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Game Notes: Griffins vs. IceHogs - April 5, 2024

Apr 05, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (33-19-8-4) vs. Rockford IceHogs (33-23-5-2)

Game Time: 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena

April 5, 2024  ·  2 Minutes

Game Day Preview - April 5 vs. Rockford IceHogs

Griffins Game #65 * Home Game #34 * AHL Game #1,039

Season Series: 5-2-2-0 Home Series: 1-1-2-0 Road Series: 4-1-0-0
All-Time Series:
66-45-11-11 All-Time Home Series: 39-15-7-5 All-Time Road Series: 27-30-4-6

IceHogs at Griffins
Tenth of 12 meetings overall, fifth of six at Van Andel Arena…Dating back to the final meeting of the 2019-20 season, Grand Rapids now has points in 24 of the last 34 games (19-10-4-1, .632) against the IceHogs...The Griffins are 23-13-4-3 (.616) since the 2019-20 season against Rockford and have outscored the IceHogs 118-110. At home since 2019-20, Grand Rapids is 10-4-4-3 (.643) against the IceHogs and has outscored Rockford 57-48...Grand Rapids is 6-2-2-0 in its last 10 games and 21-6-4-2 at home, which includes an active franchise-record 18-game home point streak (13-0-3-2)...The IceHogs are 17-11-2-1 on the road and 8-2-0-0 in their last 10...Rockford is on a four-game win streak...Rockford has shut out the Griffins in two of the nine meetings this season...Rockford’s power play ranks 10th at 19.6%, while its penalty kill comes in at 82.9% (T10th)...Rockford ranks 20th in the league with 3.00 goals scored per game and 14th with 2.95 goals against per contest...The Griffins’ power play ranks 30th in the AHL at 16.2%, while their penalty kill is tied for 18th at 81.2%...Rockford is tied for Grand Rapids’ third-most frequent opponent (Milwaukee 219, Chicago 200, Cleveland 134), as tonight’s game marks the 134th 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
Jonatan Berggren's
four-point night (3-1--4) led the Griffins to a 5-4 comeback victory in overtime against the Chicago Wolves at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday. The win extended the Griffins' record-setting home point streak to 18 consecutive games (13-0-3-2). Sebastian Cossa also pushed his record-breaking point streak to 18 contests (12-0-6). Berggren's trio of goals was the first hat trick by a Griffin since Nov. 18, 2022 and also stretched his run of points (7-7--14) to eight games. In the Griffins’ and Wolves' 200th all-time regular-season meeting, Grand Rapids collected its 100th all-time regular-season win against Chicago.

This Date in Griffins History
2000: For the fourth time in a span of 25 games, the Griffins score in the final minute with their goalie pulled to tie a game and force a shootout, in an eventual 3-2 triumph at Michigan. The win gives Grand Rapids 100 points (101) for the first time in the team’s four seasons.

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 24-6-5-3 mark (.737), solidifying their hold on second place in the Central Division and becoming the fourth of now 12 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 five of their last six contests (4-1-1-0). The Griffins’ active 18-game home point streak (13-0-3-2) 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 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 34 of their last 41 contests (25-7-6-3). The Griffins are 24-6-5-3 (.737) 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 24 of its last 28 games (19-4-3-2) 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 21-6-4-2 mark, outscoring their opponents 106-77. 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 eight-game point streak (7-7—14) from Feb. 24-April 3, which is the longest run on the team this season, and has 28 points (15-13—28) in his last 21 games from Jan. 13-April 3. Berggren also has 34 points (16-18—34) in his last 26 outings and 37 points (18-19—37) in his last 29 contests from Dec. 15– April 3. Berggren’s 1.16 points per game ranks 14th on the circuit and fourth among skaters who have played at least 30 games. The 23-year-old leads the roster in points (23-29—52), assists (29) and goals (23) through 45 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 123 points (48-75—123) in 122 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 33-19-8-4 record and 78 points with just eight games remaining. They now have a magic number of 25 to clinch the division, trailing Milwaukee’s nine.

TeamPointsPCTGames LeftHomeRoad

Opp. Points %

GR Magic # OverMagic # Over GR

x - Clinched Playoffs

Sea Bass Fishing
Sebastian Cossa
is on a franchise-record 18-game point streak from Jan. 19-April 3 (12-0-6), beating Marc Lamothe’s previous record of 15-games (9-0-4-2 (W-L-T-OTL)) set from Oct. 19-Nov. 30, 2002. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 14-1-6 ledger with a 2.16 goals against average and a .919 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 21 games. Cossa’s 12-game home point streak (8-0-4, Jan. 24-April 3) is now one shy of tying the franchise record of 13, which is 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 34 contests, Cossa is 18-7-9 with one shutout to go along with a 2.55 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. Cossa is tied for fifth among rookie goaltenders in goals against average and ranks sixth in save percentage.

Records are Meant to be Broken
The Griffins have rewritten the record book in multiple categories this season. Now 12-0-6 since Jan. 19, Sebastian Cossa holds the franchise record for the longest point streak by a goaltender at 18 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 18th 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 14 points (7-7—14) in his last 14 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 159 points (64-95—159) in 216 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 10 points (2-8—10) in his last 13 outings. The Calgary, Alberta, native has logged a total of 34 points (8-26—34) in 48 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 198, and his 150 assists rank third in franchise history. Hirose is now six 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 10 points (6-4—10) in his last 15 games. Rafferty is on a two-game point streak (1-2—3) and has eight points in his last 10 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 13 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 359 points (116-243—359) in 787 AHL games over 16 campaigns.

Thou Shall Not Pass
The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.53 goals per game from Dec. 27-April 3. 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 64 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and ninth in the AHL. Grand Rapids is also ninth on the circuit with 2.84 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.63, 3rd). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.55) and Michael Hutchinson (2.78) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Wyatt Newpower (+9), Albert Johansson (+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.

Like Father, Like Son
Recently acquired center Curtis Hall is the son of former Griffins center Mike Hall, who played seven games for Grand Rapids during the 2000-01 campaign, scoring one goal. They are the third father-son duo to have played for the Griffins, joining Chris (2008-09) and Jake (2018-19) Chelios, and Derek (1999-01; 2002-04) and D.J. (2021-22) King. Family ties have been a common theme throughout the franchise’s history, as five sets of brothers have suited up for the Griffins: Sheldon (2001-03) and Wade (2001-02) Brookbank; Valtteri (2005-07) and Ilari (2010-11) Filppula; Kevin (1999-00; 03-04), Kelly (1999-00) and Kip (2000-02; 04-05; 06-07) Miller, along with cousin Drew (2016-17); Todd (1996-98; 99-00; 01-02) and Jeff (1996-97; 03-04; 05-06) Nelson; and Givani (2016-17; 18-21; 22-23) and Gemel (2021-22) Smith.

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 31 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 80-52 in the final frame and outshot their opponents 599-559. Grand Rapids has seven wins when trailing after the second period, which is tied for second 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 33-19-8-4 record and 78 points and have clinched a playoff berth for the 18th time in 28 seasons. All of Grand Rapids’ remaining eight games will be against the Central Division. The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 26-12-4-2 (.659) with a plus-19 scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Iowa (6-0-0-0). Rockford will be the Griffins’ most frequent opponent down the stretch, as there are still three meetings remaining against the franchise.

Pucks on Net
The Griffins have done well when outshooting their opponents this season with a 18-3-5-4 (.750) record compared to a 14-15-3-0 (.484) mark when they are being outshot. Grand Rapids is 20-5-4-4 (.727) when producing at least 30 shots and 24-10-6-2 (.667) when it keeps its opponents under 29 shots. The Griffins rank 17th in the AHL with 29.4 shots per game, while they concede the sixth fewest in the league at 27.9. The Griffins are averaging 28.7 shots per game in their last 13 outings, while giving up an average of 26.0.

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 9-18-6-4 (.378). Grand Rapids has reached the four-goal mark in nine of its last 18 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 9-16-7-3 (.400) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 24-3-1-1 mark (.862) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 18 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals nine times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Jonatan Berggren
—1.16 points per game ranks 14th
Sebastian Cossa—2.55 GAA is tied for fifth among rookie netminders, .910 save percentage ranks sixth among rookie goaltenders
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 15th among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Five goals are tied for 11th among rookie defensemen, 17 points are tied for 15th 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
William Wallinder—Three goals are tied for 16th among rookie defensemen

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.
Josiah Didier—One game from 450 as a pro
Taro Hirose—One goal from 50 as a Griffin, one point from 200 as a Griffin
Marco Kasper—One assist from 50 as a pro

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins