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OUT WITH A BANG

Visit to Milwaukee Precedes Huge Weekend at Van Andel Arena

This Week’s Games

Fri., Dec. 29 - GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., Dec. 30 - Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - Comcast Local/WOOD/B2

Sun., Dec. 31 - Rochester Americans at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Dec. 20 - Iowa Stars 4 at GRIFFINS 3 OT - 12-14-3-2, 29 pts. (4th, North Division) 
 

Fri., Dec. 22 - GRIFFINS 3 at Peoria Rivermen 2 - 13-14-3-2, 31 pts. (4th)   

Tue., Dec. 26 - Peoria Rivermen 4 at GRIFFINS 3 - 13-15-3-2, 31 pts. (4th)

A Weekend to Remember: Before plunging into a January stretch in which seven of 10 games will be played on the road, the Griffins will close out 2006 at home this weekend with a pair of crucial contests against the class of the North Division. On Saturday, the second-place Hamilton Bulldogs visit for a game that will be televised live throughout Michigan on Comcast Local. Fans can click here to print a coupon redeemable for up to four lower bowl tickets for only $10 each (regularly $17). The Griffins will then ring in 2007 on Sunday against the first-place Rochester Americans with their 10th annual New Year’s Eve Extravaganza presented by Centennial Securities. Grand Rapids’ best New Year’s Eve party will feature:
•    West Michigan’s largest indoor fireworks show after the game;
•    Griffins players wearing tuxedo-style jerseys that will be autographed and auctioned to fans after the game, with proceeds benefiting Bauer Elementary School;
•    Live performance by Domestic Problems during the first intermission;
•    Noisemakers to the first 2,500 kids, and mouse pads (right) to the first 1,500 fans;
•    Post-game skate for 45 minutes after the fireworks;
•    Discounted tickets for all college and high school students, who can purchase a lower bowl ticket for only $10 with a valid student ID.

Check Your Tickets: All ticketholders for the game this Saturday, Dec. 30 should note that the correct starting time is 7 p.m. Season tickets were printed with an incorrect time of 8 p.m. The Griffins apologize for any confusion.

Of Note: The Griffins are 1-4-1-0 in their last six outings overall and 0-3-1-0 at home since their two-game sweep of Rochester at Van Andel Arena on Dec. 1-2…This Friday’s game at Milwaukee will conclude the Griffins’ eight-game run against West Division foes (2-4-1-0)…Already halfway through the home portion of their schedule, the Griffins show a 7-9-2-2 mark for their first 20 games at Van Andel Arena…In Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Peoria, all seven goals were scored on power plays, including two for each team during 5-on-3 advantages.

Crossover Appeal: While Grand Rapids and Milwaukee compete in different divisions, Friday’s clash looms large in the early playoff race thanks to the AHL’s crossover rule. If the eventual fifth-place team in the West Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the North Division, it will cross over and compete in the North Division playoffs. The Griffins stand fourth in the North with 31 points, but the Admirals currently reside fifth in the West with 34 points and one game in hand.

Detroit Shuttle: Griffins captain Matt Ellis was recalled by Detroit on Dec. 18 and made his NHL debut in the Red Wings’ 4-3 loss at Columbus that night. He returned to Grand Rapids yesterday after appearing in four games with the Wings, averaging 4:59 in ice time with three shots, one hit and a minus-one rating. Ellis became the 83rd Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL…Josh Langfeld, Grand Rapids’ second-leading scorer with 25 points (9-16—25), was recalled by Detroit following Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Peoria. He went scoreless in two games with the Red Wings earlier this season and is expected to be in their lineup tonight when they host Minnesota.

Kudos: Kip Miller, who scored his 400th and 401st pro goals on Tuesday against Peoria, has points in five of the last six games (3-3—6)…Jonathan Ericsson has also registered points in five of six contests (1-6—7) following Tuesday’s three-assist performance…Matt Hussey owns a four-game point streak (2-3—5)…Eric Himelfarb saw his three-game point streak (1-2—3) snapped on Tuesday…Jeff Campbell scored his first goal as a Griffin on Friday, part of his first two-point AHL game.
 
It’s Been Such a Long Time: The Dec. 20 contest against Iowa marked just the second game the Griffins have played since Nov. 30, 2003 in which neither Matt Ellis (recalled to Detroit) nor Darryl Bootland (did not dress) took to the ice. The only other time was April 16 of this year (Ellis injured, Bootland suspended)…Stefan Liv’s 22-save, 3-2 win at Peoria last Friday was his first victory since he earned a 3-1 win at Houston in his AHL debut on Oct. 7. He had gone 0-6-1 with one no-decision in the interim.

On Again, Off Again: Grand Rapids’ penalty killers have been very streaky over the last two months. They allowed a power play goal in 11 consecutive games – one shy of the franchise record – from Nov. 4-26, then shut out the opposition for 32 straight opportunities over five-plus games (Nov. 26-Dec. 9), before surrendering power play goals in each of the last seven outings (Dec. 13-26). All six goals scored by the Rivermen during the recently completed home-and-home set with the Griffins were scored during power plays.

Odds n’ Ends: Grand Rapids is 10-2-1-0 when leading after two periods, 3-4-0-2 when tied and 0-9-2-0 when trailing…The Griffins posted a 12-5 record last season in games decided after regulation (6-1 in overtime, 6-4 in shootouts). So far this season, they are 2-5 (0-3 OT, 2-2 SO)…Grand Rapids’ scoring differentials by period are plus-four in the first (33-29), even in the second (31-31) and minus-15 in the third (29-44). Only one AHL team has surrendered more goals during the third period this season (Binghamton, 50).

Farewell to a Friend: After 11.5 years with the Griffins, Bob Sack will resign his position as senior VP of sales and marketing this Friday, Dec. 29. One of six original staffers still with the organization, he will become the COO of McShane & Bowie, a Grand Rapids law firm. Under Sack’s guidance, the Griffins ranked among the top 12 minor league hockey teams in attendance during each of their first 10 seasons and hosted both the 1997 IHL and 2004 AHL all-star games.

Oh Canada: On Dec. 21, defenseman Danny Syvret was reassigned by the Edmonton Oilers to the Canadian National Team. He is playing for his country during the 2006 Spengler Cup, a tournament taking place in Davos, Switzerland, through Dec. 31. Syvret, a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 2005 World Junior Championship, joins three other Griffins alumni on his homeland’s 23-man roster, including defenseman Jason Doig (2001-02) and forwards Stacy Roest (2002-03) and Krys Kolanos (2006-07). The roster is comprised of Canadian-born players on club teams in Europe, along with players on loan from NHL and AHL teams. Syvret will play in up to five games – against Sweden’s Mora IK (4-3 SOW on Dec. 26), Switzerland’s HC Davos (Dec. 27), Russia’s Khimik (Dec. 29) and Germany’s EHC Eisbaren Berlin (Dec. 30), plus a potential championship final on Dec. 31 – before returning to the Griffins in January.

Honor Roll: Griffins center Kip Miller has been chosen by the AHL to serve as the playing captain for the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star Team at the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, Jan. 28-29 in Toronto. Miller, 37, becomes the second Griffin in four seasons chosen to captain the PlanetUSA squad, following former defenseman Travis Richards’ selection for the 2004 event in Grand Rapids. He’ll make his first AHL All-Star Classic appearance; he was voted to the starting lineup in 2002 as a member of the Griffins after scoring 56 points (21-35—56) in just 41 games but missed the event after signing with the New York Islanders in mid-season. Miller was chosen MVP of the 1998 IHL All-Star Game after notching three goals, including two in an All-Star record span of 18 seconds during the first period.

All-Star Voting Underway: Fan balloting for the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic is ongoing at theahl.com and accessible through a home page link at griffinshockey.com. The players receiving the most votes by position will earn berths in the starting lineups of both the Canadian AHL All-Star team and the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star team at the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, to be held Jan. 28-29 in Toronto. A committee of AHL coaches will select the remaining All-Stars, and all 27 clubs will be represented on the final rosters. By completing the official ballot, fans will be entered to win various prizes, including the grand prize of a team-signed authentic 2007 AHL All-Star jersey. Ten second-prize winners will each win an autographed commemorative magazine from the event, and 10 third-prize winners will each receive an official 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic T-shirt. On-line fan balloting will end at 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 7.

Scouting Report

Fri., Dec. 29 at Milwaukee Admirals (14-12-3-3) – Bradley Center – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:59 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-3-1-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Road. Sixth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Milwaukee. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 42-25-7-2-3 Overall, 18-14-5-1-3 Road. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (4th season). Notes: The Admirals have won nine of the last 10 meetings, with the Griffins’ lone 2-1 win coming in shootout fashion at the Bradley Center on Dec. 13…In its last three series losses, Grand Rapids has been outscored by a 22-9 margin…Former Griffin Sheldon Brookbank ranks second among AHL defensemen with 25 points (7-18—25)…Milwaukee has lost in regulation just once in its last 12 games (7-1-1-3)…In their first 825 regular season games played (through Nov. 13), the Griffins allowed eight goals on just two occasions, both against the IHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones (Dec. 31, 1996 vs. CIN, 4-8; March 22, 1998 at CIN, 1-8). Now, Milwaukee has dented Grand Rapids for eight goals twice in the last 18 games and in two of the teams’ last four meetings: Nov. 14 at home (1-8), and Dec. 17 on the road (5-8).

Sat., Dec. 30 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (20-10-1-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast Local 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: 0-0-0-1 Overall, 0-0-0-1 Home. Second of 10 meetings overall, second of five in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 12-8-1-0-2 Overall, 6-3-1-0-2 Home. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Don Lever (2nd season). Notes: Following a 2-6 start, the Bulldogs have since posted an incredible 18-4-1-1 mark…Netminder Jaroslav Halak leads the AHL in GAA (1.48), save percentage (0.950) and shutouts (5)…Erstwhile Griffins Eric Manlow (2004-06) and Danny Groulx (2002-05) play for Hamilton, while former Bulldogs Brad Norton (1998-01), Dan Smith (2005-06) and Danny Syvret (2005-06) now toil in Grand Rapids.

Sun., Dec. 31 vs. Rochester Americans (21-8-1-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Home. Fourth of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 12-8-1-0-0 Overall, 8-3-1-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliations: Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Randy Cunneyworth (7th season). Notes: Entering December, the Amerks owned a league-best 16-2-1-0 record and an eight-point lead over Hamilton in the North Division race. Beginning with consecutive losses to the Griffins on Dec. 1-2, Rochester has since gone 5-6 and seen its cushion over the Bulldogs reduced to a single point…Following Sunday’s game, the season’s last four meetings between the Griffins and Amerks will take place in Rochester.

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