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Game Notes: Griffins vs. IceHogs - Jan. 24, 2024

Jan 24, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (16-15-4-1) vs. Rockford IceHogs (16-15-3-1)

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

January 24, 2024  ·  2 Minutes

Game Day Preview - January 24 vs. Rockford IceHogs

Griffins Game #37 * Home Game #17 * AHL Game #599

Season Series: 1-2-1-0 Home Series: 0-1-1-0 Road Series: 1-1-0-0
All-Time Series:
62-45-10-11 All-Time Home Series: 38-15-6-5 All-Time Road Series: 24-30-4-6

IceHogs at Griffins
Fifth of 12 meetings overall, third of six at Van Andel Arena…Dating back to the final meeting of the 2019-20 season, Grand Rapids now has points in 19 of the last 29 games (15-10-3-1, .586) against the IceHogs...The Griffins are 19-13-3-3 (.579) since the 2019-20 season against Rockford and have outscored the IceHogs 101-97. At home since 2019-20, Grand Rapids is 9-4-3-3 (.632) against the IceHogs and has outscored Rockford 50-42...The Griffins have points in 15 of the last 19 games against the IceHogs at Van Andel Arena...Grand Rapids is 7-2-1-0 in its last 10 games and 8-6-2-0 at home this season...The IceHogs are 9-7-2-1 on the road and 6-3-0-1 in their last 10...Rockford has shut out the Griffins in two of the four meetings this season...Rockford’s power play ranks 15th at 19.1%, while its penalty kill comes in at 81.0% (17th)...Rockford ranks 27th in the league with 2.77 goals scored per game and 21st with 3.20 goals against per contest...The Griffins’ power play is tied for fifth in the AHL at 21.0%, while their penalty kill ranks 28th at 78.1%...Rockford is tied for Grand Rapids’ third-most frequent opponent (Milwaukee 216, Chicago 197, Cleveland 129), as tonight’s game marks the 129th meeting between the two franchises...Rockford’s Ethan Del Mastro ranks fifth among rookie defensemen with 18 points, fifth with 14 assists and tied for fifth with four goals.

Last Time Out
Four combined goals from Marco Kasper (2), Austin Czarnik and Zach Aston-Reese mounted a third-period comeback for the Griffins, as they completed their second straight come-from-behind victory with a 4-3 win over the Manitoba Moose at the Canada Life Centre on Saturday. Kasper collected five points (3-2--5) in the two-game series against Manitoba, which has the rookie at 11 points (4-7--11) in his last 10 contests. The victory over the Moose extended the Griffins' road win streak to six games.

Roster Shake Up
- Jan. 21—D Brogan Rafferty recalled by Detroit
- Jan. 22—D Brogan Rafferty reassigned by Detroit
- Jan. 23—D Brogan Rafferty recalled by Detroit
- Jan. 24—D Brogan Rafferty reassigned by Detroit

This Date in Griffins History
2002: Griffins and Detroit Red Wings hold a joint press conference at The B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids to announce a five-year affiliation agreement (2002-03 to 2006-07). Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill are present for the announcement, made before an overflow crowd of media and sponsors.

Just Keep Swimming
The Griffins enjoyed a season-high five-game win streak from Dec. 27-Jan. 6 and are currently on a season-best six-game road winning streak from Dec. 27-Jan. 20. Grand Rapids has secured at least a point in 10 of its last 13 contests (8-3-2-0) and sits in third place in the Central Division, one point ahead of fourth place Rockford. Since returning from the holiday break, the Griffins have outscored their opponents 36-23, scoring an average of 3.60 goals per game. Grand Rapids allowed just one goal in three consecutive games from Dec. 31-Jan. 6 and has allowed an average of 2.30 goals against since Dec. 27. Grand Rapids has points in seven of its last 11 games (6-4-1-0) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in seven of its past eight road appearances (6-1-1-0). The Griffins have been solid at home with an 8-6-2-0 mark, outscoring their opponents 46-38. Grand Rapids has started to find a rhythm on the road, earning six straight victories, and holds an 8-9-2-1 record away from home and is being outscored 71-60.

Kasper The Friendly Ghost
Rookie Marco Kasper collected five points (3-2—5) in two games last weekend at the Manitoba Moose, helping the Griffins rally from a three-goal deficit on each night. The 19-year-old scored the game-winner in overtime on Friday and secured his first two-goal game in the AHL on Saturday before assisting on the game-winner with 12 seconds remaining. For his efforts, Kasper was named the Howies Hockey Tape/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending on Jan. 21. The former eighth overall pick by Detroit in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft has accumulated 11 points (4-7—11) in his last 10 appearances. In total, the Klagenfurt, Austria, native has 18 penalty minutes and 19 points (6-13—19) in 36 games with the Griffins, which ranks fourth on the roster. Kasper made his NHL debut with the Red Wings as an 18-year-old on April 2, 2023 at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

One-Two Punch
Goaltenders Sebastian Cossa and Michael Hutchinson have combined for points in eight out of the last 10 contests (7-2-1) and have allowed an average of 2.30 goals per game during the run. Cossa allowed just one tally in consecutive starts from Jan. 5-12 and has a 4-2-1 record in his last seven outings, showing a .904 save percentage. Hutchinson collected a team-best three straight wins from Dec. 29-Jan. 6 and has points in five of his last six appearances (4-1-1) with a .918 save percentage. Through 19 games, Hutchinson shows a 9-8-2 record with one shutout to go along with a 2.78 GAA and a .900 save percentage. Cossa has suited up for 17 outings this season and has a 7-7-3 ledger with a 2.90 GAA and a .902 save percentage. Cossa ranks seventh among rookies in goals against average and tied for sixth in save percentage. Combined, the netminding duo has a 2.84 goals against average and a .901 save percentage.

On The Come Up
The Griffins’ power play has been a strong unit this season, as it is tied for fifth in the AHL with an overall conversion rate of 21.0% and the road power play comes ranks second at 24.2%. Grand Rapids has scored on the power play in seven of its last 10 games (9-for-31, 29.0%). Tim Gettinger, Joel L’Esperance and Carter Mazur are all tied for the team lead with four power-play goals, while Jonatan Berggren paces the squad with seven power-play assists. After allowing a power-play goal in a season-high five straight games from Dec. 19-31 (7-for-17, 41.2%), the Griffins have allowed just two power-play tallies in their last seven outings (24-for-26, 92.3%). However, Grand Rapids still ranks 28th in the AHL with a penalty kill rate of 78.1%. At home, the Griffins’ penalty kill ranks 13th in the league at 83.6%, while the road penalty kill ranks 31st on the circuit at 74.0%.

Oh, It’s You Again
At the midway point of the season, the Griffins rank third in the Central Division with a 16-15-4-1 record and 37 points, one point ahead of third place Rockford. In the final 36 games of the regular season, Grand Rapids will compete against the Central Division 29 times, with its only games outside of the division coming against Belleville (2) and Cleveland (5). The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 12-9-2-0 (.565) with a plus-eight scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Chicago (3-0-0-0) and Iowa (2-0-0-0), while it has collected just one win against Rockford (1-2-1-0) and Texas (1-4-1-0). Rockford will be the Griffins’ most frequent opponent down the stretch, as there are still eight meetings between the two teams. Grand Rapids will also see a lot of Iowa (6) and Chicago (5) as the season progresses.

Johnny Bravo
Jonatan Berggren
has nine points (2-7—9) in his last eight outings, which included a four-game assist streak from Dec. 31-Jan. 10. Berggren also has 12 points (4-8—12) in his last 11 games from Dec. 15-Jan. 20 and now leads the roster with 27 points (9-18—27) in 27 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 98 points (34-64—98) in 104 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 contests this campaign. Berggren was selected to participate in the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Tech CU alongside fellow country man Simon Edvinsson.

The Last Czar
Since returning to the Griffins from Detroit on Dec. 30, Austin Czarnik has accumulated eight points (1-7—8) in as many games. Czarnik is currently on a three-game point streak (1-2—3) from Jan. 13-20. The 31-year-old has made the most of his time in Grand Rapids, showing 15 points (4-11—15) in 17 appearances. Czarnik posted three assists on Dec. 31 against the Cleveland Monsters and logged five assists in three games from Dec. 9-Jan. 5. The Washington Township, Michigan, native signed a two-year deal with the Red Wings on July 7, 2022 and has since gone on to register 52 points (18-34—52) in 60 career games with the Griffins. Czarnik has 277 points (99-178—277) in 287 AHL games from 2014-18 and 2019-24. He has also suited up for 18 games with Detroit this season and has one assist, six penalty minutes and a minus-three rating. In total, Czarnik has 51 points (18-33—51) in 189 career NHL outings.

Under Three is Key
Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 14-1-1-0 (.906). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 2-14-3-1 (.200). Grand Rapids has surpassed the four-goal mark in eight of its last 13 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 4-12-4-1 (.310) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 12-3-0-0 mark (.800) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 14 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals just seven times and allowed just one goal in three straight contests from Dec. 31-Jan. 6.

Come Out of the Gates Fast
Despite mounting two, three-goal comebacks this past weekend at Manitoba, 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 12-7-1-1 when scoring first. In comparison, Grand Rapids is just 8-13-3-1 when trailing or tied after the opening frame and 5-14-3-1 when trailing or tied after the second. The Griffins’ largest comeback of the season came last Saturday against Manitoba when they trailed by three goals with 6:59 remaining in the second period and went on to collect a 4-3 victory. The last time Grand Rapids trailed in the third period and came back to win was also last Saturday at Manitoba (trailed 3-0, won 4-3).

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa—2.90 GAA places seventh among rookie netminders, .902 save percentage is tied for sixth among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—Six goals are tied for 12th among defensemen, two power-play goals are tied for 11th among defensemen, two game-winners are tied for fifth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—10 goals are tied for 14th among rookies, two game-winners are tied for eighth among rookies, four power-play goals are tied for 10th among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Three goals are tied for 10th among rookie defensemen, two game-winners are tied for fifth among defensemen

On Jan. 19, Zach Aston-Reese skated in his 400th game as a professional. Last Saturday, Dominik Shine passed Ed Patterson (457) for eighth on the team’s all-time penalty minutes list.
Jonatan Berggren—Two points from 100 as a Griffin and in the AHL
Austin Czarnik—One goal from 100 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—Three goals from 50 as a Griffin
Tyler Spezia—Two games from 300 as a pro
Nolan Stevens—Two goals from 50 as a pro

Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins