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Game Notes: Griffins vs. Monsters - Feb. 16, 2024

Feb 16, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (21-15-4-3) vs. Cleveland Monsters (27-15-2-1)

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

Griffins Game #44 * Home Game #22 * AHL Game #726

Season Series: 1-0-1-2 Home Series: 1-0-1-0 Road Series: 0-0-0-2
All-Time Series:
72-38-7-13 All-Time Home Series: 41-18-3-3 All-Time Road Series: 31-20-4-10

Monsters at Griffins
Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four at Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids is 18-7-2-3 (.683) against Cleveland in the past three seasons and has points in 17 out of the last 21 games overall (12-4-2-3, .690)...Since the 2019-20 season, the Griffins are 20-9-2-3 (.662) against Cleveland and have outscored them 106-87. On home ice during that span, Grand Rapids is 11-3-2-1 (.735) against the Monsters with a +17 scoring margin (55-38)...Cleveland’s power play is tied for 10th in the AHL at 19.6% and its penalty kill places 18th at 81.2%...Cleveland has lost five of its last seven games since Jan. 26 and is 4-5-1-0 in its last 10...The Griffins are 7-0-1-2 in their last 10 games and are on a season-high 10-game point streak...On the road, the Monsters are 13-6-1-1, while Grand Rapids is 12-6-2-1 at home...Right wing Trey Fix-Wolansky leads the Monsters against the Griffins with five points (1-4—5) in four games this campaign. Fix-Wolansky is currently tied for sixth in the AHL with 42 points (13-29—42) in 41 outings...The Monsters are the third-most frequent opponent of the Griffins, as this game marks the 131st meeting between the two franchises (Milwaukee 216, 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
The Griffins' third-period comeback bid was denied by the Cleveland Monsters in a 3-2 shootout loss at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Tuesday. Grand Rapids pushed their point streak to 10 games in the shootout loss (7-0-1-2). The defeat halted the Griffins' road win streak at seven games, which tied a franchise record. Jonatan Berggren and Carter Mazur both picked up a point in the outing, which extended a three-game point streak for the duo. Berggren's goal marked his 19th point (8-11--19) in his last 15 games. Michael Hutchinson, who curated a .931 save percentage (27-of-29) in the loss, has put together a 5-1-2 record in his last eight contests.

Roster Shake Up
- Jan. 31—D Brogan Rafferty recalled by Detroit
- Feb. 1—D Brogan Rafferty reassigned by Detroit
- Feb. 12—F Nolan Stevens recalled by Detroit for purpose of mutually terminating contract
- Feb. 13—D Jared McIsaac reassigned to HC Ambri-Piotta (Switzerland) from Grand Rapids by Detroit

This Date in Griffins History
2001: Kip Miller’s four-point night powers the Griffins to their 200th regular season win, 7-5 at Kansas City.

Shoot Your Shot
The past four games for the Griffins have been decided by a shootout. The last time four straight Griffins games were decided by a shootout was from March 24-30, 2018. Four straight games tied at the end of regulation is one shy of tying a franchise record set from Jan. 19-30, 2009 when the team went OTL, OTW, SOW, SOW, SOL. The Griffins came away with two of the four shootout victories from Feb. 2-13 and are now 2-3 this season. As a team, the Griffins are a combined 6-for-25 during a shootout (24%), as Tim Gettinger (2-for-3) paces the team with a 66.7% conversion rate. Sebastian Cossa has stopped 75% (9-for-12) of opponents shootout attempts and Michael Hutchinson comes in at 66.7% (8-for-12). The Griffins have an all-time record of 117-126 during a shootout.

Keep the Good Times Rolling
The Griffins saw their season-high seven-game win streak (Jan. 19-Feb. 9) come to an end last weekend, which was the longest win streak since the team rattled of a 13-game run from Feb. 20-March 19, 2016. However, Grand Rapids is still on a 10-game point streak (7-0-1-2, Jan. 13-Feb. 13). Grand Rapids saw its season-best seven-game road winning streak (Dec. 27-Feb. 2) come to an end on Tuesday, which was tied for the longest road winning streak in franchise history (Jan. 29-Feb. 28, 2015 and Oct. 16-Dec. 3, 2004). The Griffins have secured at least a point in 17 of their last 20 contests (13-3-2-2) and are tied with Texas for second place in the Central Division. The Griffins are 12-2-1-2 since Christmas and have a pair of winning streaks of five or more games in the same season for the first time since 2015-16. Grand Rapids has points in 12 of its last 16 games (10-4-1-1) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in nine of its past 10 road appearances (7-1-1-1). The Griffins have been solid at home with a 12-6-2-1 mark, outscoring their opponents 65-50. Grand Rapids has started to find a rhythm on the road, earning points in eight straight games to even its record away from home (9-9-2-2).

