This Week’s Games
Fri., Feb. 4 - Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - Buy Tickets / ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Feb. 5 - Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - Buy Tickets / WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 26 - GRIFFINS 2 at Rochester Americans 3 SO - 20-21-1-5, 46 pts. (6th, North Division)
Fri., Jan. 28 - Rockford IceHogs 2 at GRIFFINS 5 - 21-21-1-5, 48 pts. (6th)
Sat., Jan. 29 - GRIFFINS 3 at Peoria Rivermen 2 - 22-21-1-5, 50 pts. (6th)
Snowball Effect?: With consecutive wins prior to the AHL all-star break and points in three straight games (2-0-0-1) and five of their last seven outings (4-2-0-1), the Griffins will look to maintain their momentum when they host a pair of first-place teams this weekend. Grand Rapids, which at 50 points stands just five points behind third-place Lake Erie and a guaranteed berth in the Calder Cup playoffs, will try for its first three-game winning streak this season when the Hamilton Bulldogs visit on Friday before welcoming the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday. The Griffins have won two straight meetings with the Bulldogs as well as two of their last three clashes with the Admirals.
Fun at the Van: Fri. vs. HAM – Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs returns from 6-8 p.m. (while supplies last), while other promotions include College Night and the D-Zone. Sat. vs. MIL – In celebration of Hockey Day in Michigan, nearly 350 kids and 48 teams will play 140 games at Van Andel Arena from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., during the Griffins’ fourth annual Cross-Ice Jamboree. This year’s participating associations include GRAHA, EGRAHA, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Walker, Holland, Kentwood, Capital Centre Pride, Cadillac and Grand Valley…Prior to the Griffins game, 3,000 fans will receive a bobblehead of former Griffins defenseman Travis Richards, courtesy of Lake Michigan Credit Union. Richards will sign autographs for season ticket holders in the Arbor Mortgage Club prior to the game, and once again for the general public in Amway Section A during the first intermission…The Red Wings’ own Karen Newman will sign the national anthem…The Griffins will wear special jerseys commemorating the AHL’s 75th anniversary season, which will be signed by the respective players and auctioned off from the Fifth Third Vault following the game to benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation…After the game, fans can stick around for the Huntington Post-Game Autograph Session and the J & H Family Stores Post-Game Skate.
UnPearceable: The Griffins on Monday nominated rookie goaltender Jordan Pearce for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he went 2-0-1 with a 1.95 GAA and a 0.939 save percentage. He owns a 4-0-1 record in his last five appearances and has allowed more than two goals just once in his last seven starts (5-1-1 since Jan. 13). Pearce leads the Griffins with a 2.77 GAA, a 0.912 save percentage, and a 0.625 winning percentage (7-3-2).
It’s About Time: After snapping a 0-6-1-1 skid versus Rockford with Friday’s 5-2 home win over the IceHogs, the Griffins ended a 10-game drought (0-9-0-1) against the Rivermen with Saturday’s 3-2 victory at Peoria.
Leader of the Pack: Saturday’s contest marked Curt Fraser’s 209th regular season game as the Griffins’ head coach, making him the franchise’s all-time leader over Danton Cole (208 games coached from 2002-05). Fraser’s all-time record stands at 99-85-10-15 (0.533).
Hats Off to Minard: Chris Minard celebrated his 300th AHL game in style on Friday, recording a natural hat trick to blow open a 2-2 game and power the Griffins to a 5-2 victory over Rockford. Minard, a two-time 30-goal scorer in the AHL who entered the night with just five goals on the season, enjoyed his third multi-point outing in a span of five games. Minard’s hat trick, the fifth of his AHL career, was the first by a Griffin this season and his first since Oct. 25, 2009 for Springfield. Following his goal on Saturday at Peoria, he now has points in four of his last six games (5-3—8).
Power Surge: The Griffins scored two power play goals in each of their three games last week (6-for-20, 30%), enabling them to climb into a tie for 11th overall in the AHL on the power play at 19.2%.
