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Game Notes: Griffins at Admirals - Nov. 4, 2023

Nov 04, 2023
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (2-3-1-1) at Milwaukee Admirals (3-3-0-0)

Game Time: 7 p.m. at Panther Arena

Griffins Game #8 * Road Game #5 * AHL Game #132

Season Series: 0-0-0-0 Home Series: 0-0-0-0 Road Series: 0-0-0-0
All-Time Series:
109-80-7-8-8 All-Time Home Series: 58-38-2-3-3 All-Time Road Series: 51-42-5-5-5

Griffins at Admirals
First of eight meetings overall, first of four at Panther Arena…Grand Rapids is 11-16-1-0 (.411) against Milwaukee since the 2019-20 campaign...Dating back to the 2019-20 season, the Griffins are 6-8-0-0 (.429) against the Admirals in Milwaukee with a minus-14 scoring margin (43-29)...Milwaukee’s penalty kill ranks third at 92.6% while its power play places 31st at 11.1%...Admirals’ goaltender Yaroslav Askarov ranks second in the AHL with a 1.50 GAA and tied for ninth with a .931 save percentage. In five games played against the Griffins last season, Askarov posted a 3-2-0 record with a 1.62 GAA and a .944 save percentage...The Griffins enter the contest on a five-game losing skid (0-3-1-1) after beginning the season 2-0...Grand Rapids has faced Milwaukee more than any other opponent – 213th meeting tonight – and the Griffins’ 109 victories against the Admirals are the most against any foe…Former Griffin Jasper Weatherby (2022-23) is featured on Milwaukee’s roster.

Last Time Out
The Griffins fell to the Cleveland Monsters 4-3 in a shootout at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday. Tim Gettinger scored two goals in the contest, one of which came with less than a second remaining in regulation to propel the Griffins to both overtime and their first road point of the season. With 25 saves in the game, Sebastian Cossa improved to a .923 save percentage and a 2.50 goals against average over four games. In his return from Detroit, Jonatan Berggren recorded his 50th AHL assist, which extended his point streak to three games (0-4—4).

Roster Shake Up
- Oct. 14—F Zach Aston-Reese recalled by Detroit
- Oct. 15—F Austin Czarnik recalled by Detroit; F Zach Aston-Reese reassigned by Detroit
- Oct. 20—F Jonatan Berggren recalled by Detroit
- Oct. 29—F Jonatan Berggren reassigned by Detroit
- Oct. 31—F Carter Mazur assigned by Detroit

This Date in Griffins History
2005: A 5-2 win over Syracuse improves the Griffins’ record to 7-2-0-1, marking their best start in five seasons as AHL members.

A Tale of Two Cities
Through seven games this season, the Griffins have looked vastly different when playing in Grand Rapids compared to road cities. At home, the Griffins are on an active three-game point streak with a 2-0-1-0 record and have outscored their opponents 10-7. However, on the road, Grand Rapids is 0-3-0-1 and has been outscored 15-7. On Wednesday, Grand Rapids registered its first point on the road this season with a shootout defeat at Cleveland. The Griffins’ power play has also faltered on the road, showing a 1-for-5 mark compared to the 3-for-10 ledger at home. The road penalty kill has been the lone bright spot for Grand Rapids, as it is 11 for 14.

Shoot Your Shot
After allowing an average of 39.75 shots in their first four games, the Griffins allowed an average of just 27.3 shots in their last three outings. However, the Griffins still rank 31st in the league with an average of 34.4 shots allowed per game. Grand Rapids has also struggled to put pucks on net, as it places 28th out of 32 teams at 26.2 shots per game. The first period has been the killer, as the Griffins have been outshot 92-56 in the opening frame. In the second period, Grand Rapids has been outshot 79-52 but it has outshoot its opponent in the third period by a slim 69-67 margin.

Thou Shalt Not Pass
Goaltenders Sebastian Cossa (.923) and Michael Hutchinson (.917) have had strong starts to the campaign, as both show a save percentage well above .900. Hutchinson has also registered a 3.04 GAA, while Cossa possesses a 2.50 GAA. Cossa ranks fifth among rookie netminders in GAA and third in save percentage. Combined, the goaltenders have a 2.73 GAA and a 0.920 save percentage.

The Climb
Dominik Shine
became just the third player in franchise history to reach eight seasons of service, while Tyler Spezia became the eighth player to compete in his sixth campaign. Shine is tied with Michel Picard for fourth with 364 career games played for the Griffins and stands 10th with 408 penalty minutes. Taro Hirose also continues to climb the Griffins’ all-time leaderboard, as he is currently ranked 10th in points (172) and sixth in assists (128).

New Coach, Who Dis
Dan Watson
was named the 12th head coach in franchise history this past offseason after serving six seasons as head coach of the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. A season ago, Watson guided Toledo to a 45-19-5-3 (.681) record before going 9-4 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs to reach the Western Conference Finals. The 44-year-old has been with the Red Wings organization for the past 14 seasons, holding multiple roles with the Walleye since the team’s inception. Watson has never missed the playoffs as head coach, reaching the Kelly Cup Finals twice (2019, 2022) and leading Toledo to three division titles (2016-17, 2017-18, 2021-22), three 100-point seasons (2016-17, 2017-18, 2021-22), two regular-season championships (2016-17, 2021-22), and four Western Conference Finals berths (2017, 2019, 2022, 2023). In 2016-17, he garnered the John Brophy Award as the ECHL’s Coach of the Year in his first year as head coach, when the Walleye won the Central Division behind a franchise-record 51 wins (51-17-2-2, .736) and reached the Western Conference Finals. As a head coach, the Glencoe, Ontario, native possesses a 272-112-22-13 (.691) ledger during the regular season and a 51-34 (.600) mark over only five playoff campaigns. Watson leaves Toledo as the franchise’s winningest head coach and the fastest coach in ECHL history to reach 100 wins.

New Faces in the Crowd
In addition to new head coach Dan Watson, assistant coaches Brian Lashoff and Steph Julien, and goaltending development coach Roope Koistinen (ROH-peh KOI-stih-NIHN) each begin his first year on the staff. Lashoff starts his first season as a coach after spending all or part of 14 seasons on the Griffins’ blue line, including the last three as the team’s captain. Lashoff ranks second on the Griffins’ all-time games played list with 629, behind only Travis Richards’ 655 and his games played rank third in league history among one-team players. Julien was the head coach of the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) for the past eight seasons. In 2022-23, Julien was named the QMJHL Coach of the Year as well as the QMJHL General Manager of the Year. Koistinen comes to North America for the first time after being with Karpat’s youth programs in Finland since the 2014-15 campaign. The Griffins’ support staff also features many new faces. Austin Frank was named the head athletic trainer, Katie Berglund as the assistant athletic trainer, Zack Harvey as the team’s physical therapist, and Kyle Hornkohl as the assistant equipment manager.

On Wednesday, Jonatan Berggren recorded his 50th assist in the AHL and Dominik Shine tied Michel Picard for fourth on the Griffins’ all-time games played list with 364. Oct. 28, Taro Hirose and Tyler Spezia competed in their 200th game as a Griffin and Brogan Rafferty skated in his 200th AHL game.
Zach Aston-Reese—Four points from 50 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—Two goals from 50 as a pro
Jared McIsaac—Two points from 50 as a pro and as a Griffin
Dominik Shine—One game from tying Mitch Callahan (365) for third on the Griffins’ all-time games played list
Tyler Spezia—One goal from 50 as a pro
Eemil Viro—One game from 200 as a pro
William Wallinder—Two assists from 50 as a pro

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins