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02/07/2005 4:54 PM - Six of Next Seven Games to be Played at Van Andel Arena

This Week’s Games
Wed., Feb. 9 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Fri., Feb. 11 - Utah Grizzlies at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

2005 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic – Verizon Wireless Arena – Manchester, N.H.

Sun., Feb. 13 - AHL All-Star Skills Competition - 7 p.m. - Comcast Local ch. 20

Mon., Feb. 14 - AHL All-Star Game - 7 p.m. - ESPN2

Last Week’s Results
Mon., Jan. 31 - GRIFFINS 0 at Manitoba Moose 2 - 21-21-1-1, 44 pts. (T5th, West Division)

Tue., Feb. 1 - GRIFFINS 5 at Manitoba Moose 1 - 22-21-1-1, 46 pts. (5th)

Fri., Feb. 4 - GRIFFINS 4 at Philadelphia Phantoms 1 - 23-21-1-1, 48 pts. (5th)

Sat., Feb. 5 - GRIFFINS 2 at Rochester Americans 4 - 23-22-1-1, 48 pts. (5th)

Homecoming: The Griffins, who’ve played seven of their last eight games on the road and who spent 15 out of 16 days (Jan. 22-Feb. 6) living out of a suitcase, will play six of their next seven games at Van Andel Arena. A three-game homestand begins Wednesday against sixth-place Houston, which trails Grand Rapids by just one point in the West Division standings. The fifth-place Griffins stand two points behind San Antonio and the division’s fourth playoff spot but have a whopping seven games in hand on the Rampage.

Wastin’ Away in Margaritaville: A visit by the Utah Grizzlies this Friday will mark the Griffins’ last game before the AHL all-star break. To the delight of local Parrotheads, Sons of Beaches, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band, will play on the concourse before the game. A trip to a tropical destination will be given away during the night, courtesy of Activa Travel and Apple Vacations, and select concession stands will feature discounts on cheeseburgers and frozen drinks. As with every Friday home game, fans may purchase a “Subway Family Four Pack,” offering four tickets, four Subway Fresh Meal Deals and parking, for just $44.

Shoot for the Stars: Two members of the Griffins will participate in the 2005 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held this weekend at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall will start for the PlanetUSA All-Star squad, while goalie Joey MacDonald will be a reserve for the Canadian All-Star team. The All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, Feb. 13 can be watched live throughout Michigan on Comcast Local at 7 p.m., while the All-Star Game on Monday, Feb. 14 will be televised live nationwide on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.

Pile On: Grand Rapids’ 5-1 win at Manitoba last Tuesday was the worst loss of the season for the 31-12-1-6 Moose, while the Griffins’ 4-1 triumph at Philadelphia on Friday marked the Phantoms’ largest margin of defeat at home, where they are a spectacular 17-5-2-2.

All in the Family: Thirty-five-year-old Griffins center Kip Miller and his cousin, 24-year-old Amerks goalie Ryan, faced each other for the first time in their pro careers on Saturday. Kip scored Grand Rapids’ first goal and assisted on its second, but Ryan finished with 20 saves in a 4-2 Amerks win. In Friday’s 4-1 win at Philadelphia, Kip (40-65—105 in 92 games) registered an assist to move past his brother, Kevin (47-55—102 in 137 games), into sole possession of eighth place on the Griffins’ all-time scoring list. Kip, whose 65 assists also place eighth in team history, needs two goals to tie Ivan Ciernik and Mark Mowers for tenth place (42) and one power play marker to tie Petr Schastlivy for tenth (11).

Welcome Back: After missing 28 straight games due to injury, Tomas Kopecky returned to the Griffins’ lineup in style on Friday, scoring the first goal nine minutes into their eventual 4-1 win at Philly. Kopecky hadn’t played a game since Nov. 26. While he is off the ward, Kory Karlander (22), Travis Richards (11), Ernie Hartlieb (7), Eric Manlow (5), Brent Kelly (3) and Blake Sloan (1) have all missed a string of games due to various injuries.

You Oughta Know: Following his 35-save effort in Tuesday’s 5-1 win at Manitoba, Drew MacIntyre is now 2-2-0 with a shutout, a 1.51 GAA and a 0.952 save percentage (118-124) over his last four starts…Kip Miller (1-4—5) and Nathan Robinson (2-2—4) each own a three-game point streak…Todd Robinson had two assists in both of the Griffins’ road wins last week…After contributing a season-high two assists in Rochester, Peter Vandermeer has six points (1-5—6) in the last nine games…Forward Derek Edwardson, who signed a tryout with the Griffins on Saturday and skated in the 4-2 loss at Rochester that night, was returned to ECHL Atlantic City on Sunday.

Dependable “D”: While the Griffins’ offense has displayed a Jekyll & Hyde personality over the last two months, their defense has remained consistent. Grand Rapids had allowed three or fewer goals in 12 straight games before Rochester’s empty-netter on Saturday ended that streak, but the Griffins have still performed the feat in 20 of their last 24 contests. In fact, the Griffins have allowed four or more goals only eight times this season. Their defense has kept them close in nearly every defeat; of their 22 regulation losses, 10 have come by a single goal and eight others have had just a two-goal margin.

Climbing the Charts: Danny Groulx needs four games played to become just the eighth player in Griffins history to appear in 200 regular season contests…With 179 games played for Grand Rapids, Ryan Barnes has moved into tenth place all-time. His 406 penalty minutes rank sixth, just one spot ahead of Darryl Bootland (392), and on Friday he notched his 600th pro PIM…Nathan Robinson recorded his 56th assist as a Griffin on Friday, tying Todd Nelson for ninth all-time. Robinson’s 91 points are only four shy of tenth-place Mark Mowers, and his 10 game-winning goals tie Ed Patterson for fifth…Bryan Helmer’s next game will be the 600th of his AHL career…Todd Robinson needs two games played for 400 as a pro.

Eric the Red (Light): Eric Himelfarb ranks second on the Griffins with 13 goals and 27 points, already placing 11th all-time on the team’s single-season rookie scoring list. Himelfarb, who has goals in four of the last nine games (5-3—8), could challenge the franchise’s rookie records of 55 points (Glen Metropolit, 1997-98) and 22 goals (Kevyn Adams, 1996-97), as he is currently on pace for 45 and 22, respectively.

Re-Writing the Record Books: Joey MacDonald has 53 career wins as a Griffin, putting him just one behind Marc Lamothe and two behind leader Mike Fountain on the franchise’s all-time list. MacDonald, whose 13 career shutouts are already the most in team history, broke Lamothe’s career saves record (2,530) on Jan. 29 and now stands at 2,634. After playing his 100th game as a Griffin on Friday at Philly and logging number 101 on Saturday in Rochester, he needs two games played and 257:12 minutes played to tie Lamothe’s other franchise records (103 / 5972:42). MacDonald is also on pace to set Griffins single-season marks for games played, minutes played, shutouts and saves.

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald places among the league’s top goalies with a 0.927 save percentage (T7th) and four shutouts (T6th)…Niklas Kronwall ranks among the AHL’s top blueliners with 11 goals (T1st), 33 points (T3rd) and 22 assists (T8th)…Bryan Helmer’s four power play goals tie for sixth among defensemen…Eric Himelfarb ranks among the AHL’s top rookies with 13 goals (T4th), 27 points (8th), six power play goals (4th) and two shorthanded goals (T1st).

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
• Power Play: 37-for-239, 15.5% (14th)
• Penalty Killing: 221-for-259, 85.3% (T11th)
• Penalty Minutes: 20.91 avg. (25th)
• Goals For: 2.43 avg. (19th)
• Goals Against: 2.38 avg. (6th)
• Shots For: 29.19 avg. (20th)
• Shots Against: 30.49 avg. (15th)
• Attendance: 6,317 avg. (10th)

This Week’s Scouting Report

Wed., Feb. 9 vs. Houston Aeros (21-18-3-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Season Series: 2-1-1-0 Overall, 1-1-1-0 Home. Fifth of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 24-17-11-0 Overall, 14-8-4-0 Home. NHL Affiliations: Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Todd McLellan (4th season). Aero Dynamics: Houston stands one point behind Grand Rapids in the standings but has three games in hand…All four meetings between the Griffins and Aeros this season have been decided by a single goal…Each team has claimed a 1-0 victory at Van Andel Arena…Houston has just two regulation losses in its last eight outings (4-2-1-1)…The Aeros are 10-7-2-1 on the road but 0.500 at home…Goalie Josh Harding, back from injury, made 34 saves in a 1-0 blanking of Milwaukee on Saturday. He ranks second in the AHL with a 1.94 GAA and is tied for first with a 0.934 save percentage.

Fri., Feb. 11 vs. Utah Grizzlies (12-31-0-3) – Van Andel Arena – 7:30 p.m.
TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fourth of eight meetings overall, second of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 22-22-3-0 Overall, 14-8-1-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Pat Conacher (1st season). Grin and Bear It: Utah’s 12 wins are the fewest in the AHL and its three road victories (3-17-0-1) tie for last…Since a 3-2 win at San Antonio on Dec. 10, the Grizzlies have lost their last 11 road games in regulation while being outscored 43-11, including four shutouts…Utah ranks last in penalty killing (77.8%), goals scored (1.91) and goals allowed (3.57)…Veterans Peter White (10-21—31) and Jarrod Skalde (6-18—24) lead the bruins’ attack.

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