03/12/2007 5:58 PM
This Week’s Games
Wed., March 14 - Iowa Stars at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Fri., March 16 - Manitoba Moose at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Sat., March 17 - Manitoba Moose at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - Comcast Local/WOOD/B2
Sun., March 18 - GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals - 5 p.m. - WOOD/B2
Last Week’s Results
Tue., March 6 - Peoria Rivermen 3 at GRIFFINS 5 - 31-23-5-2, 69 pts. (4th, North Division)
Fri., March 9 - GRIFFINS 1 at Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 0 - 32-23-5-2, 71 pts. (4th)
Sat., March 10 - GRIFFINS 2 at Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 6 - 32-24-5-2, 71 pts. (4th)
Enjoy it While You Can: After playing five of their last six games on the road, the Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena for three games this week, part of a daunting four-games-in-five-nights set. Grand Rapids, 12-4-1-0 in its last 17 games, sits only four points behind third-place Rochester in the North Division standings, and leads crossover candidate Iowa by three points in the playoff race. The Griffins will begin the week by hosting the Stars for a crucial matchup on Wednesday, before entertaining the North Division-leading Manitoba Moose on both Friday and Saturday. Following those contests, Grand Rapids will play 10 of its final 14 games on the road.
$2 Tickets and More: Wednesday vs. Iowa: Sunday’s edition of the Grand Rapids Press included a $2 ticket voucher redeemable for up to four tickets to this game, with all proceeds benefiting the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation. As part of Winning Wednesday, one lucky fan will win a free trip for two to Orlando, Fla., and if the Griffins win, each fan will win a free ticket to the March 28 game against Milwaukee. Fans can also visit griffinshockey.com to print a coupon redeemable for up to four lower bowl tickets for only $5 each (regularly $17). Friday vs. Manitoba: To kick off St. Patrick’s Day weekend, WYCE presents the St. Hat Trick Party, with pre-game music from the Grand Rapids and District Pipe Band and Oxter/Mahone, as well as a first-intermission performance by local classic rock favorites Mid-Life Crisis. A web coupon offering $10 lower bowl tickets is available. Saturday vs. Manitoba: CMT Music Awards nominee Danielle Peck highlights Nashville Night presented by Little Diablo Salsa and Michigan Office Solutions. Peck will meet fans and sign autographs for one hour prior to the game and give an on-ice performance during the second intermission.
On the Tube: The Griffins’ March to the Playoffs on Comcast Local begins with Saturday’s game against Manitoba, which will be televised live to subscribers throughout Michigan and Northern Indiana. Other games currently on the Comcast Local schedule include March 30 at Hamilton, March 31 vs. Chicago, and April 4 at Syracuse.
Short Stories: Ben Simon tallied Grand Rapids’ 18th shorthanded goal of the season on Saturday, moving the Griffins within one of the AHL lead (19, Hershey) and three of the franchise record (21, 1998-99). They’ve scored nine shorthanded goals in the last 15 games alone, a number that equals or surpasses the season-long haul of 15 other teams. Strangely, Grand Rapids’ AHL-worst power play has only scored a league-low 47 goals this season, giving the Griffins a PPG/SHG ratio (2.6) that is by far the lowest in the league and less than half the league average (6.0). Hershey is next at 3.7 (70/19), while Lowell owns the highest figure at 14.3 (57/4).
You Got Nothin’: Jimmy Howard earned his fifth shutout of the season and the seventh of his career on Saturday, making 26 saves in a 1-0 decision at Omaha. He stands one shy of the Griffins’ single-season record of six held by four different goalies, and he’s passed Pokey Reddick into sole possession of fourth place on the franchise’s all-time list. Howard has blanked the opposition in four of his last nine games.
Take a Shot: Grand Rapids, which had seen opponents take 10 straight penalty shots since its last attempt by Kevin Miller on March 17, 2004 versus Toronto, was finally awarded a freebie midway through the first period last Tuesday against Peoria. But Kip Miller suffered the same fate as his older brother with an unsuccessful try against Chris Beckford-Tseu, making the Griffins scoreless in their last six penalty shots and dropping them to just 3-for-10 all time.
Home Cooking: Grand Rapids, which owned a 7-9-2-2 record on home ice in late December, has won eight of nine and 11 of the last 13 games within friendly confines. Fans have noticed, as four of the last nine home games have been witnessed by crowds in excess of 10,000, including three sellouts. The capacity crowd of 10,834 on Feb. 24 was the fourth of the season and the 113th all time at Van Andel Arena.
NHL Alumni News: Darryl Bootland (0-0—0, 3 GP) and Matt Ellis (0-0—0, 12 GP) remain with the Red Wings, while Danny Syvret (0-0—0, 6 GP) continues to toil for the Oilers, averaging an impressive 19:28 of ice time.
Road Trippin’: Grand Rapids has already played 33 home games, meaning that 10 of its final 17 contests will be played on the road. That gauntlet is particularly challenging in light of the incredible strength of schedule, as seven of those 10 games will be hosted by teams that currently stand first (three games), second (three games) or third (one game) in their divisions.
Streaky Play: This season, the Griffins have experienced five winning streaks of at least three games (3, 3, 3, 6 and 6) and five losing streaks of at least three games (3, 3, 4, 4 and 7). Only four of their 29 decisions since Dec. 30 have not been part of streaks (Jan. 12 and 13, Feb. 18, March 10), as they’ve alternated from six straight wins (Dec. 30-Jan.10) to four straight losses (Jan. 19-26) to six straight wins (Jan. 27-Feb. 17) to three straight wins (Feb. 21-24) to three straight losses (Feb. 25-March 3) to three straight wins (March 4-9) before Saturday’s loss at Omaha.
Record Within Reach: If the Griffins win eight of their final 17 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: Derek Meech has points in each of his last four contests (1-3—4) and in 11 of his last 12 games (4-10—14), after recording points in just nine of his first 45 contests (2-10—12). He now leads all Griffins defensemen in scoring with 26 points (6-20—26)…Stefan Liv has led the Griffins to points in eight of his last nine games (7-1-1-0)…Jamie Tardif has points in six straight appearances (6-2—8) and in eight of his last nine outings (6-4—10). He scored with 2:01 remaining on Friday to give the Griffins a 1-0 win at Omaha…Jeff Campbell has not gone more than two games without a point since Jan. 20, tallying in 14 of 20 games (5-12—17). He owns a three-game point streak (1-3—4).
Wed., March 14 vs. Iowa Stars (32-28-3-1) – 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: 2-0-1-0 Overall, 0-0-1-0 Home. Fourth and final meeting overall, second and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 4-1-0-1-1 Overall, 2-0-0-1-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Dave Allison (2nd season). Notes: The Stars trail the Griffins by three points in the race for a playoff spot…The home team won all four meetings in 2005-06, but the visiting team has won the first three clashes this season…Iowa is six games under 0.500 at home (11-17-2-1) but 10 games over break-even on the road (21-11-1-0), tying for the second-most road wins in the AHL.
Fri., March 16 vs. Manitoba Moose (36-17-7-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., March 17 vs. Manitoba Moose – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. (Fri.) and 7 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 2-2-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. Fifth and sixth of eight meetings overall, third and fourth of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 32-16-1-0-4 Overall, 17-6-1-0-4 Home. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Scott Arniel (1st season). Notes: The Moose have a 0.800 winning percentage since Jan. 1, tops in the league. The Griffins are seventh at 0.648…Brendan Brooks has appeared in just two games with Manitoba since being swapped for Adam Keefe on Feb. 23…Former Griffin Drew MacIntyre ranks among the AHL’s top goalies with a 0.926 save percentage (3rd) and a 2.17 GAA (4th).
Sun., March 18 at Milwaukee Admirals (32-22-4-6) – Bradley Center – 5 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 4:40 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-3-2-0 Overall, 1-1-1-0 Road. Seventh of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Milwaukee. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 42-25-7-3-3 Overall, 18-14-5-2-3 Road. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (4th season). Notes: The Admirals have won 10 of the 11 meetings between these clubs (including playoffs) since March 15, 2006, with the Griffins’ lone 2-1 win coming in shootout fashion at the Bradley Center on Dec. 13…Five of Grand Rapids’ 10 losses over that span have been by a single goal, including two overtime defeats…Former Griffin Sheldon Brookbank leads all AHL defensemen with 42 points (11-31—42).