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01/10/2005 4:22 PM - Next 12 Opponents Have a Combined 0.648 Winning Percentage

This Week’s Games
Fri., Jan. 14 - St. John’s Maple Leafs at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Sat., Jan. 15 - Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results

Fri., Jan. 7 - GRIFFINS 2 at Hamilton Bulldogs 5 - 18-14-1-1, 38 pts. (3rd, West Division)

Sat., Jan. 8 - GRIFFINS 0 at Cleveland Barons 2 - 18-15-1-1, 38 pts. (3rd)

Sun., Jan. 9 - GRIFFINS 4 at Cleveland Barons 0 - 19-15-1-1, 40 pts. (3rd)

Sigh of Relief: The Griffins’ 4-0 win at Cleveland on Sunday snapped their franchise-record nine-game winless streak (0-8-0-1) and ended a rare five-game road skid (0-4-0-1). The victory was the first for Grand Rapids in a span of 25 days, dating to a 4-2 triumph at Utah on Dec. 15.

Powers That Be: After playing three straight and 10 of the last 15 games on the road, Grand Rapids returns to Van Andel Arena this weekend to start a three-game home stand against some of the top teams in the Western Conference. The St. John’s Maple Leafs (Friday) and Milwaukee Admirals (Saturday) will make their firsts visits of the season to West Michigan, sporting a combined 0.667 winning percentage. Milwaukee is currently tied with Chicago atop the West Division standings, while the Leafs stand five points out of the lead in the North.

Guitar Strings and Red Wings: For B-93 We Love Our Country night on Friday, the Sugar Creek Band will perform on the concourse before the game, and country music and videos will be played throughout the night. As with every Friday home game, fans may purchase a “Subway Family Four Pack,” offering four tickets, four Subway Fresh Meal Deals and parking, for just $44. Saturday’s game will be preceded by a 3:30 p.m. tilt between the Michigan State Police and the Detroit Red Wings Alumni, headlined by Joey Kocur. The exhibition is a fundraiser for a memorial park to honor slain officer Kevin Marshall. Fans can gain admission with a ticket to that night’s Griffins game, which will be followed by a Max & Erma’s Post-Game Family Fun Skate.

Wake-Up Call: The Griffins’ last 11 games, during which they posted a 2-8-0-1 record, were contested against opponents with a combined 0.450 winning percentage. Only three of the 11 teams had 0.500 or better records when Grand Rapids played them. The long-range forecast changes dramatically, however, as each of the Griffins’ next 13 opponents currently owns a winning record. In fact, the next 12 games, eight of which will be staged in enemy territory, feature foes with a combined 0.648 winning percentage. The docket includes nine games against either division leaders or teams that are within three points of first place.

Signs of Life: The Griffins had fallen behind by a minimum 2-0 count in five consecutive games prior to Sunday’s win at Cleveland. In fact, Darryl Bootland’s goal at 1:29 of the opening period marked just the second time in the last 10 games that the Griffins scored the first goal. It also gave the Griffins their first lead in a mind-boggling span of 341:48 and broke Cleveland goalie Nolan Schaefer’s personal shutout streak against them at 126:38.

Little Mac Comes Up Big: Rookie Drew MacIntyre, forced into action during Friday’s game at Hamilton after Joey MacDonald sustained a groin injury, played admirably for the Griffins over the remainder of the weekend, earning a nomination for the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week award. After making 24 saves in Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Cleveland, he registered his first pro shutout in Sunday’s rematch, stopping all 26 shots to put a stop to Grand Rapids’ slide. The shutout was his first since his junior days with QMJHL Sherbrooke, for whom he made 22 saves in a 4-0 win at Hull on Jan. 28, 2003. For the season, MacIntyre now shows a 5-3-0 record with a 2.47 GAA and a 0.912 save percentage.

Turn This Thing Around: The Griffins have won just eight of 19 outings (8-10-1-0, 0.447) this season within the friendly confines of Van Andel Arena and last claimed a home victory on Dec. 4, a 2-1 decision over Utah. They have been outscored 17-7 during their five-game home losing streak, during which they’ve never held a lead, have trailed for 199:46 and have been tied for 100:14. Grand Rapids’ five straight regulation losses at home surpass the previous team record of four set from Dec. 29, 1997-Jan. 9, 1998 and equaled from Nov. 12-21, 1998. The longest winless streak ever for the Griffins at home is six games; they went 0-5-1 from Dec. 20, 1997-Jan. 9, 1998, and 0-4-2 from Dec. 5-31, 1998.

Surveying the Damage: Entering play on Dec. 17, the Griffins owned the most points in the Western Conference and possessed a two-point lead over Milwaukee in the West Division. After finally snapping their franchise-record nine-game winless streak on Sunday, the Griffins now find themselves in third place in the division (seven points behind Milwaukee and Chicago) and seventh place in the conference (10 points behind Rochester). Perhaps more importantly, the Griffins’ leads over other division foes have shrunk to four points over Cincinnati and San Antonio and five over Houston. Only two of those four teams are likely to qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs.

Thank Goodness That’s Over: The Griffins’ nine-game winless streak, during which they were outscored 30-11, supplanted two previous seven-game droughts as the longest in franchise history. During the stretch, they led for only 9:45, were tied for 190:43, and trailed for 344:32.

On a Roll: Matt Ellis’ two goals on Sunday marked his second two-goal performance of the season and gave him six on the year, surpassing the five he tallied during his rookie AHL season of 2003-04…Ryan Barnes has lit the lamp in two of the last three games, while Darryl Bootland has scored in three of his last five outings…Todd Robinson’s goal on Friday in Hamilton marked the 500th point (139-361—500) of his six-year pro career.

Hard-Luck Joey: Joey MacDonald has suffered his first seven-game winless streak (0-6-1) in four seasons as a pro and three seasons as a Griffin. Despite posting a 2.71 GAA and a 0.914 save percentage (191-209) during the stretch, his last taste of victory came back on Dec. 15.

So Long: Goaltender Logan Koopmans, whom the Griffins recalled on Saturday to sub for Joey MacDonald, was returned to ECHL Toledo today. Koopmans, the fifth selection of the Detroit Red Wings (166th overall) in the 2002 Entry Draft, has appeared in 14 games with the Storm during his rookie pro campaign, showing a 5-7-1 record with one shutout, a 3.11 GAA and a 0.895 save percentage.

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald ranks among the AHL’s leaders with 14 wins (T8th), four shutouts (T2nd), a 2.12 GAA (8th) and a 0.929 save percentage (T8th)…Niklas Kronwall, who leads the Griffins in scoring, ranks first among league blueliners with 28 points (tied) and nine goals, while his 19 assists tie for fifth…Bryan Helmer’s four power play goals stand fifth among defensemen…Eric Himelfarb’s 19 points (8-11—19) place third on the Griffins and tie for eighth among AHL rookies. He leads all first-year players with two shorthanded goals.

Missing in Action: Jiri Hudler, who is currently in the Czech Republic alongside his ailing father, has missed the last 20 Griffins games…Tomas Kopecky has missed the last 19 games due to a broken finger…Kory Karlander has sat out the last 11 games after suffering a broken left foot…Joey MacDonald, who left Friday’s game with a groin injury, sat out both weekend games at Cleveland.

Back on the Road: Following a three-game stand at Van Andel Arena that concludes on Jan. 21, the Griffins will return to the road for eight of the following nine contests. Despite a recent five-game skid in foreign buildings, the Griffins still own one of the AHL’s best road records at 11-5-0-1 (0.676).

Coming Up Empty: Grand Rapids has been shut out in two of its last four games and in three of its last nine outings overall, including twice at Van Andel Arena.

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
• Power Play: 29-for-200, 14.5% (17th)
• Penalty Killing: 177-for-203, 87.2% (8th)
• Penalty Minutes: 21.19 avg. (23rd)
• Goals For: 2.39 avg. (T17th)
• Goals Against: 2.31 avg. (4th)
• Shots For: 29.50 avg. (18th)
• Shots Against: 29.47 avg. (12th)
• Attendance: 6,110 avg. (10th)

This Week’s Scouting Report

Fri., Jan. 14 vs. St. John’s Maple Leafs (22-12-0-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7:30 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Third of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 4-1-1-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Doug Shedden (2nd season). Turning Leafs: The Baby Leafs are in their last season in Newfoundland before moving to Toronto…St. John’s is just 7-8-0-0 on the road this season but has claimed consecutive one-goal wins away from home…The Leafs are 14-0-0-0 when leading after two periods, the AHL’s only perfect mark…Their 3.00 scoring average ranks eighth…David Ling (12-26—38) and Kyle Wellwood (15-20—35) place among the league’s scoring leaders.

Sat., Jan. 15 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (22-9-2-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7:30 p.m.
TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of eight meetings overall, first of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 32-16-11-0 Overall, 19-6-2-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (2nd season). Ships Ahoy: After playing just once over the season’s first 36 games, the Griffins and Ads will play four times over the next 18 contests…Grand Rapids won the first meeting, 1-0 in Milwaukee on Dec. 3…The Admirals’ 12 road wins (12-4-2-1) tie for the AHL lead…They average 3.44 goals per game, second on the circuit…The Griffins have won six of the last nine meetings (6-2-1-0), dating to last season…Simon Gamache (18-30—48) is on pace for a 112-point season.

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