This Week’s Games
Charlotte Checkers at GRIFFINS // Wed., April 12 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Charlotte Checkers at GRIFFINS // Fri., April 14 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday and ESPN 96.1 FM on Friday
Season Series: 0-2-0-0 Home, 2-4-0-0 Overall. Seventh and eighth of eight meetings overall, third and fourth of four at Van Andel Arena.
All-Time Series: 6-10-0-0 Home, 16-17-0-1 Overall.
NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes
Noteworthy: The Checkers are the only active AHL team with a winning record at the Van (min. two games played).
GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals // Sat., April 15 // 7 p.m. // UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 3-2-0-0 Road, 6-5-0-0 Overall. Twelfth of 12 meetings overall, sixth of six at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
All-Time Series: 36-32-5-5-5 Road, 84-59-7-6-7 Overall.
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: If the season ended today, the Griffins and Admirals would meet in the first round of the playoffs. Grand Rapids swept Milwaukee last season in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals.
Last Week’s Results
Tues., April 4 GRIFFINS 1 at Manitoba Moose 3 43-22-1-4 (91 points, 1st Central)
Wed., April 5 GRIFFINS 2 at Manitoba Moose 1 OT 44-22-1-4 (93 points, 1st)
Sat., April 8 Cleveland Monsters 4 at GRIFFINS 0 44-23-1-4 (93 points, 2nd)
Sun., April 9 GRIFFINS 3 at Cleveland Monsters 4 SO 44-23-1-5 (94 points, 2nd)
Opening Faceoff: The playoff-bound Griffins enter the final week of the regular season in second place in the Central Division, two points behind Chicago and five points ahead of third-place Milwaukee. Grand Rapids, which still places fourth in the Western Conference and seventh in the AHL, will round out its season with two home games against Charlotte before traveling to Milwaukee to conclude the campaign.
This Week’s Promotions: Wednesday against Charlotte is the third annual Bring Your Dog Game. On Friday, fans can enjoy $2 hot dogs/$2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last.
Last Week’s Recap: The Griffins began the week by splitting a back-to-back against the Moose in Manitoba. Grand Rapids lost 3-1 on Tuesday but bounced back on Wednesday to win 2-1 in overtime as Axel Holmstrom’s first career AHL goal was the game-winner. On Saturday against Cleveland, the Griffins were shut out at home for the first time since Jan. 27, 2016 versus Toronto, a span of 50 home games. Finishing off the season series against Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie on Sunday, Matthew Ford scored the tying goal with 18 seconds remaining, but the Monsters scored twice in the shootout to take the two points.
Playoff Bound: With Grand Rapids’ 3-2 win at Milwaukee on March 26, the Griffins clinched a Calder Cup Playoff berth for the 15th time in franchise history and fifth consecutive season. Five straight trips to the postseason ties a franchise record (1999-00 to 2003-04). March 26 is the earliest date that the Griffins have secured a playoff spot since clinching on March 12, 2006. This season’s berth marks the sixth time in as many full seasons as an AHL head coach that Todd Nelson has led his team to the Calder Cup Playoffs. The 2013 Calder Cup champion, Grand Rapids is 79-72 (0.523) all time in the postseason and has won at least one series in each of the last four playoffs. In their 18 seasons of being affiliated with an NHL team, this year marks the first time that the Griffins’ parent club has not qualified for the postseason. The Ottawa Senators made the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 2000-02 while the Red Wings were playoff participants from 2003-16 as part of their 25-year run.
Follow the Leader(s): Ben Street (25-29—54), Matt Lorito (21-33—54), Martin Frk (27-23—50), Evgeny Svechnikov (19-28—47) and Eric Tangradi (15-26—41) lead the team in points...Street and Lorito tie for 19th in the AHL in scoring...Svechnikov ties for fourth among league rookies in scoring…Rookie Dan Renouf has a team-high 91 PIM…Rookie Kyle Criscuolo and captain Nathan Paetsch are tied with a team-best plus-15 rating…Jared Coreau ranks 12th with a 2.40 GAA and ties for 15th with a 0.915 save percentage…Eddie Pasquale places 14th in GAA (2.49) and save percentage (0.916).
Reinforcements Arrive: The Detroit Red Wings on Monday assigned forwards Matt Lorito, Tomas Nosek and Ben Street and defenseman Robbie Russo to the Griffins. Lorito picked up his first NHL point on an assist during his debut last Saturday and skated in two games over the weekend, averaging 14:26 of ice time and logging six shots. Nosek played in 11 games with the Wings this season and scored his first NHL goal on March 28 at Carolina. Street appeared in six games in Detroit and picked up one assist, helping on Nosek’s first career marker. Russo played in 19 games and averaged 16:04 of ice time and showed a plus-two rating.
Griffins to Wings: A total of 13 players this season were recalled by Detroit from Grand Rapids, including eight who made their NHL debut with the Red Wings. A total of 35 players appeared in at least one game for the Red Wings this year and all but five spent time in Grand Rapids during their careers.
More Roster Moves: On Monday, the Red Wings also reassigned forward Zach Nastasiuk from the Griffins to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. The Griffins, meanwhile, recalled goaltender Cal Heeter and forward Mathew Santos from Toledo and released forward Dominik Shine from his amateur tryout.
Cholowski Joins Griffins: The Griffins last Friday signed defenseman Dennis Cholowski to an amateur tryout. The Detroit Red Wings agreed to terms with Cholowski last Wednesday to a three-year entry-level contract that will commence next season. Detroit’s first-round selection (20th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Cholowski, 19, notched 12 points (1-11—12) and 14 penalty minutes in 36 games this season during his freshman year at St. Cloud State University (NCHC). Cholowski joins Givani Smith and Filip Hronek in Grand Rapids as Detroit’s top three picks from the 2016 Draft are all with the Griffins.
Reunion of Sorts: Former Griffins Tom McCollum and Andrej Nestrasil are expected to be among Charlotte’s contingent for the two games this week. Detroit's first choice (30th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, McCollum spent seven seasons with the Griffins (2009-16) and is the franchise's all-time leader with 226 goalie games played, 12737:53 minutes and 5,653 saves. His 103 wins rank second while his seven shutouts are tied for sixth. McCollum also ranks among the club's all-time playoff leaders with 23 games played (3rd), 1330:31 minutes (3rd), a 2.53 goals against average (9th), 12 wins (T2nd), 608 saves (3rd) and a 0.916 save percentage (T6th). On March 8, the Checkers acquired him on loan from the Stockton Heat. In 14 games with Charlotte, McCollum shows a 11-2-1 record with one shutout, a 2.00 GAA and a 0.926 save percentage. McCollum was named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Month in March. Detroit’s third choice (75th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Nestrasil played in Grand Rapids from 2011-14, totaling 46 points (22-24—46) and 32 PIM in 120 games. He has 14 points (5-9—14) in 36 games with Charlotte this season. Both McCollum and Nestrasil won the 2013 Calder Cup with the Griffins.
Toppled from the Top: Grand Rapids’ loss last Saturday at home to Cleveland, coupled with Chicago’s come-from-behind overtime win against Iowa that night, moved the Griffins out of the top spot in the Central Division. Grand Rapids had held the divisional lead for the last three consecutive months, ever since a 6-1 victory against Rockford on Jan. 7 helped the club overtake first place in the standings.
Shots Up: Despite dropping six of their last seven games (1-5-0-1) and scoring 10 goals in that span, the Griffins have outshot all seven of those opponents and by an average of nearly 10 shots a game.
Missing Pieces: Due to either being on recall with Detroit or injured, the Griffins have been without some key components to their lineup in the last seven games:
April 9 at CLE, 3-4 SOL – without five of top nine scorers and second-leading defenseman – 40.1% of team’s point total
April 8 vs. CLE, 0-4 L – without five of top nine scorers and second-leading defenseman – 40.1% of team’s point total
April 5 at MB, 2-1 OTW – without four of top nine scorers and second-leading defenseman – 31.9% of team’s point total
April 4 at MB, 1-3 L – without five of top nine scorers and top-scoring defenseman – 39.0% of team’s point total
April 1 at RFD, 1-4 L – without five of top nine scorers and top-scoring defenseman – 40.6% of team’s point total
March 31 vs. CHA, 1-3 L – without five of top nine scorers and top-scoring defenseman – 40.8% of team’s point total
March 29 vs. MIL, 2-3 L – without four of top six scorers and top-scoring defenseman – 35.6% of team’s point total
|GR Scoring Rank||Player||Missed||Reason|
|T1st||Lorito||5 of last 7||3 injury, 2 recall|
|2nd among defensemen||Russo||Last 17||Recall|
40 and Counting: The Griffins have matched their win total from a season ago and reached the 40-win plateau for the fifth consecutive season and 14th time overall in the franchise’s 21-year history. Grand Rapids has qualified for the playoffs in 13 of the 14 seasons when notching 40 or more wins. The Griffins secured win No. 40 in the 62nd game of the season, tying last year’s club for the third-fastest the team has reached the benchmark. Only the 2000-01 (59 games) and 2005-06 (60 games) squads did so quicker. Grand Rapids has also achieved the 90-point mark for the 13th time in club history and fifth straight year.
Current Playoff Picture:
|Place||Team||Points||PCT||Games Left||Home||Road||Opp. Win. %||GR Magic # Over (Pts.)||Magic # Over GR (Pts.)|
x- Clinched playoff berth
Currently in playoff position
Eliminated from playoff contention
One Last Time: With Saturday at Milwaukee serving as the 2016-17 regular season finale, the Griffins post a 7-12-0-1 record on the last game of the regular season, including a 4-8-0-1 mark when it is played on foreign ice. In the 13 times Grand Rapids has dropped the last game, the Griffins have gone on to the postseason 10 times and posted a 50-50 playoff mark. In the seven times Grand Rapids has been victorious to close out the season, the Griffins have continued onto the playoffs five times and tallied a 29-22 postseason mark. The Griffins host Charlotte on Friday in the team’s final home game of the regular season and will be bidding to win both their initial home game (Oct. 14 vs. CHI, 3-1 W) and their last home game for only the sixth time in club history (2009-10, 2003-04, 2000-01, 1999-00, 1998-99).
Coreau Climbs Charts: Take a look at where fourth-year pro Jared Coreau stacks up in Grand Rapids’ all-time goaltending record book:
|Career Stat||Rank||Next Up|
|62 W||4th||3rd - 90 - Howard|
|11 SO||3rd||2nd - 14 - Howard|
|108 GP||4th||3rd - 186 - Howard|
|6273:50 Min||4th||3rd - 10659:17 - Howard|
|2,901 saves||4th||3rd - 4849 - Howard|
Fantastic Frk: Martin Frk leads the team with 27 goals to tie his output from a season ago and match a career best. He has also set a career high with 12 power play tallies (see where that ranks in the club’s all-time single season list to the right). Frk logged 11 markers on the man advantage in 2015-16 and is the second player in team history to record consecutive seasons with double-digit power play goal totals (Eric Manlow in 2004-05 and 2005-06). Including his 27-goal haul from last season, Frk is the ninth player in franchise history to log consecutive 20-goal campaigns and the first since Teemu Pulkkinen in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Tomas Tatar recorded three-straight 20-goal seasons from 2010-13, the only player in team history to accomplish such a feat.
On the Power Play: The Griffins rank second in the league with a power play percentage of 24.1% (76/315) but are 1 for 20 in their last four games. Grand Rapids has relied on the power play for 31.5% of its goals (76 of 241), the highest percentage in the AHL. The power play has been keyed by Martin Frk (12-13—25), Ben Street (10-15—25), Tomas Nosek (7-17—24) and Matt Lorito (4-20—24), who lead the team in points. Frk ties for fourth in the league in power play tallies, as 12 of his team-leading 27 markers on the year have come with more skaters. Mitch Callahan has been on the ice 41 times during a power play goal, tops on the team. Of the Griffins’ 76 power play goals, 33 have been scored with five forwards on the ice, 27 with four forwards and one defensemen, 14 with three forwards and two defensemen, one with three forwards and one defenseman and one with six forwards. With 12 PPGs from Frk and 10 from Street, the Griffins have two or more players record double-digit PPG totals for the sixth time in franchise history and first since 2008-09 (Darren Haydar 16, Justin Abdelkader 10).
Chasing PP History: With only three games remaining, the Griffins will shatter the franchise record for best power play percentage in a season, which was set by the 2005-06 squad at 21.8%. The 2005-06 club, which played 80 regular season games, also scored 120 PPG, the most in team history. The AHL’s single-season record for highest power play percentage was set in 1993-94 by the Springfield Indians at 26.78%.
Shuttin’ It Down: Eddie Pasquale recorded his fourth shutout of the campaign on March 25 at Rockford and is tied for ninth on the franchise’s single-season shutout list. Six players hold the club record with six clean sheets in a season. Grand Rapids’ goaltenders have combined for eight shutouts this season, the most since the 2008-09 club blanked nine opponents.
Spreading the Wealth: Behind Martin Frk (27), Ben Street (25) and Matt Lorito (21), Grand Rapids has three or more players with 20-plus goals for the third consecutive season. The Griffins have three players with 50 or more points, the most since the 2011-12 squad had six. Grand Rapids also has eight skaters with 40 or more points, the most since the team in 2005-06 had 10.
The Puck Stops Here: Third in the league in goals against per game (2.55), the Griffins are on pace to allow only 193 goals, which would be the sixth-lowest amount ever in franchise history (166 in 2003-04, 177 in 2002-03, 178 in 2001-02, 185 in 2014-15, 187 in 2013-14).
Shots Fired: Martin Frk paces the league with 232 shots and needs just 10 more to crack the Griffins’ single-season top 10 list. As a team, the Griffins are second in the AHL, averaging 33.23 shots per game.
Bookends: The Griffins lead the league with a plus-23 goal differential (73-50) in the first period and place third with a plus-28 differential (86-58) in the final frame. Grand Rapids is 34-4-1-2 (0.866) when striking first.
Showing Discipline: The Griffins are the third-least penalized team in the league, averaging just 10.7 penalty minutes per contest. In fact, Grand Rapids is on pace to log 839 PIM, which would break the franchise record for fewest PIM in a season set by the 2014-15 team with 869. Rookie Dan Renouf leads the team with 91 PIM and is on track for 94 this season, which would make him the first team PIM leader to not break the century mark (previous low: Brennan Evans, 111 PIM in 2013-14).
Magic Numbers: The Griffins are 34-4-1-2 when scoring the game’s first goal, 31-1-0-1 when leading after one period and 31-2-1-0 when leading after two periods…Grand Rapids is 42-5-0-3 when scoring three goals or more and 2-18-1-2 when scoring two or less.
All About Chances: The Griffins have the second-most shots (33.23) and place fifth in goals (3.30) per game in the AHL while surrendering the third-fewest goals (2.55).
Rookie Production: Thirteen rookies have suited up for the Griffins this season, which surpasses last year’s total of seven. Those 13 rookies have combined for 173 points (62-111—173), which equates to 25.7% of the team’s goals (62/241), 27.4% of the assists (111/405) and 26.9% of the points (173/644).
Top Single-Season Rookie Scorers in Griffins History:
|Teemu Pulkkinen (2013-14)||71||31||28||59|
|Gustav Nyquist (2011-12)||56||22||36||58|
|Glen Metropolit (1997-98)||79||20||35||55|
|Justin Abdelkader (2008-09)||76||24||28||52|
|Francis Pare (2008-09)||63||24||24||48|
|Evgeny Svechnikov (2016-17)||71||19||28||47|
|Kevyn Adams (1996-97)||82||22||25||47|
|Eric Himelfarb (2004-05)||76||19||24||43|
|Kyle Criscuolo (2016-17)||73||17||24||41|
|Robbie Russo (2015-16)||71||5||34||38|
Milestones: With 15 goals this season, Mitch Callahan has 93 in his career to rank third all-time in franchise history…He trails only Francis Pare (102) and Michel Picard (158) in the record books…Callahan’s 183 career points (93-90—183) are seventh all-time in team history…Logging 55 PIM this season, Callahan has become the ninth player in franchise history to amass 400 or more career PIM…Captain Nathan Paetsch has 121 career assists to rank sixth all-time in team history…Paetsch is nine behind Derek King for fifth…Eric Tangradi needs three points to reach 100 as a Griffin.
Walleye Report: Under first-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye clinched the best regular season record with a 51-17-2-2 record (106 points). The Walleye begin the Kelly Cup Playoffs on Friday against Kalamazoo. Former Griffin Shane Berschbach (18-68—86) and rookies Tylor Spink (28-48—76) and Tyson Spink (33-42—75) lead the team in points. Second-year pro Jake Paterson, Detroit’s second pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is 34-13-1 while placing third with a 2.28 goals against average tying for fourth with a 0.918 save percentage. Griffins-contracted Cal Heeter, who was recalled to Grand Rapids on Monday, is 14-2 between the pipes for Toledo and shows a 2.99 GAA and a 0.897 save percentage.
Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play games on consecutive days a total of 27 times this season. Compare the statistics for when the Griffins have played on successive nights:
|First Night||Second Night||Third Night|
|L (incl. OT, SO)||13||7||1|
Win Some, Lose Some: Compare the statistics for the Griffins during their 44 wins and 29 (including overtime and shootout) losses:
|GF||GA||PP %||PK %||SF||SA|