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Game Notes: Griffins at Moose - March 19, 2024

Mar 19, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (29-17-7-4) at Manitoba Moose (26-29-1-1)

Game Time: 11:30 a.m. at Canada Life Centre

March 19, 2024  ·  3 Minutes

Game Day Preview - March 19 @ Manitoba Moose

Griffins Game #58 * Road Game #27 * AHL Game #940

Season Series: 4-1-0-1 Home Series: 2-1-0-1 Road Series: 2-0-0-0
All-Time Series:
74-43-1-1-10 All-Time Home Series: 40-19-1-1-7 All-Time Road Series: 34-24-0-0-3

Griffins at Moose
Seventh of eight meetings overall, third of four at the Canada Life Centre…Since the Moose rejoined the AHL in 2015-16, Grand Rapids is 30-19-0-3 (.606) against them, including a 13-10-0-1 (.563) ledger at the Canada Life Centre…The Griffins have won three of the past four meetings against the Moose in Winnipeg...The Griffins are 12-13-0-3 (.482) overall against Manitoba since the 2019-20 season with a minus-10 scoring margin (85-75)...On the road since 2019-20, Grand Rapids is 4-7-0-1 (.375) against the Moose with a minus-10 scoring margin (44-34)...Five of the six meetings this season have been decided by just one goal...This is the 130th meeting between the two teams, which is the fifth-most encounters by any Grand Rapids opponent...Manitoba is 8-2-0-0 in its last 10 games and is on a three-game win streak...The Griffins are 5-2-2-1 in their last 10 and have won two straight...On home ice this season, the Moose are 8-17-1-0, while the Griffins are 10-11-3-2 on the road...The Moose rank 14th in the AHL with a power-play percentage of 19.5%, while the Griffins place 17th with a penalty kill at 81.4%...Manitoba’s penalty kill ranks 30th at 77.6% and the Griffins’ power play ranks 23rd at 17.2%...Manitoba rookie Brad Lambert (18-25—43) ranks third for scoring among first-year players in the AHL...Manitoba’s Jeffrey Viel is tied for sixth in the league with 115 penalty minutes.

Last Time Out
With a 5-2 victory over the Iowa Wild at Van Andel Arena on Saturday, the Griffins tied a franchise record with a point in their 16th straight home game. The previous 16-game home point streak was established more than 20 years ago, as it was set from Jan. 9-Feb. 27, 2004 (13-0-3-0). Dominik Shine led the way with a three-point night (1-2--3). Taro Hirose collected an assist, which extended his point streak to three games while it also gave him seven points (2-5--7) in his last nine outings. Matt Luff lit the lamp to put the veteran at six points (3-3--6) in his last seven contests. Sebastian Cossa's .931 save percentage (27-of-29) not only improved the rookie netminder to an overall .911 save percentage on the season but also extended his point streak to 13 games (8-0-5).

This Date in Griffins History
2016: Goals from Mitch Callahan and Jeff Hoggan 10 seconds apart erase a two-goal third-period deficit before Eric Tangradi scores 42 ticks into overtime as the Griffins win their 13th straight game, 6-5 at Texas.

Roster Shake Up
- March 8—D Radim Simek assigned by Detroit
- March 9—F Jonatan Berggren recalled by Detroit
- 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

Back to Our Old Self
After enduring a season-high five-game losing skid from March 2-12 (0-2-2-1), the Griffins returned to form last weekend with a sweep of the Iowa Wild. 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. The Griffins’ active 16-game home point streak (11-0-3-2) is tied for the franchise record that was established from Jan. 9-Feb. 27, 2004 and is 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 29 of their last 34 contests (21-5-5-3). The Griffins are 20-4-4-3 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 22 of its last 26 games (17-4-3-2) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in 11 of its past 14 road appearances (8-3-2-1). The Griffins have been solid at home with a 19-6-4-2 mark, outscoring their opponents 96-71. Grand Rapids has battled on the road this season, earning points in 10 of its last 12 games to move to 10-11-3-2 away from home.

Records are Meant to be Broken
The Griffins have rewritten the record book in multiple categories this season. Most recently, Grand Rapids tied a franchise record with a point in its 16th straight home game, a 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 of 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.

Black Magic
As the regular season inches closer to its completion, the Griffins are in second place in the Central Division with a 29-17-7-4 record and 69 points with just 15 games remaining. The Griffins are 21 points above the playoff cutline and have a magic number of 10 points to clinch a playoff spot.

TeamPointsPCTGames LeftHomeRoadOpp. Point %GR Magic # OverMagic # Over GR
2Grand Rapids69.60515510.511----






It’s Taco Time
Taro Hirose
is on an active three-game assist streak from March 12-16 (0-4—4), which is 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, also has six points (1-5—6) in his last six outings. The Calgary, Alberta, native has logged a total of 30 points (7-23—30) in 41 appearances this season, after having missed 12 straight games from Dec. 29-Jan. 27 due to rehabbing an injury. The 27-year-old is one point away from tying Tomas Tatar for sixth place on the Griffins’ all-time points list and his 147 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 registered two assists in two games from March 15-16 and now has seven points (3-4—7) in his last 10 games. L’Esperance found the back of the net in both games last weekend and has six points (3-3—6) in his last 10 appearances. Finally, Shine recorded four points (2-2—4) in two games last weekend against Iowa and has five points (3-2—5) in his last six outings. Combined, the trio has amassed 413 points (209-204—413) in 824 AHL games throughout 18 campaigns.

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

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. After being held scoreless in his first five outings, Luff went on to record a point in three straight games from March 2-8 and now has six points (3-3—6) in his last seven 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 151 points (60-91—151) in 209 career AHL outings from 2016-24.

Sea Bass Fishing
Sebastian Cossa
was 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). Cossa won a team-high four straight games from Jan. 19-Feb. 2 and is currently on a 13-game point streak (8-0-5) from Jan. 19-March 16. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 10-1-5 ledger with a 2.09 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. The former 15th overall pick by the Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has allowed more than two goals just five times in his past 16 games. Through 29 contests, Cossa is 14-7-8 with one shutout to go along with a 2.58 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. Cossa ranks eighth among rookie goaltenders in goals against average and tied for sixth in save percentage.

Thou Shall Not Pass
The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.42 goals per game from Dec. 27-March 16. 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 161 goals through 57 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and ties for seventh in the AHL. Grand Rapids also ranks ninth on the circuit with 2.82 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.68). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.58) and Michael Hutchinson (2.69) each possess a goals against average well below 3.00. Defensemen Wyatt Newpower (+10), Antti Tuomisto (+6), Albert Johansson (+6), Simon Edvinsson (+5), Radim Simek (+4), William Wallinder (+4), Eemil Viro (+4), Josiah Didier (+2) and Brogan Rafferty (+1) all have a positive plus-minus rating.

Clutch Hutch
Veteran goaltender Michael Hutchinson has been solid for the Griffins this year, posting a 14-10-3 mark with two shutouts in 28 games to go along with a 2.69 goals against average and a .900 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 9-3-2 record with one shutout, a .905 save percentage and a 2.44 goals against average. The Barrie, Ontario, native has an all-time AHL record of 120-81-23 with a 2.59 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. Hutchinson has also appeared in 154 NHL contests, showing a 2.94 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.

Crunch Time
The Griffins have excelled during the third period of games this season, as they have outscored their opponents 71-47 in the final frame and outshot their opponents 541-506. Grand Rapids has six wins when trailing after the second period, which is tied for third 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).

Oh, It’s You Again
The Griffins are in second place in the Central Division with a 29-17-7-4 record and 69 points, 21 points clear of a playoff spot. In the final 15 games of the regular season, Grand Rapids will compete against the Central Division 14 times, with its only game outside of the division coming against Cleveland. The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 23-10-3-2 (.671) with a plus-21 scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Iowa (6-0-0-0). Chicago and Rockford will be the Griffins’ most frequent opponents down the stretch, as there are still four meetings remaining against each franchise.

Pucks on Net
The Griffins have done well when outshooting their opponents this season with a 16-3-4-4 (.741) record compared to a 12-13-3-0 (.482) mark when they are being outshot. Grand Rapids is 18-5-3-4 (.717) when producing at least 30 shots and 17-8-5-2 (.641) when it keeps its opponents between 20-29 shots. The Griffins rank 17th in the AHL with 29.9 shots per game, while they concede the seventh fewest in the league at 28.3. The Griffins are averaging 32.9 shots per game in their last 16 outings, while giving up an average of 28.0.

Under Three is Key
Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 20-1-2-0 (.913). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 9-16-5-4 (.396). Grand Rapids has surpassed the four-goal mark in 15 of its last 34 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 7-14-7-3 (.387) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 22-3-0-1 mark (.865) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 34 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals 17 times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.58 GAA places eighth among rookie netminders, .911 save percentage is tied for sixth among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—Eight goals are tied for 12th among defensemen, three game-winners are tied for fourth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—Six power-play goals are tied for sixth among rookies, 15 goals are tied for 10th among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Four goals are tied for 10th 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-six rating is tied for 11th among rookie defensemen
William Wallinder—Three goals are tied for 16th among rookie defensemen, plus-four rating is tied for 16th among rookie defensemen

Last Saturday, Albert Johansson skated in his 250th pro game, Joel L’Esperance competed in his 300th AHL outing and Elmer Soderblom suited up for his 200th pro contest. Last Friday, Dan Watson collected his 300th win as a head coach and Zach Aston-Reese recorded his 150th pro point.
Taro Hirose—One point from tying Tomas Tatar (196) for sixth place on the team’s all-time points list, two goals from 50 as a Griffin, three assists from 150 as a Griffin, five points from 200 as a Griffin
Marco Kasper—Four assists from 50 as a pro
Brogan Rafferty—Two games from 250 as a pro
Elmer Soderblom—One goal from 50 as a pro

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins