Griffins Celebrate Holidays at Home
Break the Chain: After dropping three games in as many nights over the weekend, Grand Rapids will try to get back on track Wednesday at home against the Iowa Stars and coach Dave Allison, who served as bench boss for the expansion Griffins from 1996-98. The Griffins will then bookend Christmas with a home-and-home set against the Peoria Rivermen, beginning with a Friday visit to Illinois and concluding at Van Andel Arena on Dec. 26. For tomorrow's game against Iowa, fans who bring a new, unwrapped gift for donation to the Salvation Army Angel Tree program will receive a coupon for a free small Pepsi, and they can visit Meijer stores to pick up a Holiday Hockey 2-for-1 coupon that offers one complimentary upper bowl ticket when a ticket of equal value ($13) is purchased. For both home games over the next week, all college and high school students can purchase a lower bowl ticket for only $10 with a valid student ID.
Crossover Appeal: While Grand Rapids and Iowa compete in different divisions, Wednesday's clash will give one team a leg up in the early playoff race thanks to the AHL's crossover rule. If the eventual fifth-place team in the West Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the North Division, it will cross over and compete in the North Division playoffs. The Griffins are tied with Toronto for fourth in the North with 28 points, while the Stars reside fifth in the West with the same point total.
Captain Logs NHL Debut: Griffins captain Matt Ellis was recalled by Detroit on Monday and made his NHL debut in the Red Wings' 4-3 loss at Columbus, skating six shifts over 4:55. Ellis, among Grand Rapids' leaders with 10 goals (T1st), 19 points (3rd) and nine assists (T4th), became the 83rd Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL.
Eight is Enough: In their first 825 regular season games played (through Nov. 13), the Griffins allowed eight goals on just two occasions, both against the IHL's Cincinnati Cyclones (Dec. 31, 1996 vs. CIN, 4-8; March 22, 1998 at CIN, 1-8). Now, Milwaukee has dented Grand Rapids for eight goals twice in the last 15 games and in two of the teams' last four meetings: Nov. 14 at home (1-8), and Dec. 17 on the road (5-8).
Homesick: Including two games during the 2006 Western Conference Finals, Milwaukee has won each of its last six visits to Van Andel Arena (April 15-Dec. 15, 2006), out-scoring the Griffins by a cumulative 28-10 count following Friday's 6-3 decision. Only two other opponents in Grand Rapids history have enjoyed such a run of success on the Griffins' ice: Chicago tallied a record seven straight wins (including two during the postseason) from April 2-Dec. 11, 2004, while the IHL's Detroit Vipers took six consecutive regular season visits from Dec. 31, 1997-March 19, 1999.
Kudos: Ryan Keller netted the first two-goal game of his AHL career in Friday's loss to Milwaukee, then added another marker in Sunday's road defeat to the Admirals...Jimmy Howard appeared in 16 straight games from Nov. 8-Dec. 15, surpassing his previous high of 14 consecutive games played set last season. Howard, whose 11 wins are tied for fourth in the AHL, is on pace to play in 66 contests, which would tie Joey MacDonald's franchise record established in 2004-05.
On Again, Off Again: Grand Rapids' penalty killers have been very streaky of late. They allowed a power play goal in 11 consecutive games - one shy of the franchise record - from Nov. 4-26, then shut out the opposition for 32 straight opportunities over five-plus games (Nov. 26-Dec. 9), before surrendering power play goals in each of the last four outings (Dec. 13-17).
Odds n' Ends: The Griffins surrendered 18 goals in their three weekend losses (Fri. - 3-6 vs. MIL; Sat. - 2-4 at PEO; Sun. - 5-8 at MIL), tying the third-largest three-game total in franchise history. They allowed 18 goals from Dec. 7-9, 2001, 19 from April 8-14, 1999, and 20 from Dec. 30, 1996-Jan. 3, 1997...The 13 goals scored against Jimmy Howard in his last two games (0-2, 7.80 GAA, 0.745%, 38-51) matched the total he surrendered in his previous seven decisions (5-1-1, 1.82 GAA, 0.944%, 220-233)...Grand Rapids is 10-2 when leading after two periods, 2-4-0-2 when tied and 0-8-2-0 when trailing...The Griffins posted a 12-5 record last season in games decided after regulation (6-1 in overtime, 6-4 in shootouts). So far this season, they are 2-4 (0-2 OT, 2-2 SO)...Grand Rapids' scoring differentials by period are plus-three in the first (32-29), plus-one in the second (29-28) and minus-15 in the third (23-38).
All-Star Voting Underway: Fan balloting for the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic is now underway at theahl.com and accessible through a home page link at griffinshockey.com. The players receiving the most votes by position will earn berths in the starting lineups of both the Canadian AHL All-Star team and the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star team at the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, to be held Jan. 28-29 in Toronto. A committee of AHL coaches will select the remaining All-Stars, and all 27 clubs will be represented on the final rosters. By completing the official ballot, fans will be entered to win various prizes, including the grand prize of a team-signed authentic 2007 AHL All-Star jersey. Ten second-prize winners will each win an autographed commemorative magazine from the event, and 10 third-prize winners will each receive an official 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic T-shirt. On-line fan balloting will end at 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 7.
Wed., Dec. 20 vs. Iowa Stars (14-15-0-0) - 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 griffinshockey.com. Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 2-1-0-0-1 Overall, 2-0-0-0-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Dave Allison (2nd season). Notes: Allison coached the expansion Griffins to a 70-55-19 record from 1996-98...The home team won all four meetings last season...The Stars have dropped two straight to fall a game under 0.500...Marty Sertich ranks 10th in AHL rookie scoring with 22 points (8-14-22)...Former Griffin Greg Amadio (2004-06) is scoreless in 12 appearances with Iowa.
Fri., Dec. 22 at Peoria Rivermen (15-9-1-2) - Peoria Civic Center-Carver Arena - 8:30 p.m.
Tue., Dec. 26 vs. Peoria Rivermen - Van Andel Arena - 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. (Fri.) and 6:59 p.m. (Tue.) Web Cast: Video ($6 - B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 0-2-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Home, 0-1-0-0 Road. Third and fourth of eight meetings overall, second of four in both Grand Rapids and Peoria. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 3-3-0-0-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0-0 Home, 1-2-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Dave Baseggio (1st season). Notes: Baseggio played 15 regular season and 15 playoff games for the Griffins during the 1999-2000 season...Griffins right wing Brendan Brooks played three seasons in Peoria, scoring 27 points (14-13-27) for the Rivermen in 2005-06...Marek Schwarz is tied for third in the AHL with a 2.29 GAA.
This Week's Games
Wed., Dec. 20 Iowa Stars at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks
Fri., Dec. 22 GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen 8:30 p.m. WOOD/B2
Tue., Dec. 26 Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS 7 p.m. WOOD/B2
Last Week's Results
Wed., Dec. 13 GRIFFINS 2 at Milwaukee Admirals 1 SO 12-11-2-2, 28 pts. (4th, North Division)
Fri., Dec. 15 Milwaukee Admirals 6 at GRIFFINS 3 12-12-2-2, 28 pts. (4th)
Sat., Dec. 16 GRIFFINS 2 at Peoria Rivermen 4 12-13-2-2, 28 pts. (T4th)
Sun., Dec. 17 GRIFFINS 5 at Milwaukee Admirals 8 12-14-2-2, 28 pts. (T4th)