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GRIFFINS HIT THE ROAD AFTER POSTING 6-1 RECORD IN SEASON'S LONGEST HOME STAND

Teemu Pulkkinen Celebrates

This Week’s Games
Wed., Dec. 18    GRIFFINS at Iowa Wild    8:05 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Dec. 20    Rockford IceHogs at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Dec. 21    GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves    8 p.m.   ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Wed. Dec. 11    Chicago Wolves 4 at GRIFFINS 2    17-5-1-1, 36 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Fri., Dec. 13    Milwaukee Admirals 2 at GRIFFINS 4    18-5-1-1, 38 pts. (1st)
Sat., Dec. 14    Milwaukee Admirals 0 at GRIFFINS 5    19-5-1-1, 40 pts. (1st)

 
Right Back At It: After having their seven-game winning streak snapped by the Chicago Wolves in a 4-2 loss last Wednesday at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins shut down the Milwaukee Admirals in back-to-back skirmishes at home last weekend. The Griffins have won 17 out of 20 games after beginning the season with a 2-2-1-1 record. Currently, Grand Rapids’ 0.769 winning percentage is second in the league only to the Springfield Falcons’ 0.780.

The Midwest Division: Since Nov. 3, Grand Rapids (19-5-1-1, 40 pts.) has had sole possession of the Midwest Division lead, edging out the Rockford IceHogs (15-12-2-0, 32 pts.), who currently rank second, and the Milwaukee Admirals (12-7-4-1, 29 pts.), who rank third. As of late, Rockford and Milwaukee have been leapfrogging each other in terms of placement, alternately between second and third place. The Chicago Wolves (12-12-0-2, 26 pts.), who handed the Griffins their only loss of a season-high, seven-game home stand, rank fourth in the division, while the Iowa Wild (10-13-1-0, 21 pts.) place fifth. The Griffins (100) have scored 14 more goals than the next-closest team in the division, the IceHogs (86), and have nearly double the number of goals by the fifth-place Wild (57). Grand Rapids has also recorded the lowest number penalty minutes in the division at 364.

Friday Promotions: Friday’s game versus the Rockford IceHogs gives fans the opportunity to enjoy $2 hot dogs and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. College students can 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. 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. Every Friday night is also a Griffins D-Zone night, where fans can have $2 beers and $2 hot dogs served directly to their seats and also a 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.

Van Andel Stand: After dropping their first two home contests of the season, the Griffins won eight straight games at Van Andel Arena before falling to the Chicago Wolves 4-2 last Wednesday. The eight-game winning streak was the team’s longest at home in more than four years (eight straight from Oct. 23-Nov. 13, 2009). Grand Rapids scored at least five goals in each of the first seven games of that streak, marking the longest such run at home in franchise history (5+ goals in four straight home games from Nov. 15-Dec. 3, 2005). The Griffins bounced back with consecutive home victories over the Milwaukee Admirals last Friday and Saturday, improving their home record to 10-3 on the season. Grand Rapids finished a seven-game home stand with an impressive 5-0 shutout against the Admirals Saturday, ending its longest home-stretch of the season with a 6-1 record.

Outdoor Game: On Monday, Dec. 30, the Griffins will face the Toronto Marlies at Comerica Park for the first-ever outdoor game in franchise history. This Friday’s game against the Rockford IceHogs marks the final game at Van Andel Arena before the historic showdown against the Marlies in Detroit as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival. Following the outdoor game, the two teams will travel back to Van Andel Arena for a rematch on New Year’s Eve the next day. Fans can purchase tickets at http://www.griffinshockey.com/buytickets/ or purchase tickets for $18, $28 and $38 through http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Griffins Leaders: Right wing Tomas Jurco, who was recalled to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, continues his reign as points leader on the Griffins, tallying 27 points (11-16—27) through 26 games. Courtesy of an active seven-game point streak, right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (10-12—22) climbed to second place after a goal and three assists over the course of three games at home last week. Pulkkinen’s ascent edged out right wing Gustav Nyquist (7-14—21), who has earned a full time roster spot with Detroit. Despite being a healthy scratch for four games this season, Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan (8-10—18), who is on a four-game point streak, climbed to fourth place on the team, tying with defenseman Ryan Sproul (6-12—18) and center Cory Emmerton (5-13—18).

McCollum Steps In: In the wake of Petr Mrazek’s recall to the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 11, goaltender Tom McCollum has filled the primary role between the pipes for the Griffins, backed up by rookie Jared Coreau, who returned to Grand Rapids from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye the same day Mrazek was recalled. Much of Grand Rapids’ early-season success can be attributed to the strong performances of McCollum and Mrazek, who both rank in the AHL’s top six goaltenders. McCollum ranks sixth in the league for goals against average (2.22) and posts a 9-3 record, including a 5-0 shutout against the Milwaukee Admirals last Saturday, his first of the season. McCollum’s 54th career win tied him with Marc Lamothe for fourth place on the Griffins’ all-time list, one behind Mike Fountain. In addition, his four career shutouts tie Jani Hurme and Martin Prusek for seventh all time. McCollum enjoyed a six-game winning streak from Oct. 4-Nov. 6 to begin the season, tying with Mrazek’s 2012-13 franchise-best goaltending start. Mrazek, who is on a career-high nine-game winning streak with the Griffins, posts a 10-2-1 record this season. His previous career-high was an eight-game winning streak three seasons ago in juniors as a member of the OHL’s Ottawa 67s (Nov. 12-Dec. 3, 2010). Mrazek earned his second shutout this season on Nov. 20 versus the Milwaukee Admirals, when he blocked 16 of 16 shots. Mrazek (4th) ranks two spots ahead of McCollum among goaltending leaders with a 2.09 GAA and 0.927 save percentage.

Emmerton’s Evolution: On Sept. 29, the Red Wings placed center Cory Emmerton on waivers in order to become cap compliant and alleviate an overstocked roster. The St. Thomas, Ontario, native cleared waivers and was subsequently assigned to the Griffins just over a week later, on Oct. 10. Emmerton’s assignment to the AHL marked a return to the Griffins for Emmerton, who played in three full seasons with Grand Rapids from 2008-11. The 6-foot, 191-pound center’s consistency was on full display during his first stint with the Griffins; Emmerton tallied 35 points (10-25—35) in the 2008-09 season, 37 points (12-25—37) in the 2009-10 season and 38 points (12-26—38) in the 2010-11 season. Emmerton has been one of the hottest Griffins this season, despite periodically being a healthy scratch and temporarily being recalled to Detroit. Upon rejoining Grand Rapids from Detroit last Saturday, Emmerton recorded a four-point game (two goals, two assists), extending his point-streak with the Griffins to five games and capturing the most points in a single game of any Griffin this season.

Early Leads: Grand Rapids holds a 12-2-0-1 record when scoring first and ties for second in the league with the Rochester Americans for goals scored in the first period (30). Grand Rapids has more than doubled its opponents’ scoring during the second period (42-19), while nearly accomplishing the same feat in the first period (30-17). Through 26 games, the Griffins have trailed after the first period, as well as the second period, only five times.

Jurco Delivers: Right wing Tomas Jurco has stepped into the role of “go-to” guy this season in the absence of former point leaders such as Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, who have joined the Detroit Red Wings full time. Jurco’s 2013-14 accolades include 27 points (11-16—27), a plus-12 rating, two game-winning goals and a 14.5 shooting percentage. His 27 points tie him for seventh place overall in the AHL for points. Jurco has tallied points in 16 out of 26 contests and has also registered multiple points in nine matches, including a hat trick on Nov. 15 in a 5-3 home victory over the Rockford IceHogs. Jurco leads the Griffins in goals with 11 and ties for first in assists with defenseman Adam Almquist (16). Jurco is one point away from matching his rookie season numbers (14-14—28). On Sunday, Jurco was recalled to the Detroit Red Wings and subsequently made his NHL debut in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, becoming the 138th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL.

Rock and Sproul: Griffins defenseman Ryan Sproul (6-12—18) is the second highest-scoring rookie blueliner in the league, and he ties for fifth overall among league d-men. Sproul (plus-16) ties for first among AHL rookies in plus/minus with fellow Griffins defenseman Alexey Marchenko. Sproul has enjoyed three multiple-point games this season: Oct. 4 at Rochester (two goals), Oct. 30 vs. Charlotte (one goal, one assist) and Nov. 6 vs. Rockford (three assists). The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Sproul enjoyed a three-game point streak from Nov. 29-Dec. 6.

Plus/Minus: Ryan Sproul and Alexey Marchenko lead all AHL rookies in plus/minus with a plus-16 rating, with rookie defenseman Xavier Ouellet tying Reece Scarlett of the Albany Devils for third place with a plus-11 rating. Sproul and Marchenko tie for third in the league overall. All active members of the Griffins roster have a positive rating, and the average plus/minus rating of the 20-skater roster is plus-7.85. Following Sproul and Marchenko in placing on the Griffins are Teemu Pulkkinen (plus-14), and Mitch Callahan and Calle Jarnkrok (plus-13).

Doubling Up: The Griffins lead the AHL in goals scored per game, averaging 3.85, despite only having one active player in the AHL’s top 20 scorers (Tomas Jurco–27 pts.–T7th). The team also ranks first in the league in goals against per game, averaging 2.27, just ahead of the Springfield Falcons (2.40). Overall, the Griffins have outscored their opponents 100-59 and outshot them 825-750. The last time an AHL team finished a season ranked first in both goals scored and goals against was the 1992-93 Binghamton Senators (392-246). The closest team to the accomplishment since then was the 1998-99 Rochester Americans, ranking second in goals for and first in goals against.

Gone Streaking: Grand Rapids recorded its second seven-game winning streak (Nov. 20-Dec. 7) this season, tying for the second-longest winning streak in the league with the Binghamton Senators’ (Nov. 2-22) and the Griffins’ previous seven-game winning streak (Oct. 26-Nov. 8). Grand Rapids holds the longest home winning streak in the league (eight games, Oct. 30-Dec. 7) and is tied for first with the longest road winning streak (five games, Oct. 26-Nov. 8). Griffins netminder Petr Mrazek, who is currently with the Red Wings, has now won a career-high nine straight games for the Griffins and had won 10 in a row overall before backstopping Detroit’s 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 15. Teemu Pulkkinen claimed the team’s longest point streak of the season with one goal and three assists last week (seven games, three goals, six assists, Nov. 29-Dec. 11). Captain Jeff Hoggan is on a four-game point streak, tying the previous record for longest point streak before Pulkkinen took the lead last Wednesday.

Goalie Changes: The Detroit Red Wings last Wednesday recalled goaltender Petr Mrazek from the Grand Rapids Griffins and reassigned goaltender Jared Coreau from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye to their AHL affiliate. Mrazek, 21, has appeared in 13 contests with the Griffins this season, ranking among the AHL’s leaders with a 2.09 goals against average (4th) and a 0.927 save percentage (2nd). The Ostrava, Czech Republic, native is on a career-high nine-game winning streak with Grand Rapids. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound netminder has played in four career games with the Wings, registering a 2-2 record, a 1.51 GAA and a 0.934 save percentage. Coreau, 22, made his professional debut with Grand Rapids in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Marlies on Oct. 5, his only appearance with the Griffins. The 6-foot-4, 208-pound goaltender has also appeared in nine matches with the Walleye this season, registering a 1-5-3 record, a 4.42 GAA and 0.865 save percentage.

Detroit Shuffles the Deck: The Red Wings last Friday recalled right wing Patrick Eaves and center Luke Glendening from the Griffins and assigned center Cory Emmerton to their AHL affiliate. On Sunday, the Wings recalled right wing Tomas Jurco from the Griffins and reassigned left wing Trevor Parkes from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye to Grand Rapids. In addition, the Wings on Monday recalled center Riley Sheahan from Grand Rapids and reassigned center Louis-Marc Aubry from Toledo to the Griffins. Eaves made his first appearance with the Wings since joining the Griffins in a 4-1 home loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 14, becoming the 137th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. A day later, Jurco made his NHL debut with Detroit in a 3-0 loss to the Tamp Bay Lightning at Joe Louis Arena, becoming the 138th alumnus. The roster moves come as a result of a severely depleted Wings team, which has temporarily lost former Griffins Justin Abdelkader (concussion) and Danny DeKeyser (shoulder), Johan Franzen (concussion), former Griffin Darren Helm (shoulder), former Griffins goaltender Jimmy Howard (knee), Gustav Nyquist (groin) and captain Henrik Zetterberg (back) due to injuries.

Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (7-11-3-0) bounced back from a six-game losing streak last weekend with consecutive victories over the Evansville Icemen on Friday (5-3) and Saturday (5-2) at the Huntington Center. On Friday, defenseman Richard Nedomlel earned the game-winning goal with an assist coming from forward Kevin Lynch, and Louis-Marc Aubry tallied the second goal of the game. On Saturday, Martin Frk scored the first mark for Toledo on an assist from Trevor Parkes, while forward Marek Tvrdon scored twice. Parkes (13-11—24), who is now with the Griffins, leads the Walleye in scoring this season. Frk (5-7—12) ties for third, Tvrdon (8-3—11) ranks fifth and Lynch (4-6—10) ranks sixth.

Scouting Report

Wed., Dec. 18 at Iowa Wild (10-13-1-0) – Wells Fargo Arena– 8:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time/Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Road. Season Series: Third of 10 meetings overall, third of five at Wells Fargo Arena. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst (1st season). Notes: The Griffins have defeated the Wild twice at Wells Fargo Arena this season, first 3-2 on Oct. 27 and then2-1 on Nov. 22…Iowa ranks fifth in the Midwest Division with 21 points, trailing the Chicago Wolves by five points, and ranks 29th overall in the league ahead of only the Utica Comets (8-15-1-1, 18 pts.)…The Wild have struggled at home in their inaugural season, posting a 4-10-0-0 record, while recording a more promising 6-3-1-0 road record away from Wells Fargo Arena…Cory Emmerton, Jeff Hoggan and Teemu Pulkkinen lead the Griffins in scoring against the Wild, all tallying two assists against Minnesota’s affiliate…Griffins center David McIntyre spent two seasons with the Houston Aeros from 2011-13 before the team moved to Iowa this season…Defenseman Brian Connelly (1-14—15) leads Iowa in scoring, just ahead of left wing Erik Haula (7-7—14), who is not currently on the roster, and defenseman Jonathon Blum (3-11—14).

Fri., Dec. 20 vs. Rockford IceHogs (15-12-2-0) – 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: 16-15-3-4 Overall, 11-6-1-1 Home. Season Series: 3-0-0-1 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. Fifth of 10 meetings overall, third of five at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (3rd season). Notes: Grand Rapids has defeated the Rockford IceHogs three times this season, including two victories at Van Andel Arena, where the Griffins have scored at least five goals in each of those victories…The Griffins’ sole loss to the IceHogs came on Oct. 19 in a 5-4 shootout loss at the BMO Harris Bank Center…Rockford center Mark McNeill (9-9—18) ties for 11th among rookie league leaders in scoring, while defenseman Adam Clendening (4-18—22) ranks fourth among all AHL defensemen…Rockford’s road power play (11.1%) ranks 26th in the league and its overall power play (16.4%) ranks 18th, while its road penalty killing record (73.1%) and overall penalty killing record (75.6%) rank 28th…Clendening (4-18—22) leads the IceHogs in scoring, while left wing Terry Broadhurst (7-12—19) ranks second and McNeill (9-9—18) ranks third…Rockford left wing Brad Winchester has recorded 60 minutes’ worth of penalties this season.

Sat., Dec. 21 vs. Chicago Wolves (12-12-0-2) – Allstate Arena – 8p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 7:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, All-Time Series: 58-42-2-4-2 Overall, 30-24-0-2-0 Road. Season Series: 2-2-0-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Road. Fifth of 10 meetings overall, fourth of five at Allstate Arena. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: John Anderson (12th season). Notes: The Wolves have handed the Griffins two of their five regulation losses this season, most recently defeating Grand Rapids 4-2 last Wednesday, snapping a seven-game winning streak for the defending Calder Cup champion…The Wolves rank fourth in the Midwest Division, just three points behind third-place Milwaukee Admirals (29 pts.)…Chicago is on a two-game losing streak following its Dec. 11 victory over Grand Rapids, dropping decisions to the Texas Stars (2-1) and the San Antonio Rampage (4-3) last weekend…Chicago goaltender Jake Allen ties for 12th among league goaltenders for goals against average (2.31) and also posts a 0.920 save percentage. Allen ranks fourth for total minutes played (1141:50) and third for saves (505)…Center Corey Locke (5-16—21) leads the Wolves in scoring and is followed by two rookies, right wing Ty Rattie (9-7—16, 2nd) and left wing Dmitrij Jaskin (7-7—14, 3rd).



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