2006 Calder Cup Playoffs North Division Semifinals Best-of-Seven
Game 1 - Fri., April 21 - Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game A)
Game 2 - Sat., April 22 - Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game B)
Game 3 - Mon., April 24 - GRIFFINS at Marlies - 7:30 p.m.
Game 4 - Wed., April 26 - GRIFFINS at Marlies - 7:30 p.m.
*Game 5 - Fri., April 28 - GRIFFINS at Marlies - 7:30 p.m.
*Game 6 - Sun., April 30 - Marlies at GRIFFINS - 6 p.m. (Game C)
*Game 7 - Mon., May 1 - Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game D)
* If necessary. All times Eastern and subject to change. All games on WOOD 1300 AM.
Furniture City vs. Hogtown: The Griffins will begin their chase for the Calder Cup by facing the Toronto Marlies in the best-of-seven North Division Semifinals. Top-seeded Grand Rapids will host Games 1 and 2 against the fourth-seeded Marlies this Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22. The series will switch to Ricoh Coliseum for Games 3-5 (April 24, 26 and 28), before returning to Van Andel Arena for Game 6 on Sunday, April 30, and Game 7 on Monday, May 1, if necessary.
Get Your Tickets: Tickets for all four potential home playoff games during the North Division Semifinals are on sale. Single-game playoff ticket prices are $26, $21, $18, $16, $14 and $6 (advance purchase only), reflecting a league-wide increase of $1 over regular season prices. Playoff tickets may be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets Plus locations (including Meijer stores), by phone through Star Tickets Plus at 800-585-3737, or through griffinshockey.com.
Hardware Haul: The Griffins record-setting regular season netted them the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy (regular season points champion), the Norman R. (Bud) Poile Trophy (Western Conference regular season champion) and the Sam Pollock Trophy (North Division champion). Their regular season title was their first in five AHL seasons; they also won the IHLs regular season crown (Fred A. Huber Trophy) in 2000-01, their fifth and final campaign in that league. Meanwhile, the division crown was their fifth in the last seven years; since 1999, Grand Rapids has earned the most division titles, wins (334) and points (722) of any team at the triple-A level. Besides the Calder Cup, the only grail still up for grabs is the Robert W. Clarke Trophy (Western Conference playoff champion).
Good Omen: The Griffins combined with the Detroit Red Wings to become the first AHL/NHL affiliates in 29 years to capture their respective regular season championships, dating back to the Nova Scotia Voyageurs and Montreal Canadiens in 1976-77. Nova Scotia and Montreal each continued on to win the cup, duplicating their twin feats from the 1975-76 season.
What's Next?: The winner of this series will advance to the North Division Finals to face the survivor of the other divisional semifinal, which pits #2 Syracuse against #3 Manitoba. During the regular season, the Griffins were 6-0 against the Crunch and 5-2-0-1 versus the Moose, while the Marlies were 4-2-0-2 against Syracuse and 2-3-2-1 versus Manitoba.
The Coaches: Greg Ireland won an AHL regular season title in his first full season as the Griffins head coach, leading them to franchise records of 55 wins and 115 points. His career winning percentage of 0.674 (72-33-2-5) is the best in franchise history. While entering his first Calder Cup playoff as a head coach, Ireland is no stranger to the postseason. He was an assistant on the Griffins team that lost to Chicago in the 2004 West Division Semifinals, he joined the 2002-03 Hamilton Bulldogs as an assistant coach during their run to the Calder Cup Finals, and he guided the 2001-02 ECHL Dayton Bombers to the Kelly Cup Finals
Torontos Paul Maurice logged his first season with the Marlies after leading the Carolina Hurricanes (1997-04) and Hartford Whalers (1995-97). He coached the Hurricanes against the Detroit Red Wings in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Goalies: Two spectacular goaltenders are expected to take center stage in this series. The Griffins Jimmy Howard was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team after a season in which he led the AHL in winning percentage (27-6-2, 0.800) while ranking among the leaders with a Griffins rookie-record 27 wins (5th), a 2.58 GAA (9th), a 0.910 save percentage (T13th) and two shutouts (T14th). Howard, who won 14 of his last 16 decisions and led the team to points in 25 of his last 28 decisions (23-3-1-1), boasts plenty of playoff experience. He led Maine to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in 2004 and 2005, including a runner-up finish to Denver in 2004, and won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2002 World U18 Championship
Jean-Sebastien Aubin was remarkable during his recent stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, finishing 9-0-2 with a 2.22 GAA, a 0.924 save percentage and one shutout. He lost to the Griffins in the 2003 AHL Western Conference Quarterfinals as a member of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, posting a 1-3 record with a 2.29 GAA and a 0.916 save percentage. In 11 career games (reg. season and playoffs) against Grand Rapids, Aubin is 5-5 with a 2.56 GAA and a 0.913 save percentage.
