Friday’s AHL matchup of Midwest Division foes the Grand Rapids Griffins (primary affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings) and the Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks) marks the second of eight meetings between the two teams. The Griffins won the first meeting, 3-2, on an overtime goal from Tomas Tatar. Both teams enter the game tied for the division lead, each with eight wins and 18 points.
Tonight’s game is the first for Grand Rapids in a week, and they also come in on a six-game winning streak. Rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek is 5-0 with a 2.34 goals against average, and winger Gustav Nyquist (pictured) is third in the league in scoring, with eight goals and 17 points. The Griffins overcame a 3-0 deficit last Friday in Cleveland, and were able to defeat the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche) 6-5 in overtime. The team relies on a balanced scoring attack, with 21 players having at least one point and six in double digits. The Griffins also boast the league’s fourth-best power play.
The Wolves have been led by veteran Brett Sterling, who has six goals and 12 points, including two goals in Tuesday night’s win over the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators). Canucks prospects Jordan Schroeder (five goals, nine points) and Zack Kassian (four goals, eight points) are also among the leaders offensivley.
Between the pipes for the Wolves, Eddie Lack has posted a solid 7-3 record with a GAA of 2.93 and one shutout. Backup Matt Climie has struggled to a 1-4 mark with a 3.20 GAA.
The rivalry between the Griffins and Wolves will gain a renewed fire this season, as division realignment has them meeting much more frequently than in previous seasons. Expect to see Mrazek get the nod for the Griffins, and Lack for the Wolves. Grand Rapids travels to Peoria for a Saturday meeting with the Rivermen (St. Louis Blues) then will return home to host the Admirals on Sunday. The Wolves host the Admirals on Saturday and the Rockford Ice Hogs (Chicago Blackhawks) on Wednesday.