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GRIFFINS HOST BARONS IN FINAL HOME GAME BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Van Andel Arena Prepares for Mullet Madness

This Week’s Games

Wed., Dec. 15 - GRIFFINS at Utah Grizzlies - 9:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Fri., Dec. 17 - GRIFFINS at Utah Grizzlies - 9:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Sat., Dec. 18 - Cleveland Barons at GRIFFINS - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results

Tue., Dec. 7 - GRIFFINS 2 at St. John’s Maple Leafs 3 - 15-6-1-0, 31 pts. (T1st, West Division)

Wed., Dec. 8 - GRIFFINS 5 at St. John’s Maple Leafs 4 - 16-6-1-0, 33 pts. (1st)

Fri., Dec. 10 - GRIFFINS 3 at Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 2 - 17-6-1-0, 35 pts. (1st)

Sat., Dec. 11 - Chicago Wolves 3 at GRIFFINS 2 - 17-7-1-0, 35 pts. (T1st)
Time to Make Hay: The Griffins, whose 35 points tie them with Milwaukee for first place in the West Division, will face three games against last-place foes this week, as a two-game set in Utah on Wednesday and Friday will be followed by this Saturday’s home game versus Cleveland. Despite dropping a fourth-straight home decision to the Wolves on Saturday, the Griffins have still claimed 12 wins in their last 16 games, and have possessed at least a share of first place in the division since Dec. 3. With a 17-7-1-0 record and 35 points, Grand Rapids has earned more wins and points through 25 games than any other team in franchise history, with the exception of the 2000-01 squad that started 18-4-3 (39 pts.).

Hairy Situation: As a tribute to the haircut that hockey made famous, the first 1,500 fans through the doors this Saturday will receive mullet wigs. All fans who bring an unwrapped toy for the WOOD TV/WOTV 4 Angel Tree will receive a coupon for a free hot dog and small soda. High school hockey is also on tap, as Grandville will play Portage Central at 3 p.m. Fans can gain admittance to the game with a ticket to that night’s Griffins game.

Road Warriors: At 9-1-0-0, the Griffins own both the AHL’s best road record and the best road start in franchise history. After setting a team record with their seventh consecutive road win on Dec. 3 at Milwaukee (1-0), Grand Rapids’ status as the league’s only perfect road team ended with Tuesday’s 3-2 loss at St. John’s. However, the Griffins rebounded with a 5-4 win Wednesday in St. John’s and Friday’s 3-2 victory at Cincinnati.

Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson: Todd Robinson, signed from UHL Muskegon on Nov. 12, owns an eight-game scoring streak (3-7—10), the longest on the Griffins this season and the second-longest current streak in the AHL. He also has goals in three of the last six games and points in 10 of the last 11 outings (3-9—12). As a result, despite playing in only 16 of the team’s 25 games, Robinson is tied for fourth on the Griffins in scoring with 13 points (3-10—13). He needs just four points to reach 500 for his pro career (138-358—496).

Close Calls: Each of the Griffins’ last seven wins, along with 11 of their last 12 and 13 of their 17 overall, has been by a single goal. Moreover, Grand Rapids’ last eight games, 17 of its last 20 tilts and 19 of its 25 contests thus far have been decided by one goal. Grand Rapids is 13-5-1-0 in those games, giving it the most such wins by far of any AHL team. The franchise records for the most one-goal wins and one-goal decisions are 23 (1999-00) and 43 (1997-98), respectively.

Manlow Among Boys: Eric Manlow’s four-game goal streak ties for the second-longest in the AHL this season and is just two games shy of equaling the franchise record held by Kip Miller (2000-01) and Pavol Demitra (1996-97). Manlow, who also owns a five-game point streak (4-2—6), leads the Griffins with 10 goals and five power play tallies, and places second with 20 points and 10 assists (tied).

Youth is Served: Rookie Drew MacIntyre made 25 saves in Wednesday’s 5-4 win at St. John’s, improving to 4-1-0 with his fourth straight win. He has enjoyed strong outings in each of his three starts at home (2-1-0) and has won both of his road decisions, showing a cumulative 2.35 GAA and a 0.918 save percentage.

Welcome Aboard: Forward Ernie Hartlieb, who signed with the Griffins last Monday, recorded his first point for the team with an assist in Wednesday’s win at St. John’s, then scored his first goal in Friday’s victory at Cincinnati. In 93 career AHL games with Grand Rapids, Worcester and Lowell, the Warren, Mich., native now shows 52 points (22-30—52).

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald ranks among the AHL’s leaders with 13 wins (T2nd), four shutouts (T1st), a 1.92 GAA (6th) and a 0.934 save percentage (T6th)…Niklas Kronwall, who leads the Griffins in scoring, ranks first among league blueliners with 24 points and eight goals, while his 16 assists tie for third…Eric Himelfarb’s 14 points (5-9—14) place third on the Griffins and are tied for tenth among AHL rookies. He leads all first-year players and is tied for third overall in the AHL with two shorthanded goals.

Missing in Action: Jiri Hudler, who is currently in the Czech Republic alongside his ailing father, has missed the last nine games…Tomas Kopecky has missed the last eight games due to a broken finger…Kory Karlander suffered a broken left foot when he was hit by the puck during Saturday’s loss to Chicago.

Hat Trick Trivia: The Maple Leafs’ Brad Leeb notched a hat trick in the Griffins’ 5-4 win at St. John’s on Wednesday, the first allowed by Grand Rapids in regular season play since Milwaukee’s Wyatt Smith’s on Dec. 28, 2002. Of the 24 games in their history in which the Griffins have surrendered a hat trick, Wednesday’s marked only the fourth time they’ve overcome the feat to earn a win, and just the second time they’ve done so in regulation time. The only other game in franchise history that an opposing player’s hat trick did not result in a point for his team was Feb. 13, 1998, when the Griffins claimed a 7-5 win at Michigan despite Marty Flichel’s accomplishment.

Taking Advantage: Blake Sloan scored a rare 3-on-5 shorthanded goal for the Griffins in Wednesday’s 5-4 win at St. John’s, but the Maple Leafs quickly answered with a 5-on-3 power play goal, the first allowed by Grand Rapids this season. The Griffins and Ducks each scored 5-on-3 goals on Friday, giving Grand Rapids a 5-2 lead over the opposition in goals scored this season with a two-man advantage.

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
• Power Play: 24-for-146, 16.4% (T10th)
• Penalty Killing: 125-for-138, 90.6% (T2nd)
• Penalty Minutes: 19.76 avg. (25th)
• Goals For: 2.68 avg. (12th)
• Goals Against: 2.04 avg. (T3rd)
• Shots For: 29.96 avg. (T17th)
• Shots Against: 29.12 avg. (10th)
• Attendance: 5,937 avg. (10th)

This Week’s Scouting Report

Wed., Dec. 15 at Utah Grizzlies (6-17-0-2) – The “E’ Center – 9:05 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 17 at Utah Grizzlies – The “E’ Center – 9:05 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:59 p.m. each night. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second and third of eight meetings overall, first and second of four in West Valley City. All-Time Series: 21-21-3-0 Overall, 7-13-2-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Pat Conacher (1st season). Grin and Bear It: The Grizzlies have won two of their last three at home and two of their last four overall, as they attempt to improve their league-worst 0.280 winning percentage…Their three home wins (3-10-0-1) are the fewest in the AHL…Utah ranks last in penalty killing (76.9%) and goals allowed (3.64)...Peter White has 11 points (1-10—11) in 15 games with the bruins…2004 AHL All-Star David LeNeveu owns a 2.97 GAA and a 0.908 save percentage.

Sat., Dec. 18 vs. Cleveland Barons (10-12-1-2) – Van Adel Arena – 8 p.m.
TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. Fourth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 11-6-0-0 Overall, 7-2-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: San Jose Sharks. Head Coach: Roy Sommer (4th season). Spy Glass: The Barons have dropped their last four on the road with three shutouts, including a 5-0 loss in Grand Rapids on Nov. 20…Cleveland hasn’t scored in its last 166:20 in foreign territory and has logged just two goals in its last 271:49 on the road…Ryan Clowe (6-11—17), Marcel Goc (7-9—16) and Patrick Rissmiller (8-6—14) power the offense…Cleveland winger Nick Bootland is the older brother of Griffins forward Darryl.

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