11/14/2012 3:48 PM
This Week’s Games
Fri., Nov. 16 - GRIFFINS at Lake Erie Monsters - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Nov. 7 - Milwaukee Admirals 2 at GRIFFINS 4 - 5-4-1-1, 12 pts. (2nd, Midwest Division)
Fri., Nov. 9 - Rockford IceHogs 3 at GRIFFINS 5 - 6-4-1-1, 14 pts. (2nd)
Sat., Nov. 10 - GRIFFINS 5 at Peoria Rivermen 3 - 7-4-1-1, 16 pts. (1st)
Leap to First: After a slow 1-3-0-1 start to the season that led to a fifth-place position in the standings, the Griffins have picked up points in seven of their last eight games – including five straight wins – to rapidly ascend the Midwest Division, now holding sole possession of first place with a 7-4-1-1 record. The Griffins had an early last week, with Wednesday’s 4-2 win during their 12th annual matinee game. The team continued its winning ways into the weekend, earning 5-3 victories at home versus Rockford on Friday and on the road at Peoria on Saturday to extend its AHL-best winning streak.
Waiting Game: The Griffins had a busy start to the month, playing six games in a nine-day span (Nov. 2-10) that finished with a 5-3 victory over the Peoria Rivermen on Saturday. Grand Rapids will now have a slight break in its schedule, playing just one game in a 12-day stretch (Nov. 11-22): a road contest against the Lake Erie Monsters this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Good to Be Back: Grand Rapids enters this week holding sole possession of first place in the Midwest Division. The last time the Griffins held a share of first place was following games of Oct. 25, 2010, and the last time they held first place alone was Feb. 2, 2009 – 1,377 days prior to jumping into first place after Saturday’s 5-3 win in Peoria. Francis Pare, who tallied the game-winning goal against the Rivermen, is the only current player who was on the team at that time. Grand Rapids (7-4-1-1) currently leads Chicago (7-4-1-0) by one point and faces a difficult path to keep a hold on first place, as it plays just one game to the Wolves’ three between now and the teams’ second meeting of the season on Nov. 23 at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins currently sit third in the conference and are tied for fifth overall in the AHL.
One of a Kind: The Griffins’ five-game winning streak is the longest such streak of any team in the AHL this season. It’s also tied for the second-longest active point streak behind Springfield’s seven-game run (5-0-0-2). Additionally, the streak matches the team’s longest winning streak of last season, Feb. 22-March 3. The last time the Griffins won six in a row, which they will look to do on Friday at Lake Erie, was during a nine-game run from Oct. 23-Nov. 13, 2009. With a win against the Monsters, Grand Rapids would tie for the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
Number Five: With three points in last Friday’s 5-3 win over Rockford, Francis Pare became the fifth player in franchise history to reach 200 points. Pare assisted on goals by Riley Sheahan and Brendan Smith before potting an empty net goal to seal the victory. The fifth-year Griffin joins Michel Picard (380), Travis Richards (238), Kip Miller (208) and Derek King (203). Pare’s pair of assists also pushed him past Jiri Hudler (114) and into fifth place all-time. The Lemoyne, Quebec, native ranks among the team’s all-time leaders with 308 games played (4th), 86 goals (2nd), 116 assists (5th), 202 points (5th), 12 game-winning goals (T5th), 15 first goals (2nd), 20 shootout attempts (8th) and 732 shots (5th). His next point will be his 203rd as a Griffin, tying him with Derek King for fourth place all time, and he sits just six points shy of third-place Kip Miller’s 208 career points.
No Place Like Home: Francis Pare played a big role in helping the Griffins extend their winning streak to five games, recording six points (3-3—6) in the team’s three games last weekend. Pare also holds an AHL-best five-game home goal-scoring streak, having tallied in every Griffins home game since Oct. 13. Additionally, Chad Billins has racked up eight assists in the Griffins’ last four home games, tying him for the league’s fourth-longest assist streak this season.
Unfamiliar Territory: While Grand Rapids doesn’t play at home this week, fans will get many chances to see the Griffins over the following few weeks. The Griffins play in Cleveland against Lake Erie this Friday in just their fourth remaining road game of 2012. The club will play 14 of its next 18 games (Nov. 16-Jan. 4) at Van Andel Arena, including a season-high 10 in December.
Elite Company: After his first four AHL starts, Petr Mrazek finds himself with the AHL’s fourth-best goals against average (1.71) and save percentage (0.940) in addition to his 4-0 record. Mrazek can tie the best start of any Griffins goalie if he is victorious in his next outing, which would match franchise-best 5-0 starts by Mathieu Chouinard in 2000-01 and Ty Conklin last season.
Pick Your Poison: The Griffins’ recent success has been aided by strong special teams. The team’s power play is currently tied for seventh in the AHL (21.3 percent) and has scored at least once in four of the five games making up the current winning streak. Additionally, Tomas Tatar is tied for second in the AHL (behind Worcester’s Bracken Kearns) with four power play goals, and Chad Billins is tied for the league lead (along with Charlotte’s Marc-Andre Gragnani and three members of Oklahoma City in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz) with seven power play assists. The team’s penalty kill has also been strong of late, currently ranking 15th in the AHL after having killed off 26 of its opponents’ last 28 man advantages (92.9 percent). The Griffins are also tied for third in the AHL with three shorthanded goals, trailing only Bridgeport (5) and Manchester (4). Landon Ferraro has factored in on all three of those goals (1-2—3), giving him the league lead in shorthanded points. The team has also cut back on penalty minutes, averaging the third lowest total (13.85 minutes per game) in the AHL.
Close Calls: The Griffins have played numerous close games this season. Eight of their 13 games have been decided by just one goal, which ties them with Hershey and Lake Erie for the most in the league. Of the five remaining games, four have been decided by just two goals, including an empty netter. The Griffins are tied for the league-low, along with Binghamton, Hershey and San Antonio, with just one game decided by more than two goals (4-1 W at Texas on Nov. 3).
League Leaders: Gustav Nyquist leads the Griffins and sits third overall in league scoring with 15 points (6-9—15) in 13 games, trailing only Oklahoma City’s Justin Schultz (7-11—18) and Jordan Eberle (6-10—16). Nyquist and Francis Pare share the team lead with six goals, tying them for 14th in the AHL. Nyquist is also tied for seventh in the league with a plus-nine rating and tied for eighth with nine assists, a category that is led by Chad Billins, who has 12 assists in 13 contests. Billins is tied for fifth in scoring among AHL rookies and for third among all defensemen. Landon Ferraro holds the league lead with three shorthanded points. Petr Mrazek ranks fourth in the league with a 1.71 goals against average and is tied for fourth with a 0.940 save percentage. He is also tied for the league lead with a 1.000 shootout save percentage.
Heating Up: The Griffins currently have the AHL’s sixth-best offense, averaging 3.54 goals per game, and they’ve seen contributions come from throughout the lineup. Francis Pare and Joakim Andersson share team-best three-game point streaks, with Pare registering six points (3-3—6) in that span and Andersson recording five points (2-3—5)…After going pointless in his first seven games in North America, Adam Almquist has six points (2-4—6) in the team’s last six games…Chad Billins has 12 points – all assists – in his last 10 games…Gustav Nyquist has been held pointless in just four games this season and has posted a team-high five multipoint games…Riley Sheahan recorded three goals in three games last week…Landon Ferraro recorded his first professional multipoint game with two goals last Saturday at Peoria. Ferraro is fourth on the team with 10 points (5-5—10) in 13 games and has recorded points in all but four games this season.
A Month of Moustaches: Throughout November, Griffins players and staff are sporting moustaches to serve as walking billboards for Movember, a month-long initiative to help raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Fans can donate through griffinshockey.com/movember either directly to a member of the Griffins’ front office staff or to the players through the “Donate to Team” button. Weekly progress photos and updates will be posted on griffinshockey.com and the team’s social media channels. Additionally, fans can purchase special ticket offers with proceeds benefitting the Movember organization by entering the promo code “movember” at griffinshockey.com/promocode when purchasing tickets to any November home game.
Walleye Watch: Several familiar faces continue to lead the way for the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Willie Coetzee leads the team with 11 points (5-6—11) in 13 games and ranks second in the league with 56 shots after putting together back-to-back two-point games (1-3—4) over the weekend. Andrej Nestrasil ranks second on the club with 10 points (5-5—10) in 13 games, while Luke Glendening leads Toledo and is tied for 15th in the league with six goals. Glendening has racked up eight points (6-2—8) over the team’s last nine games. Jordan Pearce has won back-to-back games with the Walleye, now sitting with a 2-1 record and a 3.03 goals against average since joining the team earlier this month.
Fri., Nov. 16 at Lake Erie Monsters (9-5-0-0) – Quicken Loans Arena – 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 21-13-2-4 Overall, 7-7-2-4 Road. Season Series: First of six meetings overall, first of three in Cleveland. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Dean Chynoweth (1st season). Notes: Rookie Mike Sgarbossa leads the Monsters with 13 points (6-7—13) in 14 games, which ties for 10th in the AHL. Sgarbossa is one of three Monsters among the AHL’s top rookie scorers. He is tied for second in that category, while Andrew Agozzino is tied for 10th (6-4—10 in 14 games) and Paul Carey is tied for 15th (2-5—8 in 15 games)…Lake Erie is a perfect 4-0 in shootouts this season, led by Bryan Lerg and Sgarbossa, who rank first and second in the AHL with four and three shootout goals, respectively…Monsters defenseman Thomas Pock is tied for fifth among league blueliners with 11 points (3-8—11) in 13 games.