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Game Notes: Griffins at Admirals - March 30, 2024

Mar 30, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (32-19-7-4) at Milwaukee Admirals (41-20-1-0)

Game Time: 7 p.m. at Panther Arena

March 30, 2024  ·  3 Minutes

Game Day Preview - March 30 @ Milwaukee Admirals

Griffins Game #63 * Road Game #31 * AHL Game #1,014

Season Series: 3-3-0-0 Home Series: 2-1-0-0 Road Series: 1-2-0-0
All-Time Series:
112-83-7-8-8 All-Time Home Series: 60-39-2-3-3 All-Time Road Series: 52-44-5-5-5

Griffins at Admirals
Seventh of eight meetings overall, fourth of four at Panther Arena…On Feb. 25, the Griffins halted Milwaukee’s historic 19-game winning streak, which was the second-longest run in AHL history...Grand Rapids is 14-19-1-0 (.426) against Milwaukee since the 2019-20 campaign...Dating back to the 2019-20 season, the Griffins are 7-10-0-0 (.412) against the Admirals in Milwaukee with a minus-17 scoring margin (52-35)...The Admirals are 4-6-0-0 in their last 10 games and have won three out of four contests...The Griffins are 5-3-1-1 in their last 10 games and have won three out of their last four contests...Milwaukee is 23-9-0-0 at home this season, while Grand Rapids is 12-13-3-2 on the road...Milwaukee’s penalty kill places 21st at 80.9% while its power play is tied for 19th at 18.1%...The Griffins’ power play ranks 26th at 16.9% and their penalty kill comes in at 81.6% (T15th)...Admirals’ goaltender Yaroslav Askarov ranks fourth in the AHL with a 2.27 GAA and tied for ninth with a .915 save percentage...Grand Rapids has faced Milwaukee more than any other opponent – 219th meeting tonight – and the Griffins’ 112 victories against the Admirals are the most against any foe…Matt Luff logged 31 points (14-17—31) in 30 games with Milwaukee during the 2021-22 season.

Last Time Out

Four-straight tallies by the Chicago Wolves extinguished an early two-goal outburst by the Griffins, as they fell 4-2 at Allstate Arena on Friday. Matt Luff stretched his point streak (4-5--9) to seven contests with a goal, which gave the veteran 13 points (6-7—13) in his last 12 contests. Marco Kasper's assist pushed his point streak (1-3--4) to three outings while it also marked his 50th helper as a pro. Riley Sawchuk picked up his first tally of the season for the Griffins and Taro Hirose skated in his 300th pro game.

This Date in Griffins History
2014: In a 3-1 win at Milwaukee, Teemu Pulkkinen scores twice to make him the Griffins’ first 30-goal scorer since Jeremy Williams (32) in 2009-10.

Roster Shakeup
- March 11—F Tim Gettinger re-signed to a one-year contract extension by Detroit
- March 14—F Austin Czarnik recalled by Detroit; F Trenton Bliss recalled from Toledo (ECHL) by Grand Rapids
- March 15—D Jared McIsaac reassigned from HC Ambri-Piotta (Swiss) to Providence (AHL) by Detroit; F Curtis Hall reassigned from Providence to Grand Rapids by Boston
- March 17—F Trenton Bliss reassigned to Toledo (ECHL) by Grand Rapids
- March 19—D Simon Edvinsson recalled by Detroit; G Carter Gylander signed to an ATO by Grand Rapids
- March 25—F Jonatan Berggren reassigned by Detroit
- March 26—F Emmitt Finnie signed to an ATO by Grand Rapids
- March 28—F Riley Sawchuk recalled from Toledo (ECHL) by Grand Rapids
- March 29—F Zach Aston-Reese recalled by Detroit

Historic Bout

On Feb. 25, the Griffins and Milwaukee Admirals made AHL history, as it was the first meeting between two teams riding point streaks of 14 games or more. Grand Rapids entered the night with points in 14 straight games and Milwaukee was on a 19-game winning streak, which was the second-longest run in AHL history. The Griffins came away victorious in a 4-2 win to extend their point streak to 15 outings (11-0-2-2), snapping the Admirals’ historic run. Sebastian Cossa finished with 37 saves and Marco Kasper was credited with the game-winner.

The Promised Land
On Wednesday, the Griffins clinched their 18th playoff berth in 28 seasons with a 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Monsters at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins return to the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2019, ending a drought that included two postseasons (2020 and 2021) that were canceled due to COVID-19. This marks the team’s earliest clinching date since 2017, when the AHL’s eventual Calder Cup champions secured their spot on March 26. Clinching a spot with 25 days remaining in the regular season also marked the earliest the Griffins have clinched relative to the date of their finale since 2006, when the AHL’s regular-season champions locked up their berth with 34 days to play. Exactly three months prior to clinching, the sixth-place Griffins were tied for the fourth-lowest points percentage in the AHL, bringing a 9-13-3-1 record (.423) into their first game after the Christmas break. They’ve since posted a 23-6-4-3 mark (.736), solidifying their hold on second place in the Central Division and becoming the fourth team to secure a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Back to Our Old Self
After enduring a season-high five-game winless skid from March 2-12 (0-2-2-1), the Griffins have returned to form with wins in five of their last seven contests. The Griffins’ active 17-game home point streak (12-0-3-2) is a new franchise record, beating out the previous mark of 16 games that was established from Jan. 9-Feb. 27, 2004 and is also longest run in the AHL this season. The Griffins saw their 18-game point streak (13-0-3-2 from Jan. 13-March 2) come to an end on March 4 in Cleveland, which was one game shy of tying the franchise record of 19 contests (Feb. 4-March 20, 2015 15-0-3-1) and is the second-longest run in the AHL this season. Grand Rapids’ nine-game road point streak (8-0-0-1) from Dec. 27-Feb. 17 was their longest since an 11-game run (9-0-1-1) from Jan. 29-March 12, 2015 and is tied for the second longest in the AHL this season. The Griffins have secured at least a point in 32 of their last 39 contests (24-7-5-3). The Griffins are 23-6-4-3 (.736) since Christmas and have had a trio of winning streaks of five or more games in the same season for the first time since 2013-14. Grand Rapids has points in 23 of its last 27 games (18-4-3-2) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in 13 of its past 18 road appearances (10-5-2-1). The Griffins have been solid at home with a 20-6-4-2 mark, outscoring their opponents 101-73. Grand Rapids has battled on the road this season, earning points in 12 of its last 16 games to move to 12-13-3-2 away from home.

Records are Meant to be Broken
The Griffins have rewritten the record book in multiple categories this season. Most recently on Wednesday, Grand Rapids set a new franchise record with a point in its 17th straight home game, breaking a 16-game record that was established more than 20 years ago, from Jan. 9-Feb. 27, 2004. The home point run is the second franchise-record streak that the Griffins have tied in the last two months, piggybacking their seven-game road winning streak from Dec. 27, 2023-Feb. 2, 2024. The Griffins also rattled off an 18-game point streak from Jan. 13-March 2 (13-0-3-2), which was one game shy of tying the franchise record of 19 contests (Feb. 4-March 20, 2015 15-0-3-1). Now 11-0-5 since Jan. 19, Sebastian Cossa holds the franchise record for the longest point streak by a goaltender at 16 outings, beating Marc Lamothe’s previous record of 15 games (9-0-4-2 (W-L-T-OTL)) set from Oct. 19-Nov. 30, 2002. Finally, the Griffins have had a trio of winning streaks of five or more games in the same season for the first time since 2013-14.

Black Magic
As the regular season inches closer to its completion, the Griffins have clinched a playoff berth and a winning record, and are in second place in the Central Division with a 32-19-7-4 record and 75 points with just 10 games remaining. They now have a magic number of 29 to clinch the division, trailing Milwaukee’s 13.

TeamPointsPCTGames LeftHome RoadOpp. Points %GR Magic # OverMagic # Over GR
1x - MIL83.6691046.5402913
2x - GR75.6051046.517----
3RFD69.5661156.5641727
4TEX64.508972.534832
5MB61.484945.504535
6IA54.429954.580----
7CHI53.4271055.558----

x - Clinched Playoffs

Sea Bass Fishing
Sebastian Cossa
is on a franchise-record 16-game point streak from Jan. 19-March 27 (11-0-5), beating Marc Lamothe’s previous record of 15-games (9-0-4-2 (W-L-T-OTL)) set from Oct. 19-Nov. 30, 2002. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 13-1-5 ledger with a 2.08 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Prior to the holiday break, Cossa possessed a 4-6-3 record with a 3.18 goals against average and a .897 save percentage. The former 15th overall pick by the Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has allowed more than two goals just six times in his past 19 games. Through 32 contests, Cossa is 17-7-8 with one shutout to go along with a 2.53 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. Cossa ranks fifth among rookie goaltenders in both goals against average and save percentage. Cossa named the Howies Hockey Tape/AHL Player of the Week on Feb. 26 when he posted a 2-0-0 record with one shutout to go along with a 1.00 GAA and a .970 save percentage from Feb. 21-25. On Feb. 21, the 21-year-old collected his first AHL shutout with 28 saves in a 1-0 victory over the Texas Stars, lifting Grand Rapids past Texas into second place in the Central Division and becoming just the third Griffins rookie to record a shutout over the last nine seasons. Cossa went on to stop 37 shots on Feb. 25, including 14 in the third period, to help the Griffins snap Milwaukee’s 19-game winning streak and extend Grand Rapids’ point streak to 15 games (11-0-2-2).

Kasper the Friendly Ghost
Last weekend, rookie Marco Kasper enjoyed three points (1-2—3) in two games and now has six points (2-4—6) in his last six outings. The 2022 eighth overall pick by the Red Wings also has 10 points (5-5—10) in his last 14 games and ranks fourth on the roster with 32 points (12-20—32) in 61 contests. The 19-year-old was named the Howies Hockey Tape/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending on Jan. 21 when he totaled five points (3-2—5) in two games at Manitoba. The Klagenfurt, Austria, native made his NHL debut with the Red Wings as an 18-year-old on April 2, 2023 at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tower of Terror
Elmer Soderblom
, standing at 6-foot-8, enjoyed a three-game point streak (2-1—3) from March 16-20. The tallest player to ever compete for the Griffins also has five points (4-1—5) in his last eight outings and seven points (5-2—7) in his last 13 appearances. In 57 games this season, the Gothenburg, Sweden, native has 27 points (12-15—27), eight penalty minutes and a plus-two rating. Last campaign, the 22-year-old posted eight points (5-3—8) in 20 games with the Griffins on top of producing eight points (5-3—8) in 21 games with the Detroit Red Wings. Soderblom was selected with the 159th overall pick by Detroit in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

Johnny Bravo
Jonatan Berggren
, reassigned to Grand Rapids by Detroit on Monday, is on an active seven-game point streak (4-6—10) from Feb. 24-March 27 and has 24 points (12-12—24) in his last 20 games from Jan. 13-March 27. Berggren also has 30 points (13-17—30) in his last 25 outings and 33 points (15-18—33) in his last 28 contests from Dec. 15- March 27. The 23-year-old leads the roster in points (20-28—48), assists (28) and goals (20) through 44 appearances 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 119 points (45-74—119) in 121 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).

It’s Taco Time
Taro Hirose
enjoyed a three-game assist streak from March 12-16 (0-4—4), which was one game shy of tying his season-high assist mark set from Nov. 17-27 (0-5—5). Hirose, who is in his fifth season as a Griffin, has nine points (2-7—9) in his last 11 outings. The Calgary, Alberta, native has logged a total of 33 points (8-25—33) in 46 appearances this season, after having missed 12 straight games from Dec. 29-Jan. 27 due to rehabbing an injury. On Wednesday, the 27-year-old passed Tomas Tatar for sixth place on the Griffins’ all-time points list with 198 and his 149 assists rank third in franchise history.

Age is Wisdom
Veteran forwards Zach Aston-Reese, Joel L’Esperance and Dominik Shine have found a groove as of late. Aston-Reese is on a three-game goal streak from March 20-27 and now has 10 points (6-4—10) in his last 14 games. L’Esperance tallied an assist in both games last weekend and has eight points (3-5—8) in his last 14 appearances. Finally, Shine enjoyed a season-high six-game point streak (2-6—8) from March 15-27 and has nine points (3-6—9) in his last 11 outings. Shine has set a new career high with 33 points, while also setting a new career best with 23 assists. Combined, the trio has amassed 422 points (212-210—422) in 837 AHL games over 18 campaigns.

Matty Ice
On Feb. 21, Matt Luff made his season debut after rehabbing an injury suffered in training camp that kept him sidelined for the first 45 games of the season. Luff is on an active seven-game point streak from March 15-29 (4-5—9), and now has 13 points (6-7—13) in his last 12 contests. Last season, the 26-year-old posted 25 points (8-17—25) and six penalty minutes in 28 games with the Griffins on top of producing four points (2-2—4) in 19 outings with the Detroit Red Wings. The Windsor, Ontario, native has 158 points (63-95—158) in 214 career AHL outings from 2016-24.

Clutch Hutch
Veteran goaltender Michael Hutchinson has been solid for the Griffins this year, posting a 14-12-3 mark with two shutouts in 30 games to go along with a 2.78 goals against average and an .896 save percentage. The 33-year-old enjoyed a seven-game point streak from Jan. 13-March 1 (5-0-2). Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Hutchinson has accumulated a 9-5-2 record with one shutout, an .897 save percentage and a 2.63 goals against average. The Barrie, Ontario, native has an all-time AHL record of 120-83-23 with a 2.61 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Hutchinson has also appeared in 154 NHL contests, showing a 2.94 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.

Thou Shall Not Pass
The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.50 goals per game from Dec. 27-March 29. 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 176 goals through 62 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and eighth in the AHL. Grand Rapids is also ninth on the circuit with 2.84 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.66, 5th). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.53) and Michael Hutchinson (2.78) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Wyatt Newpower (+9), Albert Johansson (+8), Antti Tuomisto (+7), Simon Edvinsson (+5), Eemil Viro (+5), Radim Simek (+4), Josiah Didier (+3), Brogan Rafferty (+2) and William Wallinder (+2) all have a positive plus-minus rating.

No Need for Extra Bodies
Last season, the Griffins used a franchise-record 49 players, which included a franchise-record eight goaltenders. The 49 players last campaign beat out the previous record of 48 set during the 2021-22 season. However, it has been much different this season, as the Griffins have not had a single skater compete on a professional tryout. Grand Rapids has used just four goaltenders this season, with two of them suiting up for just one game (John Lethemon & Ville Husso). The team has also used just 30 skaters throughout the season, a drastic change from the 49 and 48 players used in the past two seasons, respectively.

Like Father, Like Son
Recently acquired center Curtis Hall is the son of former Griffins center Mike Hall, who played seven games for Grand Rapids during the 2000-01 campaign, scoring one goal. They are the third father-son duo to have played for the Griffins, joining Chris (2008-09) and Jake (2018-19) Chelios, and Derek (1999-01; 2002-04) and D.J. (2021-22) King. Family ties have been a common theme throughout the franchise’s history, as five sets of brothers have suited up for the Griffins: Sheldon (2001-03) and Wade (2001-02) Brookbank; Valtteri (2005-07) and Ilari (2010-11) Filppula; Kevin (1999-00; 03-04), Kelly (1999-00) and Kip (2000-02; 04-05; 06-07) Miller, along with cousin Drew (2016-17); Todd (1996-98; 99-00; 01-02) and Jeff (1996-97; 03-04; 05-06) Nelson; and Givani (2016-17; 18-21; 22-23) and Gemel (2021-22) Smith.

Crunch Time
The Griffins have excelled during the third period of games this season, as they have outscored their opponents 76-51 in the final frame and outshot their opponents 578-547. Grand Rapids has six wins when trailing after the second period, which is tied for fourth in the AHL. The Griffins also have a 35-24 shot advantage in overtime this campaign. However, Grand Rapids is just 5-11 in games decided past regulation (3-7 in OT, 2-4 in SO). The Griffins’ 19 regulation losses this season are tied for the fourth fewest in the AHL, while their seven overtime defeats and four shootout losses are both tied for the fifth most.

Oh, It’s You Again
The Griffins are in second place in the Central Division with a 32-19-7-4 record and 75 points, and have clinched a playoff berth for the 18th time in 28 seasons. All of Grand Rapids’ remaining 10 games will be against the Central Division. The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 25-12-3-2 (.655) with a plus-19 scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Iowa (6-0-0-0). Rockford will be the Griffins’ most frequent opponent down the stretch, as there are still four meetings remaining against the franchise.

Pucks on Net
The Griffins have done well when outshooting their opponents this season with a 17-3-4-4 (.750) record compared to a 14-15-3-0 (.484) mark when they are being outshot. Grand Rapids is 19-5-3-4 (.726) when producing at least 30 shots and 23-10-5-2 (.663) when it keeps its opponents under 29 shots. The Griffins rank 19th in the AHL with 29.3 shots per game, while they concede the seventh fewest in the league at 28.0. The Griffins are averaging 27.7 shots per game in their last 11 outings, while giving up an average of 26.2.

Under Three is Key
Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 23-1-2-0 (.923). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 9-18-5-4 (.375). Grand Rapids has reached the four-goal mark in eight of its last 16 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 8-16-7-3 (.382) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 24-3-0-1 mark (.875) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 16 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals eight times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.53 GAA places fifth among rookie netminders, .912 save percentage ranks fifth among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—Eight goals are tied for 16th among defensemen, three game-winners are tied for fourth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—Six power-play goals are tied for seventh among rookies, 15 goals are tied for 14th among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Five goals are tied for eighth among rookie defensemen, one power-play goal is tied for ninth among rookie defensemen, two game-winners are tied for second among rookie defensemen, plus-seven rating is tied for 10th among rookie defensemen
William Wallinder—Three goals are tied for 16th among rookie defensemen

Milestones
On Friday, Taro Hirose skated in his 300th pro game and Marco Kasper registered his 50th pro assist. On Wednesday, Taro Hirose passed Tomas Tatar (196) for sixth place on the Griffins’ all-time points list with his 197th and 198th points as a Griffin.
Jonatan Berggren—One game from 300 as a pro
Curtis Hall—One game from 150 as a pro
Taro Hirose—One goal from 50 as a Griffin, one assist from 150 as a Griffin, two points from 200 as a Griffin
Brogan Rafferty—One game from 250 in the AHL

Photo by Milwaukee Admirals