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Game Notes: Griffins vs. IceHogs - March 2, 2024

Mar 02, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (27-15-5-3) vs. Rockford IceHogs (23-21-5-2)

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

Griffins Game #51 * Home Game #28 * AHL Game #832

Season Series: 4-2-1-0 Home Series: 1-1-1-0 Road Series: 3-1-0-0
All-Time Series:
65-45-10-11 All-Time Home Series: 39-15-6-5 All-Time Road Series: 26-30-4-6

IceHogs at Griffins
Eighth of 12 meetings overall, fourth of six at Van Andel Arena…Dating back to the final meeting of the 2019-20 season, Grand Rapids now has points in 22 of the last 32 games (18-10-3-1, .625) against the IceHogs...The Griffins are 22-13-3-3 (.610) since the 2019-20 season against Rockford and have outscored the IceHogs 110-102. At home since 2019-20, Grand Rapids is 10-4-3-3 (.650) against the IceHogs and has outscored Rockford 53-43...Grand Rapids is 7-0-1-2 in its last 10 games and are on a 17-game point streak overall, a 12-game point streak at home and a six-game winning streak overall...The IceHogs are 11-10-2-1 on the road and 7-2-1-0 in their last 10...Rockford is on a four-game win streak...Rockford has shut out the Griffins in two of the seven meetings this season...Rockford’s power play ranks 16th at 18.5%, while its penalty kill comes in at 83.7% (T10th)...Rockford ranks 27th in the league with 2.75 goals scored per game and 15th with 3.06 goals against per contest...The Griffins’ power play ranks 21st in the AHL at 17.7%, while their penalty kill is tied for 19th at 81.2%...Rockford is Grand Rapids’ third-most frequent opponent (Milwaukee 217, Chicago 197), as tonight’s game marks the 132nd meeting between the two franchises...Rockford’s Ethan Del Mastro is tied for fourth among rookie defensemen with 27 points, fifth with 21 assists and tied for fifth with six goals.

Last Time Out
Carter Mazur's
three-point night (1-2--3) helped the Griffins secure a 4-3 win over the Iowa Wild, which pushed their point streak to 17 straight contests at Van Andel Arena on Friday. Grand Rapids inched closer to a tie with the franchise record 19-game point streak (15-0-3-1), as the last time the team went on a 17-game run of points was during the aforementioned 19-game streak from Feb. 4-March 20, 2015. Grand Rapids' victory strung together a five-game run of wins at Van Andel Arena, which last occurred from Dec. 7, 2016-Jan. 4, 2017. Michael Hutchinson kept his point streak alive with a .903 save percentage (28-of-31), as it pushed the stretch to seven games (5-0-2). Jonatan Berggren, who leads in points against Iowa (2-3--5 in 4 GP), tallied a goal in the win, which extended his point streak to four games (2-3--5) and also put the team's point leader at 25 points (11-14--25) in his last 22 contests.

This Date in Griffins History
2002: Simon Lajeunesse makes 26 saves to set a Griffins rookie record with his third shutout of the season, a 1-0 win over Milwaukee. It also marks the team's eighth shutout overall, tying the record set in 2000-01.

Keep the Good Times Rolling
The Griffins are on a 17-game point streak (13-0-2-2) from Jan. 13-March 1, which is the second-longest run in the AHL this season and the team’s second-longest in franchise history (Feb. 4-March 20, 2015 15-0-3-1), behind only the team-record 19-game run from Feb. 4-March 20, 2015 (15-0-3-1). The Griffins’ active 12-game home point streak (9-0-2-1) is the second-longest run in the AHL this season and the team’s first since the they earned a point in 15 straight games at Van Andel Arena from Nov. 11, 2015-Jan. 17, 2016 (14-0-1-0). Grand Rapids’ active nine-game road point streak (8-0-0-1) is their longest since an 11-game run (9-0-1-1) from Jan. 29-March 12, 2015 and is tied for the longest in the AHL this season. The Griffins have secured at least a point in 24 of their last 27 contests (19-3-3-2). The Griffins are 18-2-2-2 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 18 of its last 21 games (15-4-2-1) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in 10 of its past 11 road appearances (8-1-1-1). The Griffins have been solid at home with a 17-6-3-1 mark, outscoring their opponents 84-62. Grand Rapids found its rhythm on the road, earning points in nine straight games to move above the .500 mark away from home (10-9-2-2).

Historic Bout
On Sunday, the Griffins and Milwaukee Admirals made AHL history, as it was the first meeting between two teams riding point streaks of 14 games or more. Grand Rapids entered the night with points in 14 straight games and Milwaukee was on a 19-game winning streak, which was the second-longest run in AHL history. The Griffins came away victorious in a 4-2 win to extend their point streak to 15 outings (11-0-2-2), snapping the Admirals’ historic run. Sebastian Cossa finished with 37 saves and Marco Kasper was credited with the game-winner. The Griffins have not lost in regulation since a 2-0 setback on Jan. 12 against Rockford, while the Admirals’ defeat was their first since New Year’s Eve.

Sea Bass Fishing
Sebastian Cossa
was named the Howies Hockey Tape/AHL Player of the Week on Monday when he posted a 2-0-0 record with one shutout to go along with a 1.00 GAA and a .970 save percentage from Feb. 21-25. Last Wednesday, the 21-year-old collected his first AHL shutout with 28 saves in a 1-0 victory over the Texas Stars, lifting Grand Rapids past Texas into second place in the Central Division and becoming just the third Griffins rookie to record a shutout over the last nine seasons. Cossa went on to stop 37 shots on Sunday, including 14 in the third period, to help the Griffins snap Milwaukee’s 19-game winning streak and extend Grand Rapids’ point streak to 15 games (11-0-2-2). Cossa won a team-high four straight games from Jan. 19-Feb. 2 and is currently on a nine-game point streak (7-0-2) from Jan. 19-Feb. 28. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 9-1-2 ledger with a 2.08 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. The former 15th overall pick by the Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has allowed more than two goals just three times in his past 12 games. Through 25 contests, Cossa is 13-7-5 with one shutout to go along with a 2.57 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. Cossa ranks sixth among rookie goaltenders in goals against average and tied for fifth in save percentage.

Thou Shall Not Pass
The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.25 goals per game from Dec. 27-March 1 and 1.67 goals per game in their last six outings (Feb. 17-March 1). 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 140 goals through 50 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and fifth in the AHL. Grand Rapids is also tied for eighth on the circuit with 2.80 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.43). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.57) and Michael Hutchinson (2.73) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Wyatt Newpower (+9), Simon Edvinsson (+9), Antti Tuomisto (+8), Albert Johansson (+5), William Wallinder (+4), Brogan Rafferty (+1) and Josiah Didier (+1) all have a positive plus-minus rating.

Clutch Hutch
Veteran goaltender Michael Hutchinson has been solid for the Griffins this year, posting a 13-8-3 mark with one shutout in 25 games to go along with a 2.73 goals against average and a .900 save percentage. The 33-year-old is on an active seven-game point streak from Jan. 13-March 1 (5-0-2) and has a .892 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average during the run. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Hutchinson has accumulated an 8-1-2 record with a .905 save percentage and a 2.46 goals against average. The Barrie, Ontario, native has an all-time AHL record of 119-79-23 with a 2.60 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. Hutchinson has also appeared in 154 NHL contests, showing a 2.94 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.

Johnny Bravo
Jonatan Berggren
is on an active four-game point streak (2-3—5) from Feb. 24-March 1 and has 19 points (10-9—19) in his last 17 games from Jan. 13-March 1. Berggren also has 25 points (11-14—25) in his last 22 outings and 28 points (13-15—28) in his last 25 contests from Dec. 15-March 1. The 23-year-old leads the roster in points (18-25—43), assists (25) and goals (18) through 41 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 114 points (43-71—114) in 118 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).

Pucks on Net
The Griffins have done well when outshooting their opponents this season with a 14-2-3-3 (.773) record compared to a 12-12-2-0 (.500) mark when they are being outshot. Grand Rapids is 16-4-2-3 (.740) when producing at least 30 shots and 16-7-4-1 (.661) when it keeps its opponents between 20-29 shots. The Griffins rank 16th in the AHL with 29.7 shots per game, while they concede the seventh fewest in the league at 28.4. The Griffins are averaging 34.2 shots per game in their last nine outings, while giving up an average of 28.9.

Oh, It’s You Again
The Griffins are in second place in the Central Division with a 27-15-5-3 record and 62 points, 21 points clear of a playoff spot. In the final 22 games of the regular season, Grand Rapids will compete against the Central Division 19 times, with its only games outside of the division coming against Cleveland (3). The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 21-9-2-1 (.682) with a plus-20 scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Chicago (3-0-0-0) and Iowa (4-0-0-0). Rockford and Chicago will all be the Griffins’ most frequent opponents down the stretch, as there are still five meetings against each franchise.

Under Three is Key
Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 19-1-1-0 (.929). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 8-14-4-3 (.397). Grand Rapids has surpassed the four-goal mark in 13 of its last 27 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 7-12-5-3 (.407) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 20-3-0-0 mark (.870) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 27 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals 13 times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.57 GAA places sixth among rookie netminders, .912 save percentage is tied for fifth among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—Eight goals are tied for 10th among defensemen, three game-winners are tied for fourth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—Five power-play goals are tied for 10th among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Four goals are tied for ninth among rookie defensemen, one power-play goal is tied for seventh among rookie defensemen, two game-winners are tied for first among rookie defensemen, plus-eight rating is tied for seventh among rookie defensemen

Last night, Tim Gettinger suited up for his 300th game as a pro. Austin Czarnik skated in his 300th game in the AHL on Wednesday against Iowa. Matt Luff appeared in his 200th game in the AHL on Sunday. On Saturday, Dominik Shine competed in his 400th game as a Griffin.
Simon Edvinsson—One game from 100 as a Griffin
Taro Hirose—Three goals from 50 as a Griffin
Elmer Soderblom—Two goals from 50 as a pro
Tyler Spezia—One assist from 50 as a Griffin
Antti Tuomisto—One game from 100 as a pro
Dan Watson—One win from 300 as a head coach

Photo by Rockford IceHogs