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IRELAND'S EYES ARE SMILING

Griffins Own a 15-2-1-1 Record in Their Last 19 Games

2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic – Winnipeg

Tue., Jan. 31 - AHL All-Star Skills Competition - 8 p.m. - Comcast Local

Wed., Feb. 1 - AHL All-Star Game – 8 p.m. - Comcast Local (Tape delay Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.)

This Week’s Games
Fri., Feb. 3 - GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., Feb. 4 - Syracuse Crunch at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - Comcast Local/WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 25 - San Antonio Rampage 2 at GRIFFINS 3 - 31-12-1-2, 65 pts. (1st, North Division)


Fri., Jan. 27 - GRIFFINS 3 at Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 2 - 32-12-1-2, 67 pts. (1st)

Sat., Jan. 28 - GRIFFINS 4 at Peoria Rivermen 2 - 33-12-1-2, 69 pts. (1st)

Sun., Jan. 29 - GRIFFINS 3 at Iowa Stars 4 SO - 33-12-1-3, 70 pts. (1st)

Where We Stand: Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss at Iowa ended the Griffins’ four-game road and overall winning streaks. Still, Grand Rapids is 15-2-1-1 in its last 19 games and 9-1-0-1 in its last 11. The Griffins’ 33-12-1-3 mark, the second-best in franchise history through 49 games, gives them a six-point lead over Manitoba in the North Division race entering the AHL All-Star break.

Homecoming: After finishing a four-game road swing this Friday in Milwaukee, the Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena on Saturday to start a four-game homestand against Syracuse. The first 1,500 fans 12-and-under will receive a replica Griffins jersey, courtesy of Comerica Bank. During intermission, fans will be treated to a mesmerizing performance by Quick Change, a duo that will amaze fans with their lightning-quick costume transformations. After the game, fans can meet their favorite players during the Fox Motors autograph session or take to the Van Andel Arena ice during the family fun skate.

Winter in Winnipeg: Griffins forwards Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula (both PlanetUSA) and Donald MacLean (Canada) will participate in this week’s 2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, set for Tuesday and Wednesday 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. MacLean, a starter for Canada in 2002, was named as a replacement to the team last Tuesday. Comcast Local will televise the CCM AHL All-Star Skills Competition live on Tuesday at 8 p.m., and provide a next-day broadcast of the AHL All-Star Game that will air on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.

Flying High: With 33 wins and 70 points through their first 49 games, the Griffins are on pace to claim 53 wins and 114 points. The respective franchise records of 53 and 113 were set by their 2000-01 squad during an 82-game IHL season…Saturday’s win at Peoria put Grand Rapids 21 games over 0.500 for the first time since March 13, 2004, when a 1-0 win over Cincinnati improved its record to 40-19-8-0…The Griffins have just one regulation loss in both their last 11 home games (9-1-1-0) and their last eight road contests (6-1-0-1).

Ireland’s Eyes Are Smiling: Saturday’s 4-2 win at Peoria marked the 50th victory for head coach Greg Ireland in 80 games – the equivalent of one full season – behind the Griffins’ bench. Ireland, who assumed the helm on Feb. 10, 2005, now owns a 50-25-2-4 record with Grand Rapids, giving him the highest winning percentage (0.654) of the six head coaches in team history.

No Average Joe: Joey MacDonald has reverted to his old form following a slow start caused by his rehabilitation from injury. After posting a 5-4-1 record, a 3.87 GAA and a 0.877 save percentage through New Year’s Eve, his numbers for the month of January alone are 6-2-0 with a 2.35 GAA and a 0.917 save percentage. He has set his season-high with four straight wins.

Any Place, Any Time: The Griffins’ 18-3-1-2 mark (0.813) at Van Andel Arena gives them the second-best home ice record in the AHL and puts them just one win behind the bounty totaled by last year’s edition (19-18-2-1). Grand Rapids could challenge the 2000-01 squad that posted a franchise-best 31-7-3 record in friendly confines. The Griffins have been dominant on the road as well, as their 0.620 winning percentage (15-9-0-1) away from home ranks third.

Streaky Play: Each of the Griffins’ three AHL all-stars has already posted a double-digit point streak this season. Jiri Hudler’s 14-game run (13-14—27, Oct. 8-Nov. 15) was the second-longest streak in franchise history. Donald MacLean’s current 11-game tear (12-6—18, Jan. 6-29) ties for the fourth-longest, while Valtteri Filppula’s recent 10-game streak (4-11—15, Dec. 21-Jan. 13) ties for sixth.

You’re Unbelievable: After recently tying an AHL record and setting a franchise first by netting hat tricks in consecutive games (Jan. 14-18), Donald MacLean last Wednesday became the fastest Griffin to reach 30 goals on a season. He accomplished it in his 44th game and his team’s 46th contest, breaking the mark of 49 games (both categories) set by Michel Picard in 1996-97. His four hat tricks – double the Griffins’ previous single-season record – are the most for any AHL player since Hartford’s John Tripp netted four in 2002-03, and his league-high 32 goals – tied for sixth on the club’s single-season list – already surpass the season-ending total for the Griffins’ leader from three of the last four years. MacLean is on pace to break Picard’s franchise record of 46 goals from 1996-97 and could become the first Griffin ever to lead his league in lamp-lighters. He owns an 11-game point streak (12-6—18) and has registered points in 18 of the last 19 games (20-10—30); in addition, he has 31 goals in his last 38 contests.

Blistering Pace: The Griffins have already broken or are on pace to break some significant franchise records:
  • The Griffins have scored an AHL-high 192 goals, their most ever through 49 games and 74 more than their 2004-05 edition – an increase of 63%. On their current pace, the Griffins – who scored only 200 goals last year – would accumulate 313 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 set a franchise record with 71 power play goals, eclipsing the mark of 67 established in 2002-03. The Griffins’ 21.5% conversion rate, which would set another team record, stands first in the league.
  • Ranking third in the AHL with 62 points (25-37—62), 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).

    Own the Third: The Griffins have been far and away the AHL’s most dominant third period team this season, leading all clubs with 74 goals and a plus-31 goal differential over the final 20 minutes. Grand Rapids, which has out-shot its opposition 539-424 during the final frame, is 19-0-1-0 when leading after two periods – including 9-0-0-0 on the road after Saturday’s win – and owns a league-high eight wins (8-10-0-1) when trailing after two.

    Who’s Hot?: Clay Wilson has assists in three of the last four games (0-3—3) and five of the last eight contests (0-6—6)…Eric Manlow has points in six of the last eight games (2-6—8) and eight of the last 11 outings (2-9—11)…Tomas Kopecky has points in eight of his last 12 appearances (5-7—12) and in 12 of 18 games (6-12—18)…Bryan Helmer has points in seven of eight games (1-9—10)…Jiri Hudler had a six-game tear (4-7—11), a run that concluded with four straight multi-point games.

    League Leaders: Jiri Hudler stands near the top of the AHL with 25 goals (T5th), 37 assists (4th) and 62 points (3rd)…Donald MacLean leads the league with 32 goals and is tied for 16th with 47 points…Eric Manlow ranks among the leaders with 34 assists (T5th) and 49 points (T9th)…Darryl Bootland’s 226 penalty minutes place fourth on the circuit…Tomas Kopecky’s plus-15 rating ties for sixth, while Nate DiCasmirro’s plus-14 mark ties for tenth.

    Milestones: Donald MacLean’s two goals on Saturday gave him 32 on the season, tying for sixth place on the Griffins’ single-season list. His next goal will tie Slava Butsayev and Michel Picard for fourth…Jiri Hudler, now fourth on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 145 points, recorded his 100th pro goal with his first of two on Friday. His 54 goals are just two shy of tying Travis Richards for fourth in franchise history…Darryl Bootland needs three penalty minutes to tie Bruce Ramsay’s career franchise record of 781…Tomas Kopecky’s two assists on Sunday moved him into sole possession of tenth place all time on the Griffins in both assists (58) and points (104). Now eighth all time with 213 games played, he needs two goals for 48 as a Griffin (T9th all time).

    If at First You Don’t Succeed: Grand Rapids has scored first in just 21 of its 49 contests this season. The Griffins are 17-2-0-2 when scoring the game’s opening goal, and 16-10-1-1 when falling behind 1-0.

    Three-Peated Success: Following the weekend’s three-game road trip to the Central Time Zone, the Griffins are now 14-3-0-1 this season when playing three games in three nights, including a near-perfect 5-0-0-1 mark in the third contest.

    This Date in Griffins History: Jan. 30: Wearing replica throwback uniforms of the 1950s Grand Rapids Rockets, the Griffins paste the Chicago Wolves, 7-1 (1998). Jan. 31: Travis Richards becomes the first player to appear in 500 regular season games as a Griffin in Grand Rapids’ 4-3 win at Milwaukee. Jason Williams nets the Griffins’ lone hat trick of the season (2003). Feb. 1: A 1-0 win at Cincinnati gives the Griffins consecutive shutouts over the same opponent for the first time in franchise history (2000). Feb. 2: With a 3-1 win at Houston, the Griffins set a franchise mark by recording a point in their eighth consecutive road game (5-0-3-0) (2002). Feb. 3: Mark Mowers tallies a goal and an assist for PlanetUSA, but Marc Lamothe’s Canadian squad takes a 10-7 victory at the 2003 AHL All-Star Game in Portland (2003). Feb. 4: Marc Lamothe’s 30 saves make him the first Griffins goalie to shut-out an opponent in three consecutive meetings, as the Griffins claim a 1-0 win over Cincinnati (2004). Feb. 5: Center Kip Miller is assigned to Grand Rapids by the Pittsburgh Penguins, thereafter joining Kelly and Kevin as the third Miller brother to don a Griffins uniform (2001).

    Scouting Report


    Fri., Feb. 3 at Milwaukee Admirals (30-12-3-1) – Bradley Center – 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: 4-1-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Road. Sixth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Milwaukee. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 39-21-7-1-3 Overall, 15-13-5-1-3 Road. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (3rd season). Ships Ahoy: Jimmy Howard made 23 saves in the Griffins’ last visit to Milwaukee on Dec. 21, recording his first pro shutout (5-0) and the Griffins’ lone blanking of the season…The Admirals are 8-1-1-0 in their last 10, including a 3-2 overtime loss at Van Andel Arena on Jan. 14…Six Griffins are averaging at least a point per game against Milwaukee, led by Jiri Hudler (3-4—7 in four games)…The Admirals boast a 17-4 record at the Bradley Center.

    Sat., Feb. 4 vs. Syracuse Crunch (27-16-2-1) – Van Andel Arena - 7 p.m.
    TV: Comcast Local (ch. 23) at 7 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. Fourth of six meetings overall, third and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 6-1-0-0-0 Overall, 3-1-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets. Head Coach: Gary Agnew (6th season). Feel the Crunch: Martin Prusek, a First Team AHL All-Star with Grand Rapids in 2001-02, is 7-6 with a 3.30 GAA and a 0.898 save percentage for the Crunch…Syracuse is 23-9-2-1 since Nov. 11, putting a firm hold on third place in the North…The Griffins have won six of seven meetings in the all-time series.

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