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Weekly Preview

This Week’s Games
Fri., April 19 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM /
AHLLive.com

Sat., April 20 - GRIFFINS at Lake Erie Monsters - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Sun., April 21 - GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves - 5 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
END OF REGULAR SEASON

Last Week’s Results
Wed., April 10 - Chicago Wolves 3 at GRIFFINS 2 - 40-24-3-4, 87 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)

Fri., April 12 - Milwaukee Admirals 4 at GRIFFINS 1 - 40-25-3-4, 87 pts. (1st)

Sat., April 13 - Peoria Rivermen 4 at GRIFFINS 3 OT - 40-25-4-4, 88 pts. (1st)


Mission Accomplished: It wasn’t the way they drew it up, but the result of this weekend’s games helped the Griffins clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2008-09. The Griffins had a chance to punch their postseason ticket on Wednesday and Friday but failed to do so after a 3-2 loss to Chicago and a 4-1 loss to Milwaukee. With the Peoria Rivermen in town on Saturday, a victory would have helped the Griffins clinch, and a pair of goals by Landon Ferraro and a third-period go-ahead goal by Francis Pare put the team in good position to do so. However, Taylor Chorney tied the game with 2:29 to play, and Jani Hakanpaa won it in overtime for the visitors. The team received good news later in the night, as a 3-1 victory by Rockford over Milwaukee guaranteed the Griffins a spot in the postseason, with only seeding and Midwest Division bragging rights left to decide in the final week of the AHL’s regular season.

The End is Near: This week marks the last of the AHL’s regular season, and the Griffins will close out the 76-game slate with a three-in-three. The team will wrap up its home schedule on Friday, welcoming the Peoria Rivermen at 7 p.m. to end a four-game homestand, before finishing the year with back-to-back road games against Lake Erie at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Chicago at 5 p.m. EDT on Sunday. Full first-round Calder Cup Playoff schedules will be announced by the league on Sunday night.

Thank You Fans!: After crowds of 8,348, 9,585 and 10,155 last week, Griffins have secured an attendance increase for the third straight year and the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Hershey, which will finish with an increase for the 10th straight season, is the only AHL team with a longer/better attendance trend since 2006-07.

Finale Promotions: Friday’s game versus Peoria will be highlighted by the return of “Super Fan” Cameron Hughes for the second straight year, with his energetic dances, spirited chants and a variety of other antics designed to create a memorable experience and get the crowd on its feet. Fans can enjoy many popular 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 more information. The game will also feature another J&H Family Stores Post-Game Open skate, as well as a jersey auction. The Griffins will wear their special Red Wings-inspired Friday jerseys that will autographed and auctioned off to the public in the Fifth Third Bank Vault restaurant after the game.

Chase for the Title: The Griffins clinched their first playoff berth since 2008-09 and are now left with two things left to decide, as they chase a Midwest Division title and await their first round opponent. A win on Friday versus Peoria would capture the division crown – and the Norman R. (Bud) Poile Trophy– which would mark the first division title for the team since 2005-06. It would not be the first time the Griffins have won that trophy, as they captured it in 2001-02 as members of the West Division. Grand Rapids has been eliminated from contention for both the AHL regular season points championship and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. If the season ended today, #3 Grand Rapids would face #6 Rochester in the best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinals. It would mark the teams' first-ever meeting in the postseason. The Griffins and Americans met only twice this season, with Grand Rapids winning 4-2 on Dec. 19 at Van Andel Arena and Rochester winning 4-3 on Oct. 19 at the Blue Cross Arena.

Midwest Division

Team Points Wins ROW Games Left Home Road Opponents' Winning % GR Magic # Over (Pts.) Magic # Over GR
*xGrand Rapids
88
40 35 3 1 2
0.530 --- ---
Milwaukee 83 38 35 3 1 2 0.557 2 12
Rockford 83 40 35 2 0 2 0.554 n/a n/a
Chicago 81 36 30 3 2 1 0.566 n/a n/a
Peoria 74 33 27 3 2 1 0.593 n/a n/a


Remaining Western Conference Teams

Team Points Wins ROW Games Left Home Road Opponents' Winning % GR Magic # Over (Pts.) Magic # Over GR
*yTexas 97 43 37 2 2 0 0.575 n/a n/a
*xToronto 91 41 38 3 2 1 0.511 10 4
xCharlotte 90 41 38 2 0 2 0.538 7 5
Houston 86 38 33 3 0 3 0.563 5 9
Rochester          86 41 31 3 2 1 0.491 4 9
Oklahoma City 85 37 33 3 3 0 0.548 4 10
Lake Erie 78 34 28 2 2 0 0.579 n/a n/a
Abbotsford 78 34 27 2 0 2 0.582 n/a n/a
San Antonio 67 29 26 2 2 0 0.575 n/a n/a
Hamilton 62 28 25 3 2 1 0.550 n/a n/a

 

* Division Leader
x = Teams that have clinched a playoff berth.
y = Teams that have clinched first place in their division.
Crossout = Teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Duty Calls: The Red Wings on Sunday reassigned center Calle Jarnkrok from the Griffins to Brynas of the Swedish Elite League. Although his club’s season is already complete, Jarnkrok was returned to Sweden to compete for a spot on his country’s national team for the 2013 IIHF World Championship, which will be held in Stockholm Sweden, and Helsinki, Finland from May 3-19. In nine games with Grand Rapids, Jarnkrok recorded three assists and a plus-three rating. The 21-year-old forward also skated in 53 games for Brynas, leading the team and tying for eighth in the league with 42 points (13-29—42). A native of Gavle, Sweden, he has appeared in 185 games with Brynas since 2009, registering 118 points (44-74—118) and 40 penalty minutes. He has previous represented his country at the 2011 World Junior Championship, where he earned a silver medal, and at the 2012 World Championship.

First All-Star: Griffins right wing Gustav Nyquist last Thursday was named to the 2012-13 AHL First All-Star Team. Nyquist, 23, leads the Griffins with 60 points (23-37—60) in 58 games and ranks among the team’s leaders with 37 assists (1st), nine power play goals (1st), 25 power play points (1st), a plus-10 rating (5th), two game-winning goals (T5th), three shootout goals (2nd) and 169 shots (2nd). Despite missing 14 of Grand Rapids’ last 15 games while with the parent Detroit Red Wings, Nyquist is still tied for 11th in the AHL in scoring, as he was leading the league in scoring at the time of his recall. He also has 18 multipoint games, the most of any Griffins player, and had four three-point games over his last nine contests with the club (Feb. 23-March 19). A native of Halmstad, Sweden, Nyquist becomes the sixth Griffin to be named to the AHL First All-Star Team and the first since Donald MacLean in 2005-06. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward joins a club that also includes Niklas Kronwall (2004-05), Marc Lamothe (2002-03), John Gruden (2001-02) and Martin Prusek (2001-02). The other members of the AHL First All-Star Team, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities, are left wing Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (Springfield) and center Tyler Johnson (Syracuse); defensemen Justin Schultz (Oklahoma City) and Sami Vatanen (Norfolk); and goaltender Niklas Svedberg (Providence).

The New Guy
: The Red Wings on Tuesday reassigned right wing Teemu Pulkkinen from Jokerit (Finland) to the Griffins. Detroit’s fourth choice (111th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Pulkkinen skated in 59 games with Jokerit of Finland’s top professional league, recording 34 points (14-20—34) and 49 penalty minutes. In 185 career games with Jokerit, the 21-year-old forward has registered 128 points (49-79—128) and 134 penalty minutes. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound native of Vantaa, Finland, was named the league’s rookie of the year in 2010-11 after posting 54 points (18-36—54) in 55 contests.

On the Cusp: With a goal on April 6 at Abbotsford, Chad Billins tied Clay Wilson as the highest-scoring rookie defenseman in franchise history. Billins, who is also 17th among AHL rookies and 10th among defensemen, has 37 points (10-27—37) in 73 contests, which matches 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 is five-for-five this season in the skills competition. He is just one of five 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.

Rookie Records: In addition to Chad Billins threatening to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer among rookie defensemen, the Griffins have two other rookies looking to write their name in the franchise record books. Petr Mrazek is having one of the best seasons for a Griffins’ rookie goaltender. His 2.40 goals against average and 0.913 save percentage rank third behind only Simon Lajeunesse (2.11 GAA and 0.916 save percentage in 2001-02) and Joey MacDonald (2.20 GAA and 0.916 save percentage in 2002-03). 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 six games left in the regular season, the Red Wings are tied for eighth place in the Western Conference, currently holding the tiebreaker over a Columbus team that has won four in a row…Gustav Nyquist has five points (2-3—5) and a plus-one rating in 16 games…Joakim Andersson has seven points (3-4—7) and a plus-three rating in 32 contests…Brendan Smith has six assists and 24 penalty minutes in 28 games, averaging 18:41 time on ice…Brian Lashoff has five points (1-4—5) and averages 17:47 in 31 games. Detroit will visit Calgary tonight and stop in Vancouver on Saturday before beginning a three-game homestand with Phoenix on Monday.

Man of the Year: The Griffins announced on Thursday that Chad Billins has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Grand Rapids community during the 2012-13 season. A native of Marysville, Mich., and a product of Ferris State University, Billins took an active role in the Griffins’ community relations endeavors during his first professional season. Billins has enjoyed success on the ice, as he’s currently one point away from becoming the franchise’s all-time highest-scoring rookie defenseman, while also making time off the ice, representing the team at more evens and functions than any other Griffins player. Billins attended every full-team charitable activity and was a staple at local youth hockey practices, the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and other community events. Billins is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL’s 2012-13 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League on April 18.

Milestone Tracker: Francis Pare is two games shy of tying Michel Picard for second place in franchise history at 364 and one point away from tying Travis Richards for second in Griffins history at 238...Tomas Tatar is four points shy of 200 as a Griffin…Tom McCollum’s next victory will be his 45th in a Griffins uniform, tying Daniel Larsson for fifth place all time.

Walleye Watch: The Toledo Walleye saw their season come to an end on Tuesday, as a 4-3 overtime decision helped the Cincinnati Cyclones eliminate their in-state rivals in six games…Trevor Parkes has five points (3-2—5) in the series…Willie Coetzee had four assists in six games…Andrej Nestrasil had three points (1-2—3) in four contests…Max Nicastro had a goal in four outings…Jordan Pearce earned both of Toledo’s victories in the series, posting two wins and one overtime loss in four appearances, alongside a 1.95 goals against average and a 0.936 save percentage.

Scouting Report

Fri., April 19 vs. Peoria Rivermen (33-32-4-3) – 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: 20-26-5-2 Overall, 7-14-4-1 Home. Season Series: 2-4-3-0 Overall, 0-2-2-0 Home. Tenth of 10 meetings overall, fifth of five in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Dave Allison (1st season). Notes: The Griffins have lost seven straight games (0-4-3-0) to the Rivermen (Dec. 5-April 13)…T.J. Hensick is tied for fourth in the AHL with 66 points (18-48—66) in 73 games, sitting third in the league in assists…Rivermen netminder Mike McKenna ranks among league leaders with a 2.41 goals against average (15th), a 0.923 save percentage (T6th) and four shutouts (T9th)…Peoria has been better at home (20-11-2-3) than on the road (13-21-3-0) this season, but it has won six straight games at Van Andel Arena (the Griffins last win came Nov. 10, 2012)…Peoria’s power play ranks 28th in the AHL at 11.8 percent, but its penalty kill sits 11th at 84.4 percent…Rivermen 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.

Sat., April 20 at Lake Erie Monsters (34-30-3-7) – 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: 25-13-2-5 Overall, 9-7-2-4 Road. Season Series: 4-0-0-1 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Road. Sixth of six meetings overall, third of three in Cleveland. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Dean Chynoweth (1st season). Notes: Lake Erie has won five straight games…Andrew Agozzino leads the Monsters and is tied for second among rookies with 51 points (20-31—51) in 74 games…Lake Erie’s Mike Sgarbossa also ranks among AHL rookie leaders, sitting in a tie for eighth with 44 points (19-25—44) and ranking third in the league with a 21.6 shooting percentage…Monsters forward Paul Carey is 15th among rookies with 39 points (18-21—39) in 70 games…Lake Erie’s top two highest-scoring blueliners are tied for 17th in the league in that category: Thomas Pock (11-22—33 in 62 games) and Karl Stollery (5-28—33 in 70 games…The Monsters power play ranks eighth in the AHL at 18.7 percent…Lake Erie netminder Calvin Pickard is 17th in the league with a 2.53 goals against average and tied for 16th with a 0.917 save percentage…Griffins defenseman Brett Skinner had 28 points (3-25—28) in 73 games with Lake Erie in 2009-10.

Sun., April 21 at Chicago Wolves (36-27-5-4) – Allstate Arena – 5 p.m. EDT
TV: MY50 Chicago at 5 p.m. Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 4:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 55-40-2-4-2 Overall, 27-23-0-2-0 Road. Season Series: 6-1-0-0 Overall, 3-0-0-0 Road. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth of four in Chicago. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Scott Arniel (1st season). Notes: Former Griffin Darren Haydar leads Chicago with 54 points (20-34—54) in 67 games, which ranks 17th in the AHL. As the captain of the Griffins in 2008-09, Haydar recorded 80 points (31-49—80)…Wolves netminder Matt Climie ranks among AHL goaltending leaders with a 2.46 goals against average (16th), a 0.919 save percentage (15th), 23 wins (11th), six shutouts (T2nd) and 2974:41 minutes (4th)…Chicago has been more successful at home (20-10-2-4) than on the road (16-18-3-0) this season…Eric Kattelus, who was a camp tryout for the Griffins this fall, has 12 points (3-9—12) in 35 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.

Griffins Game Rewinds
April 10 - CHI 3 at GR 2

GriffVision Video Highlights & Interviews
WOOD Radio Highlights: Jurco Goal   Almquist Goal   Wolves GW Goal
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

 

April 12 - MIL 4 at GR 1
GriffVision Video Highlights & Interviews
WOOD Radio Highlights: Admirals Goal  Skinner Goal  Admirals Goal 2
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

 

April 13 - PEO 4 at GR 3 OT
GriffVision Video Highlights & Interviews
WOOD Radio Highlights:  Ferraro Goal   Pare Goal   Rivermen GWG
Flickr Photo Gallery
Official Game Report

 


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