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02/06/2006 5:30 PM - Home Games Against Philadelphia and Peoria on This Week’s Menu

This Week’s Games
Fri., Feb. 10 - Philadelphia Phantoms at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., Feb. 11 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results

Fri., Feb. 3 - GRIFFINS 5 at Milwaukee Admirals 4 OT - 34-12-1-3, 72 pts. (1st, North Division)

Sat., Feb. 4 - Syracuse Crunch 1 at GRIFFINS 7 - 35-12-1-3, 74 pts. (1st)

Welcome to Town: The Griffins, owners of the AHL’s best home record at 19-3-1-2, will continue a four-game stand at Van Andel Arena this weekend with the Philadelphia Phantoms’ annual appearance (Friday) and the first-ever visit by the Peoria Rivermen (Saturday). Friday’s game will feature the Subway Four-Pack (four tickets to the game, four coupons for Subway Fresh Meal Deals and parking for $44) and the Bud True Music Happy Hour. From 6-7 p.m. on the concourse, fans 21 and older can enjoy $2.25 drafts and live music. Fans holding tickets to either game can redeem their stub for 2-for-1 admission to the West Michigan Golf Show this weekend at DeVos Place.

Flying High: With two wins over the weekend, the Griffins improved to 11-1-0-1 in their last 13 games and 17-2-1-1 in their last 21 outings. Now 35-12-1-3 on the season, they’ve tied their franchise records with 35 wins and 74 points through 51 games (set in 2000-01), and they are 23 games over 0.500 for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign. The Griffins have just one regulation loss in both their last 12 home games (10-1-1-0) and their last nine road contests (7-1-0-1).

Made to be Broken: While on pace to become the first AHL team in seven seasons to break the 300-goal plateau (1998-99 Providence – 321), the Griffins could also threaten a number of the franchise’s and league’s most revered and long-standing records:

Category - Current Total – Pace - Griffins Record - AHL Record
Wins – 35 – 54 - 53 (2000-01) - 57 (1992-93 Binghamton)
Home Wins – 19 – 30 - 31 (2000-01) - 33 (two teams)
Road Wins – 16 – 24 - 26 (2002-03) - 26 (2002-03 Grand Rapids)
Standings Points – 74 – 116 - 113 (2000-01) - 124 (1992-93 Binghamton)
Home Points – 41 – 65 - 65 (2000-01) - 68 (1987-88 Fredericton)
Goals – 204 – 320 - 279 (2000-01) - not applicable
Power Play Goals – 79 – 123 - 67 (2002-03, broken) - 124 (1980-81 Nova Scotia)

Updating the Chase: During the AHL’s previous 69 seasons, only 94 players eclipsed the 100-point plateau and just 45 reached the 50-goal milestone. Griffins forwards Jiri Hudler and Donald MacLean, respectively, are on pace to join those exclusive clubs. Hudler’s 65 points put him on track for 101, which would equal the franchise mark set by Michel Picard in 1996-97. MacLean’s league-high 34 goals give him a 53-goal pace, a total that would break Picard’s team record (46 in 1996-97) and tie for 17th in AHL history. He is attempting to become the first Griffin to lead his league in goals.

A Night to Remember: In the Griffins’ eventful 7-1 win over Syracuse on Saturday:
  • The Griffins welcomed their fifth sellout crowd (10,834) of the season, their most since selling-out five times in 2000-01;
  • Kent McDonell recorded the first hat trick of his 275-game AHL career;
  • Grand Rapids pushed its league-best home record to 19-3-1-2, already matching last season’s totals of 19 wins at 41 points at Van Andel Arena with 15 home games left;
  • The Griffins enjoyed their largest margin of victory this season and tied a franchise record with five power play goals (5-for-9);
  • Grand Rapids eclipsed its goal total from 2004-05 (200), having scored a league-high 204 goals with 29 games still remaining;
  • Darryl Bootland became the team’s career leader in penalty minutes with 785, surpassing Bruce Ramsay (781);
  • Donald MacLean scored his AHL-high 34th goal, tying the single-season franchise record with his 13th power play tally. He now has points in 13 straight contests, the third-longest scoring streak in Griffins history;
  • The alternate shield logo jerseys worn by the Griffins during the game were auctioned for charity afterwards. A total of $13,250 was raised for Bauer Elementary School, including a high bid of $925 for Bootland’s sweater.

    Comeback Kids: The Griffins pulled out one of their most dramatic victories ever Friday at Milwaukee. Trailing 4-3 in the waning seconds at the Bradley Center – but enjoying a 6-on-4 advantage thanks to a power play and an empty net on the other end – Grand Rapids knotted the score on Darryl Bootland’s goal with 1.4 ticks left in regulation. Then, after a stunned Milwaukee squad handed the Griffins another power play just 28 seconds into the extra session, Bryan Helmer scored at the 1:24 mark for the improbable 5-4 victory.

    Ireland’s Eyes Are Smiling: The Griffins’ 4-2 win at Peoria on Jan. 28 marked the 50th victory for head coach Greg Ireland in 80 games – the equivalent of one full season – behind the Griffins’ bench. Ireland, who assumed the helm on Feb. 10, 2005, now owns a 52-25-2-4 record with Grand Rapids, giving him the highest winning percentage (0.663) of the six head coaches in team history.

    Working Overtime: Friday’s game marked the Griffins’ third overtime victory against Milwaukee this season, and their sixth win in their last seven overtime decisions overall. Oddly, each of Grand Rapids’ last four overtime wins have come at the Admirals’ expense, including March 25, 2005 at the Bradley Center and Dec. 3 and Jan. 14 at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins, 3-1 during the extra session this season, now show an all-time regular season mark of 25-9 in games decided during overtime.

    No Average Joe: Joey MacDonald has reverted to his old form following a slow start caused by his rehabilitation from injury. After posting a 5-4-1 record, a 3.87 GAA and a 0.877 save percentage through New Year’s Eve, he has since gone 7-2-0 with a 2.55 GAA and a 0.912 save percentage. His five-game winning streak is one win shy of tying his personal-best as a Griffin, set in 2002-03.

    Streaky Play: Each of the Griffins’ three AHL all-stars has already posted a double-digit point streak this season. Jiri Hudler’s 14-game run (13-14—27, Oct. 8-Nov. 15) was the second-longest streak in franchise history. Donald MacLean’s current 13-game tear (14-9—23, Jan. 6-present) ranks as the third-longest, while Valtteri Filppula’s recent 10-game streak (4-11—15, Dec. 21-Jan. 13) tied for sixth.

    Who’s Hot?: Donald MacLean’s 13-game point streak (14-9—23) is the third-longest in franchise history. He has registered points in 20 of the last 21 games (22-13—35) and has 33 goals in his last 40 contests…Clay Wilson has assists in four of the last six games (0-6—6) and eight of the last 13 contests (0-12—12)…Kent McDonell owns a three-game point streak (4-1—5), as does Valtteri Filppula (2-1—3)…Bryan Helmer has points in three straight games (1-5—6) and nine of 10 games (2-13—15)…Jiri Hudler has points in seven of the last nine games (4-10—14), including five multi-point efforts…Jimmy Howard has led the team to points in each of his last 10 decisions (eight wins, one overtime loss, one shootout loss).

    League Leaders: Jiri Hudler: 25 goals (7th), 40 assists (2nd) and 65 points (3rd); Donald MacLean: 34 goals (1st), 52 points (9th), 13 power play goals (T5th) and five game-winning goals (T4th); Eric Manlow: 35 assists (T5th), 50 points (T11th) and 10 power play goals (T15th); Valtteri Filppula: 29 assists (T15th), 46 points (T18th) and a plus-14 rating (T16th); Tomas Kopecky: Plus-15 rating (T9th); Kent McDonell: 12 power play goals (T11th) and five game-winning goals (T4th); Darryl Bootland: 233 penalty minutes (3rd); Nate DiCasmirro: Plus-14 rating (T16th); Bryan Helmer: Plus-15 rating (T9th) and 35 points (T7th among defensemen).

    Winter in Winnipeg: Donald MacLean was one of the brightest stars at last week’s 2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic in Winnipeg. After winning Tuesday’s Hardest Shot competition with a 98 mph blast, he scored two goals in Wednesday’s All-Star Game to lead Canada to a 9-4 win over PlanetUSA. His Griffins teammates, Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula, each recorded an assist for PlanetUSA in the losing effort.

    Own the Third: The Griffins have been far and away the AHL’s most dominant third period team this season, leading all clubs with 77 goals and a plus-32 goal differential over the final 20 minutes. Grand Rapids, which has out-shot its opposition 569-448 during the final frame, is 20-0-1-0 when leading after two periods – including 9-0-0-0 on the road – and owns a league-high eight wins (8-10-0-1) when trailing after two.

    This Date in Griffins History: Feb. 6: Griffins earn a 3-2 win over Chicago, tying the franchise record of 10 consecutive home games without a loss (7-0-3-0) (2004). Feb. 7: Marc Lamothe’s shutout streak against the Ducks ends at 211:01 in a 3-1 loss at Cincinnati. Still, he makes his 96th career appearance between the Griffins’ pipes, breaking the mark he shared with Ian Gordon (2004). Feb. 8: Griffins host the AHL All-Star Skills Competition, the first event of the 2004 Pepsi AHL All-Star Classic. PlanetUSA posts an 18-9 victory over the Canadian All-Stars, but Grand Rapids’ Nathan Robinson suffers a pulled groin in the Fastest Skater competition (2004). Feb. 9: Despite the presence of Jiri Hudler and captain Travis Richards on their roster, PlanetUSA drops a 9-5 decision in the AHL All-Star Game at Van Andel Arena. The event concludes a star-studded weekend in Grand Rapids, which welcomed several of hockey’s all-time greats to town, including Scotty Bowman, Willie O’Ree, Grant Fuhr, Billy Smith, Joe Kocur and Adam Graves (2004). Feb. 10: Griffins sign former NHL defenseman Marty McSorley. He makes his IHL debut that same night in a 3-1 home win over Utah (2001). Feb. 11: Mathieu Chouinard extends his record by winning his ninth straight decision at Van Andel Arena, a 5-2 win over Houston that marks GR’s 12th win in its last 13 home games (2001). Feb. 12: Michel Picard’s 300th point as a Griffin, coming on his third assist of the night, highlights a 5-2 win over visiting Philadelphia (2003).

    Scouting Report

    Fri., Feb. 10 vs. Philadelphia Phantoms (18-25-1-5) – 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 Season Series: First of two meetings overall, first and only in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 4-2-0-0-0 Overall, 1-2-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Philadelphia Flyers. Head Coach: John Stevens (6th season). Ghost of a Chance: The Griffins stand first in the AHL in both power play goals (79) and percentage (22.8%), numbers that are more than double those of the bottom-ranked Phantoms (35 and 10.8%)…Philly’s 1,508 penalty minutes are the most in the league…Grand Rapids is 3-0 all time in Philadelphia but just 1-2 when hosting the Phantoms…Philly swept Chicago in the 2005 Calder Cup finals but currently resides fifth in the East Division, 11 points out of a playoff spot.

    Sat., Feb. 11 vs. Peoria Rivermen (26-18-1-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
    Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Third of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Steve Pleau (1st season). Rollin’ on the River: Eight of the Rivermen’s nine goals against the Griffins this season have been scored on the power play (8-for-14, 57.1%)…Ryan Oulahen has scored three of his six goals versus Peoria…The Rivermen have won three straight and six of their last seven on the road, helping solidify their hold on third place in the West Division.

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