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GRIFFINS FACE THREE NORTH DIVISION FOES

This Week’s Games
Wed., Feb. 5    Lake Erie Monsters at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Feb. 7    GRIFFINS at Toronto Marlies    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Feb. 8    GRIFFINS at Rochester Americans*    7:05 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
* First Niagara Center – Buffalo, NY

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Jan. 31    Chicago Wolves 6 at GRIFFINS 2    28-13-2-2, 60 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Sat., Feb. 1    GRIFFINS 3 at Milwaukee Admirals 2 SO    29-13-2-2, 62 pts. (1st)

The Splits: Last week, the Griffins dropped a 6-2 decision to the Chicago Wolves at Van Andel Arena on Friday, but they defeated the Milwaukee Admirals, 3-2, in a shootout at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday. Friday’s game marked the third sold-out crowd (10,834) of the season for Grand Rapids. Mitch Callahan and Adam Almquist tallied goals for Grand Rapids, but it wasn’t enough to overcome three two-goal periods by Chicago. The game marked only the third time this season that the Griffins allowed six or more goals. On Saturday, Teemu Pulkkinen and Louis-Marc Aubry scored the Griffins’ regulation goals and Almquist was the only shooter to connect in the shootout. Goaltender Peter Mrazek, back in a Griffins uniform for the first time since Dec. 7, turned away 29 shots and stonewalled all five of Milwaukee’s shootout attempts to earn his 10th consecutive win with the Griffins.

The Midwest Division: Through 46 games, the Griffins (29-13-2-2) have banked 62 points and currently hold on to a six-point lead over the rest of the Midwest Division. The second-place Chicago Wolves (26-16-2-2, 56 pts.), who are on a three-game winning streak, are four points above the Milwaukee Admirals (21-13-6-4, 52 pts.). The Rockford IceHogs (21-21-4-2, 48 pts.) land in fourth, but are followed closely behind by the fifth-place Iowa Wild (19-16-5-3, 46 pts.). Grand Rapids also ranks first in the Western Conference, just one point ahead of the Texas Stars (28-14-2-3, 61 pts.), and second overall in the AHL led only by the Manchester Monarchs (30-13-2-5, 67 pts.).

Wednesday Promotions: Wednesday’s game versus the Lake Erie Monsters  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. All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 3-1 win over the Chicago Wolves on Jan. 15 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to this game. If the Griffins beat the Monsters, every fan in attendance may also redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to the game on March 5 against Chicago. 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 March 5. 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.

Bright Lights, Big Cities: Buffalo’s First Niagara Center will become the sixth NHL arena to host a Griffins game when Grand Rapids and the Rochester Americans face off at the home of the Sabres this Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Through six all-time contests on NHL ice surfaces, the Griffins sport a record of 3-3.

Date NHL Arena (City) Opponent Result
Jan. 25, 2003 First Union Center (Philadelphia) Philadelphia Phantoms W 3-1
Nov. 24, 2004 Arrowhead Pond (Anaheim) Cincinnati Mighty Ducks SOW 4-3
Jan. 26, 2005 Rexall Place (Edmonton) Edmonton Road Runners L 0-3
Jan. 27, 2005 Rexall Place (Edmonton) Edmonton Road Runners L 1-3
March 7, 2005 Xcel Energy Center (St. Paul) Houston Aeros L 1-3
*April 26, 2006 Air Canada Center (Toronto) Toronto Marlies W 3-2
Feb. 8, 2014 First Niagara Center (Buffalo) Rochester Americans  TBD

* Playoff game

Almquist Keeps Rolling: Fifth-year pro defenseman Adam Almquist extended his point streak to five games last weekend, earning a goal and an assist in Friday’s 6-2 loss to the Chicago Wolves and an assist and game-winning shootout tally in Saturday’s 3-2 win against the Milwaukee Admirals. Prior to his current five-game streak, his longest of the season was a three-game run from Nov. 29-Dec. 6, with three assists. A native of Huskvarna, Sweden, Almquist (2-30—32) ties for fifth among AHL defenseman in scoring (along with former Griffin and current member of the Abbotsford Heat Chad Billins) and ranks first among league defenders in assists. Fourteen of Almquist’s assists have come on the power play, tying him for third among all d-men in power play assists. In addition, Almquist has earned three assists in a single game on three separate occasions (Oct. 4 at RCH; Nov. 20 vs. MIL; Jan. 26 at SA).
 
Puck-Happy Pulkkinen: Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (18-22—40) keeps producing points for Grand Rapids on a regular basis, having tallied at least one point in 30 of 46 games, and he is one of four Griffins to have appeared in every game so far this season. Pulkkinen, a native of Vantaa, Finland, holds the team’s longest point streak, earning three goals and seven assists in eight games from Nov. 29-Dec. 18. Currently, Pulkkinen is on a five-game point streak (five goals, four assists). In his second season as a Griffin and third year pro, Pulkkinen posts a plus-15 rating, 24 penalty minutes, two game-winning goals and a 13.4 shooting percentage on 134 shots. He ties for 11th overall among league scoring leaders, the only Griffin to rank among the top 20.

Nyquist’s Wild Ride: Right wing Gustav Nyquist, who appeared in 15 games with the Griffins and notched 21 points (7-14—21) before being recalled to the Detroit Red Wings full time, recorded his first NHL hat trick, along with an assist, in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday. In addition, Nyquist was named to the Swedish Olympic team on Monday as a replacement for injured teammate Johan Franzen. This season, Nyquist has skated in 30 games with Detroit, earning 22 points (13-9—22), a plus-four rating, a 17.6% shooting percentage and two game-winning goals. Nyquist ranks sixth overall on the Wings in scoring and still ranks 10th on the Griffins.

Mrazek’s Return: After an extended stint with the Detroit Red Wings from Dec. 11-Jan. 8, Griffins goaltender Petr Mrazek made his first appearance in net for Grand Rapids since Dec. 7 in a 3-2 shootout win over the Milwaukee Admirals last Saturday. The victory marked Mrazek’s 10th consecutive win in a Griffins jersey, not having lost a game since Oct. 25 versus the Charlotte Checkers (0-5 L) at Van Andel Arena. Mrazek is two games shy of tying the franchise record for consecutive wins. Jimmy Howard holds the record with a 12-game winning streak from Feb. 25-March 31, 2006. In seven appearances with the Wings this season, Mrazek posted a 1-3-0 record, a 0.924 save percentage, a 1.64 goals against average and 329 minutes in net. With the Griffins, Mrazek holds an 11-2-1 record through 14 games, with a 0.928 shooting percentage, a 2.07 GAA and 812 minutes in net. The Ostrava, Czech Republic, native would rank third overall among all AHL goaltenders if he had more than 900 minutes in net. Fellow goaltender Tom McCollum, however, ranks 10th among league netminders with a 2.32 GAA, to go with as a 0.922 save percentage through 1758 minutes between the pipes.

Team Leaders: Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (18-22—40) continues to lead the Griffins in scoring, courtesy of an active five-game point streak (five goals, four assists). Pulkkinen’s 134 shots are the highest number for any Griffin this season. Tomas Jurco (13-19—32), who was recalled to the Wings on Jan. 14, follows in second. Adam Almquist (2-30—32) is on the same five-game point streak as Pulkkinen and has climbed the ranks to third place. Four out of five of Almquist’s games in his streak were multi-point games, including a three-assist performance in a 6-5 overtime loss to the San Antonio Rampage on Jan. 26. Cory Emmerton (10-19—29), who returned from Detroit on Sunday, has sole possession of fourth place.

Sochi-Bound: On Jan.7, Grand Rapids forward Tomas Jurco 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 12 Griffins alumni competing for seven nations during the Games. On Monday, Gustav Nyquist was announced as Johan Franzen’s replacement for the Swedish Olympic Team.

All-Star Duo: On Jan. 9, the American Hockey League announced that Grand Rapids head coach Jeff Blashill and defenseman Alexey Marchenko have been selected to participate in the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Assante Wealth Management, which will be held Feb. 11-12 at the Mile One Center in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The AHL All-Star Team, a 20-man squad consisting of the league’s top contributors, will battle Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in a two-day competition. The 2014 All-Star Classic will mark the first time that a Swedish Hockey League team has competed in North America. Blashill, 40, will be the first Griffins head coach in 12 years to lead an AHL All-Star Team, following Bruce Cassidy’s participation in the 2002 AHL All-Star Classic. Blashill will be joined by Rob Zettler, head coach of the Syracuse Crunch, whom the Griffins defeated in the 2013 Calder Cup Finals. In 2012-13, his first season as a head coach at the pro level, Blashill led the Griffins to the Calder Cup, marking the first championship in the franchise’s 17-year history. Blashill was named by the Detroit Red Wings as the ninth head coach in Grand Rapids Griffins history on June 25, 2012. Marchenko, 22, is just the third rookie defenseman in Griffins history to be named to the AHL All-Star Team, following in the recent footsteps of Chad Billins (2013), also a member of the 2014 AHL All-Star Team representing Abbotsford, and Brendan Smith (2011). The Moscow, Russia, native has had a storybook inaugural season with the Griffins, tallying 17 points (2-15—17), a plus-14 rating and 10 penalty minutes through 41 games. On Jan. 4, Marchenko finished with a plus-two rating in his NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings, becoming the 140th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL.

Emmerton Clears Waivers: The Detroit Red Wings on Sunday assigned center Cory Emmerton to Grand Rapids. Emmerton, 25, has appeared in 31 contests with the Griffins this season, registering 29 points (10-19—29), a plus-11 rating and 12 penalty minutes. The St. Thomas, Ontario, native is on an active five-game point streak with Grand Rapids, tallying six points from Jan. 4-15, and ranks fourth on the team in scoring. Prior to this season’s stint with Grand Rapids, Emmerton made 217 appearances with the Griffins from 2006-11, recording 111 points (34-77-111) and 66 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 198-pound center has made 11 appearances with Detroit this season, recording two assists and four penalty minutes. Emmerton has skated in 132 games with the Red Wings since the 2010-11 season, producing 21 points (12-9—21) and 22 PIM.

Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (14-24-3-0) lost two of three games last week. The Walleye defeated the Evansville Icemen, 3-2, on Wednesday and fell to the Cincinnati Cyclones, 1-3, on Friday and the Elmira Jackals, 4-2, on Saturday. Trevor Parkes (17-17—34) continues to lead the Walleye in scoring despite being reassigned to the Griffins on Jan. 13. Travis Novak (8-16—24) and Alden Hirschfeld (6-17—23), who were released from professional tryouts with the Griffins on Jan. 27, place second and third on the team. Toledo ranks fifth in the North Division, 16 points behind the fourth-place Fort Wayne Komets.

Scouting Report

Wed., Feb. 5 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (19-21-0-4) – 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: 26-14-2-5 Overall, 16-6-0-1 Home. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of four meetings overall, first of two at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Dean Chynoweth (second season). Notes: The Monsters rank fourth in the North Division, 12th in the Western Conference and 25th overall…Through the last 10 games, Lake Erie has recorded a 2-7-0-1 record…In their only meeting of the season so far, the Griffins topped the Monsters, 6-4, at Quicken Loans Arena on Nov. 1…The third period has presented a challenge for the Monsters, who have scored 35 goals while allowing 47 and have recorded 374 shots while giving up 434…Center Mark Olver leads the Monsters with 30 points (11-19—30). Left wing Andrew Agozzino follows closely behind in second with 28 points (10-18—28), while left wing Bryan Lerg sits comfortably in third with 27 points (12-15—27)…Rookie center Mitchell Heard leads the team in penalty minutes with 119, which ranks second overall among league rookies in PIM. Right wing Guillaume Desbiens is not far behind, with 108 minutes’ worth of infractions.

Fri., Feb. 7 at Toronto Marlies (26-15-2-2) – Ricoh Coliseum – 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: 28-24-3-2 Overall, 12-13-2-1 Road. Season Series: 0-1-1-1 Overall, 0-0-1-0 Road. Fourth of four meetings overall, second at Ricoh Coliseum. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Steve Spot (first season). Notes: The Marlies have triumphed over the Griffins in all three meetings so far this season, including a 4-3 shootout victory at Comerica Park on Dec. 30 in the first-ever outdoor game in franchise history…The Marlies rank first in the North Division, third in the Western Conference and eighth overall…Toronto has tallied the second-highest amount of penalty minutes of any Western Conference team (859), with rookie center Sam Carrick leading the charge (79)…Former Griffins goaltender Drew MacIntyre has led the way between the pipes for Toronto this season, earning a 20-11-2 record and a 2.44 goals against average…Right wing Spencer Abbott (12-35—47) leads the Marlies in scoring, but defenseman T.J. Brennan (19-27—46) trails by only a single point. Abbott, who was named to the AHL All-Star Team on Tuesday, and Brennan rank fourth and fifth, respectively, among all league scorers. Brennan leads all AHL defensemen in scoring.

Sat., Feb. 8 at Rochester Americans (22-15-3-3) – First Niagara Center – 7:05 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: 36-22-1-1-3 Overall, 14-15-0-1-1 Road. Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Fourth of four meetings overall, second of two on the road. NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres. Head Coach: Chadd Cassidy (2nd season). Notes: The Griffins have yet to lose a game to the Americans in the season series…Rochester is currently on a seven-game winning streak…The Griffins have tallied 16 goals against the Americans, while Rochester has only solved Grand Rapids three times…Two Rochester players who once served as captains for the Griffins, Matt Ellis (2005-06) and Jamie Tardif (2009-11), are on the Americans’ roster…Rochester forward Frederick Roy is the son of Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy…Griffins defenseman Nathan Paetsch was a member of the Americans from 2003-06 and briefly in 2010-11, having been a member of Buffalo’s organization from 2003-10…Grand Rapids forward Triston Grant also played for Rochester in 2010-11, recording 13 points (7-6—13) and 144 penalty minutes in 56 games…The Americans’ top scorer, Phil Varone, is currently with the Sabres, but center Luke Adam, who was named to the AHL All-Star Team on Tuesday, ranks second and has potted 32 points (19-13—32) in 29 games…Roy leads the team in penalty minutes with 90.


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