Howard wins AHL weekly award
Howard, who will turn 22 on Sunday, led the Griffins to four come-from-behind victories last week, becoming the first netminder in franchise history to earn four wins in a span of five nights. He went 4-0 with a 1.46 goals against average and a 0.943 save percentage, helping Grand Rapids extend its winning streak to seven games.
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. At home versus Manitoba 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 the Moose. On Friday, Howard stopped all 12 shots he faced over two periods of relief work, allowing Grand Rapids to come back for a 3-2 victory over Cleveland. Finally, on Saturday, his 24 saves backstopped the Griffins to a 4-3 overtime win over Toronto, as he tied Mike Fountain's franchise record with his eighth consecutive win.
A top candidate for the AHL's All-Rookie Team, Howard places among the league leaders with a Griffins-rookie-record 21 wins (7th, 21-4-2), a 2.70 GAA (14th) and a 0.905 save percentage (20th). During March alone, he is 7-0 with a 1.69 GAA and a 0.932 save percentage, and he has led the team to points in 19 of his last 20 decisions (17-1-1-1). The former University of Maine star was the Detroit Red Wings' first selection (64th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut with the Wings in a 5-2 win at Los Angeles on Nov. 28, and shows a 1-2-0 record with a 2.99 GAA and a 0.904 save percentage.
Howard becomes the fourth Griffin to be named AHL Player of the Week this season - joining Jiri Hudler (Oct. 17), Valtteri Filppula (Nov. 21) and Clay Wilson (Dec. 26) - and the third Grand Rapids goalie to win the award during the past five seasons, following Joey MacDonald (Feb. 16, 2004) and Marc Lamothe (Nov. 18, 2002). In recognition of his achievement, Howard will receive an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Griffins home game.