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GRIFFINS BEGIN SIX-GAME HOME STRETCH WITH VISITS FROM ROCKFORD AND IOWA

This Week’s Games
Wed., Jan. 8    Rockford IceHogs at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Jan. 10    Iowa Wild at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 11    Iowa Wild at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.   
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Mon., Dec. 30    Toronto Marlies 4 at GRIFFINS 3 SOL    22-7-1-2, 47 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)   
Tue., Dec. 31    Toronto Marlies 3 at GRIFFINS 1    22-8-1-2, 47 pts. (1st)
Fri., Jan. 3    Chicago Wolves 1 at GRIFFINS 3    23-8-1-2, 49 pts. (1st)

Sat., Jan. 4    GRIFFINS 2 at Rockford IceHogs 4    23-9-1-2, 49 pts. (1st)   

New Year, New Challenges: The Griffins lost a two-game home set against the Toronto Marlies last week, including a 4-3 shootout decision in the franchise’s inaugural outdoor game at Comerica Park. However, the Griffins briefly bounced back on Friday night with a 3-1 victory over their Midwest Division rival, the Chicago Wolves. Tom McCollum made his 11th consecutive start – one shy of his career high – and yielded only a shorthanded goal that came off a turnover early in the third period. On Saturday, the Rockford IceHogs finally solved Grand Rapids 4-2 in regulation, the first time in seven meetings this season that the IceHogs have prevented the Griffins from earning a point. Rookie goaltender Jared Coreau made his second appearance in net until he was pulled in favor of McCollum after allowing a third goal just 3:49 into the second period. Grand Rapids (23-9-1-2, 49 pts.) took sole possession of the Western Conference lead with Friday’s victory, inching ahead of the second-place Abbotsford Heat (23-11-1-1, 48 pts.) and the third-place Texas Stars (21-10-2-3, 47 pts.). Only two Eastern Conference teams, the Manchester Monarchs (23-9-2-4, 52 pts.) and Springfield Falcons (24-5-1-3, 52 pts.), rank ahead of the Griffins in the league. Grand Rapids’ 0.700 winning percentage is the second-best in the league, behind only Springfield’s 0.788. The Griffins have lost five of their last seven games (2-4-0-1), earning only five points out of a possible 14.

Closing Out 2013: On Dec. 30, the Griffins played in their first-ever outdoor game in franchise history. The game took place at Comerica Park, where the Griffins lost to the Toronto Marlies 4-3 in a shootout in front of a crowd of 20,337. The crowd was the largest home crowd in Griffins history and the fifth-largest crowd overall, exceeded only by four late-‘90s IHL games against the Detroit Vipers at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The game also marked the second outdoor game for the Marlies and the seventh overall in the AHL. With its win, Toronto is now the only AHL team to ever have won multiple outdoor games. At the start of the game, the outside temperature was 22 degrees and by the end of the night the temperature fell to a chilling 17 degrees. Center Luke Glendening registered two goals in the contest, while defenseman Brennan Evans recorded two assists under the Detroit skyline, his first multiple-point game of the season. On Dec. 31, the Griffins hosted a rematch with the Marlies at Van Andel Arena and fell 3-1 to the Maple Leafs affiliate, marking a 7-9-0-1 all-time New Year’s Eve home record.

Jurco Named to Slovakian Olympic Team: Grand Rapids forward Tomas Jurco on Tuesday was named to the Slovakian Olympic Team that will compete at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, next month. Jurco is set to become just the fifth player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics while an active Griffin, joining Sergei Kolosov (2010 Belarus), Niklas Kronwall (2006 Sweden), Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (2010 Norway) and Julien Vauclair (2002 Switzerland). Teamed on the Slovakian squad with former Griffins Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Tatar, the 2013 Calder Cup and 2011 Memorial Cup champion will be among a contingent of 11 Griffins alumni competing for seven different nations during the Games.

Wednesday Promotions: Wednesday’s game versus the Rockford IceHogs  is “Wednesday is Hockey Night”, when fans can show their Griffins ticket at participating Arena District restaurants and bars to enjoy Happy Hour specials before the game and Hockey Night specials afterward. Please visit http://griffinshockey.com/hockeynight/ for more information. Wednesday is also an Amway Winning Wednesday. If the Griffins beat the IceHogs, every fan in attendance may also redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to the game on Jan. 15 against the Chicago Wolves. The box office will be open following the game for redemptions if the Griffins win. Fans may also redeem their stubs at The Zone during business hours (Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-2p.m.) and at the box office the night of Nov. 20. Additionally, the first 300 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a gift. Wednesday is also a Library Day; fans who 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 can 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.

Friday Promotions: Friday’s game versus the Iowa Wild 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. 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.

Saturday Promotions/Griffins Snow Globe Giveaway: Twenty-five hundred fans attending Saturday’s game will receive a Griffins snow globe presented by Comerica Bank. Following the game, Brennan Evans, Tom McCollum and Teemu Pulkkinen will sign autographs from the bench, presented by Huntington Bank. Bring your skates to the rink and take to the ice for the post-game open skate. Other post-game open skate dates include Feb. 22, March 29 and April 18. Saturday night also gives fans the opportunity to redeem Fan 4 Packs. For select games, receive four tickets and $12 in concession cash for a great low price. Valid for games on Dec. 14; Jan. 11 and 18; Feb. 15 and 22; March 8 and 29; and April 5. Visit griffinshockey.com/f4p or call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2.

The Midwest Division: The Griffins (23-9-1-2, 49 pts.) still lead the Midwest Division despite their recent skid, fending off the hungry Chicago Wolves (19-13-1-2, 41 pts.), who rank second, and the Milwaukee Admirals (17-10-5-1, 40 pts.). Chicago and Milwaukee have been leapfrogging each other in terms of placement for a majority of the season, and each team is responsible for three regulation losses this season for the Griffins, totaling six of their nine no-point decisions. The Rockford IceHogs (16-16-3-2, 37 pts.) have fallen to fourth place after posting a 2-5-1-2 record through their last 10 games. The IceHogs are being rapidly approached by the fifth-place Iowa Wild (14-14-2-2, 32 pts.), who show a 6-1-1-2 record through their last 10.

Teemu’s Team: Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (12-16—28) has been one of the hottest Griffins of late, ranking second on the team in scoring just behind right wing Tomas Jurco (12-17—29). The Vantaa, Finland, native holds the team’s longest point streak this season, earning three goals and seven assists from Nov. 29-Dec. 18. In his second season as a Griffin and third year pro, Pulkkinen posts a plus-16 rating, 20 penalty minutes, two game-winning goals and a 14.1 shooting percentage.

McCollum Steps Up: Backed up by rookie goaltender Jared Coreau, fifth-year pro Tom McCollum has filled the primary role between the pipes for the Griffins over the last month since Petr Mrazek joined the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 11. McCollum and Mrazek have been the backbone of the Griffins this season, with both netminders ranking in the league’s top eight goaltenders. McCollum ties for eighth in the league for goals against average (2.24) and posts a 13-6-0-1 record, including a 5-0 shutout against the Milwaukee Admirals on Dec. 14, his first of the season. McCollum’s 56th career win on Dec. 20 put him in sole possession of third place on the Griffins’ all-time list. 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. Since being recalled, Mrazek has made three appearances with the Wings, posting two losses (3-0, Dec. 14 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning; 3-0, Dec. 23 vs. New York Islanders). Mrazek, who is on a career-high nine-game winning streak with the Griffins, has posted a 10-2-1 AHL 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 ranks third among AHL goaltending leaders with a 2.09 GAA and 0.927 save percentage.

Team Leaders: Right wing Tomas Jurco (12-17—29), who returned from the Red Wings on Dec. 30, ranks first in points on the team, while fellow right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (12-16-28) ranks just one point behind in second place. Pulkkinen (plus-16), who leads the Griffins in plus/minus, has played in six more games than Jurco (plus-eight). Cory Emmerton (9-15—24) has sole possession of third place, while captain Jeff Hoggan (10-11—21) and Gustav Nyquist (7-14—21), who has earned a permanent roster spot with the Wings, tie for fourth. Left wing Triston Grant leads the team in penalty minutes (69), while Brennan Evans (62) ranks second and Jordin Tootoo (43) ranks third. Emmerton has the highest shooting percentage (17.3%) of any active Griffin.
 
Jurco Returns to Action: After being recalled to Detroit on Dec. 15 and subsequently appearing in seven games with the club, right wing Tomas Jurco returned to the Griffins on Dec. 30. Jurco made his NHL debut on the night he was recalled, becoming the 138th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. While with the Wings, Jurco recorded his first NHL point with a goal against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 17, as well as a goal and an assist in a 5-4 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 21. Jurco’s explosive 2013-14 season also includes 29 points (12-17—29), a plus-eight rating, three game-winning goals and a 14.8 shooting percentage. Due to the timing of Jurco’s assignment to Grand Rapids, he missed both the Griffins’ outdoor game at Comerica Park on Dec. 30 and the Wings’ Winter Classic held at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1.

Detroit Mends Roster: After recalling six players from the Griffins in a matter of eight days between Dec. 11-18, the Red Wings have sent a majority of their prospects back to Grand Rapids as Detroit’s roster heals. On Dec. 23, Jordin Tootoo was assigned to Grand Rapids, followed by Riley Sheahan on Dec. 28. The next day, Luke Glendening returned to the Griffins just in time for the franchise’s first outdoor game. On Dec. 30, Glendening swapped places with Tomas Jurco, who had been in Detroit since Dec. 15. Glendening subsequently appeared in the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, becoming the first North American player to play in multiple outdoor games in a single season. Goaltender Petr Mrazek remains with the Wings, despite Jimmy Howard making his return to the Wings’ lineup after a three-week knee injury, and defenseman Alexey Marchenko is currently filling in for former Griffin Danny DeKeyser.

