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The Malik Report

Grand Rapids Griffins to play pre-season games in Plymouth, Windsor

The AHL has yet to release its 2013-2014 regular season schedule (though it should be released this week) but as a "teaser" of sorts, the Grand Rapids Griffins have posited their preseason schedule--and their pair of pre-season games will take place in Plymouth, MI and Windsor, Ontario:

GRIFFINS ANNOUNCE PRESEASON SCHEDULE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The 2013 Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins will tune up for the 2013-14 AHL season by playing a pair of preseason games against the Lake Erie Monsters in the Detroit area in late September.

Grand Rapids will first battle the Monsters on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Mich., home of the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers. The rivals will square off again on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 7:05 p.m. at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario, home to the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.

Tickets for the Sept. 28 game in Plymouth are now on sale for $10 both online and by calling (734) 453-8400. Tickets for the following night’s contest in Windsor will go on sale next Friday, Aug. 30 for $10 through http://www.wfcu-centre.com or by calling (866) 969-9328.

The Griffins will commence their 18th regular season in October and raise their 2013 Calder Cup championship banner on Oct. 18 prior to their home opener at Van Andel Arena. Fans can secure their full-season, partial-season or group ticket packages now by calling (616) 774-4585 ext. 2. Single-game tickets will go on sale on Friday, Sept. 20.

After not playing any preseason games for six years, the Griffins resumed a preseason slate last season with two contests against Lake Erie at Toledo’s Huntington Center and the University of Michigan’s Yost Ice Arena. Many Griffins took part in the Detroit Red Wings’ Red-White scrimmage at Compuware Arena in January, and the team will return to the area for its inaugural outdoor game at Comerica Park on Monday, Dec. 30, part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival.

Update: The Plymouth Whalers posted a press release regarding the event as well:

GRAND RAPIDS, LAKE ERIE PLAY at COMPUWARE ARENA on SEPT. 28

Red Wings and Avalanche AHL-affiliates meet at 7 pm in preseason game in Plymouth

PLYMOUTH – Plymouth Whalers fans know Saturday night is Hockey Night at Compuware Arena.

On Saturday, September 28, Compuware Arena will shift focus from the Whalers to the American Hockey League for another Hockey Night in Plymouth.

Compuware Arena will be hosting the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Lake Erie Monsters in an AHL pre-season game on Sept. 28, starting at 7 pm.  Tickets run $10 and are available at the Compuware Arena box office by calling (734) 453-8400.

“The game should be a lot of fun for our fans,” said Compuware President and Plymouth Whalers General Manager and Head Coach Mike Vellucci.  “They’ll be able to watch players who are a half-step away from the National Hockey League.  And they may be able to see Mitchell Heard and Garrett Meurs again, who were very good players here in Plymouth.

“We appreciate the cooperation of (Detroit Red Wings Assistant General Manager and Grand Rapids General Manager) Ryan Martin and (Lake Erie Director of Operations) David Oliver.”

The Griffins are the AHL-affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings and are defending Calder Cup champions, clinching their first league championship in franchise history last June 18 in a 5-2 victory over Syracuse in Game Six of the Calder Cup Finals.

“This game gives Red Wings fans a chance to see the current Calder Cup champions and future Red Wings,” said Martin.  “The opportunity to have the game close to Detroit and at a great venue like Compuware Arena makes for a great fit.  The Griffins are also playing in the Hockeytown Winter Festival later this year, so fans will get a preview of that game (Dec. 30 against the Toronto Marlies at Comerica Park).”

Many of the Detroit prospects participated in the early part of Red Wings’ training camp last January at Compuware Arena.  The arena was filled with Red Wings fans during the training camp, which culminated in a sold-out crowd for the Red-White scrimmage on January 15.

In addition, Plymouth fans may see some other familiar names in the game.

OHL alum Petr Mrazek (Ottawa 67’s) backstopped the Griffins to their championship, posting a 2.31 goals against average, .915 save percentage and 15-9 won loss record over 24 playoff games.  Grand Rapids was led offensively in their championship run by Tomas Tatar (16-5), Landon Ferraro (5-11) and Riley Sheahan (3-13), among others.  Red Wings Danny DeKeyser, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson also played in the Griffins’ championship run after Detroit was eliminated in the 2013 National Hockey League playoffs by Chicago.   Former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenseman Ryan Sproul may also play in the game.

As the AHL-affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, the Monsters could have a definite Whalers flavor in the game.  Plymouth-alum Mitchell Heard was selected by the Avalanche in the second round (41st overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft and played 23 games for the Monsters last season before returning to Plymouth for his overage season.

Garrett Meurs was selected in the fifth round by Colorado (123rd overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft and played from 2009-13 for the Whalers.   Meurs is 15th on Plymouth’s all-time franchise scoring list with 78 goals with 115 assists for 193 points in 265 games.  Although Meurs could return to play for the Whalers in 2013-14, he will probably begin his professional career this season with the Monsters.

If Heard and Meurs are not with the Avalanche in their training camp, they will be playing for Lake Erie in the contest in Plymouth.

Grand Rapids and Lake Erie will also play at Windsor Family Credit Union Centre on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 7 pm.

Update: The Windsor Star's, uh, sports desk added some quips from Griffins coach Jeff Blashill:

"This is a great opportunity for fans in Windsor to watch the Red Wings’ top prospects and see several players who’ve starred in the OHL in recent years,” said Griffins coach Jeff Blashill, a former assistant coach with the Red Wings.

“We had a wonderful experience playing pre-season games in Toledo and Ann Arbor last season, and we’re looking forward to the chance to play in front of the Spitfires’ fans.”

Tickets are $11.75 and go on sale Aug. 30 at 10 a.m.

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.