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DRIVING HARD

This Week’s Games
Mon., Jan. 8 - GRIFFINS at Philadelphia Phantoms - 7:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Wed., Jan. 10 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WTKG 1230 AM/B2

Fri., Jan. 12 - Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Sat., Jan. 13 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Jan. 5 - GRIFFINS 6 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5 - 16-15-4-2, 38 pts. (4th, North Division) 

Sat., Jan. 6 - GRIFFINS 4 at Albany River Rats 3 - 17-15-4-2, 40 pts. (4th) 

On a Roll: Thanks to a pair of hard-fought, one-goal road victories over the weekend, the Griffins have won a season-high four straight games to improve to two games above 0.500 for the first time since Nov. 7. They’ll carry season-best runs of 4-0-1-0 and 5-1-2-0 into tonight’s contest at Philadelphia, a game that was postponed 26 hours due to a conflict with Sunday’s NFL playoff game between the Eagles and Giants. Following tonight’s affair, the Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena on Wednesday to begin a stretch of three home games in four nights against AHL powers; Peoria, Omaha and Wilkes-Barre boast a combined 66-33-6-4 record (0.651).

Gear Up: Fans will enjoy a variety of popular promotions at this week’s home games, culminating with Saturday’s annual NASCAR Nation presented by Pennzoil. After finishing third in the 2006 “Chase for the Cup” standings, NASCAR Rookie of the Year Denny Hamlin will sign autographs for fans before the game, and his show car will be on display in the arena lobby. Griffins fans also will be among the first to see driver Kevin Harvick’s new No. 29 Shell Chevy Monte Carlo when it is unveiled on the ice during the first intermission. For both Wednesday’s and Friday’s games, fans can visit griffinshockey.com to print a coupon redeemable for up to four lower bowl tickets for only $10 each (regularly $17). Friday also features live pre-game music by La Famiglia (as part of Bud Light Friday Night) and the Wendy’s Family Four Pack. 

The Great Skate: The Griffins’ 5th annual Great Skate begins at Rosa Parks Ice Rink in downtown Grand Rapids immediately after Saturday’s game and continues until 10 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 14. During this 24-hour skating marathon to raise money for the Griffins Youth Foundation, every Griffins player and coach will take a turn skating with fans for at least one hour around the clock. The event features a raffle, warming tent, fire pits and complimentary refreshments. There is no fee to participate, but donations are encouraged.

What a Weekend: In their first-ever visit to Albany on Saturday, the Griffins rallied for three third-period goals – the last coming off the stick of Matt Ellis with 1:19 remaining – to steal a 4-3 win over the River Rats. It marked the first time this season that Grand Rapids won when trailing after two periods (1-9-2-0)…On Friday, the Griffins handed the powerhouse Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins just their seventh regulation loss of the season, taking a wild 6-5 win at the Wachovia Arena.

Time Flies: Wednesday’s game against Peoria will mark the halfway point (40 games) of the Griffins’ 2006-07 schedule, while Saturday will already be their 25th home game. After this week, the Griffins will have 23 road games and just 15 home games left on their slate.

Keystone Statement: Heading into tonight’s contest in the City of Brotherly Love, the Griffins own an all-time record of 9-2 when playing in Pennsylvania, with marks of 3-1 in Philadelphia, 3-1 against Wilkes-Barre (including 1-1 during the playoffs) and 3-0 versus Hershey.

Kudos: Stefan Liv has won three straight games for the first time this season and is 4-1 in his last five games since starting the year 1-6-1…Matt Ellis’ four assists on Friday against Albany set a personal single-game high and fell one shy of the franchise record. In addition, his four points tied his career high established on Dec. 30, 2005. Ellis has five points (1-4—5) in the last two games and six points (2-4—6) in the last four outings…Ryan Keller enjoyed his second two-goal performance of the season on Saturday in Albany, giving him three goals in the last two games and extending his point streak to three games (3-1—4)…Jeff Campbell logged his first two-goal game in the AHL on Friday, part of his first three-point night and his second multi-point game since Dec. 22…Jonathan Ericsson owns a three-game assist streak (0-4—4) and has points in eight of the last 11 games (1-10—11)…Kip Miller has points in four straight games (2-6—8) and in nine of the last 11 contests (5-9—14). He is currently tied for 11th in AHL scoring with a team-high 42 points (15-27—42)…Dan Smith is set to appear in his 600th pro game tonight.

Clamping Down: After being outgunned 45-30 in the third periods of their first 34 games this season, the Griffins have turned the tables and outscored their opposition 4-0 in the third periods during their four-game winning streak.

Chasing Records: Kip Miller, Matt Hussey and Dan Smith have played in each of Grand Rapids’ 38 games so far, putting them on track to join 14 other Griffins who played in every game during a single regular season…Miller’s 27 assists and 42 points put him on pace for 56 and 88, respectively, within shouting distance of the single-season franchise marks of 60 assists (Jiri Hudler, 2005-06) and 101 points (Michel Picard, 1996-97)…Matt Ellis’ 139 shots project to 292, which would crush the standard of 271 (Donald MacLean, 2005-06).

Recent Transactions: Jan. 2: F Josh Langfeld recalled by Detroit (NHL). D Danny Syvret reassigned by Edmonton (NHL) from the Canadian National Team. Jan. 3: D Tom Galvin assigned to Muskegon (UHL). Jan. 5: G Brian Gratz signed to a professional tryout.

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.

Scouting Report

Mon., Jan. 8 at Philadelphia Phantoms (14-19-1-1) – Wachovia Spectrum – 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second and final meeting overall, first and only in Philadelphia. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 6-3-0-0-0 Overall, 3-1-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Philadelphia Flyers. Head Coach: Kjell Samuelsson (1st season). Notes: Philadelphia has won its last two outings on the heels of a nightmarish 5-13-0-1 stretch…The Griffins’ 6-2 win over Philly on Oct. 28 at Van Andel Arena established their season-highs for goals and margin of victory…Evan McGrath enjoyed his only multi-point game as a pro in the first meeting, logging three assists. 

Wed., Jan. 10 vs. Peoria Rivermen (20-13-1-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WTKG 1230 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-3-0-0 Overall, 0-2-0-0 Home. Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 4-4-0-0-0 Overall, 2-2-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Dave Baseggio (1st season). Notes: Baseggio played 15 regular season and 15 playoff games for the Griffins during the 1999-2000 season…All seven goals in Grand Rapids’ 4-3 home loss to Peoria on Dec. 26 were scored during power plays…Peter Sejna has torched the Griffins for nine points (2-7—9) in the previous four meetings.

Fri., Jan. 12 vs. Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights (21-13-3-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 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 Home. Second of four meetings overall, second and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 4-1-0-0-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames. Head Coach: Ryan McGill (2nd season). Notes: In the Griffins’ home opener on Oct. 14, the Knights scored a power play goal with three seconds left to take a 4-3 win, their first ever against Grand Rapids...Omaha is a 0.500 team at home (8-8-0-0) but is eight games over break-even on the road (13-5-3-0).

Sat., Jan. 13 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (25-7-2-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second and final meeting overall, first and only in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 3-0-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Pittsburgh Penguins. Head Coach: Todd Richards (1st season). Notes: Richards is the older brother of former Griffins defenseman Travis…The Pens lead the league in winning percentage (0.750), fewest losses (7, tied), fewest road losses (3), and power play (24.5%)…The Penguins’ last appearance in Grand Rapids was a 2-1 Griffins win on April 18, 2003, in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.



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