Filling Big Skates: Many of Grand Rapids’ most highly touted prospects made big waves in Detroit after being recalled earlier this month. In a 5-4 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 21, right wing Tomas Jurco notched a goal and an assist, right wing Jordin Tootoo posted an assist and center Riley Sheahan recorded his first NHL points by tallying two assists. Both Jurco (one goal) and Luke Glendening (one assist) earned their first NHL points in a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 17. Since being recalled to the Wings on Nov. 21, right wing Gustav Nyquist has contributed eight points (5-4—9) and goaltender Petr Mrazek, who departed for Detroit on Dec. 11, has posted a 1.90 goals against average, a 0.910 save percentage and a 1-2 record over four appearances this season.

#140: The Red Wings last Friday recalled defenseman Alexey Marchenko from the Griffins. A native of Moscow, Russia, Marchenko has appeared in 33 games with the Griffins this season, producing 16 points (2-14—16) and six penalty minutes. Selected by Detroit in the seventh round (205th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Marchenko has a plus-15 rating that ties for first on the Griffins and first among all AHL rookies. Last season, the 6-foot-2, 212-pound defenseman notched nine points (4-5—9) with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. In 82 career KHL games, the 22-year-old Marchenko produced 11 points (4-7—11) and 12 penalty minutes. Marchenko made his NHL debut last Saturday against the Dallas Stars, becoming the 140th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL.

Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (10-17-3-0) finished out a four-game stretch with a 2-2 record last week, defeating the Kalamazoo Wings 3-2 (Dec. 30) and the Reading Royals 5-3 on Friday (Jan. 3), but falling to the Fort Wayne Komets 5-3 (Dec. 31) and the Wings 6-3 (Jan. 4) in their second meeting. Trevor Parkes (16-16—32) continues his points domination on the Walleye, with Kevin Lynch (5-9—14) ranking fifth and Marek Tvrdon (9-4—13) tying for sixth. Toledo ranks fifth in the North Division, nine points behind the fourth-place Fort Wayne Komets (13-11-2-4, 32 pts.)

Great Skate Winterfest: Griffins fans can enjoy a day full of winter-inspired events, sports demonstrations and family activities starting at noon on Saturday, Jan. 18 as part of the 2013 Great Skate Winterfest, which will run for 34 consecutive hours next Saturday and Sunday at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. The sixth annual Winterfest will begin at noon on Saturday, leading into the Griffins’ game versus the Abbotsford Heat at 7 p.m. Following the contest, Griffins players will make their way to Rosa Parks Circle for the 12th annual Great Skate, which features at least one player skating with fans for 24 consecutive hours – 10 p.m. on Saturday to 10 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, for a complete list of events, or to make a donation toward Griffins player’s participation, visit griffinshockey.com/greatskate.

Scouting Report

Wed., Jan. 8 vs. Rockford IceHogs (16-16-3-2) – 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: 18-16-3-4 Overall, 12-6-1-1 Home. Season Series: 5-1-0-1 Overall, 3-0-0-0 Home. Eighth of 10 meetings overall, fourth of five at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (3rd season). Notes: Rockford triumphed over the Griffins for the first time in regulation this season last Saturday night in a 4-2 decision. Otherwise, Grand Rapids has defeated the IceHogs five times in regulation and lost 5-4 in a shootout in their first meeting of the season on Oct. 19, earning 11 points against the Blackhawks’ affiliate…Defenseman Adam Clendening (4-23—27) ranks second among league defensemen in points and Klas Dahlbeck (8-10—18) ties for 14th, while Clendening (23) ranks first in assists just ahead of Adam Almquist (20) and former Griffin Chad Billins (20) of the Abbotsford Heat…Clendening leads the team in scoring, while rookie center Joakim Nordstrom (11-9—20) and left wing Terry Broadhurst (7-13—20) tie for second…Defenseman Jared Nightingale has clocked 85 penalty minutes through 36 games…Rockford is ranked 17th in the league for power play (16.7%) and 29th for penalty killing (74.4%), ahead of only the Utica Comets…Former Griffin and Calder Cup champion Brett Skinner now plays for Rockford, posting four points (0-4—4) through 16 games with the club. Skinner joined the team after a 10-game stint with the Norfolk Admirals earlier this season.

Fri., Jan. 10 vs. Iowa Wild (14-14-2-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 11 vs. Iowa Wild – 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/Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Season Series: Fourth of 10 meetings overall, first of five at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst (1st season). Notes: The Griffins have defeated the Wild three times at Wells Fargo Arena this season, all by a single goal…Iowa ranks fifth in the Midwest Division with 32 points, trailing the Rockford IceHogs by five points, and ranks 23rd overall in the league with a .500 winning percentage…Cory Emmerton leads the Griffins in scoring against the Wild with one goal and two assists, while Teemu Pulkkinen has tallied three assists and captain Jeff Hoggan has notched two helpers 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 (1-17—18) leads Iowa in scoring, just ahead of left wing Erik Haula (9-8—17) and defenseman Jonathon Blum (4-13—17), who are both currently not active on the roster. Rookie defenseman Corbin Baldwin has tallied 57 minutes’ worth of penalties while posting zero points for the Wild through 22 games…Goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who is currently with the Minnesota Wild, ranks 14th among all AHL goaltenders with a 2.47 goals against average and ranks second overall in save percentage (0.929).


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