02/12/2007 6:11 PM
Former Griffins Stars MacLean and Helmer Visit on Friday and Saturday
This Week’s Games
Sat., Feb. 17 - San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Sun., Feb. 18 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 5 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Feb. 9 - GRIFFINS 4 at Iowa Stars 0 - 23-20-4-2, 52 pts. (4th)
Sat., Feb. 10 - GRIFFINS 5 at Iowa Stars 3 - 24-20-4-2, 54 pts. (4th)
Flying High: The Griffins, winners of four in a row overall and six of their last seven at Van Andel Arena, will return home this Friday and Saturday to host the San Antonio Rampage. Grand Rapids has improved to four games over 0.500, matching its high-water mark this season, and currently possesses the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, with leads of one point over Iowa and six or more points over four other contenders.
“Give and Go” Food Drive: As a unique fundraiser and benefit for local missions, the Griffins will host their inaugural “Give and Go” food drive during this Friday’s game against San Antonio. Fans who “give” a canned or boxed food item can “go” to the game for just $2 (one $2 ticket per item). All collected food, as well as 100 percent of the proceeds from the $2 tickets, will be donated to four local missions: Degage Ministries, God’s Kitchen, Guiding Light Mission, and Mel Trotter Ministries. Items can also be brought to The Zone inside Van Andel Arena in advance of game day, from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Back in Black: Saturday’s rematch with the Rampage will feature another installment of the Rockin’ the Rink entertainment series, Back in Black night. Griffins players will be decked out in AC/DC-inspired jerseys that will be auctioned after the game, with all proceeds benefiting the Griffins Youth Foundation, and fans will be treated to some of AC/DC’s greatest hits during pre-game and intermission performances by AC/DC cover band Fat Angus. Courtesy of Comerica Bank, Griffins youth jerseys will be given away to the first 1,200 kids age 12 and under.
Heroes’ Welcome: Two of the most decorated players in Griffins history, both key cogs of the AHL’s 2005-06 regular season champions, will return to Van Andel Arena for the first time this Friday in San Antonio uniforms. Reigning league MVP Donald MacLean set franchise records last season with 56 goals, 21 power play goals, five hat tricks, an eight-game goal streak and a 19-game scoring streak. Meanwhile, Second Team AHL All-Star Bryan Helmer shattered club scoring marks for defensemen last year with 44 assists and 56 points, capping off a two-year Griffins stint in which he never missed a game.
Picking Up Where He Left Off: Following a 12-game layoff due to injury, Jimmy Howard returned to the ice Friday to post his second straight shutout and his third blanking of the season. His 28-save performance and 4-0 win against Iowa followed his 32-save effort versus Rochester in a 3-0 decision on New Year’s Eve. Howard became just the fifth goalie in franchise history to post back-to-back shutouts (Joey MacDonald, Marc Lamothe, Martin Prusek and Jani Hurme) and increased his career shutout total to five, ranking fifth on the Griffins’ career list. He saw his shutout streak end at 128:11 on Saturday versus the Stars but notched his third straight win and led the Griffins to points for the fifth straight time.
Give ‘Em the Boot: For the first time in his five-year career, Darryl Bootland registered multiple points in three consecutive games from Jan. 27-Feb. 9. His two game-winning goals in the weekend set at Iowa gave him a team-high six for the season and 18 on his career, the second-most in Griffins history. Bootland, who has tied Matt Ellis and Kip Miller for the team lead with 16 goals, owns a four-game point streak (4-3—7) and has points in five of his last six outings (4-4—8).
Climbing the Ladder: With Saturday’s win at Iowa, coach Greg Ireland (96-53-6-7) moved past Bruce Cassidy (95-49-11-4-3) into second place on the Griffins’ all-time wins list. Ireland, who also marked two calendar years as the team’s head coach on Saturday, stands 20 wins behind all-time leader Danton Cole (116-72-16-3-1), his predecessor.
Record Within Reach: If the Griffins win 16 of their final 30 games – production that would equal their victory output over their last 30 contests – they’ll record their eighth-consecutive 40-win season overall and their sixth straight as members of the AHL, tying the league record set by the Cleveland Barons from 1947-53. During its previous five AHL seasons, Grand Rapids averaged 16.6 wins over the final 30 games, including a high of 21 victories last season (21-8-0-1).
Odds and Ends: The Griffins have scored four or more goals in four consecutive games for the first time this season…With Friday’s 4-0 win at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, the Griffins have earned a victory in every AHL building they’ve visited with the exception of Binghamton’s Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena (one overtime loss in 2002-03)…Grand Rapids rallied from a 3-1 deficit on Saturday to take a 5-3 win at Iowa, just the second time this season the Griffins have come back from two goals down to win in regulation (Jan. 6 at Albany).
Player Plaudits: Stefan Liv made a season-high 39 saves in Wednesday’s win over Syracuse…Kip Miller’s team-high 53 points (16-37—53) tie for 11th in the AHL. He has points in four of the last six games (1-9—10) – all multi-point outings – since enduring a five-game drought…Matt Hussey has points in each of his last seven AHL games (5-6—11), tying his career-high scoring streak set early last season…Jeff Campbell has points in four straight contests (2-4—6) and six of the last seven games (3-5—8)…Brad Norton’s goal on Wednesday was his first of the season, his first in North America since 2002-03 (NHL Los Angeles) and his first in the AHL since 2000-01 (Hamilton)…Matt Ellis has points in four of his last five games as a Griffin (2-3—5).
NHL Alumni Update: Joey MacDonald earned his first NHL victory in the Detroit Red Wings’ 7-4 triumph at Calgary on Sunday…Former Grand Rapids defenseman Sheldon Brookbank (2001-03) made his NHL debut with Nashville in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss at Pittsburgh, becoming the 85th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL.
Crunch Time: Following a franchise-record 11-day layoff, the Griffins returned to action on Wednesday with a 4-3 home win over Syracuse, their ninth straight win over the Crunch. Prior to their current winning streak against Syracuse, the Griffins’ longest stretch of success against an opponent was a seven-game streak versus Milwaukee in 2000-01. Grand Rapids, now 10-1 all time against the Crunch, suffered its lone series loss on Jan. 10, 2003 at home.
Fri., Feb. 16 vs. San Antonio Rampage (22-28-1-3) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 18 at Peoria Rivermen (25-19-2-2) – Carver Arena – 5 p.m.
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