Grand Rapids Griffins (6-5-2-1) at Milwaukee Admirals (4-9-1-0)
Game Time: 8 p.m. at Panther Arena
Griffins Game #15 * Road Game #8 * AHL Game #225
Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Home Series: 1-0-0-0 Road Series: 0-1-0-0
All-Time Series: 103-69-7-7-8 All-Time Home Series: 55-33-2-2-3 All-Time Road Series: 48-36-5-5-5
Griffins at Admirals
Third of 12 meetings overall, second of six at Panther Arena…Grand Rapids is 18-10-1-1 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 6-7-0-0 in the last 13 overall against the Admirals…Grand Rapids has had a winning record at Milwaukee in all of the past four seasons...Dating back to the 2015-16 season, the Griffins are 16-8-0-0 against Milwaukee at Panther Arena with a +10 scoring margin (72-62)…The Admirals and Griffins have competed in eight consecutive games at Panther Arena that have been decided in 60 minutes...Grand Rapids has faced Milwaukee more than any other opponent in the regular season – 195th meeting tonight – and the Griffins’ 103 victories against the Admirals are the most against any foe…Milwaukee ranks in 10th in the league with a power play conversion rate of 21% while the Griffins place 24th at 16.3%. The penalty kill for each franchise ranks in the bottom half of the AHL (Milwaukee 77.9%, 23rd) (Grand Rapids 74.1%, 30th)...Chase Pearson (2-1—3), Riley Barber (1-2—3) and Taro Hirose (0-3—3) all have three points 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 Week’s Results
The Griffins saw all three of their games last week head into overtime, earning four of the possible six points. During the 20th Annual School Day Game presented by the Army National Guard on Wednesday, Grand Rapids dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Chicago Wolves. Calvin Pickard recorded a season-high 46 saves, one shy of tying a career best. A series of firsts saw the Griffins earn their only tally of the game when Brett McKenzie bagged his first AHL goal during his Grand Rapids debut while Wyatt Newpower and Jon Martin each recorded their first assist as a Griffin. On Friday, Grand Rapids notched its first win at Texas since March 23, 2019 in overtime fashion. Dominik Shine and Brian Lashoff each recorded their first goals of the season. Taro Hirose and Tyler Spezia also registered tallies while Turner Elson’s fifth goal of the year gave Grand Rapids the overtime win. Martin bagged his 50th assist as a pro and Pickard received his fifth win in his last six starts. On Saturday, the Griffins saw their three-game road win streak come to an end against Texas. Jonatan Berggren totaled two goals, marking his first two-goal night in the AHL. Kyle Criscuolo also earned his first two-point (1-1—2) game of the season. Martin registered yet another assist and pushed his point streak (0-3—3) to three games. Texas’ Ben Gleason scored 27 seconds into overtime to give the Stars a 4-3 win. Grand Rapids totaled a season-high 34 shots, including a period-best 17 attempts in the first frame.
Roster Shake Up
On Wednesday, the Detroit Red Wings recalled defenseman Dan Renouf from the Griffins. In addition, Grand Rapids signed blueliner Blake Hillman to a professional tryout. Renouf has appeared in 11 games this season for the Griffins, totaling two assists and 15 penalty minutes. The Pickering, Ontario, native played in 18 NHL games a season ago with Colorado, logging three helpers and 16 penalty minutes. Hillman joins Grand Rapids from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. The defenseman has registered 13 points (2-11—13) in 11 games with Toledo this season, which ranks third in the ECHL among blueliners. His 11 assists also pace the league’s defensemen while his plus-10 rating is tied for third. During the 2019-20 season, Hillman suited up in five contests with the Griffins and totaled one assist and four penalty minutes.
This Date in Griffins History
2018: With 2:24 remaining in overtime, Filip Hronek slots the puck past Oscar Dansk to give the Griffins a 4-3 win at Chicago.
After a 2-4-0-1 start to the season, the Griffins have posted a 4-1-2-0 record in the past seven games. In addition, Grand Rapids is currently enjoying a five-game road point streak with a 3-0-1-1 ledger. The previous three contests have all been decided in overtime, which is the first time since Jan. 15-20, 2016. In those three games, the Griffins are 2-0-1-0. If Wednesday’s outing at Milwaukee is determined in overtime, it would be the first time in franchise history that four consecutive contests were settled in the extra period.
Fit for a King
Former Rockford IceHogs coach Derek King was named interim head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 6, joining 11 other former Griffins players or coaches currently behind an NHL bench. He is one of four Griffins alumni serving as a head coach in the NHL.
|Anaheim||Mike Stothers||Assistant Coach||2007-08 Head Coach|
|Boston||Bruce Cassidy||Head Coach||2000-02 Head Coach|
|Boston||Chris Kelly||Assistant Coach||2001-02|
|Buffalo||Matt Ellis||Assistant Coach||2003-07|
|Calgary||Cail MacLean||Assistant Coach||2000-01|
|Chicago||Derek King||Interim Head Coach||1999-01 / 2002-04 Player / Assistant Coach|
|Colorado||Jared Bednar||Head Coach||1998-99|
|Columbus||Manny Legace||Goaltending Coach||2005-06|
|Dallas||Todd Nelson||Assistant Coach||1996-98; 99-00; 01-02 / 2002-03 Assistant Coach / 2015-18 Head Coach|
|Detroit||Jeff Blashill||Head Coach||2012-15 Head Coach|
|Detroit||Jeff Salajko||Goaltending Coach||2013-16 Goaltending Coach|
|NY Islanders||John Gruden||Assistant Coach||1999-02|
Not Your Average Joe
Center Joe Veleno was recalled by Detroit on Nov. 15 for the second time this season. The Kirkland, Quebec, native skated in four games for the Red Wings from Oct. 30-Nov. 6, totaling two points (1-1—2), four penalty minutes and a plus-two rating. On Nov. 18, Veleno notched his second NHL goal of the season with a tally at Vegas. The former first-round draft choice has suited up for 13 games in the NHL and has amassed four points (3-1—4) and eight penalty minutes. Veleno has appeared in seven contests with Grand Rapids this season and registered three goals. The center logged a season-high two goals on Oct. 16 at Milwaukee in a 7-3 defeat.
Jonny on the Spot
Rookie Jonatan Berggren saw his 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 five goals while his 10 points (5-5—10) are tied for 14th among first-year players. Berggren’s five goals are also tied for the team lead with Riley Barber and Turner Elson.
Goaltender Calvin Pickard is off to a fast start, as he has allowed two goals or less in seven of his 11 appearances this season and has led the team to points in seven straight decisions (5-0-2-0). Pickard recorded his first shutout of the season 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. The 10-year pro currently ranks ninth in the AHL with a 2.24 goals against average while his 0.931 save percentage is tied for fifth. Pickard played in just nine games in North America a season ago due to being assigned to Detroit’s taxi squad for much of the year. The Moncton, New Brunswick, native also spent some time with Vienna in the ICEHL last season, logging six games and a 1.96 goals against average.
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 12 helpers in the opening 14 games, which is a team high and tied for second in the league. Seven assists have come on the power play, which is tied for third in the AHL. Hirose saw his six-game point streak (2-7—9) from Oct. 30-Nov. 13 come to an end on Nov. 17 against Chicago. Hirose’s 15 points (3- 12—15) this season pace the Griffins and are tied for 10th in the league.
Veteran Turner Elson has already surpassed his goal count from the 2020-21 season (4), as he has totaled five goals in the opening 14 games this year. 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 three goals in his last five contests. In addition, the left winger has amassed six points (4-2—6) in his last seven games. Elson’s five goals are tied for the team lead while his nine points (5-4—9) place fifth on the roster.
Return of Riley
Although it was a slow start to this year, Riley Barber rattled off a six-game point streak (4-5—9) from Oct. 30-Nov. 13. His 11 points (5-6—11) this season are second on the roster while his four power play goals are tied for first 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.
Brian Lashoff’s 526 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 five games behind No. 6 Roger DeJordy (Hershey Bears 1962-70). Lashoff is still 129 games away from breaking the Griffins’ all-time games played record, held by Travis Richards with 655 games (1995-2006).
Following a 2019-20 campaign in which they finished sixth in the AHL’s power play rankings at 20.9%, the Griffins exceeded that mark in 2020-21 with a power play conversion rate of 21.5%, the fifth best on the circuit. This season began just like the past years but the power play has stalled as of late, cashing in on just one of its last 21 opportunities (0.05%). Grand Rapids last took advantage of the extra skater on Nov. 5 at Iowa and have been held scoreless on the power play in 17 consecutive chances. Through 14 games the power play is converting on 16.3% of its opportunities, which ranks 24th in the AHL. The penalty kill has not been any better, placing second to last in the AHL at 74.1%. Through the 14 games this season, the penalty kill has allowed a goal in 10 contests.
AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Riley Barber—Four power play goals are tied for first
Jonatan Berggren—Five goals are tied for eighth among league rookies, 10 points (5-5—10) are tied for 14th among first-year players
Taro Hirose—15 points (3-12—15) are tied for 10th, 12 assists are tied for second, seven power play assists are tied for third
Ryan Murphy—Two goals are tied for 14th among blueliners
Wyatt Newpower—30 penalty minutes are first among rookies and tied for sixth among league defensemen
Calvin Pickard—2.24 goals against average ranks ninth, 0.931 save percentage is tied for fifth
Dominik Shine—Leads the league in penalty minutes with 56
Luke Witkowski—34 penalty minutes are third among league blueliners
Jon Martin picked up his 50th assist as a pro on Nov. 19 at Texas. Other upcoming milestones include:
Riley Barber—Five points from 50 as a Griffin
Turner Elson—Five assists from 100 in the AHL, five goals from 50 as a Griffin
Brian Lashoff—Three assists from 100 as a pro
Brett McKenzie—One game from 150 as a pro, three goals from 50 as a pro
Tyler Spezia—One assist from 50 as a pro, two games from 150 as a pro
Luke Witkowski—Three points from 50 in the AHL, one assist from 50 as a pro
Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins