This Week’s Games
Wed., Dec. 5 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Dec. 7 - GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves - 8:30 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / ESPN America / AHLLive.com
Sun., Dec. 9 - Rockford IceHogs at GRIFFINS - 4 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Nov. 30 - Texas Stars 3 at GRIFFINS 1 - 10-6-1-1, 22 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sat., Dec. 1 - Texas Stars 2 at GRIFFINS 3 - 11-6-1-1, 24 pts. (1st)
Starry Nights: The Griffins played just two games last week, hosting the Texas Stars for back-to-back contests on Friday and Saturday. Grand Rapids was unable to muster much offense on Friday against a Texas team that entered the night allowing the second-fewest shots on goal in the AHL, putting just 23 shots on net in a 3-1 loss. Landon Ferraro tallied the Griffins’ only goal, and Tom McCollum made 29 saves for the home team. The Griffins struck back the following night, edging the Stars 3-2 to keep a temporary hold on first place in the Midwest Division.
On Tap: Grand Rapids held first place in the Midwest Division following Saturday’s 3-2 win over Texas, but fell out of first place on Sunday after Rockford won its third straight game with a 4-1 victory over Charlotte. It marks the first time that the Griffins haven’t had at least a share of first place in the division since they jumped into first with a 5-3 win at Peoria on Nov. 10. The Griffins will meet the same Rivermen club to open the week on Wednesday at 7 p.m. with a chance to jump idle Rockford, which has played three more games than Grand Rapids. The club will then travel for one of just two road games this month, taking on the Chicago Wolves at 8:30 p.m. EST on Friday, before hosting a showdown with the IceHogs on Sunday at 4 p.m. to conclude the week.
Winning Ways: Despite dropping two of their last three, the Griffins remain one of the hottest teams in the AHL, having won nine of their last 11 games. The Griffins’ run included an eight-game winning streak (Nov. 3-24), which ties for the longest such streak of any team in the AHL with an active Binghamton run and was the fourth longest in franchise history. The Griffins have also won five straight on the road, two shy of the franchise-record seven-game road winning streak set from Oct. 16-Dec. 3, 2004, and they’ll get a rare opportunity to extend that streak when they meet Chicago on Friday. The Griffins have just two road games left in 2012, as they play 13 of 15 games at Van Andel Arena from Nov. 23-Jan. 4.
Best in the Midwest: The Griffins will play three divisional contests this week, which could spell good news for a Griffins team that has the third-best intra-divisional record (6-2-1-0, 0.722 winning percentage) in the AHL, trailing only Milwaukee (7-2-0-1, 0.750) and Springfield (4-1-0-1, 0.750). Grand Rapids will host Peoria on Wednesday, which has posted a 6-5-1-0 record within the Midwest Division and a 0-5-1-2 record against other divisions. The team will travel to Chicago on Friday to play the Wolves, who have played a league-high 15 of their 20 games against their own division, before hosting Rockford, which has the league’s third-worst divisional record (3-6-0-1, 0.350), on Sunday.
No Place Like Home: Saturday’s 3-2 win versus Texas was the first of a season-high 10 home games for Grand Rapids during December as part of a stretch of 13 of 15 games at Van Andel Arena (Nov. 24-Jan. 4). The Griffins will finish a four-game homestand versus Peoria on Wednesday and will enjoy a season-high seven-game homestand (Dec. 19-Jan. 4) to ring in the new year. Additionally, it marks the first time since December 2010 that the Griffins played 10 home games in one month, when they posted a 6-3-1-0 record.
Winning Wednesday: All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Admirals on Nov. 7 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to this Wednesday’s game versus Peoria. Tickets can be redeemed at The Zone during business hours (M-F 10-6; Sat 10-2) and at the box office before the game. If the Griffins beat the Rivermen, all fans in attendance may redeem their stub for a free ticket to the Griffins game on Wednesday, Dec. 19 versus Rochester. Additionally, the first 300 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a gift. Wednesday’s game also marks the debut of Wednesday is Hockey Night. Fans can show their Griffins ticket at 17 Arena District restaurants and bars – including Peppino's Sports Grille, home of the Griffins' Wednesday post-game parties with the players – to enjoy Happy Hour specials before the game and Hockey Night specials afterward. Visit griffinshockey.com/hockeynight for a list of participating establishments. Wednesday’s game is also a Library Night, allowing fans to present their Grand Rapids Public Library card or Kent District Library card at the box office on the day of the game or at The Zone to save $7 off the price of a Lower Level Faceoff ticket. Finally, fans can enjoy a buy-one, get-one-free deal on a 16 oz. Pepsi all game long at any concession stand that sells fountain drinks.
Salute to Heroes: Sunday’s contest versus Rockford is the Griffins’ annual Salute to Heroes Night. Firefighters, police and paramedics are encouraged to take advantage of special ticket offers to attend, as the Griffins will honor local heroes throughout the evening. Additionally, the first 1,500 fans will receive a Griffins superhero cape. Fans can also enjoy the usual Sunday promotions, such as dollar Pepsi drinks and ice cream, as well as Library Night specials ($7 off the price of a Lower Level Faceoff Ticket with a valid Grand Rapids Public Library or Kent District Library card at the box office or The Zone). Finally, Jeff Hoggan, Petr Mrazek and Tomas Tatar will sign autographs from the bench following the game, presented by Huntington Bank.
Rounding Up: Last month, the Griffins asked fans to participate in the “Round Up at the Rink” fundraiser when visiting the concession stands for their home games versus the Chicago Wolves on Nov. 23 and the Milwaukee Admirals on Nov. 25 to benefit Make-A-Wish Michigan. Fans purchasing concession items at either home game were asked to round up their total purchase to the nearest dollar, with all donations going to fulfill more wishes for Make-A-Wish Michigan. Organized by Ryan Rabinowitz, a 14-year-old high school student and hockey player from Novi, Mich., the event raised $624.18 as part of the statewide initiative to raise money to grant more wishes. Dozens of hockey arenas have participated or will participate in the event during November and December, with the goal of raising $5,000 – the estimated cost of an entire wish.
Roster Move: The Detroit Red Wings on Monday reassigned defenseman Max Nicastro to the Grand Rapids Griffins from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Nicastro skated in three games for Toledo, scoring a goal and posting a plus-three rating. The Thousand Oaks, California, native notched the game-tying goal with 0.1 seconds left in Toledo’s come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory in his ECHL debut last Friday versus Kalamazoo.
Road Warriors: The Griffins enter this week with a five-game road winning streak and a 7-2 road record; which they will have a chance to improve upon this Friday with a visit to Chicago. The Griffins’ 0.778 winning percentage on the road is the third-best mark in the AHL, trailing only Springfield (6-1-1-0, 0.813) and Syracuse, which suffered its first two regulation road losses last week (10-2-0-1, 0.808). Grand Rapids will only have a few chances to improve on that mark in the next few weeks, with only two road games left in 2012 and 13 of 15 games overall to be played (Nov. 25-Jan. 4) at Van Andel Arena. Additionally, the team was 5-1 on the road in November, matching its most road wins during a month since going 5-0 in October 2007.
Rewriting History: No Griffins player has found the scoresheet more regularly of late than Francis Pare, who has racked up 13 points (6-7—13) in his past nine games. Pare saw a team-best seven-game point streak come to an end in Friday’s 3-1 loss to Texas, but he responded with two points the following night against the same team. The points gave Pare 209 as a Griffin, which moved him past Kip Miller (208) and into third place in franchise history. Only Michel Picard (380) and Travis Richards (238) have recorded more points in Griffins history. The fifth-year pro also ranks among the Griffins’ all-time leaders with 314 games played (4th), 89 goals (2nd), 120 assists (5th), 12 game-winning goals (T5th) and 743 shots (5th).
Steady as a Rock: His name hasn’t appeared often on the scoresheet for the Griffins this season – although he did record his first goal of the season in Saturday’s 3-2 win versus Texas – but Brian Lashoff does have two impressive statistical achievements on his record this season. The Albany, N.Y., native is a team-best plus-seven this season after starting the season with a team-worst minus-five rating after four games. Lashoff has posted a plus-12 rating since that point, which would tie for fifth in the league on its own. Additionally, he is one of 10 players in the AHL who have played in at least 15 games this season without any penalty minutes. Only Houston’s Justin Fontaine (19), Texas’ Toby Petersen (20) and Connecticut’s Christian Thomas (20) have played more games this season without spending a minute in the sin bin.
Very Special Teams: The Griffins enter this week with a power play that ties for fifth in the AHL with a 21.7 percent efficiency, trailing only Charlotte (23.9), Bridgeport (22.8), Oklahoma City (22.5) and Houston (22.4). The team had scored a power play goal in seven straight games before Texas blanked it on two opportunities on Friday and again in three chances on Saturday. Grand Rapids has scored a power play goal in all but six games this season. Additionally, the Griffins’ penalty kill has risen to 12th in the league (83.9 percent), having allowed a power play goal in just five of their last 12 games and killing off 48 of their last 53 opportunities (90.5 percent). The team is also tied for seventh in the AHL with three shorthanded goals. Landon Ferraro has factored in on all three of those goals, tying for the AHL lead in shorthanded points (1-2—3).
League Leaders: Gustav Nyquist enters this week tied for 16th in the AHL with 19 points (8-11—19) in 19 games…Tomas Tatar’s team-leading 10 goals tie for 11th in the league, and his five power play goals tie for third…Chad Billins is tied for third in the AHL with 15 assists, and he is tied for fifth in rookie scoring (1-15—16) and for sixth in scoring among league defensemen…Petr Mrazek ranks among the AHL’s top goaltenders with a 2.47 goals against average (13th), a 0.912 save percentage (18th) and seven wins (T11th). He also boasts the second-best winning percentage (0.875) of goalies who have appeared in more than three games, trailing only Abbotsford’s Barry Brust, who is 6-0 with a league-leading 0.66 goals against average and 0.973 save percentage.
Wingspan: A new Griffins episode of Wingspan – recorded Nov. 6-9 in Grand Rapids – premiered last week with re-airs currently scheduled for Friday, Dec. 7 and Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. each day. Among the players and coaches featured are Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar and Jeff Blashill. Wingspan is a weekly series that explores all things Detroit Red Wings, including player stories, team history and behind-the-scenes, all-access looks at the team.
Milestones: Gustav Nyquist skated in his 100th game as a Griffin last Friday versus Texas…Francis Pare will tie former teammate Jamie Tardif (316) in games played with two more appearances…Tomas Tatar’s next goal will draw him even with Kip Miller (75) for fourth place in Griffins history, and four goals will tie Tardif (78)…Triston Grant is three penalty minutes shy of 1,300 in his AHL career…Tom McCollum surpassed Ian Gordon (2,155 saves) and now boasts the fifth-most saves in franchise history (2,165). He sits just three games and 59 saves of tying former teammate Daniel Larsson for fifth all time in games played (93) and fourth all time in saves (2,224).
Walleye Watch: Several players with Griffins connections have helped the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye reclaim first place in the North Division, while tying for second overall in the Eastern Conference. Willie Coetzee (8-10—18) and Andrej Nestrasil (7-11—18) are tied for the team lead in scoring. Nestrasil recorded back-to-back two-point games over the weekend and currently has five points (1-4—5) in a three-game scoring streak. Luke Glendening leads the Walleye and is seventh in the ECHL with 12 goals. Glendening is tied for third on the club with 17 points (12-5—17) after also recording points in three straight games for Toledo (2-2—4). Jordan Pearce saw a six-game winning streak end when Toledo dropped a 3-2 decision to Evansville on Sunday, but Pearce still ranks among ECHL leaders with a 2.38 goals against average (7th) and a 0.913 save percentage (9th).
Wed., Dec. 5 vs. Peoria Rivermen (6-10-2-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 20-22-2-2 Overall, 7-12-2-1 Home. Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Third of 10 meetings overall, first of five in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Dave Allison (1st season). Notes: All six of Peoria’s victories have come against Midwest Division opponents…T.J. Hensick leads Peoria with 20 points (5-15—15) in 20 games, which ties for 10th in the league…Rivermen goaltender Jake Allen is tied for the league lead in losses (9) and ranks third in minutes (954:54) and fourth in saves (447)…Peoria has earned the second-fewest points on the road (6) this season, with a 2-5-2-0 record away from home…Only Charlotte and Milwaukee average fewer penalty minutes per game than Peoria (13.55), which has taken a league-low 83 minors…The Rivermen have struggled on special teams, ranking 26th in the league on the power play (11.1 percent) and 24th on the penalty kill (80 percent)…Peoria averages the fourth-fewest goals per game (2.35) and allows the most (3.65)…Rivermen defenseman Taylor Chorney is a league-worst minus-16…Peoria head coach Dave Allison was the first-ever Griffins head coach, sporting a 70-55-19 record from 1996-98…Griffins defenseman Brennan Evans spent the past two seasons with Peoria, registering 21 points (5-16—21) and 238 penalty minutes.
Fri., Dec. 7 at Chicago Wolves (9-8-2-1) – Allstate Arena – 8:30 p.m. EST
TV: MY50 Chicago and ESPN America at 8:30 p.m. EST. Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. EST. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 51-39-2-4-2 Overall, 25-23-0-2-0 Road. Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Third of eight meetings overall, second of four in Chicago. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Scott Arniel (1st season). Notes: Chicago has struggled in its last 10 games, with a 3-5-1-1 record…The team snapped a four-game losing skid with a 3-1 win over Peoria on Saturday…The Wolves have been stronger at home (6-2-1-1) than on the road (3-5-1-1) this season…Chicago has struggled on special teams this season, with a power play efficiency of 9.9 percent (28th) and a 77.5 percent penalty kill (30th)…Brett Sterling leads the Wolves in scoring with 14 points (6-8—14) in 16 games…Former Griffin Darren Haydar is the second-highest active AHL scorer (behind Toronto’s Keith Aucoin) and led the Griffins with 80 points (31-49—80) in 2008-09.
Sun., Dec. 9 vs. Rockford IceHogs (12-9-0-1) – Van Andel Arena – 4 p.m.
TV: 23 Weather Now (WIFR-DT 23.2 Rockford) at 4 p.m. Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 3:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 9-13-3-3 Overall, 7-6-1-1 Home. Season Series: 1-0-1-0 Overall, 1-0-1-0 Home. Third of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (2nd season). Notes: Rockford has won three straight games and seven of 10 to vault into first place in the Midwest Division…The IceHogs are the fourth-most penalized team in the league, averaging 22.27 minutes per game…Rockford defenseman Adam Clendening is tied for sixth among rookies and defensemen with 16 points (4-12—16) in 19 games…IceHogs forward Jeremy Morin is fourth in the AHL with 73 shots…Rockford boasts the AHL’s seventh-best power play at 19.8 percent…The IceHogs are tied for seventh in the league in offense, averaging 3.32 goals per game…Rockford left wing Wade Brookbank was the 56th Griffins alum to skate in the NHL. Brookbank led Grand Rapids with 337 penalty minutes during the 2000-01 season, the fourth-highest single season total in franchise history…Rockford defenseman Brett Lebda was the 70th Griffins alum to graduate to the NHL. Lebda had 31 points (6-25—31) in 111 games with Grand Rapids from 2003-06 and won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008.