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Game Notes: Griffins at Stars - Nov. 17, 2023

Nov 17, 2023
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (4-5-1-1) at Texas Stars (6-3-2-1)

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

Griffins Game #12 * Road Game #6 * AHL Game #203

Season Series: 0-0-0-0 Home Series: 0-0-0-0 Road Series: 0-0-0-0
All-Time Series:
39-25-4-5 All-Time Home Series: 20-11-1-4 All-Time Road Series: 19-14-3-1

Griffins at Stars
First of eight meetings overall, first of four at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park...The Griffins have points in six of the last eight games (5-2-1-0) against Texas at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park...Since the 2019-20 season, the Griffins are 9-10-2-2 (.478) against Texas with a minus-11 scoring margin (77-66)...Grand Rapids is 5-5-1-1 (.500) against the Stars in Texas and have been outscored 40-32...Through 12 games, Texas is averaging 3.67 goals for (T6th in AHL), while conceding an average of 2.92 (T12th in AHL)...Texas is 6-1-2-1 in its last 10 games and are 1-2-2-1 at home this season...The Griffins are 3-5-1-1 in their last 10 and are 1-3-0-1 on the road...The Stars’ penalty kill unit ranks 24th on the circuit at 78.9%, while their power play is tied for fifth at 22.2%...Joel L’Esperance competed with the Texas Stars from 2017-22 and totaled 136 points (80-56—136) in 183 games...Texas’ Logan Stankoven (8-7—15, T6th) and Mavrik Bourque (6-9—15, T6th) both rank in the top six in the AHL for points.

Last Time Out
The Griffins were victorious in their 22nd annual School Day Game against the Chicago Wolves, beating them 5-2 at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday. All four goal scorers, Dominik Shine, Jonatan Berggren, Josiah Didier and Carter Mazur (two goals), netted their first goals of the season in the contest. Sebastian Cossa had another stellar outing in his rookie campaign, stopping 26 of 28 for a .929 save percentage. This is the second time this season where the Griffins have scored five goals, the first being Oct. 14 versus the Colorado Eagles. Grand Rapids posted 44 shots, which set a new season high.

Roster Shakeup
- Oct. 20—F Jonatan Berggren recalled by Detroit
- Oct. 29—F Jonatan Berggren reassigned by Detroit
- Oct. 31—F Carter Mazur assigned by Detroit
- Nov. 16—G John Lethemon reassigned to Grand Rapids from Toledo (ECHL) by Detroit; F Riley Sawchuk assigned to Toledo (ECHL) by Grand Rapids

This Date in Griffins History
2001: Petr Schastlivy becomes the first Griffin to record a hat trick in a single period, accomplishing the feat during the second period of a 4-0 shutout of Milwaukee. Kip Miller picks up assists on all three tallies, tying the franchise record for assists in a period for the second time in 12 games.

Stumbling Out of the Gate
First periods have been very unkind to the Griffins to begin the season, as they have been outscored 11-4 and outshot 121-92. Grand Rapids has a record of 1-4-0-0 when trailing after the first stanza, compared to a 2-1-1-1 mark when it is tied or leading after the first. The Griffins have won just one first period in the first 11 games of the season, a 2-0 advantage over Colorado on Oct. 14, which was the second contest of the campaign. Since beginning 2-0-0-0, the Griffins have gone on to win just two games in their last nine outings (2-5-1-1).

Patience is a Virtue
With plenty of highly touted prospects on the team, the Griffins have high expectations on the offensive side of the ice. However, things have not started out that way, as Grand Rapids is tied for 29th out of 32 teams with just 2.45 goals per game. The Griffins have been shut out twice in the past six contests and have averaged 2.17 goals during that span, even with a five-goal output on Wednesday against Chicago. Patience is a virtue, though, as the average age of Griffins forwards is 24, which includes five players who are 22 years old or younger. Forward prospects Jonatan Berggren, Cross Hanas, Marco Kasper, Amadeus Lombardi, Carter Mazur and Elmer Soderblom, who combined average an age of 21, are all still finding their groove at the professional level, showing a combined seven goals to start the campaign.

Well, Well, Well, Look Who We Have Here
Starting Nov. 15, the Griffins’ next eight games will be against Central Division rivals. Grand Rapids will face Chicago, Manitoba, Milwaukee and Texas all twice from Nov. 15-Dec. 2. Out of the remaining 61 games, only 12 of those will be against teams outside of the Central Division (Belleville – 4, Cleveland – 6, Toronto – 2). So far, the Griffins are 2-1-0-0 against the Central Division, 2-2-0-0 against the Pacific Division and 0-2-2-0 versus the North Division.

Power Moves
The Griffins’ power play has had a strong showing to start the season. Through 11 games, Grand Rapids ranks 11th in the AHL with a power-play conversion rate of 20.0% (5 for 25). The Griffins have been on the power play just 25 times this season, which ranks last in the AHL by two. During the 2022-23 campaign, Grand Rapids finished 25th on the circuit with a power-play rate of 17.8% (52 for 292).

The Climb
Dominik Shine
is just the third player in franchise history to reach eight seasons of service, while Tyler Spezia is the eighth player to compete in his sixth campaign. Last Friday, Shine passed Mitch Callahan for third with 368 career games played for the Griffins and currently stands ninth with 433 penalty minutes. Shine is behind only current assistant coach Brian Lashoff (629 GP) and Travis Richards (655) on the Griffins’ all-time games played list. Taro Hirose also continues to climb the Griffins’ all-time leaderboard, as he is currently ranked 10th in points (174) and tied for fifth in assists (130).

Shoot Your Shot
After allowing an average of 39.75 shots in their first four games, the Griffins allowed an average of just 26 shots in their last seven outings. Since Oct. 21, Grand Rapids has not allowed its opponent to fire more than 29 shots in a game. However, the Griffins still rank 21st in the league with an average of 31 shots allowed per game. Grand Rapids has also struggled to put pucks on net, as it places 24th out of 32 teams at 28.4 shots per game. On Wednesday against the Chicago Wolves, the Griffins blasted a season-high 44 shots in a 5-2 victory. The first period has been the killer, as the Griffins have been outshot 121-92 in the opening frame. In the second period, Grand Rapids has been outshot 120-110 but it has outshot its opponent in the third by a slim 103-97 margin.

U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A
On Thursday, former Griffin Brett Peterson was named the general manager of the 2024 U.S. Men’s National Team. As part of his five-year pro career, Peterson suited up for 18 regular-season games with the Griffins in 2008-09 and notched one assist and four penalty minutes, adding one assist in one postseason contest. The 42-year-old is in his fourth season as the assistant general manager for the Florida Panthers (2020-24), making a trip to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. The U.S. Men’s National Team will compete in the 2024 IIHF Men’s World Championship from May 10-26 in Prague and Ostrava, Czechia.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—3.01 GAA ranks fifth among rookie goaltenders, .903 save percentage is tied for fourth among rookie netminders
Simon Edvinsson—Three goals are tied for fifth among defensemen, two power-play goals are tied for first among defensemen, 33 shots are tied for sixth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—14 penalty minutes are tied for 12th among rookies and eighth among rookie forwards
Wyatt Newpower—26 penalty minutes rank seventh among defensemen
Dominik Shine—29 penalty minutes are tied for 10th among forwards

Last Friday, Dominik Shine passed Mitch Callahan for third on the Griffins’ all-time games played list with 366 games, Taro Hirose tied Derek King for fifth on the team’s all-time assists list with 130, Josiah Didier competed in his 400th game as a pro and Jonatan Berggren skated in his 250th pro contest.
Zach Aston-Reese—Three points from 50 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—Two goals from 50 as a pro, four assists from 150 as a pro, three points from tying Eric Tangradi (177) for ninth on the Griffins’ all-time points list, three assists from tying Kip Miller (133) for fourth on the Griffins’ all-time assists list
Michael Hutchinson—Three wins from 200 as a pro
Jared McIsaac—One point from 50 as a pro and as a Griffin
Tyler Spezia—One goal from 50 as a pro
William Wallinder—One assist from 50 as a pro, one game from 200 as a pro

Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins