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Game Notes: Griffins vs. IceHogs - Jan. 13, 2024

Jan 13, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (14-15-3-1) vs. Rockford IceHogs (14-14-3-1)

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

Griffins Game #34 * Home Game #16 * AHL Game #536

Season Series: 1-2-0-0 Home Series: 0-1-0-0 Road Series: 1-1-0-0
All-Time Series:
62-45-9-11 All-Time Home Series: 38-15-5-5 All-Time Road Series: 24-30-4-6

IceHogs at Griffins
Fourth of 12 meetings overall, second of six at Van Andel Arena…Dating back to the final meeting of the 2019-20 season, Grand Rapids now has points in 18 of the last 28 games (15-10-2-1, .589) against the IceHogs...The Griffins are 19-13-2-3 (.581) since the 2019-20 season against Rockford and have outscored the IceHogs 99-94. At home since 2019-20, Grand Rapids is 9-4-2-3 (.639) against the IceHogs and has outscored Rockford 48-39...The Griffins have points in 14 of the last 18 games against the IceHogs at Van Andel Arena...Grand Rapids is 6-3-1-0 in its last 10 games and 8-6-1-0 at home this season...The IceHogs are 8-7-2-1 on the road and 5-3-1-1 in their last 10...Rockford has shut out the Griffins in two of the three meetings this season...Rockford’s power play is tied for 16th at 18.2%, while its penalty kill comes in at 80.2% (19th)...Rockford ranks 27th in the league with 2.78 goals scored per game and 24th with 3.28 goals against per contest...The Griffins’ power play ranks 10th in the AHL at 20.2%, while their penalty kill ranks 28th at 76.9%...Rockford is Grand Rapids’ fourth-most frequent opponent (Milwaukee 216, Chicago 197, Cleveland 129), as tonight’s game marks the 128th meeting between the two franchises...Rockford’s Ethan Del Mastro is tied fourth among rookie defensemen with 17 points, fifth with 13 assists and tied for fourth with four goals.

Last Time Out
The Griffins failed to crack the puzzle of Mitchell Weeks, as he collected his first AHL shutout in a 2-0 victory for the Rockford IceHogs at Van Andel Arena on Friday. The shutout loss was their fourth of the season, two of which have now come against Rockford. The defeat also tied a season-high home losing streak at two games. In the loss, Sebastian Cossa stopped 32-of-33 shots for a .970 save percentage. The rookie netminder has allowed only one goal in two consecutive starts.

Roster Shake Up
- Jan. 3—F Trenton Bliss recalled by Grand Rapids
- Jan. 7—F Zach Aston-Reese reassigned by Detroit
- Jan. 9—F Alex Doucet reassigned to Toledo (ECHL) from Grand Rapids by Detroit; F Trenton Bliss reassigned to Toledo by Grand Rapids

This Date in Griffins History
2001: Derek King improves his team-record point streak to 17 games, the longest in the IHL since 1996-97, in a 4-2 loss to Chicago.

Keep the Foot on the Gas
The Griffins have climbed into a tie for third place in the Central Division by winning a season-best five games in a row from Dec. 27-Jan. 6 and earning points in seven of their last 10 contests (6-3-1-0). The last time the Griffins enjoyed a five-game winning streak was more than five years ago, which was part of a six-game run from Nov. 24-Dec. 5, 2018. Since returning from the holiday break, the Griffins have outscored their opponents 25-13, scoring an average of 3.57 goals per game. Grand Rapids allowed just one goal in three consecutive games from Dec. 31-Jan. 6. Grand Rapids has won six of its last 10 games (6-4-0-0) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in five of its past six road appearances (4-1-1-0). The Griffins have been good at home with an 8-6-1-0 mark, outscoring their opponents 44-35. Although it has been better in foreign territory as of late, earning four straight victories, Grand Rapids still holds a 6-9-2-1 record away from home and is being outscored 64-51.

One-Two Punch
Goaltenders Sebastian Cossa and Michael Hutchinson have won a combined five out of the seven games and have allowed an average of 1.86 goals per game during the run. Cossa has allowed just one goal in consecutive starts from Jan. 5-12, while Hutchinson collected a team-best three straight wins from Dec. 29-Jan. 6 with a .939 save percentage. The Griffins allowed just one goal in three consecutive games from Dec. 31-Jan. 6. Through 17 appearances, Hutchinson shows an 8-8-1 record with one shutout to go along with a 2.75 GAA and a .903 save percentage. Cossa has suited up for 16 games this season and has a 6-7-3 ledger with a 2.84 GAA and a .906 save percentage. Cossa ranks sixth among rookies in goals against average and sixth in save percentage. Combined, the netminding duo has a 2.79 goals against average and a .904 save percentage.

Future is Bright
Rookie Carter Mazur lit the lamp in four straight games from Dec. 20-31 and has scored seven goals in his last 10 contests after being held scoreless in his previous five outings. Since Dec. 15, Mazur has eight points (7-1—8) in 10 outings. The Jackson, Michigan, product ranks fifth on the roster with 16 points (10-6—16) in 27 contests and is tied for eighth among AHL rookies with 10 goals. On Nov. 15 against Chicago, Mazur tied his career high of three points (2-1—3) and later logged his second multi-point game of the season on Dec. 2 at Milwaukee (1-1—2). This past summer, the 21-year-old made his Team USA debut at the World Championship and accumulated four points (1-3—4) in 10 contests. The former third-round selection (70th overall) by the Red Wings has a total of 22 points (13-9—22) in 33 games throughout his pro career. Prior to turning pro, Mazur spent two seasons at the University of Denver (2021-23) and amassed 75 points (36-39—75) in 81 games, winning a national title in 2022 and earning a spot on the NCAA Second All-American Team in 2023.

Jumping for Joel
For the first 11 games of the campaign, Joel L’Esperance had just two points (0-2—2) and was without a goal. Since then, the prolific goal scorer has 12 points (11-1—12) in his last 20 games, including 11 goals. L’Esperance found the back of the net in a team-high five consecutive games from Dec. 27-Jan. 6 and now leads the roster with 11 goals in 31 appearances. In 2022-23, the sixth-year pro tied his career high of 49 points (25-24—49) and potted over 20 goals for the fourth straight season. During his 300th pro contest on Nov. 24 versus Manitoba, the Brighton, Michigan, native scored two goals, and he later bagged his 200th pro point with another tally on Dec. 27 at Rockford. Throughout parts of six AHL seasons, L’Esperance has 199 points (116-83—199) in 286 outings.

Johnny Bravo
Jonatan Berggren
has six points (1-5—6) in his last five outings, which included a four-game assist streak from Dec. 31-Jan. 10. Berggren also has nine points (3-6—9) in his last eight games from Dec. 15-Jan. 10 and now leads the roster with 24 points (8-16—24) in 24 games this season. The Enkoping, Sweden, product enjoyed a six-game point streak in the AHL (4-5—8) from Nov. 18-Dec. 5, which included a three-game goal run from Nov. 18-26 and a team-best five-game assist streak from Nov. 24-Dec. 5. The 23-year-old has a combined 95 points (33-62—95) in 101 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). The prospect has appeared in 76 games with the Red Wings throughout two seasons and has 33 points (17-16—33), including five points (2-3—5) in nine appearances this campaign.

The Kids Are Alright
The Griffins’ roster is littered with Detroit Red Wings prospects that are starting to find their footing in the American Hockey League. Jonatan Berggren (3-6—9 in last 8 GP), Sebastian Cossa (3-2-1 in 6 GP), Simon Edvinsson (0-4—4 in 5 GP), Albert Johansson (2-3—5 in 9 GP), Marco Kasper (1-5—6 in 7 GP), Amadeus Lombardi (0-3—3 in 8 GP), Carter Mazur (7-1—8 in 10 GP), Elmer Soderblom (1-4—5 in 8 GP) and Antti Tuomisto (2-1—3 in 7 GP) have all produced on the offensive side of the ice as of late. Berggren leads the team with 24 points (8-16—24), Mazur is tied for eighth among rookies with 10 goals, Tuomisto is tied for sixth among rookie defensemen with three goals, Edvinsson is tied for eighth among defensemen with six goals, and Johansson is tied for 11th among defensemen with a plus-11 rating.

Come Out of the Gates Fast
Playing with the lead has been huge for the Griffins this season, as they are 8-2-1-0 when leading after the first period, 11-1-1-0 when leading after the second, and 11-7-1-1 when scoring first. In comparison, Grand Rapids is just 6-13-2-1 when trailing or tied after the opening frame and 3-14-2-1 when trailing or tied after the second. The Griffins’ largest comeback of the season came on Dec. 15 against Texas when they trailed by two goals early in the second period and went on to collect a 4-2 victory. The last time Grand Rapids trailed in the third period and came back to win was on Dec. 9 at Belleville (trailed 2-1, won 4-3 in overtime).

Under Three is Key
Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 12-1-1-0 (.893). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 2-14-2-1 (.184). Grand Rapids has scored four or more goals in five straight games from Dec. 27-Jan. 6 and in six of its last 10 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 2-12-3-1 (.222) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 12-3-0-0 mark (.800) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 11 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals just four times and allowed just one goal in three straight contests from Dec. 31-Jan. 6.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.84 GAA places sixth among rookie netminders, .906 save percentage ranks sixth among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—Six goals are tied for eighth among defensemen, two power-play goals are tied for seventh among defensemen, two game-winners are tied for fifth among defensemen
Albert Johansson—Plus-11 rating is tied for 11th among defensemen
Carter Mazur—10 goals are tied for eighth among rookies, two game-winners are tied for sixth among rookies, four power-play goals are tied for ninth among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Three goals are tied for sixth among rookie defensemen, two game-winners are tied for sixth among rookies

On Wednesday, Jonatan Berggren recorded an assist in his 100th game as a Griffin and in the AHL. Tim Gettinger recorded his 150th pro point and 150th AHL point on Jan. 5 at the Iowa Wild, while Joel L’Esperance scored a goal in his 100th game as a Griffin.
Austin Czarnik—Two goals from 100 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—Three goals from 50 as a Griffin
Joel L’Esperance—One point from 200 in the AHL
Nolan Stevens—Two goals from 50 as a pro

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins