Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mattias Backman and Mattias Janmark

While 'graphing the Lake Erie Monsters last weekend, we also got to meet two of the newest members of the Grand Rapids Griffins - Mattias Backman and Mattias Janmark. The Red Wings assigned the pair to their AHL team last week and both made their North American debuts the same night we met them (Friday). I got a signature card signed by each player as I really didn't have anything else with me.
Backman (#46, top) is a defenseman from Sweden drafted in the fifth round in 2011. He has been playing for Linkopings HC for a few years, and he had six goals and 21 points this season. He looked pretty capable on the blue line on Friday, and it should be fun to watch him when he (hopefully) joins the Griffins full-time next season. He won a gold medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships.
Janmark (#38, bottom) was a third round pick last year (2013). He has played three seasons with AIK in Sweden, scoring 32 goals and picking up 61 points through 118 games. I also thought he was pretty impressive on Friday night, and a season or two in the AHL should help his development continue.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lake Erie Monsters 4/18/14 -
Duncan Siemens, Calvin Pickard, Andrew Agozzino

The 2013-14 regular season ended on a sour note for the Grand Rapids Griffins (back-to-back losses) as they fell 1 point short of defending their Midwest Division title (despite having MORE wins than the winner, Chicago). The Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche) had a big hand in ruining GR's weekend, and while the on-ice results weren't pretty we did manage to get in one last IP auto session.

Signing the team sheet above were:
Andrew Agozzino (8), Sami Aittokallio (76)
Brett Clark (5), Michael Schumacher (24)
Duncan Siemens (25), Calvin Pickard (31), Garrett Meurs (36)
? (53), Joey Hishon (38), David Van der Gulik
Matthew Pufahl (2), Karl Stollery (3), Gabriel Beaupre (47)
Daniel Maggio (44), Troy Bourke (16), Mark Olver (10)
Colin Smith (37), Markus Lauridsen (11), Mitchell Heard (48)

Duncan Siemens signed his 2010-11 and 2011-12
ITG Heroes and Prospects cards
Goalie Calvin Pickard signed two Between the Pipes cards
and his OPC Retro and Score rookie cards
Andrew Agozzino signed an AHL Top Prospects card
Joey Hishon signed a 2009-10 Heroes and Prospects card
and Kevin gave me this signed card from former NHLer
and Monsters head coach Dean Chynoweth

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jordan Parise

2007-08 ITG Between the Pipes
When I grabbed some cards for a set I'm working on last month, I picked up this signed card of former Devils prospect Jordan Parise as well (I like combined shipping, it's really the only way to go with cards priced a $2 or less). I haven't made much progress on the 2007-08 Between the Pipes set lately, and I couldn't find record of Parise playing anywhere this season. After three seasons at North Dakota, he turned pro and spent two seasons in the AHL with the Albany Devils (as seen on this card). He has played in four leagues in three European countries since then, most recently in Italy for Valpellice during the 2012-13 season.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TTM: Bob Sauve

2010-11 ITG Between the Pipes
Mailed: 12/30/13
Received: 1/21/14

One of my early returns for this year was this 2010-11 ITG Between the Pipes card signed by former NHL goalie Bob Sauve.  In more than a decade of playing, Sauve suited up for the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils. He won 20 or more games three times while with the Sabres, winning the Vezina Trophy in 1980 and sharing the William Jennings Trophy with Tom Barrasso in 1985. Since retiring, he has worked as a player agent and he has represented many players from Quebec.

Monday, April 14, 2014

TTM: Rejean "Reggie" Lemelin

2011-12 ITG Between the Pipes #127 and #180
Mailed: 10/21/13
Received: 11/1/13

I have almost run out of things to post, but for the next few days I have some goaltender returns that I hadn't posted in the past. Former Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins netminder Rejean Lemelin signed two cards for me last year, both being from the 2011-12 ITG Between the Pipes set. One is a "Decades" card showing Lemelin in the 1980s with the Flames, while the other is a "La Belle Province" card highlighting goaltenders from Quebec. Both are signed in black sharpie, and at 12 days this was a pretty fast return. I was just starting to get into hockey when Lemelin was teaming with Andy Moog in Boston - they won the William Jennings Trophy following the 1989-90 season.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ryan Sproul -
Grand Rapids Griffins NHL Alumni #145

It has been one of the best seasons in Grand Rapids Griffins history as far as NHL call-ups go, and right now on NBC defenseman Ryan Sproul has become the 145th player to make the jump to the highest level as he debuts for the Detroit Red Wings in their game against the St. Louis Blues. Fresh off being named to the AHL All-Rookie team, Sproul is getting a good look with Detroit today. He has 10 goals and 31 points in Grand Rapids this season, and has helped the team return to the playoffs where they will attempt to defend the Calder Cup. Sproul signed a few of the 2012-13 ITG Heroes and Prospects cards (like the one shown above) for me before the season started, and here's a look at the other things I've had signed this season:
A signed card from this season's Griffins team set
and a photo featuring Sproul in preseason action

After a great season with nine players making NHL debuts, we should be in line for a good handful of rookie cards in all the major releases next season!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Taylor Hall -
2009-10 ITG Heroes and Prospects

2009-10 ITG Heroes and Prospects #95
After adding a Jordan Eberle signed 2009-10 ITG Heroes and Prospects card to my set project last month, I only needed 16 more players to finish the set. I have now knocked off one of the biggest names on that list, Taylor Hall, while dropping the number of cards needed to 15. I've been watching this card on ebay for almost two years and it's the only signed one I've seen up for sale, so when I got some cash for my birthday last week I made an offer that the seller accepted and this fantastic card was mine. It has been JSA authenticated (sticker on the back) which made the final price one I could live with. Hall has posted career-high numbers this season in goals (27), assists (50) and points (77) but is still searching for a postseason appearance.