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HOMECOMING WEEKEND

Mattias Ritola


This Week’s Games
Sat., Oct. 25 - Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Sun., Oct. 26 - Norfolk Admirals at GRIFFINS - 4 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Sat., Oct. 18 - GRIFFINS 4 at Lake Erie Monsters 3 SO - 1-0-1-0, 3 pts. (T5th, North Division) 

Sun., Oct. 19 - GRIFFINS 7 at Toronto Marlies 3 - 2-0-1-0, 5 pts. (T3rd, North Division)

Welcome Home: After going 2-0-1-0 on the road to start the season, the Griffins will finally make their Van Andel Arena debut against the Hamilton Bulldogs this Saturday, Oct 25, the latest date for a home opener in franchise history. The Griffins will try to extend their remarkable sellout streak in home openers to 13 years during the Opening Night Celebration presented by Northwest Airlines WorldPerks®. The first 5,000 fans will receive LED Thundersticks, while the first 3,000 will also receive a Griffins magnetic schedule thanks to Cole’s Quality Foods and Star Tickets. An extended pre-game show will celebrate the former Griffins who won the 2008 Stanley Cup as members of the Detroit Red Wings, and fans can enjoy both a post-game skate and a post-game autograph session with Griffins players.

Pink at the Rink: This Sunday’s game against the Norfolk Admirals will mark the second-annual “Pink at the Rink,” presented by Susan G. Komen for the Cure Grand Rapids. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, fans can order specially priced tickets – $10 upper bowl or $15 lower bowl – by clicking here and entering the promo code: cure. $5 from every ticket purchased through this offer will be donated to Susan G. Komen. Griffins players will show their support by wearing pink ribbons on their helmets and pink skate laces, and using pink tape on their sticks. In addition, pink ribbons will be embedded into the Van Andel Arena ice surface. Afterward warm-ups, select Griffins players will sign their pink-accented sticks to be displayed on the concourse during the game and auctioned off after the final buzzer sounds. Finally, Sunnyslope Floral will sell pink carnations on the concourse for a $1 donation.

Unpack and Relax: Saturday’s home opener will begin a three-game stand for the Griffins at Van Andel Arena and kick off a stretch in which they’ll play five of six games and seven of nine contests within friendly confines.

Another Fast Start: With Grand Rapids owning a 2-0-1-0 record, this marks the fifth straight season that the Griffins have played their first three games without suffering a regulation loss. They started 3-0 last season, 2-0-1-0 in 2006-07, and 3-0 in both 2005-06 and 2004-05.

Congrats to Curt: Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win at Lake Erie was Curt Fraser’s first victory behind the Griffins’ bench and his first in the AHL as a head coach. With Grand Rapids having earned five of a possible six points thus far, Fraser owns the third-best three-game start of the eight head coaches in franchise history, trailing only the perfect 3-0 starts of Bruce Cassidy in 2000-01 and Mike Stothers in 2007-08.

For Openers: The Griffins will try to reverse a recent trend this Saturday, as they have lost their last two home openers and four of their last six Van Andel Arena debuts. All time, Grand Rapids is 7-5 in its first home game of the season.

It’s Been Such a Long Time: When Norfolk invades Van Andel Arena this Sunday, it’ll mark the Griffins’ first game against an Eastern Conference opponent – either at home or on the road – since a 4-3 shootout win over visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Jan. 13, 2007. Grand Rapids, which did not face a single foe from the Eastern Conference in 2007-08, will play five clubs from that conference a total of 12 times this season…The Griffins last played the Admirals on Feb. 7, 2003, absorbing a 3-1 loss at Van Andel Arena. This Sunday’s meeting will be five years, eight months and 19 days later, the longest span between games against an opponent in Grand Rapids history.

Everyone Contributes: Following Sunday’s 7-3 rout of Toronto, in which seven different Griffins lit the lamp and 11 recorded points, no fewer than nine Griffins are averaging at least one point per game. Darren Haydar (2-2—4), Ville Leino (2-2—4), Mattias Ritola (1-3—4), Landon Wilson (2-1—3) and Jakub Kindl (1-2—3) all own three-game point streaks, while rookies Justin Abdelkader (2-1—3) and Logan Pyett (0-3—3) have tallied points in two of the three games this far. In addition, fellow first-year player Francis Pare enjoyed a stellar pro debut on Sunday, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Marlies to claim Second Star honors.

We’re Not Gonna Take it Anymore: The Griffins’ 7-3 win at Toronto on Sunday broke their three-game losing streak at Ricoh Coliseum, while Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win at Lake Erie snapped their three-game winless skid (0-2-1-0) at Quicken Loans Arena.

Comeback Kids: Saturday in Cleveland, the Griffins dug out of a 3-1 hole during the third period and erased a 1-0 deficit through three and a half shootout rounds to take a 4-3 win over Lake Erie. The last time Grand Rapids rallied from two goals down in the third period to win was on April 11, 2007 (4-3 SOW at Hamilton), while its last win when trailing by two goals at any point came on March 2, 2008 versus Lake Erie, when it trailed 2-0 and 3-1 before winning 6-4.
 
Getting the Hang of It: Over their first 100:50 of regulation play this season, running to the 50-second mark of the third period on Saturday in Lake Erie, the Griffins were outscored 6-4. Over the last 79:10 of regulation time, Grand Rapids has outgunned its foes 9-3.

Working Overtime: This is the first season in Griffins history in which each of their first two games went past regulation time. Saturday’s shootout win at Lake Erie was the third straight Griffins game to require overtime, dating back to last season.

Poking Through Pogge: Marlies netminder Justin Pogge, who entered Sunday’s game with a 6-2 record, three shutouts, a 2.08 GAA and a 0.935 save percentage in nine career games against Grand Rapids, surrendered four goals on 18 shots during 30:40 of work before being chased by the Griffins midway through their 7-3 victory.

Milestones: Ryan Oulahen made his 232nd regular season appearance in a Griffins uniform on Sunday, tying him with Hugo Boisvert for ninth place on the team’s all-time games played list. Next in his sights is eighth-place Todd Nelson at 236…Aaron Downey played his 300th AHL game on Sunday in Toronto…Darren Haydar needs five assists for 300 as a pro.

Trading Places: Last Thursday, the Detroit Red Wings recalled center Darren Helm from the Griffins and assigned goaltender Jimmy Howard. Helm has since played in two games with the Wings, showing three shots while averaging 7:58 of ice time. Howard, who sustained a broken finger during the preseason, was activated from injured reserve Thursday after having rehabbed with Grand Rapids during the previous week. He stopped 25 shots and denied four of five Monsters in the shootout to take the win Saturday at Lake Erie.

Alumni News: Former Grand Rapids forward Krys Kolanos (2006-07) was recalled by the Minnesota Wild from Houston on Friday but did not skate in the Wild’s 1-0 shootout win at Tampa Bay on Saturday. Should he make an appearance in Minnesota’s game this Thursday versus Buffalo, he will become the 96th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL…Former captain Matt Ellis (2003-07) saw his first action with Buffalo in its 3-1 win over the Rangers last Wednesday, making the Sabres the 29th NHL team to ever ice a Griffins graduate. Colorado is the only NHL club for which a Grand Rapids alum has never played.

Get ‘Em While They’re Hot: Single-game tickets for all 40 Griffins home games are on sale at all Star Tickets outlets, including the Zone and Meijer stores, by phone through Star Tickets at (800) 585-3737, or online. Group, full-season and mini-plan ticket packages are available by calling the Griffins at (616) 774-4585.

Scouting Report

Sat., Oct. 25 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (4-0-0-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. or immediately following the Michigan/Michigan State football game. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 18-19-1-0-2 Overall, 10-7-1-0-2 Home. Season Series: First of six meetings overall, first of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Don Lever (4th season). Notes: The Bulldogs and Houston Aeros are tied for the best record in the AHL at 4-0…Hamilton has outscored its foes 16-7 in its four wins, winning each game by at least two goals…Griffins forward Francis Lemieux played parts of three seasons (2005-08) with the Bulldogs, winning a Calder Cup in 2007.

Sun., Oct. 26 vs. Norfolk Admirals (1-2-0-1) – Van Andel Arena – 4 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 3:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 2-1-1-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0-0 Home. Season Series: First of two meetings overall, first and only in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning. Head Coach: Darren Rumble (1st season). Notes: Norfolk head coach Darren Rumble played two seasons as a defenseman with Grand Rapids (1998-00) before becoming one of 95 Griffins alumni to play in the NHL. He is also one of 12 former Griffins to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, as a member of the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning…Griffins forward Aaron Downey racked up 23 points (6-17—23) and 255 penalty minutes in two seasons with Norfolk (2000-02).


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