st)
Sun., March 30    GRIFFINS 3 at Milwaukee Admirals 1    43-20-2-4, 92 pts. (1st)

The Road to the Top: The Griffins kicked off their last three-in-three of the regular season last Friday with a 5-4 loss to the Rockford IceHogs on enemy ice but still clinched a playoff berth as a result of various factors around the league. Grand Rapids hadn’t clinched a playoff spot in March since 2009 (March 27) and hadn’t qualified for the playoffs in consecutive years since 2006 and 2007. Friday’s game saw the conclusion of a season-high seven-game road trip, with the team posting a 4-2-0-1 record. On Saturday, the Griffins bounced back against Rockford to claim a 4-1 victory in a rematch at Van Andel Arena. In his fifth game as a Griffin, Colin Campbell scored the game-winning goal at 17:17 of the second period, marking his first professional point since being signed to an amateur tryout on March 17. Campbell also signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings. Mitch Callahan, Jordin Tootoo and Teemu Pulkkinen also contributed goals in the Griffins’ win over Rockford in front of the team’s sixth sellout crowd of 10,834. On Sunday, the Griffins exceeded their 2012-13 regular season win total when they earned their 43rd victory against the Milwaukee Admirals, 3-1. Pulkkinen walked away with two goals, including the empty-net insurance tally, and Ryan Sproul earned Grand Rapids’ middle marker. Nathan Paetsch, Pulkkinen, Sproul and Callahan all enjoyed two-point nights in the victory. The Griffins aim to close in on the Midwest Division title, and catch the West Division champion Texas Stars as they enter their final seven games of the regular season.

Final “Amway Winning Wednesday” of the Season: All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ win against the Chicago Wolves on March 5 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to Wednesday’s game. To redeem a Winning Wednesday ticket, please visit The Zone during normal business hours or the Van Andel Arena box office prior to Wednesday’s game beginning at 5:30 p.m. Fans can enjoy a buy-one, get-one-free deal on a 16 oz. Pepsi all night long at any concession stand that sells fountain drinks, and the first 300 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a gift. Children with Griff's Reading Goals bookmarks who have completed the three hours of reading can redeem their bookmark for two free upper level tickets to either this game or the April 4 game. Fans can also take home a 2013 Calder Cup Champions Poster, presented by Eikenhout.

Friday Promotions: Fans can enjoy $2 hot dogs and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last.
Children with Griff's Reading Goals bookmarks who have completed the three hours of reading can redeem their bookmark for two free upper level tickets to this game. This will be the final bookmark redemption date of the season. Ride the Rapid to and from any Friday game and enjoy complimentary fare by showing your ticket to the game. Visit ridetherapid.org for schedule information, routes and maps. 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 D-ZONE night. Avoid the concession lines and get your $2 beers and $2 hot dogs served to you in your seats. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to get your tickets today. Fans can also take home a 2013 Calder Cup Champions Poster, presented by Eikenhout.

Replica Championship Ring Giveaway: On Saturday, 2,500 fans will receive a replica championship ring, presented by Amway. Cory Emmerton, Jeff Hoggan and Trevor Parkes will sign autographs following the game from the team’s bench, presented by Huntington Bank. For the last time this season, receive four tickets and $12 in concession cash for a great low price. Valid for this game only. Visit griffinshockey.com/f4p or call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2. Fans can also take home a 2013 Calder Cup Champions Poster, presented by Eikenhout.

Midwest Race: Grand Rapids (43-20-2-4, 92 pts.) leads the Midwest Division heading into its final seven games of the season, six points ahead of the second-place Chicago Wolves (39-20-5-3, 86 pts.). The Milwaukee Admirals (32-22-6-7, 77 pts.) rank third, while the Rockford IceHogs (33-26-5-4, 75 pts.) rank fourth. The Iowa Wild (26-31-6-4, 62 pts.) rank fifth in the division and last in the Western Conference. Grand Rapids has netted the most goals (222) in the division while also allowing the fewest (169).
 
Pulkkinen’s Milestone: Vantaa, Finland, native Teemu Pulkkinen scored power-play and empty-net goals in a 3-1 win over the Milwaukee Admirals on Sunday, becoming the first Griffin to reach 30 goals in a season since Jeremy Williams (32) in 2009-10. On March 7, Pulkkinen scored his 25th goal of the season and established a new record for a Griffins rookie, beating the 24-goal efforts of Justin Abdelkader and Francis Pare in 2008-09. Pulkkinen’s other 2013-14 accolades include 55 points (30-25—55), a plus-20 rating, 187 shots and a 16.0 shooting percentage. Pulkkinen is the second-highest scoring rookie in the league, and he ties for 14th in overall scoring and fourth in goals (30) among AHL scorers. Pulkkinen’s 30 goals lead all AHL rookies. He also has 11 multipoint performances this season, including two three-point games (two goals, one assist – Jan. 24 at TEX, Feb. 26 at MIL).

Team Leaders: Rookie right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (30-25—55) has led the Griffins in scoring for the latter part of the season and also ranks second among league rookies. Following Pulkkinen on the team is defenseman Adam Almquist (4-46—50), whose 46 assists rank third in the league. Left wing Mitch Callahan (26-28—44) ranks third on the team and boasts a team-high plus-23 rating. Pulkkinen’s 16.0 shooting percentage leads the team, followed by Cory Emmerton's and Colin Campbell’s 14.3%.

Goaltender Depth Continues: Petr Mrazek (21-6-1, 2.04 GAA) ranks first among league goaltenders in goals against average, while Tom McCollum (22-12-3, 2.35 GAA) ranks seventh. Mrazek has been in a race for first with Chicago’s Jake Allen, who had his 2.16 GAA marred by allowing nine goals in his last two games.

Packed Van Andel: The Griffins, whose six sellouts tie their total from the 2012-13 season, have sold out consecutive home games and three of their last seven contests at Van Andel Arena. Grand Rapids’ average attendance of 8,018 per game ranks fourth in the league. Based on presales for the final four home games, the Griffins are guaranteed an average attendance increase for the fourth straight year and seventh time in the last eight seasons.

Exceeding 90: The Griffins’ victories over the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday and the Milwaukee Admirals on Sunday gave the team 92 points in consecutive seasons for the first time since a run of five straight 90-point seasons from 1999-04. In addition, Jeff Blashill became the third head coach in Griffins history to lead the team to 90 points in consecutive seasons, joining Bruce Cassidy (2000-02) and Danton Cole (2002-04), both of whom also did it during their first two seasons at the helm. With Sunday’s triumph over the Admirals, the Griffins earned their 43rd win of the season and exceeded their win total from the 2012-13 Calder Cup-winning campaign (42).

Rock N’ Sproul: Rookie defenseman Ryan Sproul has accumulated six points (two goals, four assists) in his last five games from March 22-30, including a pair of two-point games. In both multipoint games (March 22 vs. IA, March 30 vs. MIL), the Mississauga, Ontario, native potted a goal and an assist. Sproul’s point burst comes on the heels of an 18-game drought from Jan. 31-March 21, when he tallied only one assist (Feb. 14 vs. SA).

NHL Graduates: From March 14-25, four more Griffins graduated to the NHL. Teemu Pulkkinen (#141, 3/14/14 DET vs. EDM), Landon Ferraro (#142, 3/18/14 DET vs. TOR) and Mitch Callahan (#144, 3/25/14 DET at CBJ) debuted with the Detroit Red Wings, while Calle Jarnkrok (#143 NSH at CGY) made his debut with the Predators after being traded to Nashville on March 5. So far this season, 10 Griffins alumni have made their NHL debuts (Luke Glendening, Xavier Ouellet, Adam Almquist, Chad Billins, Tomas Jurco, Alexey Marchenko, Pulkkinen, Ferraro, Jarnkrok and Callahan).

