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11/08/2004 12:04 PM - Nine-Game Homestand Continues With Visits by Houston and San Antonio

This Week’s Games

Fri., Nov. 12 - Houston Aeros at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/WHTC 1450 AM

Sat., Nov. 13 - San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results

Fri., Nov. 5 - Houston Aeros 4 at GRIFFINS 3 OT - 5-2-1-0, 11 pts. (4th, West Division)

Sat., Nov. 6 - Houston Aeros 1 at GRIFFINS 0 - 5-3-1-0, 11 pts. (4th)

Meet "The Professor": The Griffins will kick off their "Hockeytown Heroes" series this Saturday against San Antonio with a visit by former Detroit Red Wings great Igor Larionov. The future Hall of Famer will sign autographs in the arena banquet room from 6:30-7:20 p.m., courtesy of Jeep Chrysler, before dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff. The first 1,500 fans through the doors will receive a Red Wings pennant, and fans holding tickets to the game may also gain admission to a Calvin College-Hope College hockey game at 3:30 p.m. that will be played before an anticipated crowd of 2,000-3,000.

Third Time’s the Charm?: When Houston returns to Van Andel Arena to face the Griffins this Friday, it will mark the first time in Grand Rapids’ nine-year history that it will play a third consecutive regular season home game versus the same opponent. 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. In addition, Griffins players will sign autographs in the stands for 15 minutes after the game.

By the Smallest of Margins: The Griffins have lost four consecutive one-goal games during their nine-game homestand. As a result, they’ve lost four in a row at Van Andel Arena for the first time in six seasons (a 0-4-2 skid from Dec. 5-31, 1998) and four straight overall for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign (a 0-3-0-2 streak from Nov. 28-Dec. 6, 2002). Only once before have the Griffins suffered four straight one-goal losses at home (0-2-2 from March 3-14, 1998) or lost four consecutive games overall by a single goal each (0-0-4 from Dec. 18-23, 1998).

Record-Setting Debut: Goalie Drew MacIntyre made a spectacular AHL debut for the Griffins on Friday, stopping 45 of 49 shots in the 4-3 overtime loss to the Aeros. He established franchise records for saves both in a home game (42 by Pokey Reddick, 10/30/96 vs. Cincinnati) and in a Griffins debut (37 by Patrick Lalime, 11/29/97 at Detroit), while his 18 saves during the second stanza finished one shy of the team record for a home period (19 by three players, most recently by Lalime, 3/17/98 vs. Cleveland). The game marked the first hostile action for MacIntyre in nearly a year, dating back to his 5-4 win for ECHL Toledo over Peoria on Nov. 29, 2003. He missed the rest of the 2003-04 season following surgery for and recovery from a double hernia.

Take a Shot: The 83 combined shots in Friday’s contest (49 HOU, 34 GR) tied a Griffins regular season record, set on Dec. 15, 2000 at Cleveland (48 GR, 35 CLE). In addition, the Aeros’ 49 attempts were the most ever for a regular season opponent at Van Andel Arena, eclipsing the 46 fired by Cincinnati on Oct. 30, 1996.

A Little Extra: When Niklas Kronwall scored with 18.5 seconds remaining in Friday’s eventual 4-3 overtime loss to Houston, it marked the first time the Griffins scored a goal with an extra attacker in the waning seconds of a game since Feb. 8, 2003, when Travis Richards forced a 4-4 tie against Chicago on a power play goal with 34 seconds left.

More History Lessons: On Friday, the Griffins sustained their first regular season overtime loss in nearly two years (11/30/02 at Chicago), snapping a streak of 10 consecutive wins in games decided during the five-minute period. As a result, their all-time AHL record in such games now stands at 15 wins and three losses. Prior to Friday, Grand Rapids had not lost a regular season home game in overtime since its IHL days, when it dropped a 3-2 decision to Orlando on March 29, 2001.

Five Down, Four to Go: The Griffins have only four games remaining on their franchise record nine-game homestand that lasts through Nov. 18. They currently stand at 1-3-1-0 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.

Kronwall Kudos: Niklas Kronwall, who sent Friday’s game to overtime by scoring with 18.5 seconds left in regulation, places among the AHL’s top defensemen with four goals (1st), seven assists (T3rd) and 11 points (3rd), totals which place second (tied), first and first overall, respectively, on the club. He has points in seven of the team’s nine 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. Kronwall has been the catalyst of the Griffins’ power play, playing a part in six of their nine power play tallies (one goal, five assists).

Big Mac: Joey MacDonald currently ranks among the AHL’s leaders with five wins (T5th), one shutout (T6th), a 1.74 GAA (5th) and a 0.939 save percentage (T5th). Before dropping his last three decisions (despite a 2.35 GAA and a 0.913 save percentage), 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 a 4-0 win over Rochester on Oct. 26. That victory was his 41st as a Griffin, tying Ian Gordon for third on the team’s all-time list.

Strange But True: Travis Richards’ goal during the second period on Friday was his first in a span of 71 regular season games he’s played, dating back to Nov. 11, 2003 against the same Houston club.

Hard to Beat: Houston’s Josh Harding finished with 40 saves in the Aeros’ 1-0 win on Saturday, the most ever made by an opponent while shutting out the Griffins.

Cold Blooded Killers: The Griffins stand second in the AHL in penalty killing, having escaped 49-of-53 shorthanded situations unscathed (92.5%). They’ve allowed only one power play goal over their last five contests (21-22, 95.5%), and have killed off 27-of-28 opponent advantages overall, dating back to Oct. 24 at San Antonio.

Power Outage: After scoring power play goals in their first seven games and beginning the season 8-for-33 (24.2%) with the man advantage, the Griffins are 0-for-9 over their last two contests and have converted just one of their last 23 chances (4.3%).

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:

- Power Play: 9-for-56, 16.1% (T11th)

- Penalty Killing: 49-for-53, 92.5% (2nd)

- Penalty Minutes: 21.89 avg. (21st)

- Goals For: 2.89 avg. (12th)

- Goals Against: 2.00 avg. (T4th)

- Shots For: 30.89 avg. (16th)

- Shots Against: 30.89 avg. (17th)

- Attendance: 5,675 avg. (11th)

This Week’s Scouting Report

Fri., Nov. 12 vs. Houston Aeros (7-4-1-1) - Van Andel Arena - 7:30 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM/WHTC 1450 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: 0-1-1-0 Overall, 0-1-1-0 Home. Third of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 22-17-11-0 Overall, 13-8-4-0 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 14-13-7-0, including a 9-6-3-0 mark at Van Andel Arena…The Aeros have rebounded from a 1-3-1-0 start by going 6-1-0-1 in their last eight…Josh Harding stopped 71 of 74 shots in the weekend sweep of the Griffins, while NHL veteran Pierre-Marc Bouchard tallied a pair of goals…Houston’s Patrick Traverse spent 10 games on the Griffins’ blue line during their inaugural 1996-97 season.

Sat., Nov. 13 vs. San Antonio Rampage (5-5-2-0) - 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, 0-1-0-0 Home. Fourth of eight meetings overall, second of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 14-8-1-0 Overall, 6-4-1-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Steve Ludzik (2nd season). On a Rampage: Following Saturday’s fourth meeting of the season, the Griffins and Rampage won’t face off again until a Feb. 26 tilt at Van Andel Arena…Jiri Hudler (4-1-5) and Niklas Kronwall (2-3-5) have led the attack against San Antonio, which has countered with strong efforts by Juraj Kolnik (2-3-5) and Gregory Campbell (2-2-4)…The Griffins have scored on 5 of 25 power plays in the series while holding the Rampage to a 1 for 20 performance.

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