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11/01/2004 12:43 PM - This Week’s Games

Fri., Nov. 5 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/WHTC 1450 AM

Sat., Nov. 6 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results

Tue., Oct. 26 - Rochester Americans 0 at GRIFFINS 4 - 5-0-0-0, 10 pts. (1st, West Division)

Fri., Oct. 29 - Chicago Wolves 2 at GRIFFINS 1 - 5-1-0-0, 10 pts. (1st)

Sat., Oct. 30 - San Antonio Rampage 4 at GRIFFINS 3 - 5-2-0-0, 10 pts. (T2nd)
Welcome to Our Home: The Griffins will look to rebound from last weekend’s back-to-back one-goal losses when they begin an unprecedented three-game set at home against the Houston Aeros this Friday and Saturday. Combined with the Aeros’ return visit on Nov. 12, it will mark the first time in Grand Rapids’ nine-year history that it will play three consecutive regular season home games versus the same opponent. In addition, the last time the Griffins played an opponent three straight times (home or away) was, appropriately, against the Aeros last February (12 in Grand Rapids, 16 and 18 in Houston).

High-Flying Promotions: This Friday is "We Love Our Country Night" with the Griffins. Bulls Eye Ride will play live on the concourse, and B-93 will present country music and videos throughout the night. Fans can purchase the "Subway Family Four Pack," which offers four tickets, four Subway Fresh Meal Deals and parking, for just $44, and families can enjoy live music, games and activities on the arena concourse as part of the Friday Fun Fest. On Saturday, to celebrate the merciful end of the election campaign, anyone who brings a political yard sign can drop it in a refuse bin on the Van Andel Arena plaza to receive a free large popcorn. The River Rogues jazz band will also perform on the concourse.

Ghoulish Garb: During Saturday’s 4-3 loss to San Antonio, the Griffins wore special orange and black Halloween jerseys that raised $7,805 for Big Brothers Big Sisters in a post-game auction. Travis Richards’ sweater garnered a high bid of $600, while Niklas Kronwall’s and Jiri Hudler’s jerseys each went for $500. The event marked the tenth charity jersey auction in Griffins history and brought the combined total raised for various organizations to well over $120,000.

Kronwall Kudos: Niklas Kronwall, who notched two goals in Saturday’s loss to San Antonio, is off to the most prolific start ever for a Griffins defenseman. Kronwall is tied for the AHL lead among defensemen with three goals, seven assists and 10 points, and ranks among the league’s overall leaders in assists (T3rd) and points (T13th). He has points in six of the team’s seven games and is on an early pace to shatter the Griffins’ record for points by a defenseman, set by Aris Brimanis (16-21-37) in 1998-99.

Fast Starters: Captain Blake Sloan ranks second on the team with four goals. Dating back to last season, he now has 12 points (8-4-12) in 14 career games as a Griffin, during which the team has posted 10 wins, one tie and just three losses…Danny Groulx, Jiri Hudler and Niklas Kronwall have already enjoyed five-game point streaks this season…Hudler’s five goals lead the team and his 10 points tie Kronwall for tops on the club and 13th overall in the AHL…Eric Manlow scored a pair of goals last week, his first as a Griffin.

Big Mac: Joey MacDonald currently ranks among the AHL’s top netminders with five wins (T1st), one shutout (T3rd), 182 saves (6th), a 0.933 save percentage (9th) and a 1.84 GAA (10th). Before sustaining his first loss on Friday, his 5-0 start equaled the individual franchise record set by Mathieu Chouinard during the 2000-01 season. MacDonald tied the Griffins’ career shutout mark of 10 (Marc Lamothe) by making 20 saves in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Rochester. That victory was his 41st as a Griffin, tying Ian Gordon for third on the team’s all-time list.

Great While it Lasted: The Griffins’ 5-0 start to the season set a franchise record, besting the 4-0 start of the 2000-01 squad that went on to post the best record in team history (53-22-7, 113 pts.) and claim the IHL’s final regular season championship.

Get Comfortable: With Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Rochester, the Griffins began an unprecedented nine-game homestand that will last through Nov. 18. They currently stand at 1-2-0-0 during the run. The previous franchise record was a seven-game stand from Feb. 18-28, 1999, during which Grand Rapids compiled a 5-1-1 mark.

Special Play: Much of the Griffins’ early success this season can be attributed to their special teams performances. They rank sixth in the league on the power play (9-46, 19.6%) and second in penalty killing (43-46, 93.5%). Grand Rapids has scored at least one power play goal in each of its first seven games, two shy of the franchise’s consecutive games mark (Oct. 18-Nov. 7, 2002).

Barnes Door Open: With Peter Vandermeer serving the back end of a two-game suspension that night, the Griffins on Saturday signed left wing Ryan Barnes to a pro tryout. Barnes, who recorded 30 points (11-19-30) and 326 PIM in 142 games for the Griffins from 2002-04, has three points (1-2-3) and 2 PIM in five games for the Kalamazoo Wings this season. He returned to the UHL club after going scoreless in the loss to San Antonio.

Even Trade: After allowing only four five-on-five goals during their 5-0 start, the Griffins surrendered six in their two weekend losses, including four on Saturday versus San Antonio. Both the Griffins and their opponents have now scored 10 goals with each team at full strength, but Grand Rapids also has an overtime goal (4-on-4), two shorthanded tallies and three times the number of power play goals as its opposition (9 to 3).

Coaching Accomplishments: Tuesday’s win over Rochester marked Danton Cole’s 165th regular season game as the Griffins’ head coach, passing the standard of 164 set by Guy Charron (1998-2000). On Oct. 24, Cole became the winningest coach in franchise history, surpassing the 95 victories of Bruce Cassidy (2000-02). His all-time record as Grand Rapids’ bench boss now stands at 97-52-16-2 (0.635).

This Week’s Scouting Report

Fri., Nov. 5 vs. Houston Aeros (4-3-1-0) - Van Andel Arena - 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Nov. 6 vs. Houston Aeros - Van Andel Arena - 7:30 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM and WHTC 1450 AM (Fri. only) at 7:10 each night. Season Series: First and second of eight meetings overall, first and second of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 22-16-10-0 Overall, 13-7-3-0 Home. NHL Affiliations: Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Todd McLellan (4th season). Aero Dynamics: Over this rivalry’s four AHL seasons, the Griffins hold a slight overall lead of 14-12-6-0, including a 9-5-2-0 mark at Van Andel Arena…The Aeros have won three straight following a 1-3-1-0 start…Houston’s Patrick Traverse spent 10 games on the Griffins’ blue line during their inaugural 1996-97 season…Top scorer Pierre-Marc Bouchard played in 111 NHL games with Minnesota the last two seasons, racking up 42 points (11-31-42)…Mike Smith (3-1, 3.28 GAA) and Josh Harding (1-3, 2.67 GAA) have split time in net.

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