01/08/2008 11:13 AM
Last Week’s Results
Start Your Engines: Following Wednesday’s first-ever visit to Moline, Ill., for a tussle with the Quad City Flames, the Griffins will commence a four-game home stand this weekend with a two-game set against the Peoria Rivermen. For Friday, fans can get four tickets and four Wendy’s single combos for just $44 when they purchase the Wendy’s Friday Family Four Pack, available at Star Tickets Plus outlets. Other ticket promotions include Bono’s Pit BBQ Student Night, Library Night, and a web coupon offering tickets as low as $5 each. Visit griffinshockey.com for complete details. Saturday is NASCAR Nation presented by Pennzoil, featuring a special appearance by NASCAR star Greg Biffle, who will meet fans and sign autographs before the game. Kevin Harvick’s race car will be on-ice during the first intermission, and the game will be followed by an O’Charley’s O’pen Skate and an autograph session with Griffins players, including Mattias Ritola and Jamie Tardif (subject to change).
Great Skate, Great Time: The sixth annual Great Skate returns to Rosa Parks Ice Rink in downtown Grand Rapids this weekend, beginning immediately after Saturday’s game with Peoria and continuing until 10 p.m. on Sunday. During this 24-hour skating marathon, every Griffins player and coach will skate for at least one hour around the clock, joined by hundreds of fans and more than 20 local celebrities and media personalities. The event features a warming tent and fire pits, complimentary hot beverages and refreshments, raffles of hockey memorabilia and even a Sunday afternoon visit from John Ball Zoo’s winter animals (1-3 p.m.). Admission and skate rental is free, although donations to the Griffins Youth Foundation are encouraged. For more information and a schedule of Griffins skaters, visit griffinshockey.com.
Nice to See You Again: The Griffins welcomed three familiar faces back to their lineup last weekend. After missing five straight games due to a recall to Detroit and injury, respectively, Mark Hartigan and Mark Cullen returned to action on Friday in Hamilton. The pair is tied for second in team scoring with 24 points apiece. Meanwhile, the blue line said hello again to Derek Meech, who was assigned by the Red Wings on Jan. 3 for a two-week conditioning stint. Meech has recorded six shots and averaged 9:01 in ice time during nine games with the Red Wings this season. Detroit’s seventh choice, 229th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, he ranks fifth all-time among Griffins defensemen with 63 points (16-47—63) in 226 games. Meech went scoreless in his first two games with his old club.
Meet Me Halfway: This Friday’s game against Peoria will mark the midpoint of the Griffins’ 2007-08 regular season in terms of both home games (their 20th) and total games played (their 40th). While Grand Rapids’ records of 15-18-2-3 overall and 7-10-1-1 at home must be improved upon, the team sits just three points behind Syracuse in the race for a playoff spot, with two games in hand.
Squeaky Clean: Grand Rapids played a spotless game last Friday in Hamilton, going the entire 60 minutes without being assessed a penalty. It marked the first time since Jan. 22, 2003 (3-3 tie at Norfolk) that the Griffins did not have a player sent to the sin bin during a game.
Short Story: Ryan Oulahen scored the Griffins’ second shorthanded goal of the campaign on Saturday at Syracuse. Grand Rapids is on pace to net a franchise record-low four shorties this season, one year after tying for first in the AHL by scoring 24 goals while undermanned.
Player Notes: The Griffins today assigned left wing Mike Walsh to the ECHL’s Dayton Bombers. Walsh, who has one goal and two penalty minutes in nine games with the Griffins this season, has registered five points (4-1—5) in 13 games with Dayton…Defensemen Brad Ference (four games) and Garrett Stafford (two games) have missed time recently due to injuries…Jimmy Howard has played in nine straight games, 15 of the last 16 contests and 19 of the Griffins’ last 21 games.
Howard’s Heroics: Jimmy Howard last Wednesday was named the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month for December, after posting the best numbers of his career for a calendar month with a 1.72 GAA and a 0.939 save percentage. He surpassed his accomplishments from March 2006, when he was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for the first time with a 1.80 GAA and a 0.936%. Detroit’s first pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Howard had a 7-5-1 record with two shutouts during the final month of 2007, leading the Griffins to points in nine of his 13 December appearances. He allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of his 13 starts, while the Griffins totaled only eight goals in his six non-wins. The Syracuse, N.Y., native is 13-14-2 through 29 games, showing a 2.50 GAA and a 0.915% while ranking among the AHL’s leaders with 1,749 minutes played (3rd), 786 saves (5th), two shutouts (T5th) and 13 wins (T8th)…Following a career-high six-game winless streak from Nov. 9-21 (0-5-1, 4.28 GAA, 0.863%), Howard is 10-8-1 with two shutouts, a 1.87 GAA and a 0.935 save percentage (517-553) in his last 19 games. During that time, he has dropped his overall GAA by well over a goal, going from 3.76 to 2.50.
Reversals of Fortune: Grand Rapids has posted a 7-3-1-1 record at Van Andel Arena since losing its first seven home games in regulation. Conversely, since their impressive 5-0 road start, the Griffins are just 3-8-1-2 in their last 14 games away from home.
Close Calls: Ten (4-4-1-1) of the Griffins’ last 13 games and 13 (6-4-2-1) of their last 17 contests have been decided by a single goal.
The Season of Joy: After posting a 2-9-0-2 mark during November – the fewest wins they’ve ever earned during a complete month of play (Nov.-March) – the Griffins went 7-5-2-1 during December, with only one of their defeats suffered by a margin of more than one goal (2-0 loss at Toronto on Dec. 27).
By the Numbers: Since earning only one point in a nine-game stretch (0-8-0-1) from Oct. 28 to Nov. 21, the Griffins have captured points in 14 of their last 23 games (10-8-2-2)…Only five of Grand Rapids’ 23 losses this season – and just one of its last nine defeats – have been by more than two goals…Since scoring a power play goal in six consecutive games from Dec. 5-15 (8-for-41, 19.5%), the Griffins have gone just 1-for-45 (2.2%) over their last nine games.
Red Wings Jersey Auction: Twenty-three autographed, game-issued Detroit Red Wings jerseys are being made available for public bidding throughout the 2007-08 season through exclusive auctions that begin at griffinshockey.com and conclude after select Griffins home games. Online bidding, which begins at $250 per jersey, will establish the starting bids for silent auctions that will take place on the arena concourse during Griffins games. Subsequently, the highest bids from the silent auctions will serve as the starting bids for live post-game auctions. Now online are the Tomas Kopecky, Kirk Maltby and Derek Meech jerseys, with the silent and live auctions set for Jan. 18, and the Dallas Drake, Dominik Hasek, Tomas Holmstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidstrom and Andreas Lilja jerseys, with silent and live auctions to be held Jan. 26. Proceeds from the auctions will benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation. For more information and a complete auction schedule, visit griffinshockey.com/fanzone/auctions.
Wed., Jan. 9 at Quad City Flames (16-15-1-5) – I Wireless Center – 8:05 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 11 vs. Peoria Rivermen (18-11-4-3) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
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