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This Week’s Games

GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose // Fri., Dec. 10 // 8 p.m. EST // Canada Life Centre
GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose // Sat., Dec. 11 // 7 p.m. EST // Canada Life Centre

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:35 p.m. on Friday, 96.1 The Game at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday

Watch: AHLTV

Season Series: 1-2-0-1 Overall, 0-1-0-1 Road. Fifth and sixth of eight meetings overall, third and fourth of four at Canada Life Centre.

All-Time Series: 66-35-1-1-8 Overall, 30-20-0-0-3 Road

NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets

Noteworthy: Since the Moose rejoined the AHL in 2015-16, Grand Rapids is 22-11-0-1 against them, including a 9-6-0-1 ledger in Winnipeg. The Griffins are winless in the past four games at Manitoba with a 0-3-0-1 record, dating back to the 2019-20 season.

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Dec. 3 // GRIFFINS 1 vs. Rockford IceHogs 4 // 7-8-2-1 (17 pts., 0.472, 5th Central Division)
Sat., Dec. 4 // GRIFFINS 6 vs. Rockford IceHogs 2 // 8-8-2-1 (19 pts., 0.500, T4th Central Division)
Mon., Dec. 6 // GRIFFINS 4 at Cleveland Monsters 1 // 9-8-2-1 (21 pts., 0.525, 4th Central Division)

Last Week’s Notes
Friday vs. Rockford (4-1 L)Kyle Criscuolo extended his point streak (5-5—10) to five games, as the center recorded the only goal for Grand Rapids in the contest. Despite the loss, the Griffins recorded 41 shots, which marked the highest shot total they have achieved this season. Ryan Murphy appeared in his 250th game in the AHL, Riley Barber notched his 50th game as a Griffin and Matt Berry skated in his 250th game as a pro. Dennis Yan returned from an injury that kept him sidelined for 12 games. Recap | Highlights

Saturday vs. Rockford (6-2 W) – Grand Rapids exploded for five goals in the opening frame and defeated Rockford 6-2, as six different Griffins recorded goals. Five tallies in the first set a new season high for Grand Rapids for most goals in a period. Kyle Criscuolo bagged his team-high eighth goal of the season, which pushed his point streak (6-6—12) to six games. Ryan Murphy and Jonatan Berggren joined Criscuolo with two points (1-1—2) each. Matt Berry and Luke Witkowski each bagged his first point as a Griffin. Donovan Sebrango skated in his 50th game as a Griffin at the age of 19. Calvin Pickard recorded his third assist of the season, which is a new AHL career high for the goaltender. Recap | Highlights

Monday at Cleveland (4-1 W) – The Griffins’ three-goal first period was all they needed to take a 4-1 victory over the Monsters. Going back to Dec. 4 when Grand Rapids put up five goals in the opening frame against Rockford, the Griffins have now outscored their opponents 8-0 in the last two first periods. Kyle Criscuolo added his fifth multi-point game in the past seven outings. The center also extended his point streak to seven games (7-7—14), which is a new career high. Jonatan Berggren also pushed his point streak (1-3—4) to three games. Goaltender Calvin Pickard made his 17th appearance out of 20 games and has allowed two goals or less in nine outings. Recap | Highlights

Huffin’ and Puffin’: So far this season, the Griffins are 0-4-1-0 (0.100) against the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves and 9-4-1-1 (0.667) against the rest of the AHL.

Cris-COOL-o: After being sidelined in the first four games due to an injury, center Kyle Criscuolo has made up for his lost time with 17 points (9-8—17) in 15 contests. The Harvard University graduate logged a two-game point streak (1-1—2) from Oct. 30-31 and surpassed that mark with an active seven-game point streak (7-7—14) from Nov. 20-Dec. 6, which is a new career high for the forward. He posted back-to-back three-point (1-2—3) nights against Milwaukee and Chicago on Nov. 24 and 26. Criscuolo’s three-game goal streak (Nov. 20-26) tied Jonatan Berggren (Oct. 30-Nov. 5) for the longest on the team this season while his four-game assist streak (Nov. 20-28) set a new season high for Grand Rapids. The sixth-year pro is second on the roster with 17 points while his nine goals pace the team and are tied for eighth in the AHL. On Nov. 29, Criscuolo was recalled by Detroit and made his NHL season debut on Dec. 1 against Seattle, marking his first NHL game since March 5, 2018. Criscuolo was then reassigned to Grand Rapids the following morning and returned to Detroit on Dec. 7.

Sweet Berries: Matt Berry was named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Player of the Month for November when he led the ECHL with a plus-13 rating while scoring eight goals with 13 assists in 12 games. The former Michigan State Spartan logged at least one point in 10 of Toledo’s 12 contests. His four assists on Nov. 14 started a stretch in which he totaled 10 points (3-7—10) in three games, which was enough to make him the Player of the Week in the ECHL. In total, the Canton, Mich., native bagged five multi-point outings in November. Berry was signed to a PTO by Grand Rapids on Nov. 28 and has appeared in four games, registering one assist and two penalty minutes.

