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Everybody Loves a Winner

Feb 06, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

This Week’s Games

GRIFFINS vs. Manitoba Moose // Fri., Feb. 9 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS vs. Manitoba Moose // Sat., Feb. 10 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m. on Friday and 96.1 The Game at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday

Watch: AHLTV

Season Series: 3-1-0-0 overall, 1-1-0-0 home. Fifth and sixth of eight meetings overall, third and fourth of four at Van Andel Arena.

All-Time Series: 73-43-1-1-9 Overall, 39-19-1-1-6 Home

NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets

Noteworthy: The Griffins are in a stretch of games from Jan. 24-March 2 in which they will play 12 out of 15 contests inside Van Andel Arena. Grand Rapids is 11-6-2-0 (.632) at home compared to a 9-9-2-1 (.500) mark on the road.

Keep the Good Times Rolling: The Griffins are currently riding a season-high six-game win streak (Jan. 19-Feb. 2). Grand Rapids is also on a season-best seven-game road winning streak (Dec. 27-Feb. 2), which is tied for the longest road winning streak in franchise history (Jan. 29-Feb. 28, 2015 and Oct. 16-Dec. 3, 2004). The Griffins have secured at least a point in 14 of their last 17 contests (12-3-2-0) and are now tied with Texas for second place in the Central Division. The Griffins are 11-2-1-0 since Christmas, marking the first time the team has won 11 out of 14 games since Nov. 3-Dec. 5, 2018 (11-2-0-1). Grand Rapids now has a pair of winning streaks of five or more games this season, the first time it had two runs of at least five games in the same season since 2015-16. Grand Rapids has points in 10 of its last 14 games (9-4-1-0) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in eight of its past nine road appearances (7-1-1-0). The Griffins have been solid at home with an 11-6-2-0 mark, outscoring their opponents 58-43. Grand Rapids has started to find a rhythm on the road, earning seven straight victories to even its record away from home (9-9-2-1).

Sea Bass Fishing: Rookie netminder Sebastian Cossa has won a team-high four straight games from Jan. 19-Feb. 2 and is 7-2-1 in his last 10 outings from Dec. 15-Feb. 2. During his last 10 appearances, the 6-foot-7 goaltender has a .915 save percentage and a 2.34 goals against average. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 6-1-0 ledger with a 1.72 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. The former 15th overall pick by the Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has allowed more than two goals just once in his past seven games. Through 20 contests, Cossa is 10-7-3 with a 2.70 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. The 21-year-old ranks sixth among rookie goaltenders in both goals against average and save percentage.

Lock it Down: The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.14 goals per game from Dec. 27-Feb. 2. Prior to the holiday break, Grand Rapids allowed 3.31 goals per game from Oct. 13-Dec. 20. The Griffins have allowed a total of 116 goals through 40 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and fifth in the AHL. Grand Rapids also ranks 12th on the circuit with 2.90 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.50). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.70) and Michael Hutchinson (2.89) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Albert Johansson (+12), Wyatt Newpower (+7), Brogan Rafferty (+5), Antti Tuomisto (+2) and William Wallinder (+1) all have a positive plus-minus rating. Last season, none of the Griffins’ blueliners finished with a positive plus-minus rating.

Johnny Bravo: Jonatan Berggren posted back-to-back three-point nights from Jan. 26-27 and enjoyed a season-high six-game point streak (5-5—10) from Jan. 13-27. Berggren also has 16 points (6-10—16) in his last 12 outings and 19 points (8-11—19) in his last 15 games from Dec. 15-Feb. 2. The 23-year-old leads the roster in points (13-21—34), assists (21) and goals (13) through 31 games this season. The Enkoping, Sweden, product became the seventh-fastest player to reach 100 points as a Griffin, doing so in just his 106th game on Jan. 26 against Belleville. Berggren has a combined 105 points (38-67—105) in 108 career AHL appearances from 2021-24, collecting an assist during his 100th game as a Griffin on Jan. 10 against Milwaukee. During his rookie season with the Griffins in 2021-22, Berggren broke Grand Rapids’ rookie single-season scoring record with 64 points (21-43—64) in 70 games, five more points than the previous record held by Teemu Pulkkinen (2013-14). The prospect has appeared in 76 games with the Red Wings throughout two seasons and has 33 points (17-16—33), including five points (2-3—5) in nine contests this campaign. Berggren participated in the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Tech CU.

The Last Czar: Austin Czarnik enjoyed a season-high six-game point streak from Jan. 13-27 (3-5—8). Since returning to the Griffins from Detroit on Dec. 30, Czarnik has accumulated 13 points (3-10—13) in 12 games. The 31-year-old has made the most of his time in Grand Rapids, showing 20 points (6-14—20) in 21 appearances. Czarnik posted three assists on Dec. 31 against the Cleveland Monsters and logged five assists in three games from Dec. 9-Jan. 5. The Washington Township, Michigan, native signed a two-year deal with the Red Wings on July 7, 2022 and has since gone on to register 57 points (20-37—57) in 64 career games with the Griffins. Czarnik has 282 points (101-181—282) in 291 AHL games from 2014-18 and 2019-24, scoring his 100th AHL goal on Jan. 24 against Rockford. He has also suited up for 18 games with Detroit this season and has one assist, six penalty minutes and a minus-three rating. In total, Czarnik has 51 points (18-33—51) in 189 career NHL outings.

Oh, It’s You Again: The Griffins are tied for second place in the Central Division with a 20-15-4-1 record and 45 points, 12 points clear of a playoff spot. In the final 32 games of the regular season, Grand Rapids will compete against the Central Division 27 times, with its only games outside of the division coming against Cleveland (5). The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 14-9-2-0 (.600) with a plus-11 scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Chicago (3-0-0-0) and Iowa (2-0-0-0), while it has collected just one win against Texas (1-4-1-0). Iowa and Rockford will be the Griffins’ most frequent opponents down the stretch, as there are still six meetings against both franchises. Grand Rapids will also see a lot of Chicago (5) as the season progresses.

Good Things Come in Threes: The Griffins mounted three straight third-period comebacks from Jan. 19-24 and have four third-period comebacks in their last six outings. From Jan. 19-20 at Manitoba, the Griffins swept the Moose after trailing by three goals each game, while Grand Rapids staged another comeback on Jan. 24 versus Rockford by scoring three goals in the final frame. The Griffins then rallied from a one-goal deficit yet again on Jan. 27 and registered three goals in the final frame to take a 6-4 victory over Belleville. The Griffins have outscored their opponents 54-35 in the third period this season, including a 16-2 margin over their last six games. Grand Rapids has also outshot its opponents 369-363 in the third.

On The Come Up: The Griffins’ power play has been a strong unit this season, as it ranks eighth in the AHL with an overall conversion rate of 20.5%, while the road power play places third at 23.4%. Grand Rapids has scored on the power play in nine of its last 14 games (11-for-44, 25.0%). Carter Mazur leads the team with five power-play goals, while Jonatan Berggren paces the squad with nine power-play assists. After allowing a power-play goal in a season-high five straight games from Dec. 19-31 (7-for-17, 41.2%), the Griffins have allowed just four power-play tallies in their last 11 outings (33-for-37, 89.2%). However, Grand Rapids is tied for 26th in the AHL with a penalty kill rate of 78.4%. At home, the Griffins’ penalty kill ranks ninth in the league at 84.1%, while the road penalty kill ranks 31st on the circuit at 73.7%.

Under Three is Key: Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 15-1-1-0 (.912). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 5-14-3-1 (.304). Grand Rapids has surpassed the four-goal mark in nine of its last 17 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 5-12-4-1 (.341) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 15-3-0-0 mark (.833) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 18 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals eight times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.70 GAA places sixth among rookie netminders, .908 save percentage ranks sixth among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson
—Two power-play goals are tied for 12th among defensemen, two game-winners are tied for fifth among defensemen
Carter Mazur
—Two game-winners are tied for ninth among rookies, five power-play goals are tied for eighth among rookies
Antti Tuomisto
—Three goals are tied for 11th among rookie defensemen, one power-play goal is tied for sixth among rookie defensemen, two game-winners are tied for fifth among defensemen
William Wallinder
—Three goals are tied for 11th among rookie defensemen

Milestones
On Jan. 26, Jonatan Berggren bagged his 100th point as a Griffin in just his 106th game, marking the seventh-fastest player to reach 100 points in franchise history. Tyler Spezia skated in his 300th pro game on Jan. 26 against Belleville.
Jonatan Berggren
—Two points from 200 as a pro
Josiah Didier
—Four penalty minutes from 500 as a pro
Simon Edvinsson
—One point from 50 as a Griffin and in the AHL
Taro Hirose
—Three goals from 50 as a Griffin
Nolan Stevens
—Two goals from 50 as a pro

Photo by Manitoba Moose