04/16/2012 2:05 PM
04/16/2012 2:05 PM - Last Week’s Results
Tue., April 10 - GRIFFINS 5 at Rochester Americans 4 OT - 33-29-7-4, 77 pts. (4th, North Division)
Fri., April 13 - Chicago Wolves 7 at GRIFFINS 5 - 33-30-7-4, 77 pts. (4th)
Sat., April 14 - GRIFFINS 2 at Hamilton Bulldogs 5 - 33-31-7-4, 77 pts. (4th)
Sun., April 15 - GRIFFINS 2 at Hamilton Bulldogs 3 - 33-32-7-4, 77 pts. (4th)
END OF REGULAR SEASON
Thank You Fans!: After drawing 10,217 fans for their home finale on Friday, the Griffins are celebrating an attendance increase (average per game) for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The Griffins’ average of 7,253 ranked sixth in the 30-team AHL, as Grand Rapids outdrew such major markets as Austin, Charlotte, Milwaukee, San Antonio and Toronto. The team also welcomed in its five-millionth fan this season when Russ Campbell of Wyoming, Mich., walked through the turnstiles about 30 minutes before the Griffins’ 5-3 win over Hamilton on March 17.
Franchise First: Last Tuesday’s game in Rochester ended in dramatic fashion, with Doug Janik concluding matters 1:46 into overtime on a penalty shot. Not only is Janik the only Griffin to score on a penalty shot in overtime, but his attempt was the second ever for a Griffin in OT (Eric Himelfarb had the first versus Manitoba’s Drew MacIntyre in the playoffs on April 23, 2007) and the second ever for a Griffins defenseman. Aaron Schneekloth had the first attempt for a blueliner versus Cleveland’s Dimitri Patzold on Dec. 10, 2003, but he did not score.
Pare’s Point Streak: Griffins right wing Francis Pare was one of the team’s hottest players down the stretch, recording points in 10 straight games from March 24-April 13. Pare, who racked up 15 points (4-11—15) during his run, passed Gustav Nyquist (eight games) for the longest point streak of any Griffin this season and tied for the seventh-longest streak in franchise history. Pare’s 10-game run was the longest since Darren Haydar’s 10-game streak from Feb. 20-March 13, 2009 and tied for the fifth-longest streak in the AHL this season. Additionally, Pare’s two goals on Friday night versus Chicago moved him past former teammate Jamie Tardif and into sole possession of second place in franchise history with 80 goals. The Lemoyne, Quebec, native also sits among the franchise’s all-time leaders with 295 games played (6th), 113 assists (one shy of tying Jiri Hudler for fifth place), 193 points (5th) and 699 shots (5th).
Offensive Onslaught: The Griffins finished the season with the league’s second-best offense, scoring 245 goals for an average of 3.22 per game. The only team with a better offense was Norfolk, which won an AHL-record 28 straight games to close out the season and finished first overall in the league. Grand Rapids also led the league with a 34.08 shots-per-game average, almost one full shot better than second-place Worcester (33.25). The Griffins were also one of just two teams to have five 20-goal scorers (Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Chris Minard, Joakim Andersson and Jamie Johnson) this season, along with Peoria, which had six. It’s the most 20-goal scorers the team has had since logging eight in 2005-06 (Donald MacLean, Jiri Hudler, Tomas Kopecky, Darryl Bootland, Eric Manlow, Kent McDonell, Valtteri Filppula and Matt Ellis)
Minard Wins Hunt: On April 6, the AHL named Griffins left wing Chris Minard the 2011-12 winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey. The award was voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in the league’s 30 cities. The 30-year-old forward missed the team’s first 36 games this season while dealing with the continuing after-effects of a concussion suffered during the 2009-10 season. The Owen Sound, Ontario, native rejoined the Griffins on Jan. 15 at Charlotte and tallied two goals in his second game back. Minard went on to capture the Reebok/AHL Player of the Month honors for February after racking up 13 points (8-5—13) and a plus-seven rating over 10 games during the month. He spent most of his first four professional seasons in the ECHL and Central Hockey League before joining the AHL full-time in 2006-07. Over his 10 professional seasons, Minard has skated in 371 career AHL contests with six different clubs, registering 272 points (159-113—272). He’s also appeared in 40 NHL games with Edmonton and Pittsburgh, serving as a “black ace” during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup championship season of 2008-09.
AHL All-Rookie Team: For the second straight season, the Griffins saw a player named to the AHL All-Rookie Team when left wing Gustav Nyquist was named to the squad for the 2011-12 season. Despite missing 16 of the Griffins’ last 19 games while with the parent Red Wings, Nyquist still tied for the team lead in scoring with 58 points (22-36—58) in 56 games. In his last game with the club – a 5-2 win versus Hamilton on March 17 – Nyquist recorded three points (2-1—3) to become the franchise’s all-time rookie scoring leader. The 22-year-old is just one of seven Griffins rookies ever to score 20 goals, and his 22 goals trailed only Francis Pare and Justin Abdelkader on the team’s all-time rookie goal scoring list. Nyquist became the fourth Griffin to be named to the AHL All-Rookie Team, joining current Red Wings Justin Abdelkader (2008-09), Jimmy Howard (2005-06) and Brendan Smith, who was named to the All-Rookie Team last season. The Halmstad, Sweden, native was also the team’s lone representative at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic. The other members of the AHL All-Rookie Team are forwards Cory Conacher (Norfolk) and Tyler Johnson (Norfolk); defensemen Matt Donovan (Bridgeport) and Cade Fairchild (Peoria); and goaltender Eddie Pasquale (St. John’s).
Ironmen: Jamie Johnson, Brian Lashoff and Tomas Tatar were the only three Griffins to skate in all 76 games for the team this season, becoming three of 22 players in franchise history to appear in every regular season game.
Rewrite the Record Books: Several Griffins improved their place among the team’s all-time top 10 this season. Francis Pare (295) and Logan Pyett (288) entered the franchise’s top 10 in games played and finished the season fifth and seventh in that category, respectively. Pare began the season eighth all-time with 64 goals and rose to second place with 80 after passing former teammate Jamie Tardif (78) with a pair of goals last Friday versus Chicago. Pare also jumped from 10th (tied) to 6th with 113 assists, one away from tying Jiri Hudler for fifth, and from eighth to fifth with 193 career points. Tomas Tatar entered the Griffins’ top 10 in several categories, with 64 goals (8th), 83 assists (10th) and 147 points (8th) over 204 career games. Before his midseason trade, Greg Amadio climbed to fifth place all-time with 574 penalty minutes as a Griffin.
Net Worth: Before being recalled to Detroit for good, Joey MacDonald overtook his former teammate Jimmy Howard for first place all-time in several goaltending categories with 210 games played, 11,784:31 minutes and 5,362 saves and extended his franchise leads in wins (109) and shutouts (20). Long-time NHL goaltender Ty Conklin played 12 games for the Griffins this season and tied a franchise record with his 5-0 start. He nearly made it 6-0, as his first loss was a 1-0 decision to Hamilton on March 4. Tom McCollum now ranks seventh all-time among Griffins goaltenders with 82 games played, seventh in minutes with 4,473:55, 10th with 27 victories and seventh with 1,967 saves. McCollum also finished fourth in the AHL this season with a 0.857 save percentage in shootouts, which is the second-highest shootout percentage the Griffins have ever had (with a minimum of seven attempts) behind only Drew MacIntyre, who recorded a 0.875 percentage in 2005-06. Finally, McCollum made 22 saves in the third period during a career-high 43 save victory over Oklahoma City on March 25, which tied for the fifth-most saves by an AHL goaltender in any single period this season.
Fuel for the Motor City: Since 1996, the Griffins have sent 125 players on to the National Hockey League, including 53 to the Detroit Red Wings. Riley Sheahan became the 125th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL when he suited up for Detroit in the Red Wings’ 3-2 shootout loss versus Chicago in their final game of the regular season on April 7. Sheahan joined Gustav Nyquist, Fabian Brunnstrom, Brendan Smith, Mark Cullen, Chris Conner, Joakim Andersson and Ty Conklin as the eight players who made their NHL debuts/returns this season. Ten members of the 2011-12 Griffins played at least one game for the Red Wings this season. Conversely, 20 of the 31 players who played for Detroit this season are current or former Griffins, 15 of whom played a part in the Red Wings’ NHL-record 23-game home winning streak.
Black Aces: The Red Wings on Monday recalled 11 players from Grand Rapids to serve as “black aces” for the team’s 2012 Stanley Cup Playoff run. Joining the Red Wings were goaltender Tom McCollum; defensemen Travis Ehrhardt, Garnet Exelby, Doug Janik, Brian Lashoff and Brendan Smith; and forwards Joakim Andersson, Louis-Marc Aubry, Fabian Brunnstrom, Francis Pare and Tomas Tatar. Additionally, head coach Curt Fraser, assistant coach Jim Paek, equipment manager Brad Thompson and athletic trainer John Bernal will assist Detroit’s hockey operations staff during the postseason.
League Leaders: For the first time ever, three players tied for the team lead in scoring: Gustav Nyquist (22-36—58) in 56 games), Tomas Tatar (24-34—58 in 76 games) and Jamie Johnson (21-37—58 in 76 games). The trio tied for 23rd among all AHL players in scoring…Tatar’s team-leading 24 goals tied for 27th in the league…Four players factored in the AHL’s top 30 in assists: Chris Conner and Johnson tied for 21st overall with 37 assists, and Nyquist and Francis Pare’s 36 assists tied for 26th…Garnet Exelby tied for 10th in the AHL with 177 penalty minutes…Conner and Brendan Smith each recorded two shorthanded goals, which tied for 14th in the league. Conner recorded his two shorthanded goals in the same game (Oct. 18 at Hamilton), becoming the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat…Tatar led the team with 224 shots, tying him for 11th in the league…Several players factored into the AHL’s best in the shootout, as Chris Minard capitalized on both of his shootout chances to tie for first in the league with a perfect shootout percentage. Louis-Marc Aubry tied for 14th in the AHL with a 0.667 success rate, while Nyquist, who had the team’s most shootout goals (4) and attempts (7), tied for 34th at 0.571, which is the seventh-best mark in franchise history (minimum of four attempts)…Doug Janik posted a team-best plus-19 rating, which tied for 14th in the AHL...Mitch Callahan’s 15 major penalties were second most among rookies.
A Night to Remember: The Griffins’ most successful offensive outing this season was an 8-0 drubbing of Hamilton on Nov. 11, which broke one franchise record and tied two others. The team fired 51 shots at the Hamilton net to set a new franchise-high for shots in a road game. They also came within one shot of tying the franchise record for most shots in one period on the road when they recorded 22 in the first period. The eight-goal margin of victory tied franchise records for largest margin of victory in both a game and in a shutout, as it was the third time in Griffins history – and first since their inaugural season in the AHL – that the team won by eight goals. The game still ranks among several AHL single-season game highs for the 2011-12 season, with eight goals scored (T3rd), 16 assists recorded (3rd), 24 total points (3rd), an eight-goal margin of victory (2nd) and a five-goal second period (T2nd).
NHL Playoffs: The Griffins have seen an alumnus engrave his name on the Stanley Cup in each of the past four seasons (2008-2011) and six times in the last seven seasons. This season, the team saw 31 alumni suit up for nine of the 16 playoff teams: Boston (Chris Kelly), Detroit (Justin Abdelkader, Joakim Andersson, Fabian Brunnstrom, Ty Conklin, Chris Conner, Cory Emmerton, Jonathan Ericsson, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Jimmy Howard, Jiri Hudler, Doug Janik, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, Joey MacDonald, Jan Mursak, Gustav Nyquist, Kyle Quincey, Riley Sheahan and Brendan Smith), Florida (Mark Cullen and Tomas Kopecky), Los Angeles (Scott Parse), Nashville (Chris Mueller), NY Rangers (Sean Avery and Kris Newbury), Ottawa (Jason Spezza and Chris Neil), Philadelphia (Andreas Lilja) and Pittsburgh (Jason Williams).
AHL Playoffs: Fourteen former Griffins on nine different teams will be competing for the Calder Cup starting on Thursday: Abbotsford (Adam Estoclet, Krys Kolanos and Clay Wilson); Chicago (Darren Haydar); Connecticut (Kris Newbury and Jordan Owens); Milwaukee (Chris Mueller); Oklahoma City (Bryan Helmer and Ryan Keller); Rochester (Evan Rankin); San Antonio (Mark Cullen); St. John’s (Aaron Gagnon and Derek Meech); and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Jason Williams).
In the Show: With the advancement of eight current or former Griffins to the NHL this season, Grand Rapids has now sent 125 players on to the NHL during its 16 seasons of play. Forty-three Griffins alumni logged ice time with 16 different NHL teams during the 2011-12 regular season, combining to play 1,586 games while accumulating 199 goals, 339 assists, 538 points, 48 wins and seven shutouts. (* Played for Grand Rapids this season.)
Looking Ahead: The 2012-13 season promises to be an exciting one for the Griffins. The team will be beginning its third five-year affiliation with Detroit, an extension that was announced on March 7 and ensures that the relationship between Michigan’s premier hockey teams will continue through at least the 2016-17 season. The 10-year-old affiliation has helped produce a Stanley Cup and an AHL regular season championship, along with multiple division titles for both teams. Among other benefits to the Griffins, this new agreement transfers responsibility for all players and hockey operations staff – including coaches, equipment managers and trainers – to the Red Wings. Additionally, the Griffins will play their first-ever outdoor game when they host the Toronto Marlies at Comerica Park in December. The game is part of the Red Wings “Hockeytown Winter Festival” – a series of NHL alumni, junior, college, high school and youth contests that will lead up to the much-anticipated 2013 NHL Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1. If you would like to receive ticket information from the Griffins regarding the Winter Classic and Griffins versus Marlies game at Comerica Park, click here to submit your contact information. As soon as information is available, you’ll be among the first to know.
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