Calder Cup Cavalry: At least one member of the Griffins’ 2013 Calder Cup team has scored a goal in 11 consecutive games for the Detroit Red Wings. Last year’s AHL champs have accounted for 19 of the Red Wings’ 30 goals during that span (Gustav Nyquist 11, Tomas Tatar  4, Riley Sheahan 2, Joakim Andersson 1, Danny DeKeyser 1).

Nyquist Named NHL’s Second Star of the Month: On April 1, the NHL named Gustav Nyquist as the “second star” for the month of March. Nyquist ranked second in the NHL with 12 goals and tied for fifth with 18 points to help the Red Wings go 7-6-2 and move into the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference (35-26-14, 84 points). He found the back of the net in nine of 15 games, including a six-game goal streak March 16-25 (9-1—10), the longest by a Red Wings player since Daniel Cleary had an equal run Nov. 5-17, 2010 (8-2—10). Nyquist posted a career-high four points (1-3—4) on March 7 vs. NJ and added three two-goal performances: March 18 vs. TOR, March 23 vs. MIN and March 25 at CBJ. He also chipped in his team-leading fifth game-winning goal of the season March 22 at MIN. The 24-year-old Halmstad, Sweden, native leads the NHL with 22 goals in 27 games since Jan. 20 and is currently on a nine-game point streak (11-2—13), the longest by a Red Wings player since Dec. 22, 2010-Jan. 10, 2011 (Henrik Zetterberg: 6-10—16 in 11 games). Playing in his third NHL season, all with the Red Wings, Nyquist leads the team with 27 goals and is tied for second with 45 points in 50 games.

Points Comparison: As the 2013-14 regular season draws to a close, many of the 13 remaining Calder Cup champions on the Griffins’ active roster have exceeded their performances from last year. In comparison:

                                     2013-14 Totals       2012-13 Totals

Player GP G A PTS     GP G A PTS
*Teemu Pulkkinen 64 30 25 55   2 0 1 1
*Adam Almquist 66 4 46 50   68 10 21 31
*Mitch Callahan 69 26 18 44   71 11 9 20
*Andrej Nestrasil 63 13 18 31   25 3 3 6
Landon Ferraro 63 15 15 30   72 24 23 47
Jeff Hoggan 52 14 16 30   76 20 25 45
Nathan Paetsch 62 4 25 29   70 4 27 31
*Triston Grant 50 6 10 16   75 4 6 10
*Brennan Evans 61 4 11 15   76 0 7 7
Louis-Marc Aubry 34 1 1 2   64 4 8 12
Gleason Fournier 22 0 2 2   30 1 5 6

*Exceeded 2012-13 point total
                               
                               2013-14 Record                       2012-13 Record

Goalie GP W L T/SOL GAA SO    GP W L T/SOL GAA SO
Tom McCollum 43 22 12 3 2.35 2   31 18 11 2 2.63 2
Petr Mrazek 28 21 6 1 2.04 3   42 23 16 2 2.33 1


Paterson and Nastasiuk in the Fold: The Detroit Red Wings on Monday reassigned goaltender Jake Paterson from the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit to the Griffins and on Tuesday reassigned Zach Nastasiuk from the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack to their AHL affiliate. Paterson, 19, appeared between the pipes in 45 regular season games with the Spirit this season, producing a 24-18-2 record, a 3.41 goals against average and a 0.906 save percentage. In five playoff contests with Saginaw, the 6-foot-1, 183-pound netminder yielded a 1-2-2 record, a 4.67 GAA and a 0.889 save percentage. The Mississauga, Ontario, native owns a 70-54-12 record with a 3.44 GAA and a 0.904 save percentage in 142 career OHL games. Paterson was Detroit’s second choice (80th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. A native of Barrie, Ontario, Nastasiuk has accumulated 110 points (54-56—110) in 192 career OHL games with Owen Sound from 2011-14. Serving as captain for the 2013-14 campaign, Nastasiuk notched 51 points (23-28—51) in 62 regular season games and four points (3-1—4) in five playoff games. The 19-year-old ranked among team leaders with 23 goals (4th), 28 assists (4th), 51 points (T2nd), 10 PPG (2nd) and two shorthanded goals (1st). In his three seasons with Owen Sound, the 6-foot-2, 196-pound Nastasiuk played under Attack head coach Greg Ireland, who commanded the Griffins for parts of three seasons (Feb. 10, 2005-June 15, 2007). Detroit’s second choice (48th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Nastasiuk was a member of Canada's gold medal-winning team at the 2013 Under-18 World Championship, where he recorded four points (2-2—4) in seven games.

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.

Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (21-39-3-2) fell to the Wheeling Nailers, 5-3, on Friday, but bounced back with a pair of wins over the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday (2-1 SO) and Sunday (5-1). Walleye head coach Nick Vittuci stepped down from his position on Feb. 25, making way for interim head coach Dan Watson. Trevor Parkes (17-17—34), who is currently with the Griffins, ranks second on the team in scoring, while forward Travis Novak (11-21—32) ranks third, and Alden Hirschfeld (9-20—29) ranks fifth. Hirschfeld is currently signed to a professional tryout with Grand Rapids. Toledo (47 pts.) ranks fifth in the North Division, 22 points behind the fourth-place Evansville IceMen.

Scouting Report

Wed., April 2 vs. Iowa Wild (26-31-6-4) – 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/Season Series: 7-2-0-0 Overall, 2-2-0-0 Home. Season Series: 10th of 10 meetings overall, fifth of five at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst (1st season). Notes: Wednesday’s game will be the final matchup of the 10-game season series with the Wild…Iowa ranks fifth in the Midwest Division, 15th in the Western Conference and 27th overall…Although the Griffins have taken every road contest against the Wild, Iowa has presented a challenge at Van Andel Arena, where the teams have split four contests down the middle…Iowa posts a 4-6-0-0 record through its last 10 games and, overall, has been more effective away from home, boasting a road record of 15-11-3-3 compared to its 11-20-3-1 home resume…In the first round of the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs, the Griffins defeated the Houston Aeros 3-2 in a best-of-five series. The Aeros became the Iowa Wild at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season…Left wing Brad Winchester (19-16—35), who competed in 55 games with Rockford this season, leads the team in scoring. He has tallied three goals and two assists in 14 games since joining the Wild. Defenseman Brian Connelly (5-27—32) ranks second, followed by center Zack Phillips (11-19—30)...Left wing Curt Gogol (170) and defenseman Corbin Baldwin (115) rank first and second, respectively, in penalty minutes.

Fri., April 4 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (30-33-1-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., April 5 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs – 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: 37-32-1-0-4 Overall, 19-13-1-0-3 Home. Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, first and second of two at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre (2nd season). Notes: The Griffins and Bulldogs have not met since Nov. 8, when Grand Rapids took home a commanding 6-1 road victory…The last time the Bulldogs were at Van Andel Arena was March 8, 2013, when the Griffins defeated Hamilton 2-1…Hamilton ties for fourth with the Lake Erie Monsters in the North Division, ties for 12th in the Western Conference and ties for 23rd overall with Lake Erie and the Syracuse Crunch…Hamilton is 10 pts. away from tying for the eighth-place Western Conference playoff spot…Center Martin St. Pierre (10-34—44) leads the Bulldogs in scoring, despite his minus-19 rating. Right wing Sven Andrighetto (15-24—39) ranks second, and right wing Mike Blunden (16-16—32) ranks third…Goaltender Dustin Tokarski, who won the 2012 Calder Cup with the Norfolk Admirals, posts a 19-15-2 record, a 2.44 GAA and a 0.917 save percentage. Tokarski ranks 12th among league goaltenders with his 2.44 GAA.


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