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Game Notes: Griffins at IceHogs - April 6, 2024

Apr 06, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (34-19-8-4) at Rockford IceHogs (33-24-5-2)

Game Time: 8 p.m. at BMO Center

April 6, 2024  ·  3 Minutes

Game Day Preview - April 6 @ Rockford Icehogs

Griffins Game #66 * Road Game #32 * AHL Game #1,056

Season Series: 6-2-2-0 Home Series: 2-1-2-0 Road Series: 4-1-0-0
All-Time Series:
67-45-11-11 All-Time Home Series: 40-15-7-5 All-Time Road Series: 27-30-4-6

Griffins at IceHogs
Eleventh of 12 meetings overall, sixth of six at the BMO Center…Dating back to the final meeting of the 2019-20 season, Grand Rapids now has points in 25 of the last 35 games (20-10-4-1, .643) against the IceHogs...The Griffins are 24-13-4-3 (.625) since the 2019-20 season against Rockford and have outscored the IceHogs 121-110. On the road since 2019-20, Grand Rapids is 13-9-0-0 (.590) against the IceHogs but has been outscored by Rockford 62-61...Grand Rapids is 7-2-1-0 in its last 10 games and 12-13-4-2 on the road...The IceHogs are 16-12-3-1 at home and 7-3-0-0 in their last 10...Rockford has shut out the Griffins in two of the 10 meetings this season...Rockford’s power play is tied for 11th at 19.2%, while its penalty kill comes in at 82.3% (12th)...Rockford ranks 21st in the league with 2.96 goals scored per game and 14th with 2.95 goals against per contest...The Griffins’ power play ranks 27th in the AHL at 16.7%, while their penalty kill ranks 17th at 81.5%...Rockford is Grand Rapids’ third-most frequent opponent (Milwaukee 219, Chicago 200), as tonight’s game marks the 135th meeting between the two franchises...Rockford’s Ethan Del Mastro ranks fourth among rookie defensemen with 36 points, tied for second with 29 assists and seventh with seven goals.

Last Time Out
Sebastian Cossa
denied 24 shots en route to a 3-0 Griffins shutout victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Friday at Van Andel Arena. Cossa's victory tied the home game point streak for a goaltender at 13 games (9-0-4), while it also extended his record-breaking overall point streak to 19 contests. The Griffins' win pushed their record-setting home point streak to 19 consecutive games. Jonatan Berggren stretched his point streak (8-7--15) to nine outings. Taro Hirose collected his 50th goal and 200th point as a Griffin, which made him the sixth player for Grand Rapids to accumulate 200 points and the 29th to score 50 tallies for the club. The Griffins tied their season-high five-game home winning streak.

This Date in Griffins History
2002: With a 3-2 victory at Chicago, the Griffins win the AHL's inaugural Bud Poile Trophy as 2001-02 West Division champions and secure the Western Conference's number-two seed in the 2002 AHL Calder Cup playoffs.

Roster Shake Up
- 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
- March 31—F Zach Aston-Reese reassigned by Detroit
- April 3—F Hunter Johannes signed to an ATO and to a standard player’s contract by Grand Rapids

The Promised Land
Last 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 marked 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 25-6-5-3 mark (.744), solidifying their hold on second place in the Central Division and becoming the fourth of now 14 teams 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 points in six of their last seven contests (5-1-1-0). The Griffins’ active 19-game home point streak (14-0-3-2) 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 19-game point streak at home is the longest such streak in the AHL since the Providence Bruins went 18-0-3-2 over 23 games in 2015-16. 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 35 of their last 42 contests (26-7-6-3). The Griffins are 25-6-5-3 (.744) 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 25 of its last 29 games (20-4-3-2) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in 14 of its past 19 road appearances (10-5-3-1). The Griffins have been solid at home with a 22-6-4-2 mark, outscoring their opponents 109-77. Grand Rapids has battled on the road this season, earning points in 13 of its last 17 games to move to 12-13-4-2 away from home.

Johnny Bravo
Jonatan Berggren
logged his first AHL hat trick on Wednesday during a four-point night (3-1—4) against the Chicago Wolves. Berggren is on an active nine-game point streak (8-7—15) from Feb. 24-April 5, which is the longest run on the team this season, and has 29 points (16-13—29) in his last 22 games from Jan. 13-April 5. Berggren also has 35 points (17-18—35) in his last 27 outings and 38 points (19-19—38) in his last 30 contests from Dec. 15– April 5. Berggren’s 1.15 points per game ranks 15th on the circuit and fourth among skaters who have played at least 30 games. The 23-year-old leads the roster in points (24-29—53), assists (29) and goals (24) through 46 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 124 points (49-75—124) in 123 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).

Black Magic
As the regular season inches closer to its completion, the Griffins have clinched a playoff berth and a winning record, and they are in second place in the Central Division with a 34-19-8-4 record and 80 points with just seven games remaining. They now have a magic number of 23 to clinch the division, trailing Milwaukee’s nine. The Griffins’ magic number for clinching a first-round playoff bye and a berth in the Central Division Semifinals is now one point, over Texas.

TeamPointsPCTGames LeftHome RoadOpp. Points %GR Magic # OverMagic # Over GR







x - Clinched Playoffs

Sea Bass Fishing
Sebastian Cossa
is on a franchise-record 19-game point streak from Jan. 19-April 5 (13-0-6), beating Marc Lamothe’s previous record of 15-games (9-0-4-2 (W-L-T-OTL)) set from Oct. 19-Nov. 30, 2002. Cossa collected his second shutout of the season last night with 24 saves in a 3-0 win over Rockford. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 15-1-6 ledger with a 2.06 goals against average and a .922 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 seven times in his past 22 games. Cossa’s 13-game home point streak (9-0-4, Jan. 24-April 5) tied the franchise record, which was held by Jared Coreau (2015-16), Daniel Larsson (2008-09) and Mike Fountain (bridging the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons). Cossa is also on an eight-game road point streak (6-0-2) from Dec. 27-March 30), which is two shy of tying the record of 10 held by Jimmy Howard (2005-06). Through 35 contests, Cossa is 19-7-9 with two shutouts to go along with a 2.47 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. Cossa ranks fourth among rookie goaltenders in goals against average and tied for fourth in save percentage.

Records are Meant to be Broken
The Griffins have rewritten the record book in multiple categories this season. Now 13-0-6 since Jan. 19, Sebastian Cossa holds the franchise record for the longest point streak by a goaltender at 19 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. Grand Rapids set a new franchise record with a point in its 19th 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 three 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). 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.

Straight to the Pros
Last Saturday, Emmitt Finnie made his professional debut against the Milwaukee Admirals. The 18-year-old became just the 23rd player to make his Griffins debut the season after he was drafted. Finnie was selected with the 201st overall pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the seventh round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Of the players to make their debut the season after they were drafted, only Toni Dahlman (OTT: 286th in 2001) and Konstantin Gorovikov (OTT: 269th in 1999) were selected later than Finnie. Also, among all Red Wings draft picks who’ve played for Grand Rapids, only eight were chosen later than Finnie. Finnie recently completed his third season with the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL, totaling 59 points (19-40—59) in 62 games in 2023-24.

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 enjoyed a seven-game point streak from March 15-29 (4-5—9), and now has 15 points (7-8—15) in his last 15 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 160 points (64-96—160) in 217 career AHL outings from 2016-24.

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 11 points (3-8—11) in his last 14 outings. The Calgary, Alberta, native has logged a total of 35 points (9-26—35) in 49 appearances this season, after having missed 12 straight games from Dec. 29-Jan. 27 due to rehabbing an injury. On March 27, the 27-year-old passed Tomas Tatar for sixth place on the Griffins’ all-time points list with 200, and his 150 assists rank third in franchise history. On Friday, Hirose became just the sixth Griffin to record 200 points and the 29th player to score 50 goals for Grand Rapids. Hirose is now five points from claiming fifth place on the team’s all-time points list, as Derek King (203) currently holds the position.

Age is Wisdom
Veteran forwards Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Shine and defenseman Brogan Rafferty have found a groove as of late. Aston-Reese enjoyed a three-game goal streak from March 20-27 and now has 11 points (7-4—11) in his last 16 games. Rafferty enjoyed a two-game point streak (1-2—3) from March 30-April 3 and has eight points in his last 11 games (2-6—8). 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 14 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 360 points (117-243—360) in 790 AHL games over 16 campaigns.

Thou Shall Not Pass
The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.46 goals per game from Dec. 27-April 5. 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 182 goals through 65 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and eighth in the AHL. Grand Rapids is also ninth on the circuit with 2.80 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.63, 3rd). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.47) and Michael Hutchinson (2.78) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Albert Johansson (+10), Wyatt Newpower (+9), Antti Tuomisto (+7), Simon Edvinsson (+5), Eemil Viro (+5), Radim Simek (+4), Josiah Didier (+4), Brogan Rafferty (+4) and William Wallinder (+2) all have a positive plus-minus rating.

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.

Man, I Love College
Hunter Johannes
made his pro debut on Friday against the Rockford IceHogs, becoming the ninth player from the University of North Dakota to suit up for Grand Rapids, five of whom won a national championship at the school. Johannes is also the first player from either of two Division 1 schools - American International College (Atlantic Hockey) and Lindenwood University (Independent) - to ever play for the Griffins. Johannes spent five seasons in the NCAA from 2019-24, competing for American International College (2019-22), Lindenwood University (2022-23) and the University of North Dakota (2023-24).

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 32 skaters throughout the season, a drastic change from the 49 and 48 players used in the past two seasons, respectively.

Crunch Time
The Griffins have excelled during the third period of games this season, as they have outscored their opponents 81-52 in the final frame and outshot their opponents 608-569. Grand Rapids has seven wins when trailing after the second period, which is tied for third in the AHL. The Griffins also have a 41-30 shot advantage in overtime this campaign. However, Grand Rapids is just 6-12 in games decided past regulation (4-8 in OT, 2-4 in SO). The Griffins’ 19 regulation losses this season are tied for the third fewest in the AHL, while their eight overtime defeats are tied for the third most and four shootout losses are tied for the fifth most.

Oh, It’s You Again
The Griffins are in second place in the Central Division with a 34-19-8-4 record and 80 points and have clinched a playoff berth for the 18th time in 28 seasons. All of Grand Rapids’ remaining seven games will be against the Central Division. The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 27-12-4-2 (.667) with a plus-22 scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Iowa (6-0-0-0). Chicago, Iowa and Rockford will all be the Griffins’ most frequent opponents down the stretch, as there are still two meetings remaining against each franchise.

Pucks on Net
The Griffins have done well when outshooting their opponents this season with a 19-3-5-4 (.758) record compared to a 14-15-3-0 (.484) mark when they are being outshot. Grand Rapids is 21-5-4-4 (.735) when producing at least 30 shots and 25-10-6-2 (.674) when it keeps its opponents under 29 shots. The Griffins rank 17th in the AHL with 29.5 shots per game, while they concede the sixth fewest in the league at 27.9. The Griffins are averaging 28.9 shots per game in their last 14 outings, while giving up an average of 25.9.

Under Three is Key
Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 24-1-2-0 (.926). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 10-18-6-4 (.395). Grand Rapids has reached the four-goal mark in nine of its last 19 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 9-16-7-3 (.400) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 25-3-1-1 mark (.867) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 19 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals nine times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Jonatan Berggren
—1.14 points per game ranks 15th and fourth among skaters who have played at least 30 games
Sebastian Cossa—2.47 GAA ranks fourth among rookie netminders and ninth among qualified goalies, .912 save percentage is tied for fourth among rookie goaltenders and tied for 14th among qualified goalies
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 eighth among rookies, 15 goals are tied for 16th among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Five goals are tied for 11th among rookie defensemen, 17 points are tied for 16th 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 ranks 11th among rookie defensemen

Taro Hirose
logged his 50th goal as a Griffin and 200th point with Grand Rapids yesterday, while Josiah Didier appeared in his 450th pro game. On Wednesday, Jonatan Berggren recorded a hat trick during his 300th game as a pro. Taro Hirose registered his 150th assist as a Griffin on Saturday at Milwaukee and Brogan Rafferty appeared in his 250th AHL game.
Jonatan Berggren—One goal from 50 as a Griffin
Marco Kasper—One assist from 50 as a pro

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins