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Griffins’ Howard named week’s best

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Grand Rapids Griffins goaltender Jimmy Howard has been named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending March 19, 2006.

Howard was a perfect 4-0-0 in four appearances last week with a 1.46 goals-against average and .943 save percentage as the Griffins continued to close in on a North Division championship.

Howard made two starts last week, but his perfect work in two relief outings helped Grand Rapids extend its winning streak to seven games, its longest in five AHL seasons. On Tuesday in Milwaukee, Howard inherited a 3-0 deficit early in the second period and stopped all 14 shots he faced as the Griffins rallied for a 5-3 win. The next night, he made 32 saves before turning aside 11 of 14 attempts in the league’s longest shootout of the year, preserving a 3-2 win over Manitoba. On Friday, Howard made 12 saves on 12 shots in two periods of relief work, allowing Grand Rapids to come back for a 3-2 victory over Cleveland. And Saturday, his 24 saves backstopped the Griffins to a 4-3 overtime win over Toronto.

In recognition of his achievement, Howard will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Griffins home game.

Howard, a second-round draft pick by Detroit in 2003, is on a personal eight-game winning streak and has won 17 of his last 20 decisions, upping his record to an impressive 21-4-2 in 28 appearances with Grand Rapids in this, his rookie season out of the University of Maine. The native of Syracuse, N.Y., who turns 22 later this week, owns a 2.70 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage for the Griffins, and is also 1-2-0 in four NHL games with the Red Wings.

Other nominees for CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week include Binghamton goaltender Kelly Guard, Bridgeport center Evgeny Tunik, Chicago right wing Scott Barney, Cleveland goaltender Nolan Schaefer, Hamilton left wing Brad Winchester, Hartford right wing Brad Smyth, Hershey left wing Tomas Fleischmann, Houston left wing Peter Olvecky, Iowa right wing Junior Lessard, Manitoba left wing Jason King, Milwaukee right wing Darren Haydar, Norfolk goaltender Adam Munro, Peoria goaltender Chris Beckford-Tseu, Philadelphia forward Marc Cavosie, Portland center Zenon Konopka, Providence left wing Eric Healey, Rochester center Chris Taylor, Syracuse goaltender Martin Prusek, Toronto goaltender Todd Ford and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward Jonathan Filewich.