This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS vs. Milwaukee Admirals // Fri., Dec. 31 // 6 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals // Sat., Jan. 1 // 7 p.m. EST // Panther Arena
Season Series: 2-1-1-0 Overall, 1-0-1-0 Home, 1-1-0-0 Away. Fifth and sixth of 12 meetings overall, third of six at Van Andel Arena, second of six at Panther Arena
All-Time Series: 104-69-7-8-8 Overall, 55-33-2-3-3 Home, 48-36-5-5-5 Away
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: Grand Rapids is 7-7-1-0 in the last 15 overall against the Admirals. Dating back to the 2015-16 season, the Griffins are 14-9-2-1 against Milwaukee at Van Andel Arena with a +13 scoring margin (71-58).
GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves // Sun., Jan. 2 // 4 p.m. EST // Allstate Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 3:35 p.m.
Season Series: 0-4-1-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Away
All-Time Series: 90-75-2-7-3 Overall, 46-40-0-2-1 Away
NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes
Noteworthy: The Griffins are winless in their past five games against Chicago, having been outscored 19-8. Despite being 11-24-1-1 against the Wolves in the past five seasons, Grand Rapids still holds a 90-75-2-7-3 overall record against Chicago.
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Dec. 22 // GRIFFINS 1 vs. Milwaukee Admirals 2 (OT) // 9-10-3-1 (22 pts., 0.478, 6th Central Division)
Mon., Dec. 27 // GRIFFINS at Cleveland Monsters – Postponed // Rescheduled date TBD
Last Week’s Notes
Wednesday vs. Milwaukee (1-2 OTL) – Rocco Grimaldi’s power play goal 2:03 into overtime gave the Admirals a 2-1 victory over Grand Rapids at Van Andel Arena. Despite the loss, Turner Elson pushed his goal streak to four games, which is now a career high and the team’s longest goal streak this season. Calvin Pickard made his 12th straight start, the most in his career. Kyle Criscuolo extended his point streak (7-8—15) to eight outings with an assist in the contest. Both of Milwaukee’s goals came on the power play, as the Griffins failed to kill off two of the seven opportunities. Josh Dickinson appeared in his 150th game as a professional.
Leaders of the Pack: On Dec. 17, Paul Maurice resigned from the Winnipeg Jets. With that, three of the NHL’s five longest-tenured head coaches are Griffins alumni:
1. Jon Cooper – Tampa Bay – March 2013
2. Jeff Blashill – Detroit – June 2015 (Griffins head coach 2012-15; 2013 Calder Cup Champion; 2013-14 AHL Coach of the Year)
3. Mike Sullivan – Pittsburgh – Dec. 2015
4. Jared Bednar – Colorado – Aug. 2016 (Griffins defenseman 1998-99)
5. Bruce Cassidy – Boston – Feb. 2017 (Griffins head coach 2000-02; 2001-02 AHL Coach of the Year)
World Traveler: On Dec. 12, defenseman Donovan Sebrango was selected to the 25-man roster for Team Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship. The 19-year-old is representing his home country at the tournament that runs through Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. This marks the third time in the past four years a player has left the Griffins mid-season to compete in the World Junior Championship, after Filip Zadina represented the Czech Republic in 2019 and Joe Veleno (Canada) and Moritz Seider (Germany) competed at the event in 2020. Sebrango scored a goal in his World Junior debut on Dec. 26, as Team Canada defeated Czechia 6-3.
Huffin’ and Puffin’: So far this season, the Griffins are 1-8-1-1 (0.182) against the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves and second-place Manitoba Moose. However, Grand Rapids is 8-2-2-0 (0.750) against the rest of the AHL.
Timmy Turner: Veteran Turner Elson surpassed his goal count (4) from the 2020-21 season, as he totaled his fifth goal of the campaign on Nov. 19. The Edmonton, Alberta, native began the campaign with a goal during the season opener but then was held scoreless in the next four outings. The nine-year pro has cranked it up as of late with an active four-game goal streak (Dec. 6-22), which is a new career high and the team’s longest goal streak of the season. In addition, the left winger is enjoying a season-high five-game (4-2—6) point streak from Dec. 4-22. Elson’s nine goals are tied with Kyle Criscuolo for the most on the roster while his 16 points (9-7—16) are tied for fourth.
Fast Starts: On Dec. 4, the Griffins set a season high for goals in a period when they exploded for five tallies in the opening frame against Rockford. After rattling off three first-period goals against Cleveland on Dec. 6, Grand Rapids has now outscored its opponents 8-2 over the opening 20 minutes of its last five games. The Griffins are 8-4-1-0 (0.654) this season when scoring first and 7-2-0-0 (0.778) when leading after the opening frame. Almost half of Grand Rapids’ goals (27, 41.5%) have come during the first period.
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 18 points (9-9—18) in 16 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 eight-game point streak (7-8—15) from Nov. 20-Dec. 22, 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 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 18 points while his nine goals are tied for the team. Criscuolo made his NHL season debut with Detroit on Dec. 1 against Seattle, marking his first NHL game since March 5, 2018. On Dec. 15, Criscuolo was recalled by the Red Wings for the third time in just as many weeks and collected his first NHL point on an assist against New Jersey on Dec. 18.
Calvin’s University: Goaltender Calvin Pickard is off to a fast start, as he has allowed two goals or less in 10 of his 20 appearances this season. The 10-year pro currently is tied for 11th in the AHL with a 2.44 goals against average while his 0.927 save percentage places 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 20 of the 23 games this season, including 16 straight. Pickard made his 12th consecutive start on Dec. 22, which set a new career high for the goaltender and is only halfway to Joey MacDonald’s franchise record of 24, set during the 2004-05 season. 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 year 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.
Jonny on the Spot: Rookie Jonatan Berggren saw his season-high 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 eighth among league rookies with seven goals while his 17 points (7-10—17) are tied for 11th among first-year players. Berggren is on pace to notch 56 points this season, which would place third in franchise rookie-scoring history. His goal pace would put him at 23 tallies and would place him in third place behind Francis Pare (T2nd, 24) Justin Abdelkader (T2nd, 24) and Teemu Pulkkinen (1st, 31) for most goals scored by a rookie in a Griffins uniform.
Rarified Air: Brian Lashoff’s 530 games played for the Griffins ranks first among active AHL players who have spent their entire AHL career with the same club and seventh in league history among one-team players. Of the players ahead of him on that list, the most recent – and, coincidentally, the record-holder – last played during the 1970-71 season (Bill Needham of the Cleveland Barons, 981 games played). Lashoff overtook Pete Kapusta (Providence Reds 1946-55) for the No. 7 spot on Oct. 27 against Chicago and is now one game behind No. 6 Roger DeJordy (Hershey Bears 1962-70). Lashoff is still 125 games away from breaking the Griffins’ all-time games played record, held by Travis Richards with 655 games (1995-2006).
AHL Leaderboard Tracker:
Riley Barber—Four power play goals are tied for sixth
Jonatan Berggren—Seven goals are tied for eighth among league rookies, 17 points (7-10—17) are tied for 11th among first-year players
Taro Hirose—15 assists are tied for ninth, eight power play assists are tied for sixth
Ryan Murphy—Four goals are tied for ninth among blueliners, 14 points (4-10—14) are tied for 13th among defensemen
Wyatt Newpower—37 penalty minutes are third among rookies and tied for ninth among league defensemen
Calvin Pickard—2.44 goals against average is tied for 11th, 0.927 save percentage places fifth, 1179 minutes and 608 saves both lead the league
Dominik Shine—58 penalty minutes are tied for third
Luke Witkowski—45 penalty minutes are fourth among league blueliners
Milestones: Josh Dickinson appeared in his 150th game as a pro on Dec. 22 against Milwaukee. Other upcoming milestones include:
Riley Barber—One game from 350 as a pro
Turner Elson—Two assists from 100 in the AHL, one goal from 50 as a Griffin, three points from 200 in the AHL
Brian Lashoff—Two assists from 100 as a pro
Brett McKenzie—Three goals from 50 as a pro
Ryan Murphy—Two games from 500 as a pro
Wyatt Newpower—Three games from 50 as a pro
Luke Witkowski—Two points from 50 in the AHL
Photo by Trent Dieterle/Griffins