02/19/2007 5:55 PM
Characters Abound With “The Fridge,” Veggie Tales and Mascot Mania
This Week’s Games
Wed., Feb. 21 - Syracuse Crunch at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Fri., Feb. 23 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 8:30 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Sat., Feb. 24 - Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Sun., Feb. 25 - Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS - 4 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Feb. 16 - San Antonio Rampage 2 at GRIFFINS 5 - 25-20-4-2, 56 pts. (4th, North Division)
Sat., Feb. 17 - San Antonio Rampage 2 at GRIFFINS 4 - 26-20-4-2, 58 pts. (4th)
Sun., Feb. 18 - GRIFFINS 3 at Peoria Rivermen 7 - 26-21-4-2, 58 pts. (4th)
The Latest: Before their loss at Peoria on Sunday, the Griffins had matched their season high with six straight wins and had reached a high-water mark of six games above 0.500. Their 58 points tie them with Iowa in the race for the final playoff spot in the conference, with Grand Rapids holding two games in hand. The Griffins will face four games in five days this week, with three contests against North Division foes sandwiching Friday’s visit to Peoria.
Characters Welcome: On Wednesday, William "Refrigerator" Perry, rookie sensation on the Chicago Bears' 1985 Super Bowl champs, will meet fans and sign autographs prior to the game. Fans can visit griffinshockey.com for a coupon redeemable for $5 lower-bowl tickets, and as a belated tip-of-the-stovepipe to Presidents’ Day, those sharing the last name of any of the 43 U.S. presidents can receive up to four complimentary upper-bowl tickets…On Saturday, Lake Michigan Credit Union presents a visit by Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber from the Veggie Tales, who will be available for photos before the game. A post-game skate and autograph session with Griffins players will be held…Sunday’s game features Mascot Mania and the island tunes of Sons of Beaches, followed by the annual season ticket holder party.
Home Cookin’: Grand Rapids, which owned a 7-9-2-2 record on home ice in late December, earned its fifth consecutive victory at Van Andel Arena on Saturday in 4-2 fashion over San Antonio, winning for the eighth time in its last nine games before the faithful. Fans have noticed, as three of the last five home games have been witnessed by crowds in excess of 10,000, including a pair of sellouts.
Hats Off to Matt: Griffins center Matt Ellis was named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Feb. 18, after recording four goals, two assists, six points and a plus-two rating in three games last week. In Friday’s 5-2 win over San Antonio, Ellis scored shorthanded, on the power play and at even strength into an empty net to secure his first hat trick as a Griffin and his first pro hat trick since March 8, 2003, during his rookie season with ECHL Toledo. The Griffins’ captain also added an assist for his second four-point game of the campaign, and he extended his franchise record with the 11th shorthanded goal of his career. On Saturday, Ellis scored his team-high 20th goal of the season in a 4-2 victory over the Rampage, matching his AHL high established last season and becoming just the fifth player in Griffins history to record back-to-back 20-goal campaigns. After notching an assist in Sunday’s loss at Peoria, he shows points in four straight contests (5-2—7) and in seven of his last eight games as a Griffin (6-5—11). Ellis stands second on the club with 40 points and places among the AHL’s leaders with four shorthanded goals (T2nd), five game-winning goals (T4th) and 193 shots (5th).
Voce of Freedom: The Griffins added some firepower to their lineup today by acquiring left wing Tony Voce (VOHS) on loan from the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms. Voce, 26, led Philadelphia during the 2005-06 season with 28 goals, 55 points and 18 power play goals, while placing third on the club with 27 assists. After accumulating 21 points (8-13—21) in 41 games this season, the third-year pro shows 115 points (58-57—115) and 216 penalty minutes in 181 career games, all with the Phantoms. The Philadelphia native holds several of the Phantoms’ franchise records, including most goals in a game (4 – 2/11/06 at Chicago) and most goals by a rookie (22 in 2004-05). Voce enjoyed a decorated collegiate career at Boston College, helping the Eagles to an NCAA championship as a freshman in 2001 and finishing as a Hobey Baker Award finalist as a senior in 2004. He was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star in both 2002 and 2004.
Thank You, Fans!: The Griffins’ inaugural “Give and Go” food drive last Friday raised $1000 and 500 items of food for four local missions, while Saturday’s auction of the AC/DC-inspired “Back in Black” jerseys generated $10,915 for the Griffins Youth Foundation, including a high bid of $850 for Matt Ellis’ sweater. The food drive, which offers a $2 ticket in exchange for a donated food item, will return for the game on March 6.
