This Week’s Games
Wed., March 19 - Toronto Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Fri., March 21 - GRIFFINS at Rochester Americans - 7:35 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Sat., March 22 - GRIFFINS at Syracuse Crunch - 8 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Last Week’s Results
Wed., March 12 - Toronto Marlies 1 at GRIFFINS 7 - 27-31-2-5, 61 pts. (5th, North Division)
Sat., March 15 - Lake Erie Monsters 2 at GRIFFINS 1 - 27-32-2-5, 61 pts. (5th)
Sun., March 16 - GRIFFINS 2 at Toronto Marlies 3 - 27-33-2-5, 61 pts. (5th)
Luck O’ the Irish?: Led by the likes of Cullen, Galvin, McGrath, O’Leary, Oulahen, Stafford and Tardif, the Griffins will look to continue their good fortune against North Division-leading Toronto when they host the Marlies this week for the third consecutive Wednesday. Grand Rapids has outscored Toronto by a 12-4 count in the last two meetings at Van Andel Arena, including 7-1 on March 12 and 5-3 on March 5. It’s another Winning Wednesday, as fans who were in attendance for last week’s win can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to this game. Stubs must be redeemed at either The Zone or the Van Andel Arena box office. Similarly, if the Griffins again beat Toronto, each fan in attendance will win a free ticket to the March 26 game against Lake Erie. A coupon offering $10 lower bowl and $5 upper bowl tickets to the game can be found at griffinshockey.com.
A Tale of Two Cities: The Griffins have experienced opposite ends of the success spectrum when visiting the upstate New York cities of Rochester and Syracuse, as they will do this Friday and Saturday. All time, they are 5-9-0-1-0 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena (0-2 this season) and 6-2-0-0 at Syracuse’s Onondaga County War Memorial (1-0 this season).
A Check of the Standings: The Griffins continue to stand in fifth place in the North Division. In the battle for what will likely be the final playoff spot in the division, they trail third-place Syracuse by 15 points and fourth-place Hamilton by eight points with 13 games remaining on their schedule.
Earning Their Wings: Twenty-one-year-old forwards Darren Helm and Mattias Ritola both made their NHL debuts with the Red Wings last week, becoming the 92nd and 93rd Griffins alumni to play in the NHL, before returning to Grand Rapids today. Helm appeared in three games and averaged 6:11 in ice time, while Ritola averaged 5:46 over two games and recorded his first NHL point with an assist in the Wings’ 4-3 loss at Columbus on Sunday.
Power Surge: The Griffins’ power play unit, which ranked dead-last in the AHL midway through the season, has lit the lamp in nine of the last 10 games (12-for-59, 20.3%), climbing to 17th overall in the league at 15.8%.
Circle That Date Next Year: The Griffins’ 7-1 win over division-leading Toronto last Wednesday marked their largest offensive output in exactly two years, dating to a 7-3 win at Chicago on March 12, 2006.
Monster Mash: Grand Rapids dropped a 2-1 home decision to Lake Erie on Saturday despite tying a season high for shots and out-gunning the Monsters 50-25, as Mike Wall made 49 saves. The last opposing netminder to make as many stops was Toronto’s Justin Pogge, who denied all 49 shots he faced in the Marlies’ 4-0 win at Van Andel Arena on Oct. 27, 2006.
Player News and Notes: Tyler Redenbach earned the Griffins’ nomination for the Rbk/AHL Player of the Week award today. He notched four points (1-3—4) and a plus-three rating in three games last week, including his first goal as a Griffin on Sunday in Toronto…Garrett Stafford has points in seven of nine games (3-8—11) since returning from the Red Wings, moving him into a tie for 14th in scoring among AHL defensemen (10-26—36)…During Grand Rapids’ 7-1 win over Toronto last Wednesday, Darren Helm and Evan McGrath notched their first two-goal games as Griffins while Mark O’Leary also potted a pair in his AHL debut. Helm also had an assist for his first three-point night…Mark Cullen, second on the Griffins with 47 points (16-31—47), has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury…Playing on Sunday in Toronto despite a charley horse suffered on Dale Purinton’s kneeing major the night before, Jamie Tardif scored a goal to give him points in nine of the last 14 games (5-4—9)…Carl Corazzini has points in seven of the last eight games (4-7—11), Ryan Oulahen has points in seven of the last 10 contests (4-3—7), and Kyle Quincey has points in six of eight outings since returning from the Red Wings (2-4—6)…Jimmy Howard missed Saturday’s game while subbing for the banged-up Dominik Hasek in Detroit, but he returned to play in Sunday’s 3-2 loss at Toronto…Kory Karlander marked his fifth different season in a Griffins uniform by appearing in the games on Saturday and Sunday. The IHL’s leading scorer returned to the Kalamazoo Wings today after being released from his PTO.
From One Extreme to the Other: The Griffins have posted a 15-8-1-1 mark at Van Andel Arena since a 0-7-0-1 start, scratching their way to the 0.500 mark overall at 15-15-1-2. By contrast, Grand Rapids is 1-7 in its last eight road games and is 7-18-1-3 since blasting out of the gate with a perfect 5-0 mark in enemy territory.
Attendance Continues to Climb: Saturday’s crowd of 9,523 at Van Andel Arena brought Grand Rapids’ attendance to 218,707 through 33 home games (6,627 avg., sixth in AHL). That number represents a year-to-date increase of 6.8% over 2006-07, when the Griffins eventually finished with their largest attendance in four years. Last season, Grand Rapids welcomed 204,826 fans through its first 33 home games.
On a Clear Day: According to AHL by-laws, 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 2008 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. The Griffins’ Clear Day roster consists of goaltenders Adam Berkhoel and Jimmy Howard; defensemen Jonathan Ericsson, Tom Galvin, Jon Insana, Jason Jozsa, Jakub Kindl, Cleve Kinley, Kyle Quincey and Garrett Stafford; and forwards Carl Corazzini, Mark Cullen, Josef Fojtik, Randall Gelech, Darren Helm, Francis Lemieux, Darren McCarty, Evan McGrath, Ryan Oulahen, Tyler Redenbach, Mattias Ritola and Jamie Tardif. Defensemen Brad Ference and Russ Moyer are currently in residence.
Red Wings Jersey Auction: Twenty-three autographed, game-issued Detroit Red Wings jerseys are being made available for public bidding throughout the 2007-08 season through exclusive auctions that begin at griffinshockey.com and conclude after select Griffins home games. Online bidding, which begins at $250 per jersey, will establish the starting bids for silent auctions that will take place on the arena concourse during Griffins games. Subsequently, the highest bids from the silent auctions will serve as the starting bids for live post-game auctions. Online right now are the Brett Lebda, Chris Osgood and Kyle Quincey jerseys, with silent and live auctions set for the March 28 game, and the Brian Rafalski and Henrik Zetterberg jerseys, with silent and live auctions scheduled for the season finale on April 12. Proceeds from the auctions will benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation. For more information and a complete auction schedule, visit griffinshockey.com/fanzone/auctions.
Wed., March 19 vs. Toronto Marlies (40-18-3-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 10-10-0-0 Overall, 6-4-0-0 Home. Season Series: 3-3-0-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Home. Seventh of eight meetings overall, fourth of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (2nd season). Notes: Grand Rapids has dealt the Marlies their only two defeats by more than three goals this season, with last Wednesday’s 7-1 victory and a 6-1 road win on Nov. 28…Toronto netminder Justin Pogge has sported a 0-2 record, a 5.78 GAA and a 0.771 save percentage the last two Wednesdays versus the Griffins, after beginning his career with a 5-0 mark, two shutouts, a 1.50 GAA and a 0.957 save percentage in his first six clashes with Grand Rapids.
Fri., March 21 at Rochester Americans (18-38-6-4) – Blue Cross Arena – 7:35 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 16-13-1-1-0 Overall, 5-9-0-1-0 Road. Season Series: 2-3-0-0 Overall, 0-2-0-0 Road. Sixth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Rochester. NHL Affiliations: Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth (8th season). Notes: Rochester is on pace to finish at the bottom of the AHL standings for the first time since the 1980-81 season and just the second time in the last 37 years…The Amerks are 8-28-5-2 since their 10-10-1-2 start…Rochester ranks 29th in the AHL in both goals scored (2.26) and goals allowed (3.41).
Sat., March 22 at Syracuse Crunch (34-26-2-6) – Onondaga County War Memorial – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 13-4-0-0 Overall, 6-2-0-0 Road. Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Fourth of four meetings overall, second of two in Syracuse. NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets. Head Coach: Ross Yates (2nd season). Notes: The time of the game has been changed to 8 p.m. from its originally scheduled 7:30 p.m. start…The Crunch are 8-0-0-3 in their last 11 games…Syracuse owns the league’s fifth-ranked power play (19.2%) and fourth-ranked penalty kill (85.5%)…Former Griffin Clay Wilson, tied for fourth among AHL defensemen in scoring (11-32—43), was named the Rbk/AHL Player of the Week today.