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Game Notes: Griffins at Stars - Dec. 19, 2023

Dec 19, 2023
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (9-12-2-1) at Texas Stars (14-7-2-1)

Game Time: 8 p.m. at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park

December 19, 2023  ·  2 Minutes

Game Day Preview - December 19 at Texas Stars

Griffins Game #25 * Road Game #13 * AHL Game #388

Season Series: 1-3-0-0 Home Series: 1-1-0-0 Road Series: 0-2-0-0
All-Time Series:
40-28-4-5 All-Time Home Series: 21-12-1-4 All-Time Road Series: 19-16-3-1

Griffins at Stars
Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park...Since the 2019-20 season, the Griffins are 10-13-2-2 (.444) against Texas with a minus-16 scoring margin (92-76)...Also since 2019-20, Grand Rapids is 5-7-1-1 (.429) against the Stars in Texas and has been outscored 51-38...Through 24 games, Texas ranks first in the AHL with an average of 3.96 goals scored, while conceding an average of 3.29 goals (T23rd in AHL)...Texas is 6-4-0-0 in its last 10 games and is on a two-game losing skid...The Stars are 5-2-2-1 at home this season...The Griffins are 4-5-1-0 in their last 10 and 2-8-1-1 on the road, including wins in just one of their last seven road games...The Stars’ penalty kill unit is tied for 28th on the circuit at 77.5%, having killed just 13 out of 20 power plays (65.0%) in their last five games...Texas’ power play places third at 22.8%...Joel L’Esperance competed with the Texas Stars from 2017-22 and totaled 136 points (80-56—136) in 183 games...Texas’ Logan Stankoven (14-16—30, 2nd) and Mavrik Bourque (8-24—32, 1st) are the top two scorers in the AHL. Bourque also paces the league in assists, while Stankoven is tied for third in goals.

Last Time Out
Antti Tuomisto's
first AHL goal acted as the game-winner in the Griffins' 4-2 comeback win over the Texas Stars on Friday at Van Andel Arena. The come-from-behind victory tied the Griffins' largest deficit they have overcome this season at two goals (Dec. 9 at Belleville). Amadeus Lombardi, Dominik Shine and Tim Gettinger all registered two assists in the win. Sebastian Cossa stopped 24-of-26 shots, which put the rookie at a 2.93 goals against average and a .904 save percentage through 11 games. The four goals totaled this weekend by the Stars - the AHL's highest-scoring team - were the fewest they've scored in consecutive contests since the first two games of the season (3, Oct. 13-14). Entering last weekend, Texas had scored at least four goals in five consecutive games and in 11 of its previous 12 outings.

Roster Shakeup
- Dec. 14—F Trenton Bliss reassigned to Toledo (ECHL) by Grand Rapids; F Jonatan Berggren and F Austin Czarnik recalled by Detroit
- Dec. 15—F Zach Aston-Reese and F Jonatan Berggren reassigned by Detroit
- Dec. 16—F Alex Doucet reassigned to Toledo (ECHL) from Grand Rapids by Detroit; G Michael Hutchinson signed to a one-year contract by Grand Rapids

This Date in Griffins History
2012: In his Griffins debut, former University of Michigan captain and East Grand Rapids High School star Luke Glendening – the first Greater Grand Rapids native to ever play for the Griffins – scores the game’s first goal on his first shot during his first shift, sparking the home squad to an eventual 4-2 victory over Rochester.

Long and Twisted Road
The Griffins head out on a four-game road trip that begins this week with a two-game series against the Texas Stars. Grand Rapids has not fared well away from home, as it is just 2-8-1-1 (.250) with a minus-19 scoring margin in foreign territory compared to a 7-4-1-0 (.625) mark at home with a plus-eight margin. Dating back to Nov. 17, the Griffins have won just one out of their last seven road contests (1-5-1-0). Grand Rapids’ six points on the road through 12 games ranks third-to-last on the circuit, while its 15 points at home are tied for seventh.

Kept at Bay
Last week, the Griffins welcomed the highest-scoring team in the AHL the Texas Stars for a two-game home series. Entering the week, the Stars were averaging 4.24 goals per game, which dropped to 3.96 goals per game after Grand Rapids held Texas to just two goals in both contests. Last Wednesday, the Griffins held the Stars to two goals for the first time in the past 12 games and held them to fewer than three tallies for only the fourth time in the opening 21 outings. Grand Rapids repeated that performance on Friday, holding the high-powered offense to just two goals. The four goals totaled by the Stars last week against the Griffins were the fewest they’ve scored in consecutive contests since the first two games of the season (3, Oct. 13-14). The Griffins will now travel to Texas to face the Stars for a two-game road series from Tuesday through Wednesday.

Antti Up
From Oct. 27-Nov. 29, rookie defenseman Antti Tuomisto was sidelined for 12 games due to rehabbing an upper-body injury. The 22-year-old was reassigned to the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) on Dec. 1 and exploded for six points (4-2—6) in five appearances, scoring three goals in a two-game span from Dec. 8-9. Tuomisto returned to the Griffins on Dec. 10 and continued his scoring run when he tallied his first AHL goal on Dec. 15 against the Texas Stars. Between the AHL and ECHL, Tuomisto has now logged four goals in his past four appearances and seven points (5-2—7) in as many outings. During his first pro season in the Liiga (Finland) with TPS in 2022-23, Tuomisto totaled 20 points (5-15—20) in 60 regular-season games.

Clutch Hutch
On Saturday, the Griffins signed goaltender Michael Hutchinson to a one-year contract for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. Hutchinson, who was previously on a professional tryout contract, has logged a 5-7-1 record with one shutout alongside a 2.98 goals against average and a .895 save percentage through 13 games with Grand Rapids. The 14-year-pro has appeared in 222 AHL contests throughout 11 campaigns and has a combined 2.60 GAA and a .915 save percentage. Hutchinson participated in the 2017-18 AHL All-Star Game and was named to the 2018 AHL Second All-Star Team when he posted a 17-5-4 ledger, a 2.08 GAA and a .935 save percentage in 26 games with the Manitoba Moose. The 33-year-old, who represented Team Canada at the 2022-23 Spengler Cup, has also suited up for 153 NHL games across 11 seasons and notched a 57-61-18 record with a 2.93 GAA and a .902 save percentage.

Johnny Bravo
Last week, Swedish prospect Jonatan Berggren competed in four games in five days between the Red Wings and Griffins, registering a point in each outing. Berggren completed a similar feat from Nov. 29-Dec. 2, suiting up four games in four days in four different cities between Detroit and Grand Rapids (New York, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Milwaukee) and totaling four points. The Enkoping, Sweden, product enjoyed a six-game point streak in the AHL (4-5—8) from Nov. 18-Dec. 5, which included a team-high three -game goal run from Nov. 18-26 and a team-best five-game assist streak from Nov. 24-Dec. 5. With a goal last Friday against Texas, Berggren now has 12 points (6-6—12) in his last 11 games with the Griffins. The 23-year-old is tied for second on the roster with 16 points (6-10—16) in 17 outings and has a combined 87 points (31-56—87) in 94 career AHL appearances from 2021-24.

Power Surge
Grand Rapids’ power play has been a bright spot for the team thus far, as it is tied for 13th in the AHL with a conversion rate of 19.3%. On the road, the Griffins rank 13th at 20.5% compared to 18.2% at home (13th). Grand Rapids is 3-for-13 (23.1%) on the man-advantage in its last four games and has scored at least one power-play goal in six out of the previous eight contests (7-for-32, 21.9%). Taro Hirose leads the team with three power-play goals and six power-play assists. Simon Edvinsson is tied for fifth among AHL defensemen with two power-play goals.

Under Three is Key
Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 7-1-1-0 (.833). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 2-11-1-1 (.200). Grand Rapids has scored four or more goals in seven of its last 12 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 1-10-2-1 (.179) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 8-2-0-0 mark (.800) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 12 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals seven times. Leading after the second period is also huge for the Griffins, as they sit at 7-0-0-0 when playing with the lead after two frames compared to a 2-12-2-1 (.206) ledger when either tied or playing from behind.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.93 GAA ranks sixth among rookie netminders, .904 save percentage is tied for sixth among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—16 points are tied for 14th among defensemen, six goals are tied for fourth among defensemen, two power-play goals are tied for fifth among defensemen, two game-winners are tied for fifth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—Two power-play goals are tied for 12th among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—One game-winner is tied for first among rookie defensemen

On Dec. 9, Wyatt Newpower skated in his 150th pro game. On Dec. 8, netminder Michael Hutchinson recorded his 200th win as a pro in a 4-3 overtime victory over Belleville.
Austin Czarnik—Two goals from 100 in the AHL
Tim Gettinger—Four points from 150 as a pro
Taro Hirose—One point from tying Mitch Callahan for seventh on the team’s all-time point list with 186
Joel L’Esperance—One point from 200 as a pro
Nolan Stevens—Three goals from 50 as a pro

Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins