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YOUTH IS SERVED

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The accolades for Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender Jimmy Howard continued to pour in on Wednesday, as he was named to the 2005-06 American Hockey League All-Rookie Team.

The 22-year-old netminder recently took home AHL Goaltender of the Month (March) and Player of the Week (March 20) honors, rewards for his late-season dominance that has helped move the Griffins within six points of the league’s regular season championship.

Howard places among the AHL’s leaders with a Griffins rookie-record 25 wins (T5th, 25-5-2), a 0.813 winning percentage (1st), a 2.65 goals against average (T12th) and a 0.907 save percentage (20th), and he has led the team to points in 23 of his last 25 decisions (21-2-1-1). His perfect 11-0 record during March – earned with a 1.80 GAA and a 0.936 save percentage – propelled Grand Rapids to a franchise-record 11 straight victories, as well as the AHL’s North Division (Sam Pollock Trophy) and Western Conference regular season (N.R. “Bud” Poile Trophy) titles.

The first Griffin to ever earn a spot on the All-Rookie Team, Howard has assaulted the franchise record book over the last two months. His recent 12-game winning streak (Feb. 25-March 31) shattered the previous team mark of eight (Mike Fountain, 2000-01), and he became the first goalie in team history to earn four wins in a span of five nights (March 14-18). In addition, Howard needs a win in his next home decision to tie Mathieu Chouinard’s franchise-record nine-game home winning streak (2000-01).

The former University of Maine star was the Detroit Red Wings’ first selection (64th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut with the Wings in a 5-2 win at Los Angeles on Nov. 28, and shows a 1-2-0 record with a 2.99 GAA and a 0.904 save percentage in four appearances with the parent club.

By virtue of his selection, Howard becomes a top candidate for the AHL’s Dudley “Red” Garrett Award (outstanding rookie), the winner of which will be announced on April 13. The other members of the AHL All-Rookie Team are forwards Patrick O’Sullivan (Houston), Ryan Shannon (Portland) and Martin St. Pierre (Norfolk), and defensemen Daniel Girardi (Hartford) and Mike Green (Hershey).

Previous AHL All-Rookie Teams have included current NHL goaltenders such as Carolina’s Cam Ward (2004-05), Ottawa’s Ray Emery (2002-03), Vancouver’s Mika Noronen (1999-00) and Dan Cloutier (1996-97), Philadelphia’s Robert Esche (1998-99), and Anaheim’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere (1997-98).

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