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PLAYOFF PUSH

This Week’s Games
Wed., April 10 - Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. -
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Fri., April 12 - Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. -
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Sat., April 13 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. -
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results

Tue., April 2 - GRIFFINS 5 at Houston Aeros 1 - 39-23-3-3, 84 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)

Fri., April 5 - GRIFFINS 4 at Abbotsford Heat 1 - 40-23-3-3, 86 pts. (1st)

Sat., April 6 - GRIFFINS 2 at Abbotsford Heat 3 SO - 40-23-3-4, 87 pts. (1st)

Two-Week Trek: The Griffins wrapped up their busiest road stretch of the season last week, with the final three games of a season-high seven-game road trip and a stretch of 10 of 11 away from home (March 16-April 6). The team started the week in Texas, earning a 5-1 victory over the Houston Aeros on Tuesday. Francis Pare tallied three points (2-1—3), Tomas Jurco picked up a goal and an assist and Luke Glendening and Chad Billins also scored in the win. Grand Rapids continued its winning ways on Friday in Abbotsford, picking up its 40th win of the season – and 700th in franchise history – in the first of back-to-back games against the Heat. Landon Ferraro matched a season-best with two goals and an assist and Calle Jarnkrok picked up his first two points (both assists) as a Griffin in the 4-1 victory. The luck didn’t follow the Griffins into Saturday’s rematch with the Heat, but the team still picked up a point in a 3-2 shootout loss in Abbotsford, concluding their seven-game road swing with a 4-2-0-1 record.

Welcome Home: The Griffins have played just one home game since a 3-2 overtime win over Chicago on March 13, but they’ll return to Grand Rapids this week to begin a four-game homestand. The club will host Chicago on Wednesday, Milwaukee on Friday and Peoria on Saturday (all games at 7 p.m.) to begin a stretch of five of the final six games of the regular season coming against Midwest Division opponents. The Griffins are 16-9-3-1 within their own division, giving them the AHL’s eighth-best intra-division winning percentage at 0.621.

Road Weary: Grand Rapids’ 4-2-0-1 mark on its season-high seven-game road trip improved the team’s road record to 20-13-1-2 (0.597) this season, which ranks sixth in the AHL. Only Texas (0.706), Syracuse (0.689), Charlotte (0.676), Providence (0.639) and Springfield (0.603) have been better. Additionally, Grand Rapids boasts the league’s second-best offense away from home, averaging 3.39 goals per game and trailing only Syracuse (3.46). The Griffins will play only two more road games this season, April 20 at Lake Erie and April 21 at Chicago.

Nicastro Reassigned: The Red Wings on Tuesday reassigned defenseman Max Nicastro from the Griffins to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Nicastro, 23, has skated in 23 games with the Griffins in his first professional season, showing three points (1-2—3) and 10 penalty minutes. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native also appeared in nine games with Toledo, registering five points (2-3—5), a plus-seven rating and four penalty minutes.

Clinching Scenario: With six games to play in the regular season, the Griffins are closing in on their first playoff berth since 2008-09. The team could clinch as early as Wednesday if it beats Chicago in regulation and Rockford loses (in regulation or extra time) at Peoria. The Griffins can then clinch the Midwest Division – and earn the Norman R. (Bud) Poile Trophy for doing so – as early as Friday with a victory over Milwaukee. If the playoffs started today, the third-seed Griffins would face the sixth-seed Rochester Americans in the best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinals. The teams have never met in the postseason and only met twice in the regular season, with Grand Rapids winning 4-2 on Dec. 19 at Van Andel Arena and Rochester winning 4-3 on Oct. 19 at Blue Cross Arena.

Winning Wednesday: When the Griffins win on Amway Winning Wednesday, so do you! All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 3-2 overtime win over the Chicago Wolves on March 13 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to Wednesday’s game against the Wolves. Tickets can be redeemed at The Zone during business hours (M-F 10-6; Sat. 10-2) and at the box office the night of April 10. Additionally, the first 300 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a gift. Every Wednesday, 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. Fans can present their Grand Rapids Public Library card or Kent District Library card at the Van Andel Arena box office on the day of the game or at The Zone anytime during the store’s regular business hours to save $7 off the price of a Lower Level Faceoff ticket (regularly $18 in advance and $20 day of game). Limit four tickets per card per person, subject to availability. Finally, children with Griff’s Reading Goals bookmarks who have completed the required three hours of reading can redeem their bookmark for two free upper level tickets to this game. This is the final redemption date for the 2012-13 season.

Fun at the Van: The Griffins will begin their final homestand of the season on Wednesday with a jam-packed promotional schedule set for the weekend. Friday’s versus Milwaukee includes several fan-favorite promotions, including Dollar Beers and Hot Dogs and College Night, which allows college students to purchase an upper bowl ticket for $13 (or $11 in advance at The Zone) and stop by the McFadden’s concourse table to receive a free pass to the post-game party at McFadden’s. Every Friday night is also a Griffins WGRD D-Zone night, where fans can have $1 beers and $1 hot dogs served directly to their seats, and Free Ride Friday, permitting any fan to enjoy complimentary fare on the Rapid busses by showing their ticket to that night’s game. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to order D-Zone tickets, and visit ridetherapid.org for information on bus schedules, routes and maps. The following night versus Peoria, 2,500 fans will go home with a Tomas Tatar bobblehead that was determined by a fan vote, courtesy of Michigan Office Solutions. Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Tom McCollum will sign autographs after the game from the team’s bench, presented by Huntington Bank. Fans can also bring their skates to the rink and take to the ice after the game for a J&H Family Stores Post-Game Open Skate. For the final time this season, fans can take advantage of great savings through a Fan 4 Pack (four tickets and $12 in concession cash for a great low price) or Popcorn Pack ($16 in total ticket savings and unlimited popcorn refills). Visit griffinshockey.com/f4p or griffinshockey.com/popcorn to save on this weekend’s games. Finally, the Griffins’ annual new and used equipment sale will be held on the concourse on Saturday, starting at 6 p.m. and running through the second intermission.

Century Man: Francis Pare made history on Tuesday night at Houston, becoming the second Griffin to reach 100 goals after Michel Picard (158). Pare, who added his 101st career goal the same night, ranks among the Griffins’ all-time leaders with 358 games played (3rd), 101 goals (2nd), 134 assists (3rd), 235 points (3rd) and 840 shots (3rd). His 101 goals have come against 21 different teams: Lake Erie and Rockford (12); Rochester (11); Peoria (9); Hamilton and Toronto (8); Milwaukee (6); Houston and Oklahoma City (5); Chicago, Manitoba and San Antonio (4); Charlotte (3); Abbotsford and Texas (2); and Hartford, Iowa, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Quad City and Syracuse (1). Nineteen have come on the power play, 12 were game-winners, 10 were insurance goals, 17 were first goals and one came shorthanded.

Top-Notch Rook: With his goal on Saturday versus Abbotsford, Chad Billins tied Clay Wilson as the highest-scoring rookie defenseman in franchise history. Billins, who is also tied for 14th among AHL rookies and for seventh among defensemen, has 37 points (10-27—37) in 70 contests, which also matched Josh Langfeld (21-16—37 in 2001-02), Chris Bala (21-16—37 in 2001-02) and Wilson (10-27—37 in 2005-06) for eighth place among all Griffins rookies. Additionally, Billins could write himself into the record books as one of the team’s best in the shootout, as he improved to five-for-five this season in the skills competition on Saturday. He is just one of four players in the league to have a perfect shootout percentage, and he’s the only one to have done it on more than three shots. The Griffins have only had two players finish a season with a perfect shootout percentage (on at least three shots): Todd Robinson (2004-05) and Dave Roberts (2000-01), who both finished four-for-four.

New Face: The Red Wings on Wednesday reassigned defenseman Ryan Sproul to the Griffins from the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Sproul led all OHL defensemen and finished second on Sault Ste. Marie with 66 points (20-46—66) in 50 games. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound blueliner was recognized in the leagues’ Coaches’ Poll, topping the list for hardest shot and best offensive defenseman in his conference. In three seasons with the Greyhounds, Spoul notched 149 points (54-95—149) and 134 penalty minutes in 170 games. The 20-year-old was Detroit’s third choice (55th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He signed an amateur tryout with the Griffins last March but has yet to make his professional debut.

The 700 Club: The Griffins reached a historic milestone on Friday night, recording their 700th win in their 17-year history after a 4-1 victory over Abbotsford. Grand Rapids is 40-23-3-4 this season, improving its all-time mark to 700-503-27-38-88 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL).

Rookie Records: In addition to Chad Billins tying the all-time scoring record for rookie defensemen on Friday, the Griffins have two other rookies looking to write their name in the franchise record books. Petr Mrazek is having one of the best-ever seasons for a Griffins’ rookie goaltender. His 2.34 goals against average rank third behind only Simon Lajeunesse (2.11 GAA in 2001-02) and Joey MacDonald (2.20 GAA in 2002-03), while his 0.916 save percentage tie for the franchise’s all-time best. He has also recorded 22 wins, placing him second behind only Jimmy Howard (27 in 2005-06). Riley Sheahan currently ranks among the team’s all-time rookie scoring leaders, as his 35 points (16-19—35) tie him with Cory Emmerton for 12th all time. Two more points will move him into a tie with Josh Langfeld (2001-02), Chris Bala (2001-02) and Clay Wilson (2005-06) for eighth place.

Motown Update: With nine games remaining in their regular season, the Red Wings hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference at 43 points, one point behind seventh-place St. Louis and three points ahead of ninth-place Phoenix…Gustav Nyquist has points in three of his last four games with the team, showing five points (2-3—5) in 13 contests this season…Joakim Andersson has seven points (3-4—7) in 29 games with Detroit…Brian Lashoff has five points (1-4—5) in 31 games, averaging 17:47 of ice time, and Brendan Smith has five points (0-5—5) in 26 games, averaging 18:48…Riley Sheahan logged 6:47 in his Red Wings season debut on Sunday but was returned to Grand Rapids on Monday…The Red Wings will play three games in four days this week, hosting San Jose on Thursday and visiting Chicago on Friday and Nashville on Sunday.

Milestone Tracker: Jan Mursak reached 100 points as a Griffin on Friday at Abbotsford…Francis Pare notched his 100th goal as a Griffin on Tuesday at Houston and jumped Kip Miller (133) to take third place in franchise history with 134 assists after his two assists on Saturday at Abbotsford. Pare is also three points away from tying Travis Richards (238) for second place all time.…Nathan Paetsch recorded his 100th AHL assist and 200th professional point on Tuesday…Brett Skinner logged his 200th professional assist on Saturday…Jeff Hoggan’s goal on Friday gave him 250 points in the AHL.

Walleye Watch: Toledo fell into a 2-0 hole in its first round ECHL playoff series against the Cincinnati Cyclones. On Friday night, Trevor Parkes tallied the Walleye’s lone goal in regulation, but the team dropped a 2-1 double overtime decision. The following night, David Pacan tallied four points (3-1—4) for Cincinnati to double its lead in the series. The next three games will be held in Cincinnati, coming Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Scouting Report

Wed., April 10 vs. Chicago Wolves (34-26-5-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast Network 100 (Chicago) at 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: 55-39-2-4-2 Overall, 28-16-2-2-2 Home. Season Series: 6-0-0-0 Overall, 3-0-0-0 Home. Seventh of eight meetings overall, fourth of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Scott Arniel (1st season). Notes: Former Griffin Darren Haydar leads Chicago with 54 points (20-34—54) in 64 games, which ranks 14th in the AHL. As the captain of the Griffins in 2008-09, Haydar recorded 80 points (31-49—80)…Wolves netminder Matt Climie ranks 14th in the AHL with a 2.44 goals against average and is tied for second with six shutouts…Chicago has struggled on the penalty kill, ranking 29th in the league at 79.9 percent…Wolves forward Jordan Schroeder has the AHL’s longest active assist streak at six games (March 13-present)…Eric Kattelus, who was a camp tryout for the Griffins this fall, has 11 points (2-9—11) in 32 games for Chicago…Griffins defenseman Brett Skinner had 23 points (3-20—23) in 37 games for the Wolves in 2008-09…Wolves defenseman Danny Groulx had 43 points (12-31—43) in 203 games for the Griffins from 2002-05.

Fri., April 12 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (36-27-4-3) – 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: 59-45-7-5-7 Overall, 33-21-2-1-2 Home. Season Series: 3-3-0-1 Overall, 1-2-0-0 Home. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Dean Evason (1st season). Notes: Milwaukee is currently without all four of its top scorers: Taylor Beck, Austin Watson and Chris Mueller with the parent Predators, and Michael Latta traded to Washington at the NHL trade deadline, as well as its top-scoring defenseman in Victor Bartley and forward Daniel Bang (also with Nashville)…Admirals netminder Magnus Hellberg ranks seventh in the AHL with a 2.23 goals against average…Milwaukee’s Watson is tied for 16th among league rookies with 36 points (20-16—36) in 68 games…The Admirals average the fourth-fewest penalty minutes in the league at 13.37…Milwaukee has struggled on the power play, ranking 26th in the AHL at 13.7 percent…Griffins forward Triston Grant played two seasons in Milwaukee from 2008-10, setting career highs in all categories in 2009-10 with 25 points (12-13—15) and 236 penalty minutes in 74 games.

Sat., April 13 vs. Peoria Rivermen (31-32-4-3) – 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: 20-26-4-2 Overall, 7-14-3-1 Home. Season Series: 2-4-2-0 Overall, 0-3-1-0 Home. Ninth of 10 meetings overall, fourth of five in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Dave Allison (1st season). Notes: The Griffins have lost six straight games (0-4-2-0) to the Rivermen (Dec. 5-March 19)…T.J. Hensick leads Peoria and is tied for fourth in the AHL with 63 points (17-46—63) in 70 games. He’s also tied for the league lead in assists…Rivermen netminder Mike McKenna ranks 13th among AHL goaltenders with a 2.42 goals against average…Peoria averages the fifth-fewest penalty minutes in the league at 13.61…The Rivermen have struggled away from home at 12-21-3-0…Peoria ranks 28th in the AHL on the power play at 11.7 percent…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.

Griffins Game Rewinds
April 2 - GR 5 at HOU 1

WOOD Radio Highlights:  Billins Goal   Jurco Goal   
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

 

April 5 - GR 4 at ABB 1
Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights:  Ferraro Goal   Mrazek Save 1st Period   Hoggan Goal     Mrazek Save 3rd Period  
Official Game Report

 

April 6 - GR 2 at ABB 3 SO
Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights:  Billins Goal   Jones Goal
Official Game Report

 


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