This Week’s Games
Wed., Feb. 28 - GRIFFINS at Rochester Americans - 7:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Sat., March 3 - GRIFFINS at Syracuse Crunch - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Sun., March 4 - GRIFFINS at Rochester Americans - 6:05 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Feb. 21 - Syracuse Crunch 3 at GRIFFINS 4 SO - 27-21-4-2, 60 pts. (4th, North Division)
Fri., Feb. 23 GRIFFINS 4 at Peoria Rivermen 3 SO - 28-21-4-2, 62 pts. (4th)
Sat., Feb. 24 - Hamilton Bulldogs 0 at GRIFFINS 1 SO - 29-21-4-2, 64 pts. (4th)
Sun., Feb. 25 - Hamilton Bulldogs 3 at GRIFFINS 2 - 29-22-4-2, 64 pts. (4th)
Looking Back, Looking Ahead: The Griffins’ 3-2 loss to Hamilton on Sunday, their fourth game in five days, broke their seven-game winning streak at Van Andel Arena and was just their second defeat in their last 11 games overall. As a result of that recent success, Grand Rapids enters the week with a two-point lead over Peoria in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Road Trippin’: Grand Rapids has played an AHL-high 32 home games, meaning that 15 of its final 23 contests will be played on the road. That gauntlet is particularly challenging in light of the incredible strength of schedule, as 11 of those games will be hosted by teams that currently stand first, second or third in their divisions. The Griffins will start things off by playing five of their next six games in hostile territory, four of which will be against the teams with the top two winning percentages in the conference: Rochester at 0.640 (Feb. 28, March 4) and Omaha at 0.638 (March 9-10).
On a Clear Day…: The NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. Tuesday, followed 48 hours later by the AHL’s own Clear Day deadline, when all 27 teams have to submit their 22-man Clear Day lists. Only those players listed on a team’s Clear Day roster are eligible to compete in the remainder of the AHL regular season and in the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs, unless emergency conditions arise as a result of recall, injury or suspension. Teams may also add signed junior players or players on amateur tryout contracts after Clear Day, but only once their respective junior or college seasons are complete.
Mark Your Calendars: The Feb. 3 game between the Griffins and Rivermen at Van Andel Arena, which was postponed due to severe winter weather, has been rescheduled for next Tuesday, March 6. All tickets originally purchased for Feb. 3 are valid for this game, which will feature the second installment of the “Give and Go” food drive. Each fan who brings a canned or boxed food item can purchase a ticket for just $2. All collected items, as well as all proceeds from the $2 tickets, will be donated to four local ministries: Degage Ministries, God’s Kitchen, Guiding Light Mission, and Mel Trotter Ministries. (The first food drive on Feb. 16 raised $1,016 and 508 food items for the missions.) Finally, although it’s not indicated as a redemption date on the bookmarks, any children who’ve completed the required three hours of reading as part of the “Griff’s Reading Goals” program can redeem their voucher at The Zone or at the Van Andel Arena box office for two free tickets to this game.
Home Cooking: Grand Rapids, which owned a 7-9-2-2 record on home ice in late December, has since won seven of eight and 10 of the last 12 games within friendly confines. Fans have noticed, as four of the last eight home games have been witnessed by crowds in excess of 10,000, including three sellouts. Saturday’s capacity crowd of 10,834 was the fourth of the season and the 113th all time at Van Andel Arena.
Simon Says: Grand Rapids today acquired veteran center Ben Simon in a trade with the Syracuse Crunch for right wing Ryan Keller. Simon, 28, has appeared in 81 NHL games with Atlanta and Columbus over the last six seasons, including 52 with the Thrashers just three seasons ago. The former Notre Dame star and Chicago Blackhawks draft pick won championships during each of his first two professional campaigns, capturing the IHL’s final Turner Cup with Orlando in 2001 and a Calder Cup with Chicago in 2002, and he helped the Wolves return to the Calder Cup Finals in 2005. After tallying 21 points (9-12—21) in 56 games with Syracuse this season, Simon shows 149 points (60-89—149) and 363 penalty minutes in 336 career AHL contests. He is expected to make his Grand Rapids debut on Wednesday in Rochester. Keller joined the Griffins late last season following a stellar pro debut with the UHL’s Muskegon Fury. He logged 17 points (9-8—17) and 26 PIM in 38 games with Grand Rapids this season.
NHL Alumni News: Center Matt Hussey and defenseman Danny Syvret were recalled today by the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers, respectively. Hussey was first recalled by Detroit on Jan. 26, making his Red Wings debut that night in a 2-1 overtime loss at St. Louis. Third on the Griffins’ scoring chart with 38 points (14-24—38) in 56 contests, he has points in 12 of his last 14 outings (6-10—16) with Grand Rapids and recently enjoyed a 10-game scoring streak that tied for the seventh-longest run in franchise history. Hussey will be available to play for the Red Wings on Tuesday when they visit Chicago at 8:30 p.m. EST. Syvret ranks third among Griffins defensemen with 18 points (4-14—18) in 50 contests. He played in 10 games with the Oilers as a rookie last season and will become the 86th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL should he be called into service when Edmonton hosts Phoenix on Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST…Matt Ellis remains with Detroit following his recall on Saturday. He appeared in his sixth NHL game of the season that night at Nashville…Also on Saturday, Joey MacDonald, the Griffins’ all-time leader in most goaltending categories, was claimed by the Boston Bruins on waivers from the Red Wings.
