The Afternoon Shift – Dec. 16

Matt Ellis/Photo by Mark Newman

Thirty games into their 2010-11 season, the Griffins lead the AHL with eight shorthanded goals. Jordan Owens did the honors in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Houston, scoring Grand Rapids’ fifth shorthanded goal in its last nine games after stripping an Aero of the puck at the blue line.

Several factors play into a team’s propensity for scoring during its opponents’ power plays. Speed, anticipation, hard work, luck and the ability to capitalize on opportunities are all essential elements, and no team in Griffins history put those pieces together quite like the 2006-07 squad.

While that season’s Griffins weren’t much for scoring on the power play – their 12.5% success rate ranked dead last in the 27-team AHL – they tied Hershey for the league lead with a team-record 24 shorthanded goals, converting during 4.8% of their opponents’ advantages. In fact, the disparity between Grand Rapids’ two special teams units caused fans at the time to joke that the Griffins should simply decline their foes’ penalties, like a football team.

That team was epitomized by its tireless captain, Matt Ellis, who along with teammate Eric Himelfarb set a Griffins single-season record and paced the circuit with five shorthanded goals. (Three other Griffins – Derek Meech, Ryan Oulahen and Ben Simon – tallied three apiece, while five others scored one.)

Ellis eventually ended his Griffins career in 2007 with a franchise-record 12 shorthanded markers. After playing nearly all of the last three seasons in the NHL, he’s working his out-manned magic in the AHL once again in Portland, where his two shorthanded goals currently lead the Pirates and tie for seventh in the league. One of those he’s tied with is the Griffins’ Jan Mursak, whose two shorties mark the first of his pro career.

Today’s Griffins links:

 Video – NHL alumni goal:

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