The Stories: The clash between Grand Rapids and Toronto presents several intriguing storylines:
Eleven members of the Griffins are natives of Ontario, including Toronto-area products Darryl Bootland (Bradford), Eric Himelfarb (Toronto), Ryan Oulahen (Newmarket) and Terry Virtue (Scarborough). Head coach Greg Ireland (Orangeville), assistant coach Jim Paek (Toronto) and GM Bob McNamara (Toronto) also hail from the province;
The parent clubs of the Griffins and Marlies are NHL Original Six rivals Detroit and Toronto;
Toronto is Grand Rapids first Canadian playoff foe in its 10 seasons and 13 postseason series.
Tale of the Tape: Heres how the two rivals stacked up in key statistical categories during the regular season:
Grand Rapids Toronto
Overall Record 55-20-1-4, 115 pts. (1st North, 1st AHL) 41-29-6-4, 92 pts. (4th North, T13th AHL)
Home Record 30-6-1-3, 64 pts. (T1st) 21-14-1-4, 47 pts. (T15th)
Road Record 25-14-0-1, 51 pts. (T4th) 20-15-5-0, 45 pts. (T9th)
Power Play: 120-for-550, 21.8% (1st) 101-for-546, 18.5% (11th)
Penalty Killing: 467-for-562, 83.1% (12th) 441-for-546, 80.8% (T21st)
Penalty Minutes: 23.60 avg. (14th) 21.86 avg. (18th)
Goals For: 4.04 avg. (1st) 3.38 avg. (7th)
Goals Against: 3.09 avg. (15th) 3.29 avg. (21st)
Shots For: 33.99 avg. (4th) 31.36 avg. (13th)
Shots Against: 29.30 avg. (9th) 31.66 avg. (18th)
Games Played: Bryan Helmer/Eric Manlow (*80) Bates Battaglia/Brad Leeb (79)
Goals: Donald MacLean (*56) John Pohl (36)
Assists: Jiri Hudler (60) Battaglia (47)
Points: Hudler (96) Pohl (75)
Plus/Minus: Nate DiCasmirro (+27) Marc Moro (+15)
Penalty Minutes: Darryl Bootland (390) Kris Newbury (215)
Power Play Goals: MacLean (21) Pohl (18)
Shorthanded Goals: Matt Ellis/Clay Wilson (3) Brett Engelhardt (4)
Game-Winning Goals: MacLean (*9) Leeb (6)
Wins: Jimmy Howard (27) J.S. Aubin/J.F. Racine (19)
Shutouts: Howard/Joey MacDonald (2) Aubin (2)
Goals Against Avg.: Howard (2.58) Aubin (3.04)
Save Percentage: Howard (0.910) Racine (0.903)
* led league
Series Notes: The Griffins rallied to earn a split of a tough six-game regular season series against the Marlies, winning the final two meetings at home on March 18 (4-3 in overtime) and Jan. 21 (6-5). They finished the series with records of 2-1-0-0 at Van Andel Arena and 1-2-0-0 at Ricoh Coliseum
Following a rough start, Toronto was one of the AHLs best clubs this season, losing only seven points of ground to the high-flying Griffins from Dec. 1 on
After Dec. 17, when Grand Rapids dropped its fifth straight game in regulation and its second in a span of four nights in Toronto, the Griffins finished the season with an incredible 37-10-1-2 record (0.770) over the final 50 contests
Toronto, the only team this season to earn three consecutive regulation wins against Grand Rapids (Dec. 14-Jan. 20), scored at least five goals in four of the six clashes
The Griffins 5-0 defeat at Toronto on Dec. 14 was their only shutout loss of the season
Marlies defenseman Staffan Kronwall is the younger brother of former Griffins and current Red Wings blueliner Niklas Kronwall
Eight current Griffins were part of the last Grand Rapids team to make the playoffs (2003-04): Darryl Bootland, Matt Ellis, Eric Himelfarb, Jiri Hudler, Tomas Kopecky, Brett Lebda, Joey MacDonald and Travis Richards. Meanwhile, 12 current Marlies were a member of the 2004-05 St. Johns Maple Leafs squad that lost 4-1 to Manitoba in the North Division Semifinals: Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Brendan Bell, Dominic DAmour, Brett Engelhardt, Jay Harrison, Brad Leeb, Marc Moro, Colin Murphy, Kris Newbury, Ben Ondrus, Ian White and Jeremy Williams.
2005-06 Griffins vs. Marlies
Nov. 20 Griffins 3, Marlies 1 Ricoh Coliseum
Despite registering a season-low 17 shots, Grand Rapids rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win the first-ever meeting between the clubs, on the strength of Valtteri Filppulas three-point night (1-23) and Jimmy Howards 21-of-22 performance between the pipes. The Griffins went 1-for-5 on the power play while denying Toronto on all 11 of its chances.
Dec. 14 Marlies 5, Griffins 0 Ricoh Coliseum
The Griffins suffered their only shutout of the season in a dominant performance by the Marlies. The first period featured two goals by Martin Sagat and three points (1-23) by Tyler Beechey, and Jean-Sebastien Aubin finished with 20 saves while watching his mates fire 41 times on Joey MacDonald. Toronto enjoyed a 27-10 advantage in shots over the final 40 minutes.
Dec. 17 Marlies 6, Griffins 3 Ricoh Coliseum
Playing without Valtteri Filppula (Detroit) and Nate DiCasmirro (injured) for the second straight meeting, the Griffins saw their losing skid hit a season-high five games. Ian White scored twice and added an assist to help Toronto build a 5-1 lead after two periods. Grand Rapids fought back with goals by Matt Ellis and Ryan Oulahen, but the Marlies added an empty-netter for the final margin.
Jan. 20 Marlies 5, Griffins 3 Van Andel Arena
The Marlies ran their series winning streak to three in their first visit to West Michigan. Down 2-1 late in the second period, Toronto rattled off three straight goals in a span of 3:19, the last two by Brad Leeb, to go up 4-2 early in the third. Jiri Hudler made it a one-goal game with just under 14 minutes left, but another empty-netter sealed Grand Rapids fate.
Jan. 21 Griffins 6, Marlies 5 Van Andel Arena
Despite giving up at least five goals to the Marlies for the fourth consecutive meeting, the Griffins twice rallied from two-goal deficits to win on Donald MacLeans goal with 37.3 seconds remaining. Trailing 5-3 early in the third, Grand Rapids got goals 37 seconds apart by Kent McDonell and Derek Meech to set up MacLeans heroics before a sellout crowd of 10,834.
March 18 Griffins 4, Marlies 3 OT Van Andel Arena
A back-and-forth contest played before another sellout crowd saw the Griffins prevail over an injury-ravaged Toronto club, giving Grand Rapids its fifth come-from-behind win in a span of just seven nights. John Pohl forced overtime with just 2:06 remaining in regulation, but 2:59 into the extra session, Donald MacLean stripped the puck from a Marlie along the right boards, darted toward the net and slipped a shot over the shoulder of Todd Ford.
Playoff Roster: 25 players make up the Griffins roster for the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs: goaltenders Jimmy Howard, Logan Koopmans and Joey MacDonald; defensemen Greg Amadio, Bryan Helmer, Jakub Kindl, Brett Lebda, Nick Martens, Derek Meech, Kyle Quincey, Travis Richards, Terry Virtue and Clay Wilson; and forwards Darryl Bootland, Nate DiCasmirro, Matt Ellis, Valtteri Filppula, Eric Himelfarb, Jiri Hudler, Ryan Keller, Tomas Kopecky, Eric Manlow, Donald MacLean, Kent McDonell and Ryan Oulahen.
Experience is a Virtue: Seven players and coaches for the Griffins have won major championships in North America at the pro, college or major junior level, including assistant coach Jim Paek (NHL Stanley Cup 1991 and 1992 Pittsburgh, IHL Turner Cup 1989 Muskegon and 1999 Houston), Greg Amadio (CHL Presidents Cup 2003 Memphis), Bryan Helmer (AHL Calder Cup 1995 Albany), Donald MacLean (CHL Memorial Cup 1997 Hull), Derek Meech (CHL Memorial Cup 2001 Red Deer), Terry Virtue (AHL Calder Cup 1999 Providence, 2000 Hartford) and Clay Wilson (UHL Colonial Cup 2005 Muskegon). Virtue, one of only 17 players in AHL history to win championships in consecutive seasons with two different teams, ranks 14th on the leagues all-time list with 90 playoff appearances.
A League of Their Own: The Griffins flirted with AHL records and superlatives throughout the 2005-06 season:
The Griffins team-record 55 wins were the third-most by a team in AHL history, trailing only 98-99 Providence (56) and 92-93 Binghamton (57).
Donald MacLeans team-record and league-high 56 goals tied for eighth in AHL history.
Grand Rapids 323 goals and 120 power play goals, both by far the most in franchise history (279 and 67), were also the most in the AHL since 96-97 Philadelphia (325) and 93-94 St. Johns (120), respectively. The 120 power play goals were four shy of the league record.
Darryl Bootland established a franchise mark with 390 penalty minutes. He also contributed 27 goals, becoming the ninth player in AHL history and the first in 11 years to post 20 goals and 300 PIM in the same season.
The Griffins earned their seventh consecutive 40-win campaign overall and their fifth straight as members of the AHL. No team in the 70-year history of the AHL has ever posted seven straight 40-win seasons. The Cleveland Barons rattled off a record six straight from 1947-48 to 1952-53, while the Griffins five in a row as AHL members tie for second in league history, matching the Rochester Americans (1973-74 to 1977-78), Maine Mariners (1977-78 to 1981-82) and Adirondack Red Wings (1985-86 to 1989-90).
Broken Records: As both individuals and a team, the Griffins set or tied nearly 70 franchise records during the 2005-06 regular season. Some of the more notable marks include:
Most Points, Season: 115 (55-20-1-4)
Most Wins, Season: 55
Fewest Regulation Losses, Season: 20
Fewest Home Regulation Losses, Season: 6
Highest Winning Percentage, Season: 0.719 (55-20-1-4)
Highest Home Winning Percentage, Season: 0.800 (30-6-1-3)
Most Overtime Wins, Season: 6 (tied)
Longest Winning Streak: 11, 3/5/06-3/31/06
Fewest Games Shut-Out, Season: 1 (tied)
Fewest Home Games Shut-Out, Season: 0 (tied)
Fewest Road Games Shut-Out, Season: 1 (tied)
Most Goals For, Season: 323
Most Goals For, Road Game: 9, 2/16/06 at Cleveland (9-2)
Most Goals For, Period: 5, twice (MR: 1/6/06 at Houston, 3rd) (tied)
Most Goals For, Road Period: 5, twice (MR: 1/6/06 at Houston, 3rd) (tied)
Fastest Goal For, Start of Game: 0:13, 11/15/05 vs. Manitoba, Nate DiCasmirro
Most Power Play Goals For, Season: 120
Most Power Play Goals For, Game: 5, 2/16/06 at Cleveland (5-8); 2/4/06 vs. Syracuse (5-9); 1/6/06 at Houston (5-10)
Most Power Play Goals For, Period: 5, 1/6/06 at Houston (3rd, 5-6)
Consecutive Games Scoring Power Play Goal: 13, 2/24/06-3/23/06
Most Shots For, Period: 23, 3/31/06 at Manitoba (tied)
Most Shots For, Road Period: 23, 3/31/06 at Manitoba (tied)
Most Assists, Season: 550
Most Points Scored, Season: 873
Most Goals, Season: 56, Donald MacLean
Most Power Play Goals, Season: 21, Donald MacLean
Goals per Game Avg.: 0.74, Donald MacLean (56 goals in 76 games)
Most Hat Tricks: 5, Donald MacLean
Most Assists, Season: 60, Jiri Hudler
Most Assists by a Defenseman, Season: 44, Bryan Helmer
Most Points by a Defenseman, Season: 56, Bryan Helmer
Most Penalty Minutes, Season: 390, Darryl Bootland
Most Shots on Goal, Season: 271, Donald MacLean
Consecutive Games with a Goal: 8, Donald MacLean, 2/25/06-3/14/06
Consecutive Games with an Assist: 7, Valtteri Filppula, 3/26/06-4/15/06; Bryan Helmer, 2/25/06-3/12/06 (tied)
Consecutive Games with a Point: 19, Donald MacLean, 1/6/06-2/18/06
Most Goals, Game: 3, nine times (MR: Donald MacLean, 4/8/06 at Syracuse) (tied)
Most Assists, Game: 5, Jiri Hudler, 2/16/06 at Cleveland (tied)
Most Goals, Period: 3, Tomas Kopecky, 2/16/06 at Cleveland (2nd) (tied)
Most Power Play Goals, Period: 2, Tomas Kopecky, 2/16/06 at Cleveland (2nd); Kent McDonell, 2/4/06 vs. Syracuse (1st); Jiri Hudler, 1/6/06 at Houston (3rd) (tied)
Most Assists, Period: 3, Jiri Hudler, 2/16/06 at Cleveland (3rd); Tomas Kopecky, 11/18/05 vs. Cleveland (3rd) (tied) Most Points, Period: 4, Jiri Hudler, 1/6/06 at Houston (3rd, 2-24)
Longest Winning Streak: 12, Jimmy Howard, 2/25/06-3/31/06
Longest Home Winning Streak: 9, Jimmy Howard, 3/1/06-4/14/06 (tied)
Longest Road Point Streak: 10, Jimmy Howard, 11/20/05-3/31/06 (9-0-0-1)
Most Saves, Home Period: 20, Jimmy Howard, 10/28/05 vs. Iowa (2nd)
Odds and Ends: The Griffins 30 home wins and 25 road wins each fell one shy of the franchise records (set in 2000-01 and 2002-03, respectively)
Grand Rapids used a franchise-record six goaltenders this season, including Red Wings rehabbers Manny Legace and Chris Osgood
For the first time in team history, the Griffins led their league in power play goals (120) and power play percentage (21.8%), obliterating the franchise records in each category (67 and 18.3%).
Spread the Wealth: The Griffins offense was productive and balanced this season. Grand Rapids set franchise records for the number of players with 10 goals (12), 20 goals (8), 30 goals (3), 50 goals (1), 20 assists (12), 30 assists (8), 40 assists (5), 60 assists (1), 30 points (12), 40 points (10), 50 points (9), 60 points (5) and 70 points (5), while tying the marks for players with 40 goals (1), 10 assists (17), 50 assists (2), 80 points (2) and 90 points (1).
Sellout Stories: The Griffins welcomed 10 capacity crowds of 10,834 to Van Andel Arena this season, their most sellouts since the 98-99 campaign (11). They sold out four of their final five home dates.
