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Ellis and MacDonald Enjoy Memorable Weekend

This Week’s Games
Fri., March 18 - Edmonton Road Runners at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Sat., March 19 - GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves - 8 p.m. - Comcast Local/WOOD 1300 AM

Sun., March 20 - Edmonton Road Runners at GRIFFINS - 4 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results

Mon., March 7 - GRIFFINS 1 at Houston Aeros 3 - 29-27-2-1, 61 pts. (5th, West Division)

Wed., March 9 - Manitoba Moose 4 at GRIFFINS 2 - 29-28-2-1, 61 pts. (5th)

Fri., March 11 - Manitoba Moose 2 at GRIFFINS 3 OT - 30-28-2-1, 63 pts. (5th)

Sat., March 12 - Hamilton Bulldogs 1 at GRIFFINS 4 - 31-28-2-1, 65 pts. (5th)

Moving Closer: The Griffins, who’ve won two straight and have posted a 4-1-1-0 record in their last six home games, have climbed within four points of Houston and six points of Cincinnati in the race for a West Division playoff spot. As of this Thursday, March 17, exactly one month and 18 games will remain in the Griffins’ 2004-05 regular season schedule.

Hanson Brothers and Stanley Cup Come Calling: Hockey icons will descend upon Van Andel Arena this weekend, with visits on tap by the Hanson Brothers and the Stanley Cup. Before Friday’s game against Edmonton, the notorious siblings from “Slap Shot” (a.k.a Steve Carlson, Jeff Carlson and Dave Hanson) will sign autographs in the arena banquet room from 6:30-7:20 p.m. As part of their tribute to classic hockey movie, the Griffins will don Charlestown Chiefs jerseys during that night’s game, which will be sold during a post-game auction to benefit the ALS Association – West Michigan Chapter. During Sunday’s rematch with the Road Runners, the Stanley Cup will be on display in the banquet room from 3 p.m. until the game’s conclusion.

Smile for the Camera: Saturday’s game in Chicago will be televised live across the state of Michigan on Comcast Local (ch. 23 in Grand Rapids), with Wolves announcers Judd Sirott and Billy Gardner describing the action. Comcast Local will also televise Griffins games on March 29 and April 12.

Ellis’ Two Shorties Stand Tall: An unprecedented individual effort garnered Matt Ellis his second consecutive nomination for AHL Player of the Week. In Saturday’s 4-1 win over Hamilton, he became the first player in Griffins history to score two shorthanded goals in a home game while also joining the select company of Michel Picard and Ed Patterson, who accomplished the feat on the road. Ellis has registered the first assist on three of the Griffins’ five overtime goals this season, including last Friday against Manitoba, and now shows points in 13 of the last 18 games (8-9—17). He ranks second on the team in both goals (15) and points (33), more than doubling the production of his 2003-04 rookie season (5-10—15).

Simply the Best: Joey MacDonald made his 16th straight appearance between the Griffins’ pipes on Friday against Manitoba, breaking Mike Fountain’s record of 15 consecutive games played during the 2000-01 season. He added no. 17 on Saturday versus Hamilton, making 35 saves in the 4-1 victory. MacDonald, whose career-high wins total now stands at 25, ranks as the Griffins’ all-time leader in games played (116), minutes played (6552:25), wins (61), shutouts (13) and saves (3,008), and is on pace to set single-season franchise records for games played, minutes played and saves.

We’ve Missed You: After sitting out 18 straight games due to injury, Eric Manlow returned to the Griffins’ lineup in style on Friday, scoring his team-leading 15th and 16th goals on the power play to help lead Grand Rapids to its 3-2 overtime win against Manitoba.

Final Roster Tweaks: AHL teams have until 3 p.m. ET this Thursday to submit their Clear Day lists to the league office. Unless emergency conditions arise as a result of recall, injury or suspension, only those 22 players listed on an AHL team's Clear Day roster are eligible to compete during the remainder of the regular season and the 2005 Calder Cup playoffs. Teams may also add signed junior players or players on amateur tryout contracts, only after their respective junior or college seasons are complete.

Busy Boys: Grand Rapids finished its busiest stretch of the season – six games in eight nights – with Saturday’s 4-1 win over Hamilton, completing the gauntlet with a 3-3 mark.

Three For All: This Friday’s game versus Edmonton will commence the seventh of 11 “three-in-threes” that the Griffins will play this season. To date, they are 10-8-0-0 when playing three games in as many nights, including an impressive 4-2-0-0 record in the third game.

Oh, Canada: Grand Rapids has fared well against nemeses from north of the border during its nine seasons, compiling records of 47-27-9-0 overall (0.620) and 22-13-7-0 at home (0.607) against teams from Edmonton, Hamilton, Quebec, St. John’s, Toronto and Winnipeg. This weekend’s games versus the Road Runners will conclude a stretch of six straight March home games against Canadian opposition.

Working Overtime: Following Grand Rapids’ 3-2 overtime win against Manitoba on Friday, the Griffins are now 5-2 this season and 21-8 all time in regular season games decided during overtime. Four of their last nine games (3-1), as well as three of their last five home contests (2-1), have been decided during the extra session.

Special Deliveries: One major bright spot last week was the resurgence of the Griffins’ power play. After entering Wednesday’s meeting with the Moose on a 0-for-27 drought and having scored just three power play goals in 61 attempts over their previous 13 games, the Griffins converted three of their 15 chances (20%) against Manitoba and Hamilton.

Kronwall Hits 40: With an assist against Manitoba last Wednesday, Niklas Kronwall became the first defenseman in Griffins history to reach 40 points in a season. Grand Rapids’ top scorer (11-32—43), he also broke Travis Richards’ franchise record for assists by a defenseman (30) by registering two helpers on Saturday against Hamilton. Kronwall needs five goals to match Aris Brimanis’ standard for goals (16).

Take a Shot: In 14 games (7-6-1-0) under head coach Greg Ireland, the Griffins have out shot their opposition by an average of 34.4 to 27.9 (+6.5) and have held a shot advantage in 11 of those games (79%). Over their first 48 games, the Griffins held the upper hand only 22 times (46%) and were outgunned by an average of 30.65 to 29.10 (-1.55).

Climbing the Charts: Kip Miller, whose 71 assists (7th) and 116 points (8th) place among the best in team history, stands tenth all-time with 45 goals, putting him two behind brother Kevin for ninth place. Miller needs six points to hit 1,000 as a pro…Peter Vandermeer’s next goal will be his 100th as a pro.

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald stands among the league’s top goalies with 2,966:36 minutes played (2nd), 1,384 saves (4th) and 25 wins (T6th)…Niklas Kronwall places among the AHL’s top blueliners with 11 goals (T4th), 32 assists (T4th) and 43 points (2nd)…Eric Himelfarb ranks among the circuit’s top rookies with 14 goals (T7th), 31 points (10th), seven power play goals (T4th) and two shorthanded goals (T2nd).

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
• Power Play: 43-for-312, 13.8% (22nd)
• Penalty Killing: 290-for-342, 84.8% (12th)
• Penalty Minutes: 21.84 avg. (25th)
• Goals For: 2.37 avg. (23rd)
• Goals Against: 2.42 avg. (T6th)
• Shots For: 30.32 avg. (16th)
• Shots Against: 30.02 avg. (13th)
• Attendance: 6,283 avg. (10th)

This Week’s Scouting Report

Fri., March 18 vs. Edmonton Road Runners (27-24-4-9) – Van Andel Arena – 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 20 vs. Edmonton Road Runners – Van Andel Arena – 4 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. (Fri.) and 3:40 p.m. (Sun.). Season Series: 0-2-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 2-3-1-0 Overall, 0-1-1-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Edmonton Oilers. Head Coach: Geoff Ward (2nd season). Road Map: Edmonton has lost five straight (0-4-0-1) and is 1-5-0-2 heading into the final four games of its 11-game road trip…The Road Runners have just one win in their last 15 outings (1-9-1-4) overall…They relocated from Toronto during the off-season, making Edmonton both the northernmost and westernmost city to ever host an AHL team…Former Griffin Tyler Moss ranks 19th in the league with a 2.45 GAA.

Sat., March 19 at Chicago Wolves (39-19-5-2) – Allstate Arena – 8 p.m.
TV: Comcast Local (ch. 23) at 8 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. Season Series: 4-5-0-0 Overall, 3-1-0-0 Road. Tenth and final meeting overall, fifth and final in Rosemont. All-Time Series: 35-23-4-1 Overall, 18-13-0-1 Road. NHL Affiliation: Atlanta Thrashers. Head Coach: John Anderson (8th season). Wolf Tracks: The Griffins’ three wins at Allstate Arena this season include a pair of overtime victories…The Wolves made a splash last week by acquiring former NHL first round draft picks Stephen Weiss and Jay Bouwmeester from San Antonio…Chicago owns a 24-6-4-1 record at home…The Wolves’ 11-game point streak (10-0-1-0) has moved them into a tie with Milwaukee atop the West Division…Their only blemish during the stretch was a 3-2 overtime loss to the Griffins in Chicago on March 5…The Wolves are unbeaten in regulation in their last 11 at Allstate Arena (9-0-1-1).