Daunting Road Trip Awaits at Weeks End
This Weeks Games
Wed., Jan. 25 - San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WTKG 1230 AM/B2 Networks
Fri., Jan. 27 - GRIFFINS at Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2
Sat., Jan. 28 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 9 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Sun., Jan. 29 - GRIFFINS at Iowa Stars - 6:05 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Last Weeks Results
Wed., Jan. 18 - Iowa Stars 3 at GRIFFINS 6 - 29-11-1-2, 61 pts. (1st, North Division)
Fri., Jan. 20 - Toronto Marlies 5 at GRIFFINS 3 - 29-12-1-2, 61 pts. (1st)
Sat., Jan. 21 - Toronto Marlies 5 at GRIFFINS 6 - 30-12-1-2, 63 pts. (1st)
Back on the Road: After completing a season-high six-game homestand (4-1-0-0) against San Antonio this Wednesday, the Griffins will play three road games in three nights this weekend against Omaha (Fri.), Peoria (Sat.) and Iowa (Sun.). Starting with Thursdays flight to Omaha, theyll log approximately 1,815 miles in four days, including 1,157 miles about 17 hours on a bus before arriving home next Monday morning.
Flying High: With 30 wins and 63 points through their first 45 games, the Griffins (30-12-1-2) first-place in the North Division with a four-point lead over Manitoba are on pace to claim 53 wins and 112 points. The 2000-01 squad set the franchise records in both categories with 53 victories and 113 points.
Home is Where the Wins Are: The Griffins 17-3-1-2 mark at Van Andel Arena gives them the third-best home ice record in the AHL. Grand Rapids could challenge the 2000-01 squad that posted a franchise-best 31-7-3 record in friendly confines. Saturdays capacity crowd of 10,834 marked the Griffins fourth sellout in 23 home games this season, their most since playing before five packed houses during the 2000-01 campaign.
Never Say Die: The Griffins trailed Toronto 4-3 after two periods on Saturday and eventually fell behind 5-3 before rallying for a dramatic 6-5 win. It marked the teams AHL-best eighth win this second when trailing after two periods (8-10-0-1).
Youre Unbelievable: After tying an AHL record and setting a franchise mark by notching a hat trick for the second straight game last Wednesday, Donald MacLean scored his league-leading 29th goal of the season with 37.3 seconds remaining on Saturday to complete the Griffins incredible 6-5 comeback victory over Toronto. His four hat tricks double the Griffins previous single-season record are the most for any AHL player since Hartfords John Tripp netted four in 2002-03, and his 29 goals already surpass the season-ending total for the Griffins leader from three of the last four seasons. MacLean is on pace to break Michel Picards franchise record of 46 goals from 1996-97 and could become the first Griffin ever to lead his league in lamp-lighters. He owns a seven-game point streak (9-413) and has registered points in 14 of the last 15 games (17-825); in addition, he has 28 goals in his last 34 contests.
Fours a Crowd: Four Griffins stand among the AHLs top 19 scorers Jiri Hudler (56 pts., 3rd), Eric Manlow (46 pts., T9th), Valtteri Filppula (43 pts., T17th) and Donald MacLean (42 pts., T19th).
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: When Donald MacLean and Iowas Mathias Tjarnqvist each scored three goals last Wednesday, it marked just the second time in Grand Rapids history that both a Griffins player and an opposing player tallied hat tricks in the same game. Grand Rapids Greg Bullock and Michigans Marty Flichel traded tricks in a 7-5 Griffins win in Kalamazoo on Feb. 13, 1998.
No Average Joe: Joey MacDonald is reverting to his old form following a slow start. After posting a 3.87 GAA and a 0.877 save percentage through New Years Eve, his numbers for the month of January alone are a 2.58 GAA and a 0.901 save percentage.
Blistering Pace: The Griffins are on pace to reach significant milestones or set franchise records:
The Griffins have scored an AHL-high 179 goals, their most ever through 45 games and 72 more than their 2004-05 edition an increase of 67%. On their current pace, the Griffins who scored only 200 goals last year would accumulate 318 goals, smashing their record of 279 from 2000-01. The last AHL team to score 300 or more goals was the 1998-99 Providence Bruins (321).
Grand Rapids has already tallied 66 power play goals, more than its total from the entire 2004-05 season (55) and just one shy of the team record set in 2002-03. The Griffins 21.4% conversion rate stands second in the league.
Ranking third in the AHL with 56 points (22-3456), Jiri Hudler is bidding to break the franchise scoring record (Michel Picard, 101 points in 1996-97) and become the second Griffin to win a league scoring title (Derek King, 83 points in 2000-01). His 60 projected assists would also eclipse the current team standard of 55 (Jeff Nelson and Picard in 1996-97).
Whos Hot?: Eric Manlow has a four-game point streak (1-45) and points in six of seven outings (1-78)
Tomas Kopecky has points in six of his last eight appearances (5-49) and in 10 of 14 games (6-915)
Eric Himelfarb has goals in consecutive games (2-13)
Bryan Helmer owns a four-game point streak (1-56)
Matt Ellis has six points in the last five games (2-46)
Darryl Bootland has points in eight of the last 10 games (3-811).
Milestones: Donald MacLeans assist last Wednesday was the 200th of his AHL career, and his goal on Saturday was his 29th of the season, putting him eighth on the Griffins single-season goals list
Jiri Hudlers three assists on Saturday gave him 139 points as a Griffin, giving him sole possession of fourth place on the franchises all-time scoring list. His 51 goals currently tie Ed Patterson for fifth all time
Darryl Bootland needs 14 penalty minutes to tie Bruce Ramsays career franchise record of 781
Tomas Kopecky needs two goals for 48 as a Griffin (T8th all time), one assist for 56 (T10th) and one point for 102 (T10th).
League Leaders: Jiri Hudler stands near the top of the AHL with 22 goals (T8th), 34 assists (4th) and 56 points (3rd)
Donald MacLean leads the league with 29 goals and is tied for 19th with 42 points
Eric Manlow ranks among the leaders with 32 assists (T5th) and 46 points (T9th)
Valtteri Filppula boasts 43 points (T17th)
Darryl Bootlands 215 penalty minutes place fourth on the circuit
Tomas Kopeckys plus-15 rating ties for 8th
Bryan Helmer ranks among the top defensemen with eight goals (T7th) and six power play markers (T5th).
If at First You Dont Succeed: Grand Rapids has scored first in just 19 of its 45 contests this season. The Griffins are 15-2-0-2 when scoring the games opening goal, compared to 15-10-1-0 when falling behind 1-0.
Theres Nothing Like January in Winnipeg: Griffins forwards Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula have been selected to play for the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star Team at the 2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Hudler, who will make his second all-star appearance in three seasons (2004), was chosen as a starter for the Feb. 1 All-Star Game via fan voting at theahl.com, while Filppula was selected as a reserve by a committee of AHL coaches. Comcast Local will televise the AHL All-Star Skills Competition live on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m., and provide a next-day broadcast of the AHL All-Star Game that will air on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.
This Week in Griffins History: Jan. 23: West Michigan Hockey, Inc. principals Daniel G. DeVos and David L. Van Andel announce plans to bring a professional ice hockey team to the greater Grand Rapids area (1995). Jan. 24: Griffins and Detroit Red Wings hold a joint press conference at The B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids to announce a five-year affiliation agreement (2002-03 to 2006-07). Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill are present for the announcement, made before an overflow crowd of media and sponsors (2002). Jan. 25: Left wing Jody Hull, a veteran of 736 NHL games, joins the Griffins on a conditioning assignment from the Ottawa Senators. That night, the Griffins score seven unanswered goals in a 7-1 romp at Norfolk, as Chris Bala joins Petr Schastlivy and Kevyn Adams as the only rookies in team history to net a hat trick (2002). Jan. 26: Griffins name IHL veteran Bob McNamara as director of hockey operations/general manager (1996). Jan. 27: Griffins score five unanswered goals in the last half of the third period in a 5-3 win over Michigan (1998). Jan. 28: Griffins enjoy their largest victory margin of the season, a 7-0 rout of Houston at Van Andel Arena (2003). Jan. 29: Josh Langfeld scores twice to lead Grand Rapids to a 4-0 win over Milwaukee (2002).
Wed., Jan. 25 vs. San Antonio Rampage (12-27-1-2) Van Andel Arena 7 p.m.
Radio: WTKG 1230 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Third of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 20-9-1-0-0 Overall, 8-5-1-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Pat Conacher (1st season). Stampede Stories: Grand Rapids is 8-2 against San Antonio the last two seasons but just 2-2 in games played at Van Andel Arena
Griffins players have registered four hat tricks versus the Rampage during the last three seasons
San Antonio, owner of the AHLs worst record, sits 17 points out of a playoff spot
The Rampage have lost their last five road games by a cumulative 17-2 margin, including three shutouts.
Fri., Jan. 27 at Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights (16-21-1-7) Omaha Civic Auditorium 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Fourth and final meeting overall, second and final in Omaha. NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames. Head Coach: Ryan McGill (1st season). Knight Moves: Omaha, looking for its first win against Grand Rapids, has lost seven straight games in regulation to fall into sixth place in the West
The Knights have been outscored 30-13 during their current skid.
Sat., Jan. 28 at Peoria Rivermen (22-16-1-2) Peoria Civic Center-Carver Arena 9 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, second and final in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Steve Pleau (1st season). Rollin on the River: The Rivermen have won four straight at home, allowing just a single goal in each of their last three outings
On Dec. 2, the Griffins allowed a season-high seven goals in a 7-4 loss at Peoria, including a team-record six power play goals (6-for-9)
Grand Rapids rookie Ryan Oulahen notched a personal-best two goals in that contest.
Sun., Jan. 29 at Iowa Stars (21-19-1-1) Wells Fargo Arena 6:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 5:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Fourth and final meeting overall, second and final in Des Moines. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Dave Allison (1st season). Starry Night: Dave Allison coached the expansion Griffins to a 70-55-19 record from 1996-98 Including the two seasons (2000-02) Allison spent behind the Milwaukee Admirals bench, the Griffins have compiled a 16-4-4-1-1 record (w-l-t-otl-sol) against their former coach
The home team has won all three meetings this season.