All-Star Moment: Griffins forward Ilari Filppula made history during Monday’s AHL All-Star Game in Hershey – won by the East 11-8 over the West – as he and younger brother/current Detroit Red Wing Valtteri became one of just four sets of brothers in AHL history to compete in the league’s all-star game. Ilari, who became the first Griffin to score a goal in the all-star game since 2007 (Kip Miller) and the first to get an assist since 2009 (Jakub Kindl), made his appearance five years after Valtteri, who played in the 2006 event in Winnipeg. Oddly enough, two of the other three sets of AHL all-star siblings have Grand Rapids ties: Nick (2006-07 Griffins) and Gregg Naumenko, and Mark (2007-08 Griffins) and Matt Cullen. Peter and Chris Ferraro round out the quartet. One other set of brothers has represented the Griffins in all-star games, albeit in different leagues. Kip Miller served as captain of the PlanetUSA AHL All-Stars at the game’s 2007 edition in Toronto, while older brother Kevin started in the IHL’s mid-season classic in 2000.
So Long, Jan: The Red Wings on Tuesday recalled right wing Jan Mursak from the Griffins. Mursak, 23, averaged 8:30 in ice time over a 14-game, month-long stint with Detroit that concluded on Jan. 27. He made his NHL debut during Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win at Colorado on Dec. 27, becoming just the second Slovenian-born player to play in the NHL (Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar). Two weeks later, while again visiting the Avalanche on Jan. 10, Detroit’s fifth choice (182nd overall) in 2006 notched his first NHL goal in the Wings’ 5-4 loss. After scoring a goal for Grand Rapids in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Peoria, Mursak ranks among the Griffins’ leaders with 11 goals (T4th), 24 points (T5th) and a plus-eight rating (T3rd) through 35 games.
Who’s Hot?: Francis Pare had consecutive two-point games (1-3—4) prior to Saturday, while Ilari Filppula has three multi-point outings in his last six outings (3-4—7)…Jamie Tardif has goals in three of his last four appearances (3-2—5)…Derek Meech has earned points in seven of the last nine games (2-6—8)…Tomas Tatar has points in six of his last eight games with the Griffins (4-6—10)…Doug Janik owns a three-game point streak (1-3—4).
Milestones: Derek Meech appeared in his 400th pro contest on Friday, which also marked Chris Minard’s 300th AHL game. Meanwhile, Doug Janik is just six games shy of 500 in the league…Jamie Tardif appeared in his 285th Griffins contest on Saturday, moving within eight of Darryl Bootland (293) for fourth place on the franchise’s all-time list…In addition, Tardif’s goal on Saturday was his 66th as a Griffin, moving him past Jiri Hudler into sole possession of sixth place all time.
Fri., Feb. 4 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (27-15-1-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 24-27-1-0-3 Overall, 13-11-1-0-2 Home. Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fourth of six meetings overall, second of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth (1st season). Notes: All three games between the Griffins and Bulldogs this season have been decided by one goal…Hamilton lost its last two games before the all-star break – on the heels of a six-game winning streak – while Grand Rapids won two straight…The Bulldogs lead second-place Manitoba by a single point in the North Division race…Goalie Curtis Sanford stands atop the AHL rankings with a 1.72 GAA, a 0.939 save percentage (tied) and five shutouts (tied)…Hamilton is fifth in the AHL in both power play (21.6%) and penalty killing (85.6%).
Sat., Feb. 5 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (26-13-2-6) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 53-39-7-5-5 Overall, 31-17-2-1-2 Home. Season Series: 2-2-0-1 Overall, 1-1-0-1 Home. Sixth of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Lane Lambert (4th season). Notes: Thanks to points in nine of their last 11 games (7-2-0-2), the Admirals have climbed into a three-way tie for first in the West with San Antonio and Houston…Goalie Mark Dekanich ranks third in the AHL with a 1.95 GAA and fourth with a 0.931 save percentage…Admirals center Blake Geoffrion and Griffins defenseman Brendan Smith were teammates the last three years at Wisconsin…Milwaukee is the second-least penalized team in the AHL (12.74 PIM per game).