10/17/2011 1:47 PM
This Week’s Games
Last Week’s Results
Well-Traveled: The Griffins opened a season-long five-game road trip on Sunday, losing 7-2 to the Rochester Americans. This week will see the Griffins continue the trip, playing four more games away from home beginning with a Tuesday contest in Hamilton at 7:30 p.m. From there, the team will bus back to Grand Rapids before flying out for a pair of 8 p.m. contests in Oklahoma City on Friday and Saturday, then depart for Houston for a 6:05 p.m. Sunday contest to wrap up the trip. Including the original trip to Rochester, the excursion will see the Griffins log 1,450 miles on the bus and spend approximately nine hours and 10 minutes in flight.
Bolstered Blueline: Grand Rapids will see its defensive core reinforced by the return of 2010-11 AHL All-Rookie Team defenseman Brendan Smith, who was assigned by the Red Wings on Sunday. Smith has yet to play this season after being handed a five-game NHL suspension for an incident in a Sept. 28 preseason contest versus Chicago, while the AHL ruled that Smith would be ineligible to play until Oct. 18. Smith is expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday when the Griffins take on the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Van Packed: As expected, Friday’s 3-2 win versus the Toronto Marlies marked the 16th consecutive home-opening sellout for the Griffins, with 10,834 fans packed inside Van Andel Arena. Those who didn’t get a chance to see the Griffins play will need to move fast to secure tickets to the only other home game this month – Oct. 28 vs. Abbotsford. Tickets are available for purchase at griffinshockey.com.
League Leaders: Several Griffins find themselves among the AHL’s early statistical leaders. Chris Conner is tied for fifth in the league with five assists, while linemate Gustav Nyquist is tied for sixth among rookies with four points. In addition, Greg Amadio is tied for sixth in the AHL with 18 penalty minutes and Joey MacDonald boasts a 2.52 GAA to tie for 15th among goaltenders. As a team, although they average 22.33 penalty minutes per game to rank fifth, the Griffins are in a four-way tie for the fewest number of minor penalties, showing only 11. Only nine of those penalties put the Griffins shorthanded, to rank third in the league for fewest times shorthanded – with the top two teams (Worcester and Syracuse) having played one fewer game.
Mac’s Milestone: With his next appearance, Joey MacDonald will overtake former Griffin Jimmy Howard for most games played by a goaltender in franchise history with 187. MacDonald also has the opportunity to make that appearance his 100th win as a Griffin – he’s already the franchise leader in that category. He’s also within striking distance of Howard’s minutes (10659:17) and saves (4,489) records, trailing his old teammate by just 168 minutes and 88 saves.
Historic Opportunity: At the 14:34 mark of the second period in the Griffins’ Sunday contest at Rochester, Americans defenseman Brayden McNabb was whistled for gloving the puck in the crease, awarding rookie Trevor Parkes a penalty shot. Parkes was stopped by former Griffins goaltender Drew MacIntyre, missing an opportunity to become the first Griffin to score his first pro goal on a penalty shot. Parkes was the first Griffins rookie to be awarded a penalty shot since Darren Helm scored against Chicago’s Ondrej Pavelec on Jan. 26, 2008. The Griffins are now 6-for-19 (0.316) all time in penalty shots, while opponents are 5-for-31 (0.161).
Patience Pays Off: After losing five of their top 10 scorers from 2010-11, the Griffins were looking within to replace the lost offense. Willie Coetzee has answered the bell, scoring two goals in the team’s first two games. While he was unable to crack the Griffins’ regular lineup as a first-year pro, appearing in 25 games for the team, he did produce 20 points (9-11—20) in 36 games with ECHL Toledo. With that experience under his belt, Coetzee looks to be an early-season candidate to fill one of the scoring vacancies.
Great Starts: Both Chris Conner (0-5—5) and Gustav Nyquist (2-2—4) have recorded points in all three Griffins contests, riding those streaks into Tuesday’s game in Hamilton.
Milestone Watch: Sunday’s game in Rochester was a milestone event for defenseman Travis Ehrhardt, who appeared in his 100th game in the AHL. He sits three games shy of hitting his 100th game in a Griffins’ uniform…Joakim Andersson also sits three games away of 100 as a pro, while Jordan Pearce is four games from that marker…Greg Amadio is also close to a pair of games played milestones, sitting seven games away from 400 in the AHL and eight away from 500 as a pro…Sixteen penalty minutes will bring Amadio to 500 as a Griffin…Curt Fraser is two wins away from tying Danton Cole as the winningest coach in franchise history at 116 wins.
Tue., Oct. 18 at Hamilton Bulldogs (2-1-0-0) – Copps Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 21 at Oklahoma City Barons (3-1-0-0) – Cox Convention Center – 8 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 23 at Houston Aeros (2-1-0-1) – Toyota Center – 6:05 p.m.
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