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04/10/2006 4:48 PM - Magic Number for Home Ice Throughout Playoffs is One Point

This Week’s Games
Fri., April 14 - San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Sat., April 15 - Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Wed., April 5 - GRIFFINS 5 at Cleveland Barons 6 - 53-18-1-4, 111 pts. (1st, North Division)

Sat., April 8 - GRIFFINS 6 at Syracuse Crunch 0 - 54-18-1-4, 113 pts. (1st)

Sun., April 9 - GRIFFINS 4 at Rochester Americans 6 - 54-19-1-4, 113 pts. (1st)

On the Doorstep: With North Division and Western Conference titles already in hand, the Griffins (54-19-1-4, 113 pts.) have reduced their magic number for clinching the AHL’s regular season championship – the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy – to one point each over Portland and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Grand Rapids is idle until Friday but could wrap up home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs as soon as Wednesday, when the Pirates and Penguins visit Lowell and Syracuse, respectively. Both teams need to win to stay in contention.

Final Fling: The Griffins will conclude their record-breaking regular season with home games against San Antonio on Friday and Milwaukee on Saturday. Friday’s game features the Subway Four Pack and the Bud True Music Happy Hour (6-7 p.m.), with $2.25 drafts and live music. For Saturday’s 10th Anniversary Finale, presented by West Michigan Chrysler Jeep Dealers, the first 1,500 fans will receive a commemorative Griffins lunch cooler. The celebration will include pre-game fireworks, an intermission performance by the Chicago Bucket Boys, the return of Claude the Happy Trumpeter, and a small animal exhibit on the concourse sponsored by John Ball Zoo and Appletree Christian Learning Centers. A post-game autograph session and family fun skate will round-out the festivities. Sellouts are possible both nights; if achieved, Grand Rapids would finish the campaign with 10 capacity crowds, the most since welcoming 10,834 on 11 occasions in 1998-99.

Remaining Carrots: The Griffins – as a team and individuals – still have a lot to shoot for over the final two games of the regular season. They need:
• One standings point for 114, which would establish a new franchise record (113 in 2000-01) and clinch the AHL’s regular season championship;
• Two wins in their final two home games to tie the franchise record of 31 (2000-01) and equal their 10-game home winning streaks accomplished in 2003-04 and 2000-01;
• Three home points to tie the franchise record of 65 (2000-01);
• Eight power play goals to tie the AHL record of 124 (Nova Scotia, 1980-81);

• Darryl Bootland needs four goals to become the second 30 goal/300 PIM player in AHL history (HER Carl Mokosak, 1985-86);
• Jimmy Howard needs a win in his next home decision to tie Mathieu Chouinard’s franchise-record nine-game home winning streak (2000-01);
• Jiri Hudler needs four points to tie Michel Picard’s franchise record of 101 (1996-97);
• Donald MacLean leads Binghamton’s Denis Hamel by three goals (56 to 53) in the race for the AHL’s top goal-scoring honors (Willie Marshall Award).

For the Record: Darryl Bootland’s 29 penalty minutes at Rochester on Sunday increased his total to 388, surpassing the single-season franchise record of 364 set by Matt Ruchty in 1996-97. In addition, the Griffins set, tied or extended several franchise records during Saturday’s 6-0 win at Syracuse:
• The victory was their 54th of the season, breaking the team record of 53 set in 2000-01;
• The win increased their point total to 113, tying the franchise mark established in 2000-01;
• With an assist on the first goal, Bryan Helmer set a new franchise record for single-season scoring by a defenseman with 54 points. Niklas Kronwall set the standard last season;
• Donald MacLean extended his franchise record with his fifth hat trick of the season, part of his five-point night.

Furniture City vs. Hogtown: The Griffins will begin their chase for the Calder Cup by facing the Toronto Marlies in the best-of-seven North Division Semifinals. Division champion Grand Rapids will host Games 1 and 2 against the fourth-seeded Marlies on Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22. The series will switch to Ricoh Coliseum for Games 3-5 (April 24, 26 and 28), before returning to Van Andel Arena for Game 6 on Sunday, April 30, and Game 7 on Monday, May 1, if necessary. Tickets for all four potential home playoff games, which are included in Griffins season ticket packages (Games A-D), will go on sale to the general public this Wednesday, April 12. The Griffins rallied to earn a split of a tough six-game regular season series against the Marlies, winning the final two meetings at home on March 18 (4-3 in overtime) and Jan. 21 (6-5). They finished the series with records of 2-1-0-0 at Van Andel Arena and 1-2-0-0 at Ricoh Coliseum.

The Envelope, Please: Griffins players received a plethora of awards and honors last week:
• Bryan Helmer – AHL Second All-Star Team; Griffins’ American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year;
• Jimmy Howard – AHL All-Rookie Team; Koho/AHL Goaltender of the Month for March;
• Jiri Hudler – AHL Second All-Star Team;
• Donald MacLean – AHL First All-Star Team; CCM/AHL Milestone of the Month for March (50th goal).
Several Griffins remain among the top candidates for AHL awards that will be awarded or determined this week, including: Tuesday’s Aldege “Baz” Bastien Award for outstanding goaltender (Howard); Wednesday’s Eddie Shore Award for outstanding defenseman (Helmer); Thursday’s Dudley (Red) Garrett Award for outstanding rookie (Howard); Friday’s Les Cunningham Award for regular season MVP (MacLean); the Willie Marshall Award for leading goal scorer (MacLean); and the John B. Sollenberger Trophy for leading scorer (Hudler).

Welcome to the Club: The Griffins on Friday signed defenseman Jakub Kindl (YA-kuhb KIHN-duhl) to an amateur tryout. He played in both games over the weekend, netting an assist in his pro debut on Saturday in Syracuse. Kindl was the Detroit Red Wings’ first selection (19th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and, at just 19 years old, he is listed as the organization’s sixth-ranked prospect by the 2006 Future Watch edition of The Hockey News. The 6-3, 202-pound native of Sumperk, Czech Republic, recently completed his second campaign with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. He averaged nearly a point per game from the blue line, tying for third on the team with 58 points (12-46—58) in 60 games while adding 112 penalty minutes. Named the OHL’s Defenseman of the Month for November 2005, Kindl helped Kitchener to an impressive 47-19-1-1 record that placed second in the Midwest Division and third overall in the OHL. He was also a member of the Czech Republic squad that finished sixth at the 2006 World Junior Championship in Canada.

Odds and Ends: The Griffins’ 25 road wins (25-14-0-1) fell just short of their own AHL record of 26, set in 2002-03…With their 6-0 win on Saturday, the Griffins appropriately finished their season series against second-place Syracuse with a 6-0 record…Binghamton’s Denis Hamel, whose 53 goals put him three behind Donald MacLean’s league-leading total, has taken 93 more shots on goal than MacLean (364 to 271)…The Griffins’ 54 wins tie for third in AHL history (Albany 95-96 and Cincinnati 72-73). Next up is 98-99 Providence with 56…Grand Rapids’ 6-4 loss at Rochester on Sunday was its first regulation defeat this season when leading after two periods (32-1-0-1) and just its second over the last two years (59-2-1-1)…With Logan Koopmans’ debut on Sunday, the Griffins have used six goaltenders this season, a franchise record…Grand Rapids’ opponents are 1-for-5 in penalty shots this season following Daniel Paille’s (ROC) miss on Sunday, his second errant attempt against the Griffins in a span of 16 days. Foes have now attempted eight penalty shots since the Griffins were last awarded one on March 17, 2004.

Stone Cold: Jimmy Howard was named the Koho/AHL Goaltender of the Month for March. He posted a perfect 11-0 record during March, with a 1.80 goals against average and a 0.936 save percentage, and his overall 12-game winning streak shattered the previous team mark of eight (Mike Fountain, 2000-01). A top candidate for Rookie of the Year, Howard places among the league leaders with a Griffins-rookie-record 26 wins (5th, 26-5-2), a 2.55 GAA (T8th), a 0.911 save percentage (T13th) and two shutouts (T14th). He has won 13 of his last 14 decisions and has led the team to points in 24 of his last 26 decisions (22-2-1-1).

Hundred for Hudler?: Only 95 players in AHL history have eclipsed the 100-point plateau, but Jiri Hudler is attempting to join that exclusive club. Hudler’s 97 points – currently second in the league and nine off Houston’s Kirby Law – put him on track for 99, which would fall two shy of the franchise mark set by Michel Picard in 1996-97. He’s just the second player in franchise history to reach 97 points, the third to score 36 goals and first to bag 61 assists.

Nobody Does it Better: After breaking Michel Picard’s nine-year-old franchise record for goals (46) on March 5 versus Rochester, Donald MacLean became the first AHL player in five seasons to hit the 50-goal plateau with two lamplighters on March 12 at Chicago. His most recent milestone came March 23 at Cleveland, when his 53rd goal broke the Grand Rapids pro hockey record set by George Parker of the 1950-51 IHL Rockets. MacLean’s current total of 56 goals is just one of his incredible numbers this season:

0 – Griffins players who have led the league in goals (Binghamton’s Denis Hamel stands second with 53);
0.60 – MacLean’s goals-per-game average for his Griffins career (previous franchise record = 0.45, Mark Mowers);
0.74 – His goals-per-game average this season (franchise record = 0.56, Michel Picard in 1996-97);
5 – Hat tricks, a franchise record and the most for an AHL player since 1999-00 (Hershey’s Serge Aubin);
7 – Players in AHL history who have scored at least 57 goals, his next increment;
8 – Consecutive games in which he scored a goal (Feb. 25-March 14), breaking the team record of six;
19 – Consecutive games in which he recorded a point (Jan. 6-Feb. 18), breaking the team record of 17;
21 – Power play goals scored, a franchise record (13 – Jeff Nelson, 1996-97);
34 – Games, out of the last 40, in which he has recorded a point (36-24—60);
41 – Games, out of the last 48, in which he has recorded a point (44-28—72);
55 – Goals scored in his last 67 outings (0.82 per game);
56 – Goals scored this season, tying for eighth in AHL history;
57 – His current goal-scoring pace, a total that would tie for sixth in AHL history;
89 – Points this season, fourth in the AHL and tied for third on the Griffins’ single-season chart;
271 – Shots on goal, a franchise record (250 – Glen Metropolit, 1998-99).

Spread the Wealth: The Griffins’ offense has been incredibly productive and balanced this season. Grand Rapids has set franchise records for the number of players with 10 goals (12), 20 goals (8), 30 goals (3), 50 goals (1), 20 assists (12), 30 assists (8), 40 assists (4), 60 assists (1), 30 points (12), 40 points (10), 50 points (9) and 60 points (5), while tying the marks for players with 40 goals (1), 10 assists (17), 80 points (2) and 90 points (1).

League Leaders: Jiri Hudler: 36 goals (T7th), 61 assists (3rd), 97 points (2nd), seven game-winning goals (T3rd) and two overtime goals (T1st); Donald MacLean: 56 goals (1st), 89 points (4th), a plus-18 rating (T16th), 21 power play goals (2nd), nine game-winning goals (T1st) and two overtime goals (T1st); Eric Manlow: 45 assists (T20th) and 69 points (T19th); Valtteri Filppula: 48 assists (T12th) and a plus-22 rating (8th); Tomas Kopecky: 30 goals (T20th) and a plus-21 rating (T9th); Kent McDonell: Five game-winning goals (T16th); Darryl Bootland: Plus-18 rating (T16th) and 388 penalty minutes (2nd); Bryan Helmer: 54 points (T6th among defensemen), a plus-25 rating (T4th) and two overtime goals (T1st); Nate DiCasmirro: Plus-28 rating (3rd); Matt Ellis: Plus-18 rating (T16th) and three shorthanded goals (T14th); Clay Wilson: Plus-18 rating (T16th) and three shorthanded goals (T14th); Jimmy Howard: 26 wins (5th), a 2.55 GAA (T8th), a 0.911 save percentage (T16th) and two shutouts (T14th); Joey MacDonald: Two shutouts (T14th).

Who’s Hot?: Clay Wilson has a three-game scoring streak (2-3—5) and points in five of the last seven games (2-5—7)…Eric Manlow has goals in five of the last eight games (6-1—7) and seven of the last 13 games (8-3—11), and points in 10 of the last 16 games (8-6—14)…Tomas Kopecky has points in three straight games (1-3—4), nine of the last 10 games (7-6—13) and 15 of his last 20 outings (11-11—22)…Donald MacLean has seven points in the last three games (3-4—7)…Kent McDonell has assists in five of the last eight games (0-7—7)…Brett Lebda has points in seven of 12 games (2-6—8) since returning from Detroit in early March…Valtteri Filppula owns a six-game point streak (3-7—10), with three straight multi-point games (2-5—7)…Eric Himelfarb has goals in consecutive contests…Kyle Quincey had a four-game point streak (1-5—6) snapped on Sunday…Jiri Hudler has points in 16 of the last 21 games (10-16—26) and 18 of 25 games (11-21—32)…Darryl Bootland has points in seven of his last eight appearances (3-5—8).

This Date in Griffins History: April 10: After breaking the modern AHL record for save percentage (0.9301) and posting the second-lowest GAA (1.83) in league history, Martin Prusek is named the winner of the Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding goaltender for the 2001-02 season (2002). April 11: Griffins head coach Bruce Cassidy is named the winner of the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL's 2001-02 Coach of the Year (2002). April 12: Michel Picard collects his 100th point of the season with an assist in a 5-3 loss to Cleveland (1997). April 13: In their first-ever AHL Calder Cup playoff game, the Griffins take a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Wolves in Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals (2002). April 14: Goalie Mike Fountain appears in his franchise-record 15th consecutive game and earns his IHL-best 34th win, 4-2 at Kansas City. The Griffins break their record for points, finishing with 113 (2001). April 15: Despite a 5-4 loss at Kansas City, the Griffins finish their most successful campaign ever with a 53-22-7 record and post their 14th straight winning month under the Ottawa affiliation. Derek King’s goal gives him 83 points and makes him a co-recipient of the IHL’s Leo P. Lamoureax Trophy as the league’s top scorer. The Griffins become the first IHL team since 1958 to allow fewer than 200 goals in consecutive seasons, finishing with 196, and set a team record with an IHL-best 279 tallies (2001). April 16: Following an 11-day layoff, the Griffins begin their second Calder Cup playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference quarterfinals, taking a 3-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 1 at Van Andel Arena. Grand Rapids’ defense sets franchise playoff records with one shot allowed during the second period and 16 shots allowed for the game (tied) (2003).

Scouting Report

Fri., April 14 vs. San Antonio Rampage (22-47-3-4) – 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: 3-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fourth and final meeting overall, second of two in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 21-9-1-0-0 Overall, 9-5-1-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Pat Conacher (1st season). Stampede Stories: Grand Rapids is 9-2 against San Antonio the last two seasons but just 3-2 in games played at Van Andel Arena…Griffins players have registered four hat tricks versus the Rampage during the last three seasons, including two by Jiri Hudler…With just one win in its last 10 games (1-8-1-0), San Antonio enters the week with the fewest points in the AHL (51)…Five of the Rampage’s seven goals in the series have been scored on the power play.

Sat., April 15 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (47-21-6-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through Season Series: 6-1-0-0 Overall, 3-0-0-0 Home. Eighth and final meeting overall, fourth of four in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 41-21-7-1-3 Overall, 24-8-2-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (3rd season). Ships Ahoy: Three of the Griffins’ six series wins, including each of the last two at home, have come in overtime…Grand Rapids’ special teams have excelled against the Admirals, converting 27.6% of their power plays (16-58) while holding Milwaukee to just 14.3% (8-56) and tallying three shorthanded goals…Jimmy Howard has not yielded a goal in 98 minutes played versus the Admirals (2-0, 37 saves).

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