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GRIFFINS' OFFENSE RELOADS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The return of center Kip Miller, whose 1.09 scoring average ranks first in franchise history, highlights Friday’s announcement of four players signed by the Grand Rapids Griffins for the 2006-07 season. The team has also come to terms with forwards Jeff Hamilton, Ryan Keller and Mike Walsh.

Miller, 37, enters his fourth Grand Rapids campaign ranked among the franchise’s all-time leaders with 50 goals (10th), 86 assists (7th), 136 points (T6th), 16 power play goals (T10th) and five shorthanded goals (T4th) in 125 games. The Lansing, Mich., native led the Griffins with 56 points (21-35—56) in just 41 games in 2001-02, then ranked second on the 2004-05 squad with 45 points (13-32—45) in 50 outings. Miller, who finished second on the AHL’s Chicago Wolves with 59 points (19-40—59) last season, also shows 239 points (74-165—239) in 449 NHL contests over his 17-year career.

Hamilton, 29, won the inaugural Willie Marshall Award as the AHL’s leading goal scorer in 2003-04, when he potted 43 goals for Bridgeport. He has averaged nearly a point per game over 233 career AHL contests with Bridgeport and Hartford, showing 112 goals and 209 points. Last season, Hamilton contributed eight points (2-6—8) in 13 NHL appearances with the New York Islanders while compiling 50 points (24-26—50) in just 39 games with Bridgeport.

Keller, 22, made his Griffins debut last season, scoring one goal in 10 regular season games. He was one of the top players for the UHL’s Muskegon Fury, placing third on the team with 41 goals and fifth with 81 points. Keller tied for the league lead with 11 game-winning goals and tied for 13th in scoring, earning him a spot on the UHL’s All-Rookie Team.

Walsh, a 24-year-old native of Northville, Mich., turns pro following a solid four-year career at the University of Notre Dame. An alternate captain during his junior and senior years, he tallied 10 goals and 17 points in 36 games last season, and ranks ninth on the Irish’s all-time list with nine game-winning goals. Walsh was one of 16 seniors nationwide chosen to participate in the inaugural NCAA Skills Challenge, held last April during the Frozen Four in Milwaukee.

Miller and Walsh will report directly to Griffins training camp on Sept. 25, Keller is skating with the Detroit Red Wings in Traverse City, Mich., and Hamilton is currently in camp with the Chicago Blackhawks.


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