Shootout Snipers and Stoners: With Saturday’s shootout triumph over the Bulldogs, the Griffins posted a third consecutive shootout victory for the first time in their history. They’ve prevailed in their last five shootouts to improve to 6-2 this season and 55-53 all time in the extra sessions. Grand Rapids’ goalies have denied 17 of their opponents’ last 20 tries, while on the other end, Griffins shooters have scored on 13 of their last 17 attempts. On Saturday, Evan McGrath and Kip Miller each tallied in the shootout for the third time in as many nights, with Miller extending his streak of successful shootout attempts to four.
It’s Been Such a Long Time: After failing to capitalize on 36 shots against Hamilton netminder Dov Grumet-Morris during regulation and overtime on Saturday, the Griffins scored on all four of their shootout attempts to take the rare 1-0 victory. It marked the first Griffins game that was scoreless after regulation since a 0-0 tie at Houston on March 6, 2002. It was also their first 1-0 shootout win since Jan. 17, 2001 versus Manitoba, their last home game that was scoreless after 60 minutes of play…Grand Rapids hadn’t played three straight games past regulation time since a four-game run from Jan. 14-21, 2004 (2 OTW, 2 T), and it hadn’t participated in three straight shootout decisions since a four-game stretch during its IHL days from March 4-11, 2000 (2 SOW, 2 SOL).
Short Stories: The Griffins extended a franchise record on Wednesday against Syracuse by scoring a shorthanded goal for the fourth straight game, doubling their previous best streak. Matt Ellis and Eric Himelfarb have each tied the franchise’s single-season record of four shorthanded goals, with Ellis pushing his career-record total to 11.
Century Mark: Friday’s 4-3 shootout win at Peoria marked Greg Ireland’s 100th win as the Griffins’ head coach. With an all-time mark of 101-55-6-7, he stands just 15 wins behind franchise career leader Danton Cole (116-72-16-3-1), his predecessor.
Player Plaudits: Stefan Liv has tied his season high with five straight wins, posting a 0.915 save percentage (150-of-164) in the process, and is 10-3 in his last 13 outings…Jimmy Howard’s four shutouts this season give him six for his Grand Rapids career, tying Pokey Reddick for fourth on the franchise’s all-time list…Kip Miller’s team-high 57 points (18-39—57) tie for 12th in the AHL…Matt Hussey’s career-high 10-game scoring streak (5-9—14) ended on Wednesday, finishing in a tie for the seventh-longest run in franchise history, but he has points in 12 of his last 14 outings (6-10—16)…Derek Meech scored a goal for the second straight game and the third time in five outings on Friday, pushing his career-high scoring streak to seven games (3-7—10), five longer than his previous best. He also scored his third shorthanded goal of the season on Wednesday, tying Clay Wilson’s club record for defensemen…Jeff Campbell has points in eight of the last 11 outings (3-7—10) and 10 of the last 14 contests (4-8—12).
Record Within Reach: If the Griffins win 11 of their final 23 games, they’ll record their eighth-consecutive 40-win season overall and their sixth straight as members of the AHL, tying the league record set by the Cleveland Barons from 1947-53.
Wed., Feb. 28 at Rochester Americans (36-20-1-0) – Blue Cross Arena – 7:05 p.m.
Sun., March 4 at Rochester Americans – Blue Cross Arena – 6:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. (Wed.) and 5:40 p.m. (Sun.). Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 3-3-0-0 Overall, 0-2-0-0 Road. Seventh and eighth of eight meetings overall, third and fourth of four in Rochester. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 13-10-1-0-0 Overall, 4-7-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliations: Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth (7th season). Notes: The Griffins have lost three straight visits to Rochester dating back to last season, and they’ve won just once at Blue Cross Arena since the start of the 2003-04 season (1-6-0-0)…The Amerks’ four consecutive losses have dropped them into second place in the North, two points behind Manitoba…After totaling seven goals in their first four meetings with Grand Rapids this season, the Americans tallied five in each end of their two-game sweep of the Griffins Jan. 24-26 in New York.
Sat., March 3 at Syracuse Crunch (21-28-2-7) – Onondaga County War Memorial – 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Third of four meetings overall, first of two in Syracuse. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 11-1-0-0-0 Overall, 5-0-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets. Head Coach: Ross Yates (1st season). Notes: The Griffins’ 4-3 shootout victory over Syracuse last Wednesday was their 10th straight win overall against the Crunch and their sixth straight series triumph at Van Andel Arena…Prior to their current winning streak against Syracuse, the Griffins’ longest stretch of success against an opponent had been a seven-game streak versus Milwaukee in 2000-01…Grand Rapids, 5-0 all time at the Onondaga County War Memorial, suffered its lone series loss on Jan. 10, 2003 at Van Andel Arena…The Griffins hold a 55-27 scoring margin in the all-time series.