Simply the Best: Thirteen Griffins ranked among the AHL's individual leaders during the regular season:
Darryl Bootland Plus-18 rating (T18th), 390 penalty minutes (2nd)
Nate DiCasmirro Plus-27 rating (T3rd)
Matt Ellis Plus-18 rating (T18th), three shorthanded goals (T14th)
Valtteri Filppula 50 assists (T12th), plus-23 rating (T9th)
Bryan Helmer 80 games played (T1st), 12 goals (T8th among defensemen), 44 assists (T5th-D), 56 points (T6th-D), plus-25 rating (5th/1st-D), two overtime goals (T1st)
Jimmy Howard 27 wins (5th), 2.58 GAA (9th), 0.910 save percentage (T13th), two shutouts (T14th)
Jiri Hudler 36 goals (T7th), 60 assists (3rd), 96 points (3rd), seven game-winning goals (T3rd), two overtime goals (T1st)
Tomas Kopecky 32 goals (T19th), 72 points (T20th), plus-24 rating (T6th)
Joey MacDonald Two shutouts (T14th)
Donald MacLean 56 goals (T1st), 88 points (7th), plus-18 rating (T18th), 21 power play goals (T2nd), nine game-winning goals (T1st), two overtime goals (T1st), five hat tricks (1st)
Eric Manlow 80 games played (T1st), 48 assists (T15th), 73 points (T17th), plus-15 rating (T19th)
Kent McDonell 15 power play goals (T19th), five game-winning goals (T20th)
Clay Wilson Three shorthanded goals (T14th)
Honor Roll: Six Griffins received significant individual honors from the AHL this season:
Valtteri Filppula Played for PlanetUSA in the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic; Player of the Week (Nov. 21)
Bryan Helmer Second All-Star Team; Griffins American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year
Jimmy Howard All-Rookie Team; Koho/AHL Goaltender of the Month for March; Player of the Week (March 20)
Jiri Hudler Second All-Star Team; Started for PlanetUSA in the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic; Player of the Week (Oct. 17)
Donald MacLean Les Cunningham Award (MVP); Willie Marshall Award (top goal scorer); First All-Star Team; Played for Canada in the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic (scored two goals, won Hardest Shot); CCM/AHL Milestone of the Month for March (50th goal)
Clay Wilson Player of the Week (Dec. 26)
One for the Books: Eleven Griffins enjoyed seasons that ranked statistically among the best in franchise history:
Darryl Bootland 390 penalty minutes (1st), 11 power play goals (T7th)
Matt Ellis Three shorthanded goals (T3rd)
Valtteri Filppula 50 assists (7th)
Bryan Helmer 80 games played (T10th)
Jimmy Howard 27 wins (6th), 927 saves (10th)
Jiri Hudler 36 goals (3rd), 60 assists (1st), 96 points (2nd), 11 power play goals (T7th), seven game- winning goals (5th), 242 shots (T6th)
Tomas Kopecky 32 goals (T8th), 72 points (T10th), 243 shots (5th)
Eric Manlow 80 games played (T10th), 48 assists (T8th), 73 points (9th), 15 power play goals (T2nd)
Donald MacLean 56 goals (1st), 88 points (4th), 21 power play goals (1st), nine game-winning goals (T3rd), 271 shots (1st), five hat tricks (1st)
Kent McDonell 15 power play goals (T2nd), 242 shots (T6th)
Clay Wilson Three shorthanded goals (T3rd)
Take Me to Your Leaders: Following this years performances, many Griffins rank among the franchises all-time top 10 statistical leaders (regular season):
Darryl Bootland 225 games played (T8th), 54 goals (8th), 942 penalty minutes (1st), 12 game-winning goals (T4th)
Matt Ellis Seven shorthanded goals (1st), 572 shots (4th)
Bryan Helmer Plus-36 rating (10th)
Jimmy Howard 38 goalie games played (9th), 2141:28 minutes played (9th), 2.58 GAA (8th), 27 wins (8th), 927 saves (9th)
Jiri Hudler 65 goals (3rd), 114 assists (4th), 179 points (4th), 19 power play goals (6th), 13 game- winning goals (T2nd), 488 shots (6th)
Tomas Kopecky 243 games played (5th), 63 goals (4th), 75 assists (T8th), 138 points (5th), nine game- winning goals (T9th), 532 shots (5th)
Joey MacDonald 162 goalie games played (1st), 9085:19 minutes played (1st), 2.35 GAA (6th), 87 wins (1st), 16 shutouts (1st), 4,198 saves (1st), 0.922 save percentage (3rd)
Drew MacIntyre 37 goalie games played (10th), 0.900 save percentage (10th)
Donald MacLean 62 goals (5th), 23 power play goals (5th), nine game-winning goals (T9th)
Eric Manlow 25 power play goals (T2nd)
Travis Richards 655 games played (1st), 56 goals (7th), 182 assists (2nd), 238 points (2nd), plus-131 rating (1st), 502 penalty minutes (5th), 24 power play goals (4th), 995 shots (2nd)
Clay Wilson Three shorthanded goals (T9th)