Griffins Aim to Get Back on Track with Two Home Games this Week
This Week's Games
Fri., Feb. 15 - Lake Erie Monsters at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., Feb. 17 - Charlotte Checkers at GRIFFINS - 4 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week's Results
Wed., Feb. 6 - Houston Aeros 0 at GRIFFINS 2 - 27-14-2-2, 58 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Fri., Feb. 8 - GRIFFINS 3 at Oklahoma City Barons 4 - 27-15-2-2, 58 pts. (1st)
Sat., Feb. 9 - GRIFFINS 5 at Oklahoma City Barons 7 - 27-16-2-2, 58 pts. (1st)
Not OK in OKC : The Griffins started last week off on the right foot, earning a 2-0 shutout victory over the Houston Aeros on Wednesday following a 28-save performance by Tom McCollum . It marked the second consecutive shutout for the Griffins, which matches a franchise record set six times before, most recently on Dec. 20-21, 2008. Riley Sheahan scores the game-winning goal and Jeff Hoggan added insurance after an empty net tally with six seconds remaining in the contest. Grand Rapids was strong in the beginning of each of last week's road games against Oklahoma City, holding 3-1 leads at different points each night. But the Barons rallied both times, winning 4-3 on Friday and 7-5 in a Saturday game that featured a combined eight third period goals. Luke Glendening had a pair of goals in Friday's loss, while Gustav Nyquist did the same the following night.
Back on Track : After losing back-to-back road games for just the second time this season, the Griffins will look to get back on track with a pair of home games this week. The team returns to action on Friday, hosting the Lake Erie Monsters at 7 p.m before welcoming Charlotte on Sunday at 4 p.m. Sunday's game marks the fourth and final meeting between the Griffins and Checkers this season. Charlotte has won each of its three previous games at Van Andel Arena, most recently a 6-4 win on Oct. 26.
Straight to the Top : After being recalled by the Red Wings last Monday, Petr Mrazek made his NHL debut and became the Griffins' 129th NHL graduate in a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. The first-year pro made 26 saves in his Red Wings debut, only surrendering a power play tally to Alex Pietrangelo late in the second period. Mrazek has now debuted in three different leagues this season and also won his first game in his other two debuts: a 4-1 win vs. Kalamazoo on Oct. 13 with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye (33 saves) and a 4-1 win at Texas on Nov. 3 with the Griffins (29 saves). Additionally, he won his AHL All-Star debut on Jan. 28, making six saves for the Western Conference in a 7-6 victory.
From Skates to Sleds : Fans can watch the Griffins play a spirited game of sled hockey tonight with and against the Grand Rapids Sled Wings, a talented team of physically challenged children and young adults sponsored by the Griffins Youth Foundation, in partnership with the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. Now in its eighth year, the event is held at Griff's IceHouse at Belknap Park (30 Coldbrook NE), and admission is $5 per person or $20 per family. The fun starts at 6 p.m., where fans can try out a sled on the ice (with a $1 donation) and get autographs from Griffins players before the sled hockey game starts at 7 p.m.
Weekend Promotions : Friday's game versus Lake Erie is College Night, presented by H&R Block. All fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs and $1 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last, and college students can show their ID to purchase an upper bowl ticket for $13 (or $11 in advance at The Zone) and stop by the McFadden's concourse table to receive a free pass to the post-game party at McFadden's. Every Friday night is a Griffins WGRD D-Zone night. Fans can avoid the concession lines and have $1 beers and $1 hot dogs served to their seats. Visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to purchase D-Zone seats. Finally, fans can ride The Rapid busses to and from any Friday game and enjoy complimentary fare by showing their ticket to that night's game. Visit ridetherapid.org for schedule information, routes and maps. Sunday's game versus Charlotte is Faith and Family Night, in addition to the usual fan favorite Sunday promotions. Headlining Faith and Family night presented by Cornerstone University are The Conquerors, who will perform during the second intermission. Comprised of Christian athletes from various sports, The Conquerors use feats of strength to captivate audiences worldwide. A faith chat featuring the group will be held after the game. Every Sunday, fans can enjoy $1 Pepsi drinks and $1 ice cream from 3-5 p.m. Additionally, fans can present their Grand Rapids Public Library card or Kent District Library card at the Van Andel Arena box office on the night of the game or at The Zone anytime during the store's regular business hours to save $7 off the price of a Lower Level Faceoff ticket (regularly $18 in advance and $20 day of game). Limit four tickets per card per person, subject to availability. Finally, the Griffins will hold their annual season ticket holder party, providing an afternoon of fun at Van Andel Arena with family-friendly games, activities and much more for season ticket holders. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 for more information.
Double Zero : The Griffins have posted shutouts in back-to-back home games and saw a near-franchise record shutout streak snapped last week. After Petr Mrazek stopped 32 shots in a 1-0 victory for his first professional shutout on Feb. 2 versus Abbotsford, Tom McCollum followed suit with 28 saves in a 2-0 win last Wednesday for his third career AHL shutout. Ryan Martindale's goal for Oklahoma City at the 16:37 mark of the first period of Friday's game snapped a shutout streak of 170:56 for the Griffins, finishing just 13:11 off the franchise record of 184:07 (March 1-7, 2002). The games also marked the first time the Griffins blanked their opponent in back-to-back games since Dec. 20-21, 2008 (2-0 W vs. Milwaukee, 6-0 W at Rochester) and the seventh time in franchise history. Only once before has Grand Rapids posted shutouts in three straight home games (Dec. 30, 2006-Jan. 10, 2007), part of a home shutout streak record of 204:39 - over four periods better than the active home shutout streak of 123:27.
Short Order : Brett Skinner's bizarre goal on Saturday - a clearing attempt from the defensive zone that eluded Oklahoma City netminder Yann Danis - marked the Griffins' eighth shorthanded goal of the season. Grand Rapids currently ranks third in the AHL in that category, trailing only Bridgeport (12) and Connecticut (9). It also matched the team's shorthanded goal total for all of 2011-12. It was just the second shorthanded goal this season that Landon Ferraro didn't factor on, as he leads the AHL with six shorthanded points (3-3-6).
Striking Oil : Saturday's 7-5 loss to Oklahoma City marked a rarity for the Griffins, as it was just the second time this season the team has lost in regulation after leading heading into the third period (19-2-1-0). It also marked just the fourth time in franchise history the team has surrendered six goals in one period, and the first time that occurred in the third period. The Barons' offensive onslaught marked the highest single-period output for any AHL team this season and was the first time since Dec. 31, 2009 vs. Hamilton that the Griffins have allowed six in one frame.
Motown Update : The Griffins enter this week without the services of four players who are with the parent Detroit Red Wings: forwards Joakim Andersson and Tomas Tatar, defenseman Brian Lashoff and goaltender Petr Mrazek . Andersson, recalled by Detroit on Friday, helped the Red Wings to back-to-back wins over the weekend, recording two penalty minutes and three shots while averaging 9:10 of ice time and winning a team-high 71.4 percent of his faceoffs. Tatar has skated in four games with the team, notching his first NHL assist and second point on Thursday at St. Louis and averaging 12:19 of ice time. Lashoff has now skated in eight games for the team, showing one goal and two penalty minutes while playing at least 19 minutes in each of the team's last three games. Mrazek has appeared in one game for the team, making 26 saves for his first NHL win last Thursday at St. Louis.
Pothole in the Road : Grand Rapids has ranked among the AHL's best road teams this season but lost back-to-back road games last week for just the second time this season, falling 4-3 and 7-5 to Oklahoma City. Despite the setback, the team's 0.643 road winning percentage (13-7-0-1) ranks seventh in the AHL, behind Springfield, Syracuse, Charlotte, Texas and Hershey. The Griffins have just one road game remaining this month - Feb. 22 at Rockford - before a season-high 11 away from home in March.
Sticking Around : The Griffins brought in veteran defenseman Brett Skinner in late January, signing him to a professional tryout before inking him for the remainder of the season last Thursday. Skinner has skated in five games with the Griffins and has picked up three points (1-2-3) in his last three games. The Brandon, Manitoba, native spent the first half of the season with the CHL's Allen Americans, racking up 36 points (7-29-36) in 27 contests. He spent the 2011-12 season in Europe, making stops in Germany (Iserlohn), Finland (Tappara) and MODO (Sweden). The 29-year-old defenseman has 162 points (25-137-162) in 334 career AHL games with Manitoba, Portland, Omaha, Providence, Bridgeport, Chicago, Lake Erie and Grand Rapids. He also spent 11 games with the New York Islanders in 2008-09.
New Start : The Detroit Red Wings placed longtime Griffins netminder Joey MacDonald on waivers on Sunday with the intention of sending him to the Griffins, but he was claimed by the Calgary Flames. MacDonald has suited up in 101 NHL games with Detroit, Boston, the NY Islanders and Toronto, sporting a 31-48-13 record with a 3.04 goals against average and two shutouts. Last season, he helped the Red Wings break the NHL's single-season mark of 20 straight home wins by recording the last six wins of a 23-game run from Feb. 8-19, 2012. The 33-year-old goaltender is the Griffins' franchise leader in games played by a goaltender (210), minutes (11,784:31), wins (109), shutouts (20) and saves (5,362). He also ranks among the all-time top 10 with a 2.44 goals against average (6th), a 0.918 save percentage (T5th) and 11 shootout wins (T2nd).
Red, Whites and Brews : The Griffins have partnered with Easter Seals Michigan to step away from the ice for a night to host the second annual Red, White and Brews wine and beer tasting fundraiser on Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 6-9 p.m. at the Goei Center. Griffins players will serve craft beer and wine samples to over 200 guests at the event, which will also feature live music, hors d'oeuvres by YoChef's Catering Company, silent and live auctions and special guests. Items up for bid include suite tickets and parking to the May 5 Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds game in Chicago; Griffins collectables and tickets; a "Milwaukee or Bust" package that includes Lake Express Ferry tickets; Amway gift baskets; autographed Detroit Red Wings sticks; Shanty Creek lodging and golf; gift cards and more. The Goei Center is located at 818 Butterworth St. SW. Tickets are on sale now for $30 (or two for $50) at essmichigan.org or by phone at (616) 942-2081.
League Leaders : Gustav Nyquist is tied for third in the league and for first among active players with 45 points (17-28-45) in 47 games...Tomas Tatar is tied for 14th in the league and sits second on the team with 39 points (19-20-39) in 44 contests...Landon Ferraro leads the AHL with six shorthanded points (3-3-6)...Petr Mrazek ranks 11th in the AHL with a 2.26 goals against average...Riley Sheahan is tied for 14th among league rookies with 26 points (14-12-26) in 45 games and is tied for third among rookies with a plus-13 rating...Chad Billins is tied for 17th among rookies and for 11th among defensemen with 25 points (2-23-25) in 47 games.
Milestone Tracker : Louis-Marc Aubry skated in his 100th game as a Griffin/pro on Saturday at Oklahoma City...Tom McCollum became the fourth Griffins goalie to suit up in 100 games in his shutout win on Wednesday versus Houston and will tie Marc Lamothe for third in franchise history (103) with his next appearance.
Walleye Watch : The Toledo Walleye have been red hot of late, as they saw a six-game winning streak ended on Sunday at South Carolina. The club used the streak to move closer to first place in the ECHL's North Division, currently trailing the Cincinnati Cyclones by three points with one game in hand. Andrej Nestrasil leads the Walleye with 41 points (11-30-41) in 39 games, having been held pointless in just three of the team's last 20 games. Willie Coetzee has missed the last four games with an injury but ranks second on the club with 37 points (18-19-37) in 43 games. Toledo faces a busy week with four games in five days, starting with road games on Wednesday at Evansville and Friday at Kalamazoo before back-to-back home games against Kalamazoo on Saturday and Fort Wayne on Sunday.
Fri., Feb. 15 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (24-18-2-5) - Van Andel Arena - 7 p.m.
Radio : WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts : Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series : 22-13-2-4 Overall, 14-6-0-0 Home. Season Series : 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of six meetings overall, first of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation : Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach : Dean Chynoweth (1st season). Notes : Lake Erie has won just one of its last seven games but has picked up points in five of those games (1-2-0-4)...Andrew Agozzino leads the Monsters in scoring with 37 points (13-24-37) in 49 games...Fellow rookie and AHL All-Star Mike Sgarbossa, currently with the parent Avalanche, is second on the club with 36 points (16-20-36) in 38 games and leads the AHL with a 27.1 shooting percentage...Agozzino and Sgarbossa rank fourth and fifth, respectively, among AHL rookie scorers...Lake Erie defenseman Thomas Pock is tied for sixth among defensemen with 27 points (8-19-27) in 46 games...All four goalies who have suited up for the Monsters this season (Calvin Pickard, Sami Aittokallio, Kent Patterson and Kieran Millan) are AHL rookies. Patterson recorded a shutout in his AHL debut on Sunday but was not credited with the win, as Lake Erie fell 1-0 in a shootout to Abbotsford...Griffins defenseman Brett Skinner had 28 points (3-25-28) in 73 games with Lake Erie in 2009-10.
Sun., Feb. 17 vs. Charlotte Checkers (28-16-2-3) - Van Andel Arena - 4 p.m.
Radio : WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 3:40 p.m. Web Casts : Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series : 1-6-0-0 Overall, 0-3-0-0 Home. Season Series : 1-2-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Home. Fourth of four meetings overall, second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation : Carolina Hurricanes. Head Coach : Jeff Daniels (3rd season). Notes : Chris Terry leads the Checkers with 36 points (16-20-36) in 46 games...Checkers goaltender Justin Peters is tied for 13th in the league with a 2.40 goals against average, for fourth with 18 wins and for second with five shutouts, one of which came against the Griffins on Jan. 16...Charlotte center Luke Pither has 12 points (5-7-12) in 10 games with the club after Carolina acquired him in a trade with Philadelphia...Checkers forward Zac Dalpe holds a seven-game point streak, which ties for the longest active streak in the league...The Checkers have flourished on the road this season, as their 35 road points (15-6-2-2) are the second most in the league...Charlotte is tied for seventh in the AHL with a 19.2 percent power play, leading the league with the man advantage on the road at 24.8 percent...The Checkers' penalty kill ranks fifth at 85.7 percent...Charlotte sits eighth in the league with a 3.06 goals-per-game average.
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