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GRIFFINS MAKE ANNUAL TRIP WEST TO BATTLE HEAT

This Week’s Games
Fri., Jan. 6 - GRIFFINS at Abbotsford Heat - 10 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Sat., Jan. 7 - GRIFFINS at Abbotsford Heat - 10 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Dec. 28 GRIFFINS 5 at Lake Erie Monsters 6 OT 12-13-3-2, 29 pts. (4th, North Division)

Fri., Dec. 30 Peoria Rivermen 4 at GRIFFINS 3 OT 12-13-4-2, 30 pts. (4th)

Sat., Dec. 31 Milwaukee Admirals 2 at GRIFFINS 3 13-13-4-2, 32 pts. (4th)

Back in the Swing: The Griffins often found themselves battling back in the final week of 2011, earning four of a possible six points. The team began the week by falling behind 4-0 in the first period to division-rival Lake Erie, but battled back to tie the game at five with just 20 seconds left in the third period. The Monsters prevailed when Tyson Barrie gave them the 6-5 decision just 35 seconds in to overtime. Grand Rapids fell behind 2-0 in the first period to Peoria on Friday, but scored three goals in the second period to take the lead heading into the final frame. After Jordan Pearce exited the game with an ankle injury, the Rivermen were able to tie the game against Joey MacDonald before former Griffin Danny Syvret scored with just 10 seconds left in overtime to hand the Griffins their franchise-record third straight overtime loss. Grand Rapids ended its four-game winless streak and extended its point streak to four games by defeating Milwaukee 3-2 in its 15th annual New Year’s Eve game.

West Coast: The Griffins will be in action twice this week, beginning 2012 with back-to-back road contests against the Abbotsford Heat. The Heat took both contests at Van Andel Arena this season, winning 5-1 on Oct. 28 and 5-4 in overtime on Dec. 21. Former Griffin Krys Kolanos was named first star of both games, recording seven points in the two Heat victories.

Close Calls: In addition to seeing eight of their past 13 contests go to overtime, the Griffins have had 12 of their last 15 games decided by just one goal, the sixth-most in the AHL. The Griffins have posted a 7-5-4-2 in one-goal games this season.

Remember December: While the Griffins only eclipsed their win totals from October and November by one (5), they lost just twice in regulation during the month of December (5-2-3-2). They earned a season-best 15 points in 12 games, just two fewer than their 20-game total over the first two months of the season. The Griffins earned points in four straight (1-0-3-0) and six of seven games (3-1-3-0) heading into this weekend. They’ve posted a 6-2-3-2 record in their last 13 games for a winning percentage of 0.654.

McCollum Steps Up: The Red Wings last Saturday reassigned goaltender Tom McCollum from the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) to the Griffins. McCollum had won three straight games with the Griffins from Nov. 29-Dec. 3 before being reassigned to Toledo on Dec. 7. The 22-year-old netminder started that night versus Milwaukee and made 29 saves to tie his career-best four-game winning streak (Oct. 24-Nov.13, 2009). McCollum sports a 5-3 record with a 3.03 goals against average and a 0.901 save percentage in eight appearances with Grand Rapids this season. He also sits seventh in the ECHL with a 2.68 goal against average, while holding a 5-6-1 record. McCollum was recalled due to an injury suffered by Jordan Pearce in last Friday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Peoria Rivermen. Pearce sprained his ankle after accidental contact from Rivermen forward T.J. Hensick.

Home is on the Road: The Griffins’ only opponent this week, the Abbotsford Heat, boasts the AHL’s best road record at 15-4, including two victories against the Griffins at Van Andel Arena. They sit second in the AHL overall with a 22-9-2-0 record, trailing division-rival Oklahoma City by four points. The Heat have not had the same success at home, where they sport a 7-5-2-0 record.

Familiar Foe: Many former Griffins dot the rosters of other AHL teams, but none has been more effective against his former club than Abbotsford’s Krys Kolanos, who recorded 12 points (6-6—12) in 17 games with the Griffins in 2006-07. Kolanos made his season debut against the Griffins on Oct. 28, over 21 months since his previous professional game on Jan. 16, 2010, notching three goals and one assist in a 5-1 Abbotsford win. Kolanos followed up his performance with a three-point effort in the Heat’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Griffins on Dec. 21, giving him five goals and two assists in two games against Grand Rapids this season.

Comeback Effort: The Griffins’ first game back after Christmas break on Dec. 28 did not start the way they wanted it to, as the team was down 4-0 after the first period of play. The Griffins went on to outshoot Lake Erie 34-8 over the final two periods of play, tying the game at five with 20 seconds to go courtesy of three points by Brent Raedeke and a game-tying goal by Garnet Exelby. The Griffins were unable to fend the Monsters off in overtime, as Tyson Barrie scored 35 seconds in to the fourth frame to give the Monsters a 6-5 win.

