This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS vs. Chicago Wolves // Wed., Nov. 15 // 11 a.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: 96.1 The Game at 10:45 a.m.
Season Series: First of eight meetings overall, first of four at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 96-84-2-8-4 Overall, 46-38-2-6-3 Home
NHL Affiliation: None
Noteworthy: Chicago is a lone wolf this season, as it is the only AHL team without an NHL affiliate. The Wolves and Carolina Hurricanes had been in a partnership agreement since the 2020-21 campaign. The Wolves are the first AHL team without an NHL affiliate since the 1994-95 season, when the Worcester IceCats were independent.
GRIFFINS at Texas Stars // Fri., Nov. 17 // 8 p.m. EST // H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
GRIFFINS at Texas Stars // Sat., Nov. 18 // 8 p.m. EST // H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
Season Series: First and second of eight meetings overall, first and second of four at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
All-Time Series: 39-25-4-5 Overall, 19-14-3-1 Road
NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars
Noteworthy: Texas’ rookie Logan Stankoven has accumulated 15 points (8-7—15) in his first 12 games as a professional. Among first-year players in the AHL, the WHL product ranks first in points and goals and is tied for third in assists.
Stumbling Out of the Gate: First periods have been very unkind to the Griffins to begin the season, as they have been outscored 11-4 and outshot 115-84. Grand Rapids has a record of 1-4-0-0 when trailing after the first stanza, compared to a 2-1-1-1 mark when it is tied or leading after the first. The Griffins have won just one first period in the first 10 games of the season, a 2-0 advantage over Colorado on Oct. 14, which was the second contest of the campaign. Since beginning 2-0-0-0, the Griffins have gone on to win just one game in their last eight outings (1-5-1-1).
Patience is a Virtue: With plenty of highly touted prospects on the team, the Griffins have high expectations on the offensive side of the ice. However, things have not started out that way, as Grand Rapids ranks 31st out of 32 teams with just 2.20 goals per game, leading only Bridgeport (1.82 goals per game). The Griffins have been shut out twice in the past five contests and have averaged 1.60 goals during that span. Patience is a virtue, though, as the average age of Griffins forwards is 24, which includes five players who are 22 years old or younger. Forward prospects Jonatan Berggren, Cross Hanas, Marco Kasper, Amadeus Lombardi, Carter Mazur and Elmer Soderblom, who combined average an age of 21, are all still finding their groove at the professional level, showing a combined four goals to start the campaign.
Well, Well, Well, Look Who We Have Here: Starting this week, the Griffins’ next eight games will be against Central Division rivals. Grand Rapids will face Chicago, Manitoba, Milwaukee and Texas all twice from Nov. 15-Dec. 2. Out of the remaining 62 games, only 12 of those will be against teams outside of the Central Division (Belleville – 4, Cleveland – 6, Toronto – 2). So far, the Griffins are 1-1-0-0 against the Central Division, 2-2-0-0 against the Pacific Division and 0-2-2-0 versus the North Division.
Power Moves: The Griffins’ power play has had a strong showing to start the season. Through 10 games, Grand Rapids ranks eighth in the AHL with a power-play conversion rate of 21.7% (5 for 23). The Griffins have been on the power play just 23 times this season, which ranks last in the AHL by four. During the 2022-23 campaign, Grand Rapids finished 25th on the circuit with a power-play rate of 17.8% (52 for 292).
The Climb: Dominik Shine is just the third player in franchise history to reach eight seasons of service, while Tyler Spezia is the eighth player to compete in his sixth campaign. Last Friday, Shine passed Mitch Callahan for third with 367 career games played for the Griffins and currently stands ninth with 433 penalty minutes. Shine is behind only current assistant coach Brian Lashoff (629 GP) and Travis Richards (655) on the Griffins’ all-time games played list. Taro Hirose also continues to climb the Griffins’ all-time leaderboard, as he is currently ranked 10th in points (174) and tied for fifth in assists (130).
Shoot Your Shot: After allowing an average of 39.75 shots in their first four games, the Griffins allowed an average of just 25.6 shots in their last six outings. Since Oct. 21, Grand Rapids has not allowed its opponent to fire more than 29 shots in a game. However, the Griffins still rank 22nd in the league with an average of 31.3 shots allowed per game. Grand Rapids has also struggled to put pucks on net, as it places 29th out of 32 teams at 26.8 shots per game. The first period has been the killer, as the Griffins have been outshot 115-84 in the opening frame. In the second period, Grand Rapids has been outshot 109-87 but it has outshot its opponent in the third by a slim 90-86 margin.
Milestones: Last Friday, Dominik Shine
past Mitch Callahan for third on the Griffins’ all-time games played list with 366 games, Taro Hirose tied Derek King for fifth on the team’s all-time assists list with 130, Josiah Didier competed in his 400th game as a pro and Jonatan Berggren skated in his 250th pro contest.
Zach Aston-Reese—Three points from 50 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—Two goals from 50 as a pro, four assists from 150 as a pro, three points from tying Eric Tangradi (177) for ninth on the Griffins’ all-time points list, three assists from tying Kip Miller (133) for fourth on the Griffins’ all-time assists list
Michael Hutchinson—Three wins from 200 as a pro
Jared McIsaac—Two points from 50 as a pro and as a Griffin
Tyler Spezia—One goal from 50 as a pro
William Wallinder—One assist from 50 as a pro, two games from 200 as a pro
Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins