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Game Notes: Griffins vs. Monsters - Dec. 31, 2023

Dec 31, 2023
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (11-13-3-1) vs. Cleveland Monsters (21-7-1-0)

Game Time: 6 p.m. at Van Andel Arena

Griffins Game #29 * Home Game #13 * AHL Game #463

Season Series: 0-0-1-1 Home Series: 0-0-1-0 Road Series: 0-0-0-1
All-Time Series:
71-38-7-12 All-Time Home Series: 40-18-3-3 All-Time Road Series: 31-20-4-9

Monsters at Griffins
Third of eight meetings overall, second of four at Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids is 17-7-2-2 (.750) against Cleveland in the past three seasons and has points in 15 out of the last 19 games overall (11-4-2-2, .684)...Since the 2019-20 season, the Griffins are 19-9-2-2 (.656) against Cleveland and have outscored them 99-83. On home ice during that span, Grand Rapids is 10-3-2-1 (.719) against the Monsters with a +13 scoring margin (50-37)...The Griffins have points in seven of the last eight games (4-1-2-1) against Cleveland inside Van Andel Arena...Cleveland’s power play ranks 11th in the AHL at 19.8% and its penalty kill places 24th at 78.2%...Cleveland enters the contest riding a seven-game win streak and is 8-2-0-0 in its last 10...Right wing Trey Fix-Wolanksy leads the Monsters against the Griffins with four points (1-3—4) in two games this campaign. Fix-Wolanksy is currently tied for ninth in the AHL with 28 points (10-18—28) in 25 outings...The Monsters are the third-most frequent opponent of the Griffins, as this game marks the 129th meeting between the two franchises (Milwaukee 215, Chicago 197)...Defenseman Wyatt Newpower played for Cleveland during the 2020-21 season and head coach Dan Watson suited up for the Cleveland Barons from 2002-04.

Last Time Out
Marco Kasper
(1-2--3), Brogan Rafferty (0-3--3) and Dominik Shine (1-3--4) all had three-plus points in the Griffins' 6-3 victory over the Chicago Wolves at Allstate Arena on Friday night. Shine's four-point performance topped his previous single-game record of three points, which also came against Chicago on March 22, 2023. For the second contest in a row, 10 different Griffins picked up a point. With the win, Grand Rapids tied the Iowa Wild for third place in the Central Division with a game in hand. Carter Mazur's second-period goal continued his hot streak, as it was his fourth goal in his last five contests. The win marked the first time this season that Grand Rapids has won consecutive road games.

Roster Shake Up
- Dec. 28—F Alex Doucet reassigned to Grand Rapids from Toledo by Detroit; D Simon Edvinsson reassigned by Detroit; F Dominik Shine re-signed to a one-year contract by Grand Rapids
- Dec. 29—G Michael Hutchinson assigned by Detroit; G John Lethemon reassigned to Toledo from Grand Rapids by Detroit
- Dec. 30—F Trenton Bliss recalled by Grand Rapids; F Trenton Bliss reassigned to Toledo by Grand Rapids; F Jonatan Berggren and F Austin Czarnik reassigned by Detroit

This Date in Griffins History
2015: Jared Coreau pitches a 23-save shutout as the Griffins ring out 2015 with their franchise-record 11th consecutive home win, a 3-0 decision over division-leading Milwaukee.

Keep Chugging Along
The Griffins conclude a four-game road trip on Friday with a 2-1-1-0 record. Grand Rapids has not fared well away from home, as it is just 4-9-2-1 (.344) with a minus-19 scoring margin in foreign territory compared to a 7-4-1-0 (.625) mark at home with a plus-eight margin. Dating back to Nov. 17, the Griffins have won just three out of their last 11 road contests (3-6-2-0). However, Grand Rapids has won four out of its last six home games, dating back to Nov. 24. Grand Rapids’ 11 points on the road through 16 games are tied for 27th on the circuit, while its 15 points at home through 12 contests are tied for 17th. Despite the lackluster road ledger, the Griffins are tied for third place in the Central Division with two games in hand.

Ring in the New Year
The Griffins will host their 26th annual New Year’s Eve game tonight against the Cleveland Monsters. The game marks the first time Grand Rapids will play a team from Cleveland on New Year’s Eve, as the Griffins have hosted the Milwaukee Admirals in four of the last seven. The Griffins have won five of their last seven New Year’s Eve matchups and have sold out seven of the last nine affairs. First-year head coach Dan Watson will look to keep a tradition alive, as each of the last four Griffins head coaches won their first New Year’s Eve game (Ben Simon, Todd Nelson, Jeff Blashill and Curt Fraser). Overall, the Griffins are 12-11-1-1 during New Year’s Eve games.

It’s Taco Time
Last Tuesday, Taro Hirose passed Mitch Callahan for seventh on the Griffins’ all-time point list with 187 (47-140—187). The former Michigan State Spartan has also continued to climb the team’s all-time assist list, as he took sole possession of third place with his 136th helper on Dec. 1. Hirose is 42 assists from tying Travis Richards for second on the assist list and nine points from tying Tomas Tatar for sixth on the point list. The 27-year-old enjoyed a season-high seven-game point streak (3-7—10) from Nov. 17-Dec. 5, which tied Simon Edvinsson for the longest run of the campaign by a Griffin. Hirose, who has competed for the Griffins for the past five campaigns, has six multi-point games this season and three assists in his last four outings.

Numbers Don’t Lie
Below is a list of interesting trends and records this season for the Griffins:
- 8-0-1-0 when leading after two periods, compared to 3-13-2-1 when tied or trailing;
- 9-1-1-0 when scoring at least four goals, compared to 2-12-2-1 when scoring three or less;
- 9-2-0-0 when allowing two goals or less, compared to 2-11-3-1 when allowing three or more;
- 3-7-2-1 when allowing 20-29 shots a game, compared to 5-6-1-0 when allowing 30 or more;
- 5-9-2-1 when allowing a power-play goal, 8-5-2-1 when scoring a power-play goal;
- 83.7% home penalty kill, compared to 68.4% on the road.

Future is Bright
Rookie Carter Mazur has lit the lamp in three straight games and has scored four goals in his last five contests after being held scoreless in his previous five outings. The Jackson, Michigan, product is tied for fifth on the roster with 13 points (7-6—13) in 22 contests. 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 19 points (10-9—19) in 28 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.

Johnny Bravo
Jonatan Berggren
has three points (2-1—3) in his last three outings, which included goals in consecutive games from Dec. 15-19. Berggren now has 14 points (7-7—14) in his last 13 games with the Griffins. The Enkoping, Sweden, product enjoyed a six-game point streak in the AHL (4-5—8) from Nov. 18-Dec. 5, which included a team-high 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 ranks second on the roster with 18 points (7-11—18) in 19 outings and has a combined 89 points (32-57—89) in 96 career AHL appearances from 2021-24. 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 74 games with the Red Wings throughout two seasons and has 32 points (17-15—32), including four points (2-2—4) in seven appearances this campaign. Berggren was recalled by Detroit on Tuesday under emergency conditions and reassigned to Grand Rapids on Saturday. 

Timmy G
Newcomer Tim Gettinger has been a welcome addition to the Griffins’ roster this season, as he ranks fourth on the team in points (7-8—15) and is tied for second in goals (7). The sixth-year pro has five points (1-4—5) in his last five games and posted two points in consecutive games from Dec. 15-19. Gettinger is on pace to have a career season in the AHL, as his projected 19 goals and 41 points would both set a new career best. The 6-foot-6 forward notched career-high numbers last season in points (35) and assists (22). From 2018-23, the 25-year-old competed for the Hartford Wolf Pack and logged 133 points (62-71—133) in 237 outings. Gettinger signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings this past offseason.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—3.09 GAA places eighth among rookie netminders, .897 save percentage ranks eighth among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—Six goals are tied for sixth among defensemen, two power-play goals are tied for fifth among defensemen, two game-winners are tied for fifth among defensemen
Antti Tuomisto—One game-winner is tied for first among rookie defensemen

On Friday, Josiah Didier competed in his 400th AHL game in a 6-3 win over Chicago. On Wednesday, Joel L’Esperance recorded his 200th point as a pro with a goal at Rockford.
Tim Gettinger
—One point from 150 as a pro, two points from 150 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—Three goals from 50 as a Griffin
Nolan Stevens—Two goals from 50 as a pro 

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins