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Game Notes: Griffins vs. Admirals - Jan. 5, 2022

Grand Rapids Griffins (11-10-3-1) vs. Milwaukee Admirals (12-15-2-0)

Game Time: 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena

Game Day Preview - January 5 vs. Milwaukee Admirals

Griffins Game #26 * Home Game #13 * AHL Game #456

Season Series: 4-1-1-0 Home Series: 2-0-1-0 Road Series: 2-1-0-0
All-Time Series: 106-69-7-8-8 All-Time Home Series: 56-33-2-3-3 All-Time Road Series: 50-36-5-5-5

Admirals at Griffins
Seventh of 12 meetings overall, fourth of six at Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids is 21-10-2-1 in the last five seasons against Milwaukee...The Griffins and Admirals game on Oct. 16 was the first since the 2019-20 season due to Milwaukee opting out of the 2020-21 campaign...Grand Rapids is 9-7-1-0 in the last 17 overall against the Admirals…Dating back to the 2015-16 season, the Griffins are 15-9-2-1 against Milwaukee at Van Andel Arena with a +14 scoring margin (76-62)…The Admirals come into the contest with a 6-3-1-0 record in their past 10 outings and possess a 7-10-0-0 ledger on the road this year...The Griffins are 5-5-2-0 on home ice this season...Three of the six match ups this season have been decided by three or more goals, with an average of seven goals scored in each contest...Grand Rapids has faced Milwaukee more than any other opponent in the regular season – 199th meeting tonight – and the Griffins’ 106 victories against the Admirals are the most against any foe…Milwaukee ranks fifth in the league with a power play conversion rate of 21.6% while the Griffins are tied for 28th at 14.3%. The Admirals’ penalty kill places 14th in the AHL at 81.9%, and Grand Rapids ranks 29th at 75.8%...Riley Barber (2-5—7), Jonatan Berggren (2-5—7), Kyle Criscuolo (2-5—7) and Taro Hirose (3-4—7) all lead the Griffins against Milwaukee...Head coach Ben Simon skated in 18 games with the Admirals during the 2003-04 campaign and finished with four points (1-3—4).

Last Time Out
A four-goal second period highlighted by Donovan Sebrango’s first AHL tally and Taro Hirose’s two-goal frame helped propel the Griffins past Milwaukee 4-2 on New Year’s Day at Panther Arena. The Griffins were undermanned for the second consecutive contest, as the team suited up with just 16 skaters due to COVID-19 protocols and injuries. Hirose led all players with a career-tying three-point (2-1—3) outing while Riley Barber (0-2—2) and Kyle Criscuolo (0-2—2) joined the forward with multiple scores. Grand Rapids now has points in the past five contests against Milwaukee (4-0-1-0). Turner Elson’s team-high four-game goal streak from Dec. 6-22 came to an end. Grand Rapids is now 10-2-2-0 (0.786) against AHL teams not named Chicago or Manitoba. Ryan Murphy appeared in his 500th game as a pro.

Roster Shake Up
· Jan. 5, 2022—Griffins signed center Erik Bradford to a PTO from the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL)

Breeding Contempt
Tonight’s game against Milwaukee will mark the fourth time in Griffins history that they have played four consecutive regular season games against the same opponent. The schedule was not drawn out this way, as Grand Rapids had games against Cleveland (Dec. 27) and Chicago (Jan. 2) postponed. The most recent occurrence of four straight games against the same franchise came from March 3-16, 2021 when the Griffins matched up against Rockford for two weeks in a row. The Manitoba Moose were the foe on two prior occasions, in November 2006 and November 1997.

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 10-2-2-0 (0.786) against the rest of the AHL.

This Date in Griffins History:
2003: In a 4-1 win at Cincinnati, Michel Picard becomes just the 36th player in AHL history to record 250 goals.

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 represented his home country at the tournament that was cut short after two games. This marked 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. The defenseman totaled one goal and a plus-two rating in two outings with Canada. In his second game back with the Griffins, Sebrango registered his first goal in the AHL on Jan. 1 at Milwaukee.

Murphy’s Law
Reigning AHL defenseman of the year Ryan Murphy has started to find a rhythm offensively for the Griffins. The nine-year pro ranks sixth on the roster and leads all Grand Rapids’ blueliners with 15 points (5-10—15) in 25 outings. Murphy has climbed up the defensemen leaderboard in the AHL, as his point total is tied for 13th while five goals are tied for fifth. The Aurora, Ontario, native signed a one-year contract with Detroit on July 28, 2021 and is the midst of his inaugural season with the Griffins.

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 10-3 over the opening 20 minutes of its last seven games. The Griffins are 9-4-1-0 (0.714) this season when scoring first and 8-2-0-0 (0.800) when leading after the opening frame. Almost half of Grand Rapids’ goals (29, 39.2%) have come during the first period.

After being sidelined in the first four games due to an injury, center Kyle Criscuolo has made up for his lost time with 20 points (9-11—20) in 17 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 nine-game point streak (7-10—17) from Nov. 20-Jan. 1, which is a new career high for the forward. His active point streak ties for the 17th-longest in Griffins history. Most recently, Riley Barber had a nine-game point streak from Feb. 5-March 11, 2021 that was the longest to ever start a Griffins season or career. If Criscuolo gets a point tonight to extend his streak to 10 games, it would tie for the ninth-longest scoring run in Grand Rapids history and mark the longest since Matt Puempel’s 11-game tear from Oct. 23-Nov. 15, 2019.

High-Flying Hirose
After leading the Griffins in assists a year ago with 23, Taro Hirose has picked off right where he left off as he has bagged 16 helpers in the opening 24 games, which is a team high and tied for ninth in the league. Eight assists have come on the power play, which is tied for seventh in the AHL. Hirose logged his second three-point night (2-1—3) of the season on Jan. 1 against Milwaukee, which tied a career high for the forward. In that same game, he also tied a career-best two goals. Hirose’s 22 points (6-16—22) this season pace the Griffins and are tied for 19th in the league. He was recalled by Detroit on Dec. 15 and made his NHL season debut on Dec. 18 against the Devils.

Return of Riley
On Dec. 18, Riley Barber became the Griffins’ 188th alumnus to play in the NHL when he made his season debut with Detroit against New Jersey. Although it was a slow start to this year, Barber rattled off a six-game point streak (4-5—9) from Oct. 30-Nov. 13 and is currently in the midst of a five-game stretch (3-3—6) from Dec. 6-Jan. 1. His 19 points (8-11—19) this season are tied for third on the roster while his five power play goals are tied for fourth in the AHL. Barber led the Griffins in goals (20), points (34) and points per game (1.06) a season ago. His scoring pace equaled a 48-goal, 81-point clip in a regular 76-game AHL season. Barber also ranked second in the league for goals, just one shy of Cooper Marody (who played seven more games), and was named a Central Division AHL All-Star. Six game-winning goals tied a career best while his four-game goal streak from Feb. 26 through March 11 also matched a career high. The forward added seven multi-point outings out of 32, including a career-high four points (2-2—4) on May 7 against Chicago. Barber posted a nine-game point streak (8-5—13) from Feb. 5-March 11 that was the longest ever to start a player’s Griffins career as well as the longest from the start of a Griffins season.

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 ninth among league rookies with seven goals while his 19 points (7-12—19) are tied for eighth among first-year players. Berggren is on pace to notch 58 points this season, which would be tied for second in franchise rookie-scoring history with Gustav Nyquist (22-36—58).

Timmy Turner
Veteran Turner Elson surpassed his goal count (4) from the 2020-21 season when 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 a four-game goal streak (Dec. 6-22), which set a new career high and the team’s longest goal streak of the season. In addition, the left winger enjoyed 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) place fifth.

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).

Calvin’s University
Goaltender Calvin Pickard is off to a fast start, as he has allowed two goals or less in 11 of his 21 appearances this season. The 10-year-pro currently ranks 12th in the AHL with a 2.42 goals against average while his 0.928 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 21 of the 25 games this season, including 16 straight from Nov. 5-Dec. 22. 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.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Riley Barber—Five power play goals are tied for fourth
Jonatan Berggren
—Seven goals are tied for ninth among league rookies, 19 points (7-12—19) are tied for eighth among first-year players
Taro Hirose
—16 assists are tied for ninth, eight power play assists are tied for seventh
Ryan Murphy
—Five goals are tied for fifth among blueliners, 15 points (5-10—15) are tied for 13th among defensemen
Wyatt Newpower
—37 penalty minutes are third among rookies and tied for ninth among league defensemen
Calvin Pickard
—2.42 goals against average ranks 12th, 0.928 save percentage places fifth, 1239 minutes and 641 saves both lead the league
Dominik Shine
—58 penalty minutes are tied for fourth
Luke Witkowski
—47 penalty minutes are tied for third among league blueliners

Riley Barber appeared in his 350th game as a pro on Dec. 31 against Milwaukee and Ryan Murphy skated in his 500th pro game on Jan. 1. Donovan Sebrango scored his first AHL goal on Jan. 1. Other upcoming milestones include:
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—Five goals from 50 as a pro
Wyatt Newpower—Three games from 50 as a pro
Dan Renouf—Three games from 300 in the AHL
Luke Witkowski—One point from 50 in the AHL

Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins

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