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11/28/2005 11:27 AM - Grand Rapids Has Just One Regulation Loss in its Last 14 Games

This Week’s Games

Tue., Nov. 29 - GRIFFINS at Iowa Stars - 8:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Thu., Dec. 1 - GRIFFINS at Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights - 8 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Fri., Dec. 2 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 8:30 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Sat., Dec. 3 - Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS - 8 p.m. - Comcast Local/WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results

Tue., Nov. 22 - GRIFFINS 4 at Manitoba Moose 2 - 14-3-0-1, 29 pts. (1st, North Division)

Wed., Nov. 23 - GRIFFINS 3 at Manitoba Moose 2 SO - 15-3-0-1, 31 pts. (1st)

Sat., Nov. 26 - Hamilton Bulldogs 6 at GRIFFINS 5 SO - 15-3-0-2, 32 pts. (1st)

At the Quarter Pole: Twenty games into their 10th Anniversary season, the Griffins continue to enjoy the best start in franchise history. An 11-1-0-2 record over their last 14 outings has given the Griffins an unprecedented 15 wins and 32 points through 20 games, along with a three-point lead over Manitoba in the North Division race. Thanks in large part to an offense that is scoring at a record clip, Grand Rapids has compiled a 0.800 winning percentage that ranks first in the Western Conference and second overall in the AHL.

Western Swing: Following 11 straight games against North Division rivals, the Griffins will play four West Division teams this week. They’ll make their first visits to new AHL members Iowa (Tuesday), Omaha (Thursday) and Peoria (Friday), marking their first-ever games in the states of Iowa and Nebraska.

Take it to the Extreme: The Griffins’ home game this Saturday against Milwaukee will be televised live on Comcast Local at 8 p.m. BMX freestyle record-holder and extreme sports legend Mat Hoffman will meet fans and sign autographs before the game, courtesy of West Michigan Chrysler/Jeep Dealers. The Griffins will wear commemorative jerseys during the game that will be auctioned to fans immediately afterward, with proceeds benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters. Ticket holders to the Griffins game are also invited to come early for free admission to a 5 p.m. grudge match between the East Kentwood and Grandville high school hockey teams.

Taking Care of Business: With Saturday’s 6-5 shootout loss to Hamilton, the Griffins completed a stretch of 11 straight contests against North Division foes with a 9-1-0-1 mark, improving their record within the division to 11-1-0-1…Grand Rapids is 0-2-0-1 versus Houston, 2-1-0-1 against Hamilton, and 13-0-0-0 versus the rest of the AHL.

Rare Air: The Griffins won all five games they played in a six-day span from Nov. 18-23, equaling a record feat accomplished by the 2000-01 squad (Dec. 26-31, 2000)…Grand Rapids’ recent six-game winning streak (Nov. 15-23) was its first in two years (Nov. 23-Dec. 6, 2003)…The Griffins have points in seven straight games (6-0-0-1), their longest point streak since an 11-game run (7-0-4-0) from Jan. 9-25, 2004.

Explosive Offense: Grand Rapids has scored 83 goals, its most ever through 20 games (67 in 2001-02 and 1999-00) and 30 more than its 2004-05 edition – an increase of 57%. In addition, the Griffins have scored five or more goals 10 times, already crushing their total of seven from last season. If they can maintain their current pace, the Griffins would accumulate 332 goals this season, shattering their record of 279 from 2000-01.

Road Life: The Griffins will play nine of their next 12 games on the road, beginning with a three-game swing that starts Tuesday in Iowa. Fortunately, Grand Rapids’ 8-2-0-0 record in hostile territory ranks second in the AHL, behind only Wilkes-Barre’s perfect 10-0 mark. The Griffins recently swept a gauntlet of four road games in five nights (Nov. 19-23).

Motown Moves: Injuries in Detroit prompted the Red Wings to recall two rookies from Grand Rapids last week. Defenseman Kyle Quincey was summoned on Wednesday and made his NHL debut in the Wings’ 3-1 loss at Anaheim on Thursday, logging 11:37 in ice time and recording a game-high three blocked shots. Goalie Jimmy Howard received his third recall of the season on Saturday and backed up Chris Osgood during Detroit’s 7-6 win at San Jose. Both players remain with the parent club.

Rally Caps: With last Wednesday’s 3-2 shootout win at Manitoba, nine of Grand Rapids’ last 10 wins have been earned in come-from-behind fashion, something that can be said about 10 of its 15 wins this season.

League Leaders: Jiri Hudler stands near the top of the AHL with 14 goals (T3rd), 16 assists (6th) and 30 points (2nd)…Eric Manlow ranks among the leaders with 15 assists (T7th), 24 points (T9th) and seven power play goals (T4th)…Valtteri Filppula’s 21 points (9-12—21) tie for 18th in the scoring race.

Who’s Hot?: Tomas Kopecky has points in six of seven games (3-9—12) and enjoyed his second two-goal game of the season on Saturday…Donald MacLean has points in seven of his last 10 games (5-4—9). His hat trick Tuesday in Manitoba was the second by a Griffin this season (Jiri Hudler, Oct. 19 at SAN), the third of his AHL career, and his first in the AHL in nearly five years (Nov. 24, 2000 for SJS at HAM)…Valtteri Filppula had a five-game point streak snapped on Wednesday but still has points in six of the last seven games (5-9—14)…Bryan Helmer has points in six of the last 10 games (3-3—6)…Darryl Bootland has points in six of the last seven games (3-6—9), including the game-tying goal with 4:12 remaining on Wednesday in Manitoba…Jon Insana has points in each of his last three games (1-2—3). His first AHL goal with 2:57 left on Saturday helped the team rally for a point against Hamilton.

Are You Experienced?: With three of their top six defenseman out of their lineup on Saturday, the Griffins iced a defensive unit consisting of 13-year veteran Bryan Helmer, who appeared in his 914th pro game, and five other players with a combined 534 games of pro experience (Jon Insana 206, Greg Amadio 168, Derek Meech 98, Clay Wilson 45, Nick Martens 17).

A Whole New Game: The Griffins have neither authored nor suffered a shutout during the season’s first 20 games, a franchise first.

It’s How You Finish: The Griffins have been outscored 22-17 in opening periods this season before gaining control, holding scoring advantages of 27-21 in the second period and 37-14 in the third. No AHL team has scored more third-period goals, and only three have allowed fewer.

Dominant Drew: Drew MacIntyre, who has started just one game since Nov. 6, owns a 6-1-0 record and stands among the league’s top goalies with a 1.99 GAA (6th) and a 0.930 save percentage (5th). He has allowed only six even-strength goals in his eight games, and he’s just one win shy of matching his 2004-05 total.

Believe it or Not: While Grand Rapids’ 7-1-0-2 home record marks their second-best start ever at Van Andel Arena, Saturday’s game versus Hamilton was the first this season in which it took a 2-0 lead on home ice.

Shootout Stories: The Griffins’ come-from-behind shootout win last Wednesday was their second over the Moose in nine days. On Nov. 15, they rallied from a 4-2 third-period deficit to tie it on Bryan Helmer’s goal with 1:40 left, and Wednesday they trailed 2-1 before getting the equalizer off Darryl Bootland’s stick with 4:12 remaining…Jimmy Howard stopped all four shooters on Wednesday and has denied seven of nine tries on the season (77.8%)…Valtteri Filppula (3-4, 75%) and Jiri Hudler (3-5, 60%) have been Grand Rapids’ most accurate shooters.

This Week in Griffins History: Nov. 28: Griffins improve to 13-5-1-0 with a 2-1 shootout win over Cincinnati, tying for the most victories ever garnered by the team through 19 games (2004). Nov. 29: 1996-97 NHL All-Rookie Team goaltender Patrick Lalime makes his Griffins debut with 37 saves in a 4-1 win at Detroit before an IHL-record crowd of 20,804 at The Palace of Auburn Hills (1997). Nov. 30: Grand Rapids loses 2-1 in overtime at Chicago but completes its first-ever calendar month without a regulation defeat (9-0-3-2) (2002). Dec. 1: Griffins score three times during a five-minute power play in the second period en route to a 6-4 victory over Houston (2001). Dec. 2: Grand Rapids’ team-record 16-game point streak (11-0-3-2) finally ends with a 5-3 loss at San Antonio, the Griffins’ first regulation road loss of the season (2002). Dec. 3: A 1-0 win over defending Calder Cup champion Milwaukee marks a franchise-best seventh straight road victory for the Griffins (2004). Dec. 4: Griffins become the first squad in franchise history to win 15 of its first 21 games (15-5-1-0), thanks to a 2-1 triumph over Utah (2004).

Scouting Report

Tue., Nov. 29 at Iowa Stars (8-10-0-0) – Wells Fargo Arena – 8:05 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, first of two in Des Moines. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Dave Allison (1st season). Starry Night: Dave Allison coached the expansion Griffins to a 70-55-19 record from 1996-98…Former Griffins defenseman Patrick Traverse stands second on the Stars in scoring (1-11—12)…Mike Smith is tied for second in the AHL with two shutouts.

Thu., Dec. 1 at Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights (10-8-0-4) – Omaha Civic Auditorium – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, first of two in Omaha. NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames. Head Coach: Ryan McGill (1st season). Knight Moves: Omaha is 5-0-0-1 in its last six outings…The Knights have suffered a league-high four shootout losses, all at home…They rank fifth in the AHL in penalty killing (87.3%)…Curtis McElhinney owns a 2.10 GAA and a 0.926 save percentage.

Fri., Dec. 2 at Peoria Rivermen (11-5-0-1) – Peoria Civic Center-Carver Arena – 8:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Steve Pleau (1st season). Rollin’ on the River: Friday’s game will mark the first-ever meeting between these teams, both former IHL franchises…Peoria is 2-3-0-1 following a 9-2 start…The Rivermen’s seven home wins tie for fourth in the AHL…Peter Sejna’s 23 points (12-11—23) tie for 11th in the league.

Sat., Dec. 3 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (11-5-0-1) – Van Andel Arena – 8 p.m.
TV: Comcast Local (ch. 23) at 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: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Second of eight meetings overall, second of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 36-20-7-1-3 Overall, 22-8-2-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (3rd season). Ships Ahoy: These former divisional rivals have not met since the Griffins’ 6-3 home win on opening night (Oct. 8)…Milwaukee is 11-2 since its 0-3-0-1 start…Brian Finley ranks among the AHL’s elite with three shutouts (T1st), a 1.54 GAA (2nd) and a 0.950 save percentage (2nd).

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