Short Stories: Grand Rapids scored five shorthanded goals over the last three games, including two by Eric Himelfarb. On Friday, the Griffins built a 3-0 lead with three shorthanded markers, just the second time in franchise history – and the first time at Van Andel Arena – they scored three times while undermanned. The only prior occasion was an IHL contest at Michigan (Kalamazoo) on Oct. 17, 1998. The last AHL team to score three shorthanded goals in a game was Peoria, in a 4-3 overtime win vs. Chicago on Feb. 26, 2006. The AHL record for shorthanded goals in a game by one team is four, set by the Fredericton Canadiens (vs. Newmarket) on Feb. 9, 1988, and matched by the Halifax Citadels (vs. Cape Breton) on Oct. 16, 1988.
Of Note: The Griffins’ recent streak of six straight games with at least four goals (Jan.27-Feb. 17), snapped on Sunday in Peoria, tied the franchise record set by last season’s squad (Dec. 18-30, 2005)…Including playoffs, foes have now attempted 10 penalty shots since the Griffins were last awarded one on March 17, 2004. Peoria’s Trent Whitfield was denied by Jimmy Howard in the third period Sunday, leaving opponents successful on just two of their 12 chances all time…With the Griffins’ 4-2 win on Saturday in the series finale against San Antonio, they earned points in all eight meetings with the Rampage over the last two seasons (7-0-1-0), including wins in all four home clashes.
Record Within Reach: If the Griffins win 14 of their final 27 games, 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.
Player Plaudits: Stefan Liv has posted three straight wins, including Saturday’s 22-save effort against San Antonio and a 4-3 victory over Syracuse on Feb. 7 in which he set a season high with 39 stops…Kip Miller’s team-high 56 points (18-38—56) tie for 11th in the AHL. He has points in four straight games (2-4—6) and seven of the last nine contests (3-10—13) since enduring a five-game drought…Matt Hussey extended his career-high scoring streak to 10 games last night (5-9—14), tying for the seventh-longest run in franchise history…Ryan Oulahen’s career-best three-game point streak (1-3—4) was snapped on Saturday, but he has points in five of the last seven contests (2-6—8)…Eric Himelfarb, whose four-game point streak ended on Sunday, has points in five of seven outings (4-4—8)…Derek Meech, who on Friday scored a goal at home for the first time since Feb. 10, 2006, had an assist last night to push his career-high scoring streak to five games (1-7—8), more than doubling his previous best of two games…Jeff Campbell has points in eight of the last 10 games (4-6—10).
Wed., Feb. 21 vs. Syracuse Crunch (18-28-2-6) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Second of four meetings overall, second and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 10-1-0-0-0 Overall, 5-1-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets. Head Coach: Ross Yates (1st season). Notes: The Griffins’ 4-3 victory over Syracuse on Feb. 7 was their ninth straight win overall against the Crunch and their fifth straight at Van Andel Arena…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…Syracuse was 0-5-0-1 (0.083) against the Griffins last season and 47-20-5-2 (0.682) versus the rest of the AHL…The Griffins hold a 51-24 scoring margin in the all-time series.
Fri., Feb. 23 at Peoria Rivermen (28-20-2-2) – Carver Arena – 8:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 2-4-0-0 Overall, 1-2-0-0 Road. Seventh of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Peoria. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 5-5-0-0-0 Overall, 2-3-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Dave Baseggio (1st season). Notes: Eleven of the 20 goals Peoria has scored against the Griffins this season have come on the power play…Excluding an 0-for-10 performance in Grand Rapids’ 3-0 win on Jan. 10, the Rivermen power play has connected on 11 of 28 attempts (39.3%) in the other five meetings…The Rivermen are 5-1-1-0 since the Feb. 3 blizzard postponement in Grand Rapids, including a 4-0-1-0 mark at home…Peoria is eight games over 0.500 despite being out-scored 150-143…The Griffins’ three losses at Carver Arena over the last two seasons have included setbacks of 7-3 (Feb. 18, 2007) and 7-4 (Dec. 2, 2005), in which the Rivermen totaled nine power play goals.
Sat., Feb. 24 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (33-18-2-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 25 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs – Van Andel Arena – 4 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. (Sat.) and 3:40 p.m. (Sun.). Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-2-0-1 Overall, 1-0-0-1 Home. Fifth and sixth of 10 meetings overall, third and fourth of five in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 13-10-1-0-2 Overall, 7-3-1-0-2 Home. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Don Lever (2nd season). Notes: Hamilton’s current 10-0-1-1 run began with a 2-1 win over the visiting Griffins on Jan. 19. The Bulldogs swept the two-game set with a 5-1 victory the following night…Injured former Griffin Eric Manlow has not scored a goal in 42 games with Hamilton this season, after posting consecutive 20-goal campaigns with Grand Rapids…Bulldogs netminder Jaroslav Halak leads the AHL in GAA (2.00) and shutouts (6, tied), while placing second in save percentage (0.932).