Calvin’s University: Goaltender Calvin Pickard is off to a fast start, as he has allowed two goals or less in nine of his 17 appearances this season. The 10-year pro currently places 11th in the AHL with a 2.40 goals against average while his 0.928 save percentage ranks fifth. The netminder made his sixth straight start on Nov. 28 and 10th consecutive appearance, both personal highs as a Griffin. In fact, Pickard has seen action in 17 of the 20 games this season, including 13 straight. The goaltender recorded his third assist of the season on Dec. 4 versus Rockford, which set a new AHL career high for assists in a season. Pickard recorded his first shutout of the season and fourth as a Griffin on Nov. 12 against Manitoba, moving him into a tie for 10th place in franchise history with Jani Hurme, Martin Prusek, and Eddie Pasquale. Pickard played in just nine games in North America a season ago due to being assigned to Detroit’s taxi squad for much of the year. The Moncton, New Brunswick, native also spent some time with Vienna in the ICEHL last season, logging six games and a 1.96 goals against average.

Jonny on the Spot: Rookie Jonatan Berggren saw his six-game point streak (3-4—7 from Oct. 30-Nov. 13) come to a close on Nov. 17 against Chicago. The Uppsala, Sweden, native bagged his first AHL goal and two-point (1-1—2) night on Oct. 30, which began a three-game goal scoring streak for the right winger. The forward recorded his first two-goal night in the AHL on Nov. 20 at Texas. The former second-round draft choice notched his 50th pro assist on Nov. 12 against Manitoba and is tied for fourth among league rookies with seven goals while his 16 points (7-8—16) place sixth among first-year players.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker:
Riley Barber—Four power play goals are tied for third
Jonatan Berggren—Seven goals are tied for fourth among league rookies, 16 points (7-9—16) rank sixth among first-year players
Kyle Criscuolo—Nine goals are tied for eighth
Taro Hirose—19 points (4-15—19) are tied for seventh, 15 assists are tied for second, eight power play assists are tied for third
Ryan Murphy—Four goals are tied for seventh among blueliners, 13 points (4-9—13) are tied for eighth among defensemen
Wyatt Newpower—32 penalty minutes are second among rookies and tied for eighth among league defensemen
Calvin Pickard—2.40 goals against average ranks 11th, 0.928 save percentage places fifth
Dominik Shine—56 penalty minutes are tied for second
Luke Witkowski—43 penalty minutes are tied for second among league blueliners

Upcoming Milestones:

Riley Barber
appeared in his 50th game as a Griffin on Dec. 3 against Rockford. Matt Berry skated in his 250th game as a pro on Dec. 3 versus the IceHogs. Ryan Murphy suited up for his 250th game in the AHL on Dec. 3. Finally, Donovan Sebrango appeared in his 50th game as a Griffin at the age of 19 on Dec. 4 and Luke Witkowski bagged his 50th assist as a pro. Other upcoming milestones include:
Riley Barber—Two points from 50 as a Griffin
Turner Elson—Three assists from 100 in the AHL, four goals from 50 as a Griffin
Brian Lashoff—Three assists from 100 as a pro
Brett McKenzie—Three goals from 50 as a pro
Luke Witkowski—Two points from 50 in the AHL

Under New Leadership: Pat Verbeek takes over as the new general manager of the Griffins, a position previously held by Ryan Martin. In addition to his new role in Grand Rapids, Verbeek retains his assistant general manager position with the Red Wings working under Detroit GM Steve Yzerman. Verbeek oversees all aspects of hockey operations for the AHL franchise, including player personnel decisions, player development, contract negotiations and player movement.

Simon Says: Ben Simon, 43, begins his fourth season as Grand Rapids’ head coach. A year ago, he guided the Griffins to a 16-12-3-1 record (36 points, 0.563) and a third-place finish in the Central Division. Simon has only coached in one full AHL season as head boss, as his second and third campaigns were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During his inaugural year at the helm in 2018-19, he became the eighth head coach in franchise history to lead the Griffins to the postseason during his first full season behind the bench. Simon served as an assistant coach in Grand Rapids from 2015-18 under Todd Nelson and helped the franchise win its second Calder Cup in 2017. He is the fourth former Griffins assistant to then become the head coach. Appearing in 21 games and scoring nine points (4-5—9) with the Griffins in 2006-07 as part of an 11-year professional playing career, Simon is the third former Griffins player to serve as Grand Rapids’ head coach, joining Nelson and Danton Cole (2002-05).

Griffins in General: The Grand Rapids Griffins began the franchise’s 26th overall season of play, 21st as a member of the American Hockey League and 20th as the primary affiliate of the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 15, 2021 when they defeated the Rockford IceHogs, 6-1. This marked the first time the Griffins began their season at Van Andel Arena since 2017. Grand Rapids has competed in 1,917 games between the IHL and AHL and has amassed a 1,011-697-27-64-118 regular season record (0.575), to go along with 17 playoff appearances, seven division titles and two Calder Cups (2017, 2013).

Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins

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