11/01/2011 11:04 AM
Last Week’s Results
Home Ice Advantage: Grand Rapids enters the month of November after playing an AHL-low two home contests during October. Fans will get to see much more of the Griffins this month, as the team will play each of its next three, eight of its next 10 and 10 of its next 13 on home ice. Last week, the Griffins dropped a home contest to Abbotsford 5-1 before turning around and beating Milwaukee 5-3 on Saturday in the first regulation loss of the season for the Admirals.
Fun at Van Andel: Although the season is almost a month old, there are still many new things happening at Van Andel Arena. This Wednesday marks the first of nine Winning Wednesday presented by Amway promotions, which will see every fan in attendance receive a free ticket to the following Wednesday game (Nov. 9) if the Griffins beat Lake Erie. In addition, new this season, the first 200 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a free t-shirt. Both games this week will feature promotional giveaways, with the first 2,500 fans on Wednesday receiving a Griffins Clingz schedule and the first 5,000 fans on Saturday receiving a Griffins team calendar courtesy of Delta Imports. Saturday will also see the return of Quick Change, an act previously featured on America’s Got Talent that will perform during the second intermission, and three post-game events: a J&H Family Stores open skate, an autograph session with Griffins players Greg Amadio, Louis-Marc Aubry and Garnet Exelby presented by Huntington Bank, and a faith and family chat.
Feels Like the First Time: The Griffins will take on the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs. Charlotte is in its second season in the AHL after losing to eventual Calder Cup champion Binghamton in the Eastern Conference finals last season. The Checkers were moved into the Western Conference after this summer’s AHL realignment and the Manitoba Moose’s move to St. John’s.
History Made: With the Griffins’ 5-3 victory over Milwaukee last Saturday, head coach Curt Fraser moved into sole possession of first place in franchise history with 117 wins, breaking a tie with Danton Cole. Fraser also has the distinction of being the longest-tenured coach in team history, having been behind the Griffins’ bench for 249 games. He is currently sitting with a 117-103-11-18 record all time.
On the Offensive: The Griffins’ offense showed what it is capable of on Saturday, scoring a season-high five goals against a Milwaukee team that had only given up nine goals in its previous six games. Chris Conner led the way offensively with three points, while Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson and Jamie Johnson each recorded two points. The Griffins power play came alive as well, converting on two of four opportunities on the night. This broke a slide in which the team’s power play capitalized on just one-of-42 chances after going two-for-five in the season opener at Rockford on Oct. 8.
Incoming: The Red Wings on Monday assigned Fabian Brunnstrom to the Griffins. The 6-1, 206-pound left wing has appeared in one game for Detroit after earning a contract following a strong performance as a tryout during training camp. Brunnstrom brings 100 games of NHL experience to Grand Rapids, 99 of which came with Dallas from 2008-10. He recorded 40 points (19-21—40) in that span after becoming only the third player in NHL history to record a hat trick in his first NHL game (Oct. 15, 2008 versus Nashville). Brunnstrom spent 2010-11 in the AHL, splitting the season between Texas and Toronto and totaling 35 points (15-20—35) in 72 contests.
Outgoing: The Red Wings made a second roster move on Monday, recalling left wing Gustav Nyquist from the Griffins. Nyquist sits tied for fifth in scoring among AHL rookies with nine points (4-5—9) in nine games. The product of Halmstad, Sweden, has recorded 13 points (5-8—13) in 17 games with Grand Rapids, dating back to an eight-game tryout following the end of his junior season with the University of Maine in 2010-11. Nyquist led the Black Bears in scoring all three years he was there while earning a nomination for the Hobey Baker Award in the final two seasons, having led the NCAA in scoring in 2009-10 with 61 points (19-42—61) in 39 games. Nyquist is expected to make his NHL debut tonight when the Red Wings host the Minnesota Wild at 7:30 p.m. The Griffins made a roster move of their own, assigning Adam Estoclet to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Estoclet skated in four games for the Griffins, recording two penalty minutes.
Old-Time Hockey: At the 3:42 mark of the second period in the Griffins’ 5-1 loss to Abbotsford on Friday, several fights broke out after a scrum in the Griffins’ crease. Included in the melee was a brawl between Griffins goaltender Joey MacDonald and Heat netminder Leland Irving. Both goaltenders were removed from the game following the skirmish. The goalie fight was just the second involving a Griffin since at least the start of the 2000-01 season. The only other fight in that stretch occurred on April 9, 2006, when Jimmy Howard and Rochester’s Michael Leighton battled during the first period of a 6-4 Americans victory. The game featured an AHL-high 118 combined penalty minutes.
Welcome Back: The Griffins welcomed back right wing Mitch Callahan last Saturday, who returned after serving a four-game suspension. Callahan was suspended by the AHL as consequence of a boarding penalty he took during a game in Hamilton on Oct. 18.
League Leaders: Several Griffins find themselves among the AHL’s early statistical leaders after fast starts to the new season. Chris Conner ranks among league leaders in several offensive categories with 13 points (T7th), five goals (T14th), eight assists (T10th), two shorthanded goals (T1st) and two first goals (T4th). Garnet Exelby (T6th) and Greg Amadio (13th) place among league penalty minute leaders with 40 and 32 penalty minutes respectively, while Mitch Callahan places second among rookies with 27 penalty minutes. Joey MacDonald ranks among the top ten netminders in the league with four wins (T5th), one shutout (T1st), 398:40 minutes (9th), 199 saves (8th) and a 0.889 shootout save percentage (8th). Gustav Nyquist is tied for fifth among league rookies with nine points. Brendan Smith is one of just four defensemen to score a shootout goal, and one of just two (Matt Taormina) to make that goal a shootout winner.
Milestone Watch: Defenseman Greg Amadio is poised to hit several milestones this week, as he sits one game shy of 400 in the AHL and two away from 500 as a pro, while two penalty minutes will give him 500 as a Griffin. Several other players are closing in on games played milestones, with Jordan Pearce two appearances away from 100 as a pro, Tomas Tatar six games shy of 200 as a pro and Joey MacDonald eight games away from hitting 200 games as a Griffin and 400 games as a pro. Chris Conner is closing in on 100 pro goals, sitting just seven away, while Tatar is eight points shy of 100 as a Griffin.
Wed., Nov. 2 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (4-6-1-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 5 vs. Charlotte Checkers (6-3-1-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
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