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11/20/2006 4:40 PM - Travis Richards’ Jersey to be Retired This Friday

This Week’s Games
Fri., Nov. 24 - Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., Nov. 25 - GRIFFINS at San Antonio Rampage - 8 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Sun., Nov. 26 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 6:05 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Tue., Nov. 14 - Milwaukee Admirals 8 at GRIFFINS 1 - 6-7-2-1, 15 pts. (T2nd, North Division)    

Fri., Nov. 17 - Peoria Rivermen 3 at GRIFFINS 1 - 6-8-2-1, 15 pts. (T2nd)

Sat., Nov. 18 - GRIFFINS 3 at Chicago Wolves 5 - 6-9-2-1, 15 pts. (4th)

Travis Tribute and Teddy Bears: The Griffins will retire the first jersey in franchise history this Friday, when the no. 24 of longtime defenseman Travis Richards will be hoisted to the arena rafters during the second intermission of the game against the Chicago Wolves. Mr. Griffin’s 714 games and 10 seasons (1996-2006) played in Grand Rapids were more than any other professional athlete in the city’s history. The first 1,500 kids 12 and under will receive a Travis Richards “24” t-shirt, courtesy of Grand-Craft. In addition, the annual Teddy Bear Toss returns. Fans are invited to toss a new, store-tagged stuffed animal onto the ice after the Griffins score their first goal. The toys will be collected and donated to Hug-A-Bears of Kent County. It’s another Student Night, as all college and high school students can purchase a lower bowl ticket for only $10 with a valid student ID. Finally, the Wendy’s Friday Family Four Pack offers four small single combos from Wendy’s and four Griffins tickets for $44.

Welcome Back: Grand Rapids will welcome two key figures from its hockey history back to town this Friday when the rival Wolves make their first visit of the season. Chicago assistant coach Todd Nelson was the first player signed by the Griffins as an expansion IHL franchise in 1996. After serving as an assistant with Grand Rapids in 2002-03 and as a player during three separate stints (1996-98, 1999-00, 2001-02), he will make his first-ever visit to Van Andel Arena as an opponent. In addition, Pat Foley, the former voice of the Grand Rapids Owls who spent 26 seasons behind the Chicago Blackhawks' mic, is now the broadcaster for the Wolves. On Friday, he will call his first hockey game in Grand Rapids in over a quarter century.

Jumpin’ for Joey: Red Wings goaltender Joey MacDonald, the Griffins’ career leader in wins, shutouts, saves, goalie games played and minutes played, made his first NHL start Saturday in Edmonton, making 18 saves and stopping three of six shootout attempts in a 4-3 loss. Saturday marked just his second appearance of the season, as he made his NHL debut in relief of Chris Osgood on Oct. 19 at San Jose.

Recent Transactions: Nov. 19: F Josh Langfeld and G Stefan Liv assigned by Detroit. G Logan Koopmans assigned to Toledo. Nov. 18: F Darryl Bootland and F Evan McGrath assigned by Detroit. G Logan Koopmans recalled from Toledo. G Ryan Cyr and LW Mike Watt released. Nov. 17: F Darryl Bootland, G Stefan Liv and F Evan McGrath recalled by Detroit. G Ryan Cyr and LW Mike Watt signed to professional tryouts.

Milestones: Defenseman Brad Norton played his 400th pro game Friday against Peoria…Scott Barney appeared in his 200th pro contest Saturday at Chicago…Kip Miller needs five assists for 700 as a pro and four goals for 400 as a pro. He also needs four assists to become just the fifth Griffins to reach 100.

Unfamiliar Territory: At 6-9-2-1 (0.417), the Griffins have a losing record 18 games into a season for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign, when they started 5-11-2…The last time they were three games below 0.500 was the conclusion of the 1998-99 regular season, when they finished six games below break-even (34-40-8)…Grand Rapids’ seven-game skid (0-6-1-0) is its longest since a franchise-record nine-game slide (0-8-0-1) from Dec. 17, 2004-Jan. 8, 2005.

Reversals of Fortune: After averaging five goals per game during their recent three-game winning streak (Oct. 28-Nov. 4), the Griffins have totaled just 11 goals during their current seven-game losing streak (Nov. 7-18)…During its first eight games this season, Grand Rapids surrendered four or more goals on five occasions. In the 10 games since, the defense has allowed as many as four goals just three times.

Special Situations: The Griffins have converted only three of their last 42 power play chances (7.1%), dating to the second period of their 5-4 shootout win over Manitoba on Nov. 4 – their most recent victory. Meanwhile, their opposition has scored with the advantage in each of the last eight games, going 15-for-61 (24.6%)…The Griffins have allowed four shorthanded goals in their last eight home games, including in two of their last three contests.

For the Record: Last Tuesday’s crowd of 8,243 – a record for the Griffins’ annual matinee game – was subjected to the worst home loss in franchise history, 8-1 to Milwaukee. The seven-goal margin of defeat was Grand Rapids’ largest ever at Van Andel Arena and tied the overall record witnessed twice before, most recently in a 7-0 setback at Milwaukee on Jan. 3, 2004. Meanwhile, the eight goals allowed matched a mark established on two occasions, including once at home: an 8-4 loss to Cincinnati on Dec. 31, 1996. The Admirals have now won seven straight meetings against Grand Rapids, including the 2005-06 regular season finale and their sweep in the 2006 Western Conference Finals.

Scouting Report

Fri., Nov. 24 vs. Chicago Wolves (12-4-1-0) – 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: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 38-25-2-2-2 Overall, 18-10-2-1-2 Home. NHL Affiliation: Atlanta Thrashers. Head Coach: John Anderson (10th season). Notes: Chicago is 9-1-0-0 on the road this season…The Wolves boast the AHL’s top two scorers in Jason Krog (13-21—34) and Darren Haydar (12-20-32), while rookie Brett Sterling (13-10—23) is eighth…Chicago has scored a league-high 78 goals.

Sat., Nov. 25 at San Antonio Rampage (6-11-0-0) – AT&T Center – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 0-0-1-0 Overall, 0-0-1-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, second and final in San Antonio. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 22-9-1-1-0 Overall, 12-4-0-1-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Pat Conacher (2nd season). Notes: The Griffins’ 5-4 overtime loss in the season opener on Oct. 6 broke their six-game winning streak in the Alamo City…Bryan Helmer, a Second Team AHL All-Star with the Griffins last season, leads all Rampage blueliners with four goals and six points…NHL veteran Mike Ricci is on a conditioning stint with San Antonio.

Sun., Nov. 26 at Houston Aeros (8-9-0-1) – Toyota Center – 6:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 5:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 2-0-0-1 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Fourth and final meeting overall, second and final in Houston. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 29-21-6-1-6 Overall, 13-12-4-0-3 Road. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Rob Daum (2nd season). Notes: The Aeros are 8-4 since their 0-5-0-1 start…Grand Rapids had a 0.500 or better record last season against every team except Houston (1-2-0-1), but the Griffins have already clinched a winning record versus their rival this season…The Aeros’ penalty killers rank second in the AHL at 89.3%.

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