Sea Bass Fishing
Rookie netminder Sebastian Cossa won a team-high four straight games from Jan. 19-Feb. 2 and is currently on a five-game point streak (4-0-1) from Jan. 19-Feb. 10. The 6-foot-7 goaltender is 7-2-2 in his last 11 outings from Dec. 15-Feb. 10, showing a .914 save percentage and a 2.38 goals against average. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 6-1-1 ledger with a 1.87 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. The former 15th overall pick by the Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has allowed more than two goals just twice in his past eight games. Through 21 contests, Cossa is 10-7-4 with a 2.70 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. The 21-year-old ranks seventh among rookie goaltenders in both goals against average and save percentage.

I Can See the Future
Rookie forwards Marco Kasper and Carter Mazur have had promising starts to their professional careers. Kasper, who was named the AHL Player of the Week on Jan. 22, is tied for fourth on the roster with 22 points (7-15—22) in 43 outings. Since the holiday break, the 19-year-old has 14 points in 17 appearances, including three multi-point games. Kasper was selected with the eighth overall pick by Detroit in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and is the only Griffin to appear in all 43 games this year. Mazur ranks third on the team with 23 points (11-12—23) in 37 contests. The Jackson, Mich., native enjoyed a four-game goal streak from Dec. 20-31 and now has 14 points (7-7—14) in his last 18 games from Dec. 20-Feb. 13. Mazur was taken with the 70th overall pick by Detroit in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and competed for Team USA at the 2023 World Championship this past summer. Kasper (1-1—2) saw his two-game point streak end on Tuesday, while Mazur (0-3—3) extended his assist streak to three games (Feb. 9-13).

Lock it Down
The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.35 goals per game from Dec. 27-Feb. 13. 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 126 goals through 43 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and tied for sixth in the AHL. Grand Rapids also is tied for 12th on the circuit with 2.93 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.42). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.70) and Michael Hutchinson (2.83) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Albert Johansson (+7), Wyatt Newpower (+6), Antti Tuomisto (+4), Simon Edvinsson (+4), Brogan Rafferty (+3), and William Wallinder (+2) all have a positive plus-minus rating. Last season, none of the Griffins’ blueliners finished with a positive plus-minus rating.

Johnny Bravo
Jonatan Berggren
enjoyed a season-high six-game point streak (5-5—10) from Jan. 13-27 and has 13 points (7-6—13) in his last 10 games from Jan. 13-Feb. 13. Berggren also has 19 points (8-11—19) in his last 15 outings and 22 points (10-12—22) in his last 18 games from Dec. 15-Feb. 13. The 23-year-old leads the roster in points (15-22—37), assists (22) and goals (15) through 34 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 108 points (40-68—108) in 111 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 participated in the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Tech CU.

The Last Czar
Austin Czarnik
enjoyed a season-high six-game point streak from Jan. 13-27 (3-5—8). Since returning to the Griffins from Detroit on Dec. 30, Czarnik has accumulated 15 points (5-10—15) in 15 games. The 31-year-old has made the most of his time in Grand Rapids, showing 22 points (8-14—22) in 24 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 59 points (22-37—59) in 67 career games with the Griffins. Czarnik has 284 points (103-181—284) in 294 AHL games from 2014-18 and 2019-24, scoring his 100th AHL goal on Jan. 24 against Rockford. 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.

Oh, It’s You Again
The Griffins are tied for second place in the Central Division with a 21-15-4-3 record and 49 points, 12 points clear of a playoff spot. In the final 29 games of the regular season, Grand Rapids will compete against the Central Division 25 times, with its only games outside of the division coming against Cleveland (4). The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 15-9-2-1 (.611) with a plus-11 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 Texas (1-4-1-0). Iowa and Rockford will be the Griffins’ most frequent opponents down the stretch, as there are still six meetings against both franchises. Grand Rapids will also see a lot of Chicago (5) as the season progresses.

Under Three is Key
Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 16-1-1-0 (.917). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 5-14-3-3 (.320). Grand Rapids has surpassed the four-goal mark in 10 of its last 20 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 6-12-4-3 (.380) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 15-3-0-0 mark (.833) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 20 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals 11 times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.70 GAA places seventh among rookie netminders, .908 save percentage ranks seventh among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—Two power-play goals are tied for 13th among defensemen, two game-winners are tied for fifth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—Two game-winners are tied for 11th among rookies, five power-play goals are tied for ninth among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Four goals are tied for seventh among rookie defensemen, one power-play goal is tied for sixth among rookie defensemen, two game-winners are tied for fifth among defensemen
William Wallinder—Three goals are tied for 12th among rookie defensemen

On Tuesday, Josiah Didier collected his 500th penalty minute as a pro. Jonatan Berggren recorded his 200th point as a pro on Feb. 10 against Manitoba, while Simon Edvinsson registered his 50th point as a Griffin. On Jan. 26, Berggren bagged his 100th point as a Griffin in just his 106th game, marking the seventh-fastest player to reach 100 points in franchise history.
Zach Aston-Reese—One game from 100 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—Three goals from 50 as a Griffin

Photo by Cleveland Monsters