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HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU

This Week’s Games
Thu., Jan. 13 - GRIFFINS at San Antonio Rampage - 8 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Sat., Jan. 15 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 8:35 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Sun., Jan. 16 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 5:05 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 5 - Hamilton Bulldogs 2 at GRIFFINS 3 - 17-16-1-4, 39 pts. (4th, North Division) 

Thu., Jan. 6 - GRIFFINS 1 at Milwaukee Admirals 5 - 17-17-1-4, 39 pts. (4th) 

Sat., Jan. 8 - GRIFFINS 0 at Rockford IceHogs 6 - 17-18-1-4, 39 pts. (T5th) 

Where We Stand: Two games into a season-high six-game road trip, the Griffins have reached the midpoint of their 80-game regular season slate with a 17-18-1-4 record. Despite being tied for fifth place in the North Division, they begin the second half just six points out of a playoff spot.

Happy Trails?: The Griffins will begin a four-game Texas swing on Thursday in San Antonio, looking to break a season-high five-game skid away from Van Andel Arena in their first visit to the Lone Star State this season. They’ll stop in Houston on Saturday and Sunday before concluding the trip next Tuesday against the Texas Stars in Austin.

Home is Where the Wins Are: With last Wednesday’s 3-2 win over North Division-leading Hamilton, the Griffins improved to 6-2 in their last eight games at Van Andel Arena.

All Hail the All-Star!: Brendan Smith will play for the Western Conference AHL All-Star Team at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, Jan. 30-31 at the Giant Center in Hershey. The first rookie defenseman in Griffins history to be chosen for an all-star game, Smith currently ranks among the league’s leaders with eight goals (T5th among defensemen) and 22 points (T9th among rookies, T14th among defensemen) despite missing the last four games due to injury. In addition, his 14 assists through 36 games tie for fourth on the club, while his plus-four rating places sixth. The 21-year-old Smith joins a distinguished list of defensemen who’ve represented the Griffins in all-star games: Jakub Kindl (2009), Jonathan Ericsson (2008), Derek Meech (2007), Niklas Kronwall (2005 and 2004), Travis Richards (2004 and 2001 IHL), John Gruden (2002 and 2000 IHL), Joel Kwiatkowski (2001 IHL) and Kerry Huffman (1998 IHL). Smith will be joined on the ice in Hershey by four former Griffins: forwards Alexandre Giroux (Oklahoma City) and Jeremy Williams (Connecticut), and defensemen Garrett Stafford (San Antonio) and Clay Wilson (Rochester). In addition, former Griffins defenseman and current Peoria head coach Jared Bednar will serve as a co-coach for the Western Conference squad.

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello: On Sunday, Joey MacDonald was recalled to Detroit and Thomas McCollum was reassigned to Grand Rapids from ECHL Toledo, while Tuesday saw Tomas Tatar return to the Griffins after 11 days with the Red Wings…MacDonald, who entered Monday’s Red Wings game in Colorado in relief of Jimmy Howard late in the first period, stopped 15 of 16 shots in the 5-4 loss. He now shows a 1.85 GAA and a 0.917 save percentage in two appearances with Detroit this season, along with a 10-7-1 record with one shutout, a 2.70 GAA and a 0.898 save percentage in 18 games for Grand Rapids…McCollum began this season with the Griffins, going 5-10-2 with one shutout, a 3.11 GAA and a 0.884 save percentage in 17 appearances. Reassigned to Toledo on Dec. 23, he compiled a 3-1 record with one shutout, a 2.55 GAA and a 0.913 save percentage in five games with the Walleye…The 20-year-old Tatar was recalled on Dec. 31 and made his NHL debut that night in the Red Wings’ 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders, forcing the extra session with his first NHL goal at 10:18 of the third period. The 114th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, he averaged 10:16 in ice time over five appearances with Detroit, registering four shots and an even rating. Despite missing Grand Rapids’ last five games, Tatar remains the Griffins’ leading scorer with 29 points (9-20—29) in 35 contests. He also paces the club in assists, game-winning goals (two, tied), and plus-minus rating (plus-11).

Welcome to the Club: The Griffins signed a pair of right wings from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye to professional tryouts last week, bringing in Adam Keefe on Wednesday and Evan Rankin on Tuesday. Both had impressive season debuts last Wednesday, as Keefe earned the second assist on Rankin’s game-winning goal in the team’s 3-2 victory over Hamilton.

Bodies Wanted: Six Griffins regulars have missed significant time recently. Forward Jan Mursak (six games) – who scored his first NHL goal on Monday in Colorado – remains in Detroit and Tomas Tatar (five) just returned, while defensemen Doug Janik (seven), Brian Lashoff (four) and Brendan Smith (four) and forward Brandon Straub (three) have been on the injured list.

A Long Road Ahead: The Griffins, who last Wednesday concluded stretches that saw them play 12 of 15 games and 16 of 22 contests within friendly confines, are now in the midst of playing 11 of 16 games on the road. They’ve already played consecutive road games (Jan. 6-8) for the first time since Nov. 13-17.

Offensive Ammo: Greg Amadio, who had played 136 games as a Griffin — 139 including playoffs — without lighting the lamp, notched his first goal in a Grand Rapids uniform in last Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Hamilton before accounting for the Griffins’ lone goal in Thursday’s 5-1 loss at Milwaukee. Amadio, who scored seven goals in 353 regular season AHL contests (2004-2011) prior to Wednesday and has never tallied more than three in a single AHL campaign, enjoyed the first goal streak of his AHL career. He played more games before registering his first goal than any other skater in Griffins history.

No-Kill Policy: Prior to Hamilton’s three power play opportunities last Wednesday, the Griffins enjoyed two straight games in which their opponent was not awarded a power play, a first in team history.

Milestones: Joey MacDonald is two wins shy of 100 as a Griffin and needs four appearances to tie Jimmy Howard’s franchise record of 186 games played by a goalie…Jamie Tardif has played 279 career games as a Griffin, putting him one behind sixth-place Dave Van Drunen (280) on the team’s all-time list…Derek Meech (266) moved past Derek King (264) into eighth-place with his appearance last Thursday. He is also just four points shy of 100 as a pro (26-70—96).

I’ve Seen Better Days: After going 4-2-1-1 versus Rockford during their first two AHL campaigns (2007-09), the Griffins are 1-8-1-1 against the IceHogs since the start of last season, following Saturday’s 6-0 loss at the MetroCentre. It was Grand Rapids’ second shutout loss in the last four games and its fifth overall this season.

Scouting Report

Thu., Jan. 13 at San Antonio Rampage (25-14-1-0) – AT&T Center – 8 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 7:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 29-16-1-2-0 Overall, 14-8-0-1-0 Road. Season Series: 0-1-1-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Third of four meetings overall, first of two in San Antonio. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Ray Edwards (2nd season). Notes: After winning 28 of 40 games (28-10-1-1-0) against the Rampage over their first seven seasons as rivals (2002-09), the Griffins are 1-6-1-0 against San Antonio since the start of last season…The Rampage, who sit in third place and just two points out of first in the West Division, are 15-7-0-0 on home ice…Goalie Matt Climie is tied for 11th in the AHL with a 2.35 GAA…Brett MacLean (16-20—36) is tied for ninth in the league in scoring…Former Griffin and 2011 AHL All-Star Classic selection Garrett Stafford leads all AHL defensemen with 30 points (9-21—30)…San Antonio boasts the league’s top power play (23.5%).

Sat., Jan. 15 at Houston Aeros (21-18-1-2) – Toyota Center – 8:35 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 16 at Houston Aeros – Toyota Center – 5:05 p.m.

Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 8:15 p.m. (Sat.) and 4:45 p.m. (Sun.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 34-27-6-3-6 Overall, 14-15-4-2-3 Road. Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Houston. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Mike Yeo (1st season). Notes: The Aeros own an 11-6-1-0 mark at home. They begin the week in sixth place in the West, one point behind fourth-place Texas and Chicago…Netminders Matt Hackett and Anton Khudobin are tied for 18th in the AHL with 2.58 GAAs…Maxim Noreau ranks 13th among league defensemen in scoring (7-16—23)…Houston has been outscored 43-26 in the second period.
 

Griffins Game Rewinds

Jan. 8 - GR 0 at RFD 6
AHLLive Video Highlights
Official Game Report

Jan. 6 - GR 1 at MIL 5
ESPN Radio Highlights:  Amadio goal    Milwaukee goal 2
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report
 
Jan. 5 - HAM 2 at GR 3
AHLLive Video Highlights
GriffVision Video Interviews
ESPN Radio Highlights:  Pyett goal   Amadio goal   Rankin GWG
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

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