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11/29/2004 12:31 PM - Grand Rapids Faces First Test Against Defending Champs

This Week’s Games
Fri., Dec. 3 - GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/WHTC 1450 AM

Sat., Dec. 4 - Utah Grizzlies at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results

*Wed., Nov. 24 - GRIFFINS 4 at Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 3 SO - 11-4-1-0, 23 pts. (3rd, West Division)

Fri., Nov. 26 - Chicago Wolves 3 at GRIFFINS 1 - 11-5-1-0, 23 pts. (3rd)

Sat., Nov. 27 - GRIFFINS 3 at Chicago Wolves 2 OT - 12-5-1-0, 25 pts. (2nd)

Sun., Nov. 28 - Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 1 at GRIFFINS 2 SO - 13-5-1-0, 27 pts. (2nd)

* at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (Calif.)

Lucky 13: Grand Rapids’ 13 wins (13-5-1-0) tie for the most ever garnered by the Griffins through 19 games. The club started 13-6-0-0 in 2001-02, 13-3-3 in 2000-01 and 13-6-0 in 1997-98.

Gathering Momentum: The Griffins have won eight of their last 10 decisions to climb within two points of first-place Milwaukee in the West Division race. The Griffins and Admirals, the defending Calder Cup champions, will stage their first clash of the season this Friday in Milwaukee.

Hello, Dino: Saturday’s game against Utah at Van Andel Arena will feature the second installment of the Griffins’ “Hockeytown Heroes” series. Former Detroit Red Wings forward Dino Ciccarelli will sign autographs in the arena banquet room from 6:30-7:20 p.m., courtesy of West Michigan Jeep Chrysler dealers. He’ll also drop the puck for the ceremonial faceoff.

Working Late, Staying Busy: All three Griffins wins last week required extra time, including a pair of shootout wins over Cincinnati and an overtime victory at Chicago. With Sunday’s win over the Ducks, the Griffins completed their fourth game in five nights (3-1-0-0) and their eighth game in the last 13 days (6-2-0-0).

Road Warriors: With Saturday’s 3-2 overtime victory at Chicago, the Griffins tied their franchise record of six consecutive road wins, established between Oct. 16-Nov. 27, 1999. The AHL’s only perfect road team at 6-0-0-0, Grand Rapids has doubled its previous-best 3-0 road starts in 2002-03, 2001-02 and 2000-01. Of the 11 games that the Griffins have remaining before Christmas, eight will be played in hostile territory.

Persistence Pays: Four of the Griffins’ last six wins, as well as seven of their 13 total victories this season, have been of the come-from-behind variety. They rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits on Saturday to take a 3-2 overtime win at Chicago, marking the second time in a seven-game span that Grand Rapids won when trailing after two periods. Prior to their 2-1 win over Cincinnati on Nov. 16, when they scored twice in the third period, the Griffins had won only one of their previous 30 games in which they had trailed at the second intermission.

Overtime Pay: Thanks to Eric Manlow’s goal at 1:30 of the extra session on Saturday, the Griffins improved to 2-1 this season and 16-3 all-time in AHL games decided during the five-minute overtime. They had won 10 straight overtime decisions prior to a 4-3 loss to Houston on Nov. 5.

Shootout Success: With Sunday’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Ducks, the Griffins improved to 3-0 this season and 39-45 all-time in shootouts. The Griffins have scored on seven of their 12 shootout attempts (58.3%), while Joey MacDonald and Drew MacIntyre have turned away 11 of the opposition’s 14 shooters (78.6%).

Close Calls: 11 of the Griffins’ last 14 games and 13 of their 19 contests overall have been decided by a single goal. Grand Rapids is 9-3-1-0 so far in those games, giving it the most such wins of any AHL team. The franchise records for the most one-goal wins and one-goal decisions are 23 (1999-00) and 43 (1997-98), respectively.

Hard Luck Mac: Both of Drew MacIntyre’s starts at home this season have been sensational yet, at some level, not fully satisfying. He earned his first win at Van Andel Arena on Sunday, making 26 saves in the 2-1 shootout over the Ducks. Despite losing a bid for his first pro shutout due to a fluky bounce with just 33 seconds left and allowing a goal to Cincinnati’s first shooter, he rebounded to secure the victory by denying the Ducks’ final four tries. MacIntyre made his AHL debut on Nov. 5 against Houston, stopping 45 of 49 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Aeros. The 45 saves set Griffins records both for a home game (42 by Pokey Reddick, 10/30/96 vs. Cincinnati) and for a Griffins debut (37 by Patrick Lalime, 11/29/97 at Detroit).

Taking Advantage: The Griffins capitalized on two separate 5-on-3 power plays during last Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout win over Cincinnati, then added another 5-on-3 goal during Saturday’s 3-2 overtime victory at Chicago. They’ve now scored four goals this season with the two-man advantage, but they’ve yet to allow a goal when down two skaters.

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald ranks among the league’s best with 11 wins (3rd), three shutouts (T2nd), a 1.89 GAA (7th) and a 0.935 save percentage (7th)…Niklas Kronwall, who leads the Griffins and is tied for 20th in AHL scoring, ranks first among league blueliners with 19 points and seven goals and is tied for fifth with 12 assists…Eric Himelfarb’s 12 points (4-8—12) tie for third on the Griffins and are deadlocked for ninth among AHL rookies. He leads all first-year players and is tied for third overall in the AHL with two shorthanded goals.

Hot Hands: Niklas Kronwall has registered multiple points in three of his last five games (3-4—7)…Eric Manlow earned a nomination for the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week award with four points (1-3—4) last week, including Saturday’s overtime winner in Chicago…Nathan Robinson’s four-game scoring streak (2-5—7) was snapped on Saturday…Todd Robinson has an assist in four of the last five outings, including a helper on Manlow’s OT winner in Chicago. He also scored in both shootouts last week against Cincinnati…Bryan Helmer has contributed points in three of the last five games (1-3—4).

Welcome Back: Left wing Ryan Barnes, signed to a PTO by the Griffins on Saturday, is in his third stint with the club this season. He has one goal and 14 penalty minutes in nine games with Grand Rapids, while collecting eight points (3-5—8) and four penalty minutes in 11 outings with the UHL’s Kalamazoo Wings.

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
  • Power Play: 18-for-116, 15.5% (14th)
  • Penalty Killing: 93-for-103, 90.3% (3rd)
  • Penalty Minutes: 20.47 avg. (25th)
  • Goals For: 2.74 avg. (T12th)
  • Goals Against: 2.00 avg. (4th)
  • Shots For: 29.53 avg. (17th)
  • Shots Against: 29.47 avg. (10th)
  • Attendance: 5,682 avg. (10th)

    This Week’s Scouting Report

    Fri., Dec. 3 at Milwaukee Admirals (13-2-2-1) – Bradley Center – 8 p.m.
    TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM/WHTC 1450 AM at 7:59 p.m. Season Series: First of eight meetings overall, first of four in Milwaukee. All-Time Series: 31-16-11-0 Overall, 12-10-9-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (2nd season). Ships Ahoy: Grand Rapids was the only West Division team to post a winning record against the Admirals (5-2-1-0) during their 2003-04 Calder Cup championship season…Milwaukee is an impressive 6-1-0-0 on home ice…The Ads did not lose in regulation until their 11th game of the season…Milwaukee leads the AHL in penalty killing (92.0%) and ranks sixth on the power play (19.3%)…Simon Gamache is tied for seventh in the league in scoring (9-15—24).

    Sat., Dec. 4 vs. Utah Grizzlies (3-12-0-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7:30 p.m.
    TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: First of eight meetings overall, first of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 20-21-3-0 Overall, 13-8-1-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Pat Conacher (1st season). Grin and Bear It: After going 7-0 at home against the Grizzlies as IHL rivals, the Griffins are just 6-8-1-0 when hosting Utah since 2001-02…Following a 1-10-0-1 start, the Grizzlies earned splits with both San Antonio and Houston last week…Utah has recently added AHL veterans Peter White, Jarrod Skalde and Terry Virtue…The Grizzlies have won two of six road contests…Utah ranks 27th in goals scored (1.94) and last (28th) in goals allowed (3.81).

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