The Afternoon Shift – Jan. 4

The AHL food chain requires that when enough of your players get injured or called up to the NHL, you need to replace them with a call to the lower minor leagues. In most cases, that means the ECHL, which has served as the sport’s premier AA league since the 1988-89 season.

2011 is only four days old, but it has already seen the Griffins summon three players from the ECHL. Right wing Evan Rankin of the Toledo Walleye joined Grand Rapids on a pro tryout just this morning, while Toledo defenseman Sebastien Piche and Kalamazoo Wings forward Trent Daavettila (since released) were added on New Year’s Day.

Former Griffins are having success throughout the ECHL, most notably in Toledo, which serves as an affiliate to both the Griffins and Red Wings (as well as the Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs). Five Grand Rapids alumni can be found on the Walleye roster, starting with goaltender Thomas McCollum, who has played well since his Dec. 22 reassignment from the Griffins by going 3-0 with one shutout, a 2.10 GAA and a 0.928 save percentage.

Among Toledo’s forwards, Zack Torquato ranks second on the team with 25 points and 13th in the league with 19 assists, Adam Keefe leads the circuit with 129 penalty minutes, and Kyle Rogers has chipped in 13 points (4-9–13). In addition, defenseman Ryan Stokes has appeared in 20 games for the club.

Elsewhere around the ECHL, Florida’s Francis Lemieux ranks second in the league with 39 points (T3rd with 15 goals and 4th with 24 assists), while Kalamazoo’s Kory Karlander is tied for fourth with 35 points (T12th with 14 goals and T6th with 21 assists), showing he still has his scoring touch at the ripe old age of 38. Another relative graybeard, 35-year-old Peter Vandermeer, plies his trade in Victoria, where he’s currently tied for fourth in the ECHL with 100 PIM.

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL/opponent links:

Alumni news and notes:

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