Griffins Prepare for Season's Busiest Home Stretch
Make It Six : The Griffins have had great success in the month of November, posting a 6-1 record to jump into first place in the Midwest Division. After dropping a 3-2 decision to San Antonio to open the month (Nov. 2), the club has rattled off six straight wins (Nov. 3-16), including a comeback 6-5 overtime win over Lake Erie on Friday. The Monsters held a 3-0 lead midway through the second period before Max Nicastro potted his first professional goal/point and Triston Grant added his second goal of the season to bring the Griffins within one. David van der Gulik and Gustav Nyquist exchanged goals before the end of the frame, and the Griffins trailed 4-3 heading into the third. Tomas Jurco gave the team a lead when he scored two goals just nine seconds apart - two seconds off the franchise record set by Darrin Smith and Ben Hankinson against Orlando on Oct. 19, 1996. Lake Erie's Bryan Lerg knotted the back-and-forth game at five with 69 seconds remaining, but Nyquist struck for his second of the night on a four-on-three power play in overtime to extend the Griffins' winning streak to six.
Home for the Holidays : After rattling off five straight wins in the first 10 days of November, the Griffins' streak was put on hold by a break in the schedule. The team played just one game last weekend, extending their winning streak to six with a 6-5 overtime win at Lake Erie on Friday, which is the only game in a 12-day span (Nov. 11-22). Grand Rapids will be busy this weekend as it looks to continue its winning ways with its third three-in-three of the season and third in the last five weeks. The Griffins will host Chicago on Friday at 7 p.m. before traveling to Peoria for a Saturday contest at 8:35 p.m. EST. The team will make a quick turnaround back to Van Andel Arena to take on Milwaukee at 4 p.m. to close out the weekend. Saturday's road game against the Rivermen is one of only three away games remaining in 2012, as the Griffins will play 14 of their next 17 games (Nov. 23-Jan. 4) at Van Andel Arena in the busiest home stretch of the season.
Teddy Bear Toss : Fans are asked to bring a new store-tagged teddy bear or stuffed animal to throw on the ice when the Griffins score their first goal during Friday's contest versus Chicago. All stuffed animals collected will be donated to Hug-A-Bears of Kent County. Hug-A-Bears serves the community to donate teddy bears to children and families in crisis. Approximately 3,500 bears have been given to those in need, serving local schools and organizations such as the Kent County Adoption Court and Spectrum Health's Bereavement Center, Camp Compass, Burn Camp and outpatient surgical centers. The game also includes several fan-favorite promotions, including Dollar Beers and Hot Dogs and College Night, which allows college students 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 also a Griffins WGRD D-Zone night, where fans can have $1 beers and $1 hot dogs served directly to their seats, and Free Ride Friday, permitting any fan to enjoy complimentary fare on the Rapid busses by showing their ticket to that night's game. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to order D-Zone tickets, and visit ridetherapid.org for information on bus schedules, routes and maps. Children who have completed the required three hours of reading can redeem their Griff's Reading Goals bookmarks for two free upper level tickets to the game.
Sunday is Fun Day! : The first 2,500 fans in the arena for Sunday's 4 p.m. contest versus Milwaukee will receive a Griffins poster and puzzle combo pack, courtesy of Milestones Child Development Center. Fans will also be entertained by the ZOOperstars, the inflatable sports-themed mascots, in the stands throughout the game and on the ice during both intermissions. Every Sunday, fans can enjoy $1 Pepsi drinks and $1 ice cream from 3-5 p.m. and take advantage of Library Night by presenting 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 any time 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). Following Sunday's game, fans can take to the ice and enjoy an open skate, presented by J&H Family Stores.
Rivalry Week : Despite playing just one game last week, the Griffins still hold a share of first place in the Midwest Division. This week, they'll take on three Midwest Division opponents as they look to expand on their lead. Grand Rapids will start the weekend with a showdown against the club who they share the division lead with, Chicago, before visiting Peoria on Saturday and hosting Milwaukee on Sunday. Grand Rapids has posted a 4-1-1-0 (0.750) record against its own division this season, trailing only Charlotte (0.800) for the best divisional record in the Western Conference and owning the fifth-best mark in the league. The team will get a chance to strengthen that mark with seven of its next nine games coming against Midwest Division foes.
One of a Kind : The Griffins' six-game winning streak (Nov. 3-16) is the longest such streak of any team in the AHL this season. It's also the longest active point streak and is tied for the third longest point streak in the league this season, behind a seven-game run by Springfield (Oct. 26-Nov. 11) and two extended streaks by Abbotsford (seven games from Nov. 1-16 and six games from Oct. 12-27). The last time the Griffins won seven in a row, which they will look to do on Friday versus Chicago, was during a nine-game run from Oct. 23-Nov. 13, 2009. With a win against the Wolves, Grand Rapids would tie the fourth-longest streak in franchise history at seven games, which was set from Nov. 1-18, 1997 when Dave Allison, who is now the head coach of the division-rival Peoria Rivermen, was behind the team's bench.
Fit for a King : With two points in Friday's 6-5 overtime win against Lake Erie, Francis Pare not only extended his point streak to four games (3-5-8), but also surpassed Derek King to become the fourth-highest scoring player in franchise history. Only Michel Picard (380), Travis Richards (238) and Kip Miller (208) have more points in a Griffins uniform than Pare, who now sits at 204 career points (86-118-204). The Lemoyne, Quebec, native also ranks among the Griffins' all-time leaders with 309 games played (4th), 86 goals (2nd), 118 assists (5th), 12 game-winning goals (T5th) and 734 shots (5th).
Elite Company : Last Friday's 6-5 overtime win at Lake Erie was Petr Mrazek's fifth win as a Griffin and matched the best-ever start by a Griffins goaltender. Mrazek's 5-0 start is equaled by only Mathieu Chouinard (2000-01) and Ty Conklin (2011-12). Additionally, the rookie netminder ranks among the AHL's leaders with a 2.34 goals against average (17th) and a 0.921 save percentage (T15th). Including his three games with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye, Mrazek has lost just one of his eight professional starts, showing a 7-1 record alongside a 2.22 goals against average as a pro.
No Place Like Home : Francis Pare played a big role in helping the Griffins extend their winning streak to six games, recording eight points (3-5-8) over the team's past four contests. Pare also holds an AHL-best five-game home goal-scoring streak, having tallied in every Griffins home game since Oct. 13. Additionally, Chad Billins has racked up eight assists in the Griffins' last four home games, tying him for the league's longest active home assist streak.
No Place Like Road : In addition to several individual players enjoying success at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins have been red hot away from home, having won their last four road games. Grand Rapids is tied for the AHL's third-best road winning percentage, posting a 6-2 record (0.750) away from home. Only Syracuse's 7-0-0-1 record (0.938) and Springfield's 4-1 mark (0.800) have been better.
Right Where They Want Them : The Griffins successfully staged another third period comeback last Friday at Lake Erie in a 6-5 overtime win. After initially erasing a three-goal deficit, the team entered the third period down by a goal before tying the game and going ahead thanks to two goals in nine seconds by Tomas Jurco . Bryan Lerg tied the game up for the Monsters, but Gustav Nyquist struck in overtime to help the Griffins to improve to 3-0 when trailing after two periods of play. The Griffins are the only team in the AHL to be unbeaten when trailing after 40 minutes, a category that only Charlotte (3-1-0-0) has come close to. Only one other team - Lake Erie at 2-2 - is at or above .500 when trailing heading into the third, while 14 of the AHL's 30 teams are winless.
Potent Power Play : The Griffins' power play unit has been among the AHL's best this season, currently sitting fourth in the league at 22.7 percent. Grand Rapids has scored two power play goals in each of its last two games, at least one in each of its last four contests, and at least one in 10 of its 14 games this season.
League Leaders : Gustav Nyquist is tied for third in the AHL with 17 points (8-9-17), trailing only Oklahoma City's Justin Schultz (8-13-21) and Jordan Eberle (6-13-19). Chad Billins is second on the Griffins in scoring and leads the league with 14 assists. Billins is tied for 14th in the AHL in points (0-14-14) and is tied for second among league rookies and for third among all defensemen. Petr Mrazek is 17th in the AHL with a 2.34 goals against average and tied for 15th with a 0.921 save percentage. Landon Ferraro leads the league with three shorthanded points.
Heating Up : The Griffins have been getting scoring contributions throughout their lineup, as 21 different players have recorded a point and six have reached double-digit points, the fourth-highest total in the AHL...Francis Pare and Joakim Andersson hold team-high four-game scoring streaks. Pare has recorded eight points (3-5-8) in four games, while Andersson, who also holds an AHL-best four-game assist streak, has tallied six points (2-4-6)...Brendan Smith has notched four points (2-2-4) over a three-game scoring streak...Gustav Nyquist has three multipoint games in his last four contests, recording six points (3-3-6). He has been held scoreless in just two of his last 11 games...Chad Billins has recorded at least a point in three of his last four games, showing six points (0-6-6).
Programming Notice : A new Griffins episode of Wingspan - recorded Nov. 6-9 in Grand Rapids - will premiere on Fox Sports Detroit this Friday, Nov. 23 at 9:30 a.m., with re-airs scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. Among the players and coaches featured will be Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar and Jeff Blashill. Wingspan is a weekly series that explores all things Detroit Red Wings, including player stories, team history and a behind-the-scenes, all-access look at the team.
A Month of Moustaches : Throughout November, Griffins players and staff are sporting moustaches to serve as walking billboards for Movember, a month-long initiative to help raise vital awareness and funds for men's health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Fans can donate through griffinshockey.com/movember either directly to a member of the Griffins' front office staff or to the players through the "Donate to Team" button. Weekly progress photos and updates will be posted on griffinshockey.com and the team's social media channels. Additionally, fans can purchase special ticket offers with proceeds benefitting the Movember organization by entering the promo code "movember" at griffinshockey.com/promocode when purchasing tickets to any November home game.
Walleye Watch : Three of the Toledo Walleye's leading scorers are familiar to Griffins fans. Willie Coetzee leads the team with 14 points (7-7-14) in 15 games alongside 63 shots on goal, which ranks third in the ECHL. His seven goals are second-best on the club, after he recorded his first two-goal game of the season on Saturday versus Wheeling. Just head of Coetzee in the goal-scoring department is Luke Glendening, who also tallied a pair of goals against Wheeling to move into a tie for seventh in the league with eight goals. Andrej Nestrasil picked up an assist in the game to give him 11 points (5-6-11) in 15 games, which ranks third on the team. Other Griffins connections on the Walleye include Jordan Pearce, who is 3-1 with a 2.52 goals against average and a 0.900 save percentage since joining the club, and Gleason Fournier, who was reassigned to Toledo by Detroit on Monday. The Walleye play four games in the next five days (Nov. 21-25).
Fri., Nov. 23 vs. Chicago Wolves (8-5-2-0) - Van Andel Arena - 7 p.m.
TV : Comcast Network 100 (Chicago) at 7 p.m. Radio : WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. and SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92) at 7 p.m. Web Casts : Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series : 50-39-2-4-2 Overall, 25-16-2-2-2 Home. Season Series : 1-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Second of eight meetings overall, first of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation : Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach : Scott Arniel (1st season). Notes : Left wing Brett Sterling leads the Wolves with 12 points (6-6-12) in 12 games...Grand Rapids won the teams' first meeting this season after Tomas Tatar's overtime goal gave the Griffins the 3-2 decision...The Wolves moved into a first-place tie for the Midwest Division with Grand Rapids after a 5-3 win over Milwaukee on Tuesday...Chicago has struggled on both the power play, converting just six of 64 opportunities (9.4 percent, 27th) and penalty kill (75.8 percent, 28th)...Former Griffin Darren Haydar is the second-highest active AHL scorer (behind Toronto's Keith Aucoin) and led the Griffins with 80 points (31-49-80) in 2008-09.
Sat., Nov. 24 at Peoria Rivermen (5-7-2-1) - Carver Arena - 8:35 p.m. EST
Radio : WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. EST. Web Casts : Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series : 19-22-2-2 Overall, 12-10-0-1 Road. Season Series : 1-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Second of 10 meetings overall, second of five in Peoria. NHL Affiliation : St. Louis Blues. Head Coach : Dave Allison (1st season). Notes : Peoria has won three straight games since last playing the Griffins, a 5-3 win for Grand Rapids on Nov. 10...Peoria's T.J. Hensick is tied for third in league scoring with 17 points (5-12-17) in 15 contests...Rivermen goaltender Jake Allen is second in the AHL in minutes (772:07) and losses (7)...Peoria head coach Dave Allison was the first-ever Griffins head coach, sporting a 70-55-19 record from 1996-98...Griffins defenseman Brennan Evans spent the past two seasons with Peoria, registering 21 points (5-16-21) and 238 penalty minutes.
Sun., Nov. 25 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (6-8-1-0) - 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 : 57-43-7-5-6 Overall, 33-20-2-1-2 Home. Season Series : 1-1-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Home. Third of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation : Nashville Predators. Head Coach : Dean Evason (1st season). Notes : Milwaukee ranks 21st in the AHL with a 14.5 percent power play efficiency but owns the eight-best penalty kill (85.9 percent)...Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith is fifth in the AHL with 724:56 minutes played alongside a 2.57 goals against average and a 0.903 save percentage...Milwaukee is led in scoring by Taylor Beck (3-9-12 in 13 games) and Patrick Cehlin (5-7-12 in 13 games), who is tied for eighth in scoring among AHL rookies...Former Griffin Chris Mueller also own a share of Admirals scoring lead with 12 points (7-5-12) in 15 games...Griffins forward Triston Grant played two seasons in Milwaukee from 2008-10, setting career highs in all categories in 2009-10 with 25 points (12-13-15) and 236 penalty minutes in 74 games.
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