All-Star MIA: The American Hockey League announced on Wednesday that Griffins left wing Gustav Nyquist has been selected to play for the Western Conference All-Star Team at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held Jan. 29-30 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Nyquist leads the Griffins with 30 points (9-21—30) in 30 games, tying him for 11th in overall AHL scoring and second among all rookies. The Griffins will battle Abbotsford this weekend without the services of their lone all-star, who is currently with the Detroit Red Wings after being recalled last Thursday. Nyquist, who made his NHL debut on Nov. 1 versus Minnesota, has played in four games with the Red Wings this season and recorded his first NHL point when he assisted on a goal by former Griffin Cory Emmerton in the Red Wings’ 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

Quick Stay: When he was recalled by the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 30, Chris Conner was leading the Griffins in scoring with 23 points (7-16—23) in 20 games. The Livonia, Mich., native debuted with the Red Wings and scored three points (1-2—3) in six games before breaking his hand on Dec. 13 at Pittsburgh and missing the rest of the month. He was assigned to Grand Rapids on Monday but was recalled by the Red Wings again on Wednesday. Conner, who still sits fourth on the team in scoring despite missing the team’s last 12 games, has 43 points (17-26—43) in 145 career NHL games with Detroit, Pittsburgh and Dallas.

Andersson Assigned: The Red Wings on Wednesday assigned forward Joakim Andersson to the Griffins. Andersson became the 123rd alumnus of the Griffins to suit up in an NHL game after being recalled by the Red Wings on Dec. 27. He currently sits sixth on the Griffins with 17 points (8-9—17) in 29 games. The 22-year-old made his NHL debut last Tuesday in the Red Wings’ 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. He appeared in four games overall with Detroit, going scoreless with a plus-one rating.

Welcome Back, Jan: The Red Wings last Wednesday assigned forward Jan Mursak to the Griffins on a conditioning stint on Dec. 28. Mursak, who logged 86 points (39-47—86) in 184 games with Grand Rapids from 2008-11, hadn’t seen game action this year after breaking his ankle in a Sept. 25 preseason game. Mursak recorded one assist in his season debut in last Wednesday’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Lake Erie Monsters.

Who’s Hot?: Francis Pare has five points (1-4—5) in his past four games and has tied a team high with a four-game assist streak heading into this weekend…Tomas Tatar has points in 11 of his last 14 games, totaling 17 (6-11—17) along the way…Brendan Smith has points in his last three games (2-2—4)…Jamie Johnson has recorded points in each of his past four games (1-4—5)…Brent Raedeke saw a career-best three-game point streak (3-2—5) come to an end on Saturday versus Milwaukee. He had a three-point game on Dec. 28 at Lake Erie…Tom McCollum has won his last four starts (Nov. 29-Dec. 31), tying his AHL career-high winning streak set from Oct. 24 to Nov. 13, 2009.

Milestone Watch: Francis Pare continues to climb the all-time franchise leaderboard. With an assist on Friday versus Peoria, he passed Glen Metropolit to take possession of sixth place all time with 89 assists. Pare’s next goal will be his 70th as a Griffin, breaking a tie with Matt Ellis for sixth place in goals…If they suit up for both games this weekend, Greg Amadio will play in his 200th game as a Griffin and Brent Raedeke will play in his 100th…Tomas Tatar’s next goal will be his 50th as a Griffin, making him the 15th Grand Rapids player to reach that milestone…Tom McCollum is five games from 100 as a pro, while Willie Coetzee is six shy of that mark…Brendan Smith’s next point will be his 50th as a Griffin…Doug Janik is four penalty minutes away from 200 as a Griffin and 900 in the AHL.

Scouting Report

Fri., Jan. 6 at Abbotsford Heat (22-9-2-0) – Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre – 10 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 7 at Abbotsford Heat – Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre – 10 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 9:45 p.m. both nights. Web Casts: Video web casts at AHLLive.com, free audio available through ESPN961.com. All-Time Series: 2-6-1-1 Overall, 0-4-0-0 Road. Season Series: 0-1-1-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Abbotsford. NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames. Head Coach: Troy G. Ward (1st season). Notes: The Griffins have never won at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre (0-4)…Former Griffin Krys Kolanos has seven points (5-2—7) in two games against Grand Rapids this season and leads the Heat with 34 points (16-18—34) in 24 games. His 1.42 points-per-game average trails only the AHL’s two leading scorers (Hershey’s Keith Aucoin and Chris Bourque)…The Heat are without the services of Griffin Clay Wilson (6-14—20 in 32 games) and starting goaltender Leland Irving (15-7-0 record), who are both currently with the Calgary Flames. Kolanos and Wilson on Wednesday were tabbed for the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic…In the absence of Irving, goaltender Danny Taylor has posted a 7-2 record, a 2.09 goals against average and a 0.939 save percentage…Abbotsford has the second-best penalty killing (86.5) and sixth-best power play (20.9) in the AHL…Abbotsford has allowed the second-fewest goals against (79), for an average of 2.39 per game (2nd).

Griffins Game Rewinds
Dec. 28 - GR 5 at LE 6 OT
AHLLive Video Highlights
ESPN Radio Highlights:  Raedeke Second Goal  Exelby Goal  Monsters' OT Winner
Official Game Report

 
Dec. 30 - PEO 4 at GR 3 OT
AHLLive Video Highlights
GriffVision Video Interviews
WOOD Radio Highlights:  Pare Goal   Callahan Goal   Peoria OT Winner
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report


Dec. 31 - MIL 2 at GR 3
AHLLive Video Highlights
GriffVision Video Interviews
ESPN Radio Highlights:  Tatar Goal   Lashoff Goal   Smith Goal
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

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