Game Notes: Griffins vs. Moose - Nov. 26, 2023
Grand Rapids Griffins (5-7-1-1) vs. Manitoba Moose (6-9-0-0)
Game Time: 5 p.m. at Van Andel Arena
Griffins Game #15 * Home Game #8 * AHL Game #265
Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Home Series: 1-0-0-0 Road Series: 0-0-0-0
All-Time Series: 71-42-1-1-9 All-Time Home Series: 39-18-1-1-6 All-Time Road Series: 32-24-0-0-3
Moose at Griffins
Second of eight meetings overall, second of four at Van Andel Arena…Since the Moose rejoined the AHL in 2015-16, Grand Rapids is 27-18-0-2 (.596) against them, including a 16-8-0-1 (.660) ledger in Grand Rapids…The Griffins are 9-12-0-2 (.435) overall against Manitoba since the 2019-20 season with a minus-11 scoring margin (68-57)...At home since 2019-20, Grand Rapids is 7-5-0-1 (.577) against the Moose with a plus-one scoring margin (32-31)...This is the 125th meeting between the two teams, which is tied for the fourth-most encounters by any Grand Rapids opponent...Manitoba is 3-7-0-0 in its last 10 games while the Griffins are 3-5-1-1...On foreign ice this season, the Moose are 4-3-0-0 and the Griffins bolster a 4-2-1-0 ledger at home...The Moose rank third in the AHL with a power play percentage of 25.0%, while the Griffins place 28th with a penalty kill at 76.5%...Manitoba’s penalty kill ranks 27th at 76.6% and the Griffins’ power play ranks eighth at 21.4%...Manitoba rookies Nikita Chibrikov (7-9—16, 5th) and Brad Lambert (6-7—13, T8th) both rank in the top eight for scoring among first-year players in the AHL.
Last Time Out
Michael Hutchinson’s 29-save performance helped lift the Griffins to a 5-1 victory against the Manitoba Moose on their 23rd annual Teddy Bear Toss night on Friday at Van Andel Arena. Leading the Griffins was Joel L’Esperance, who netted his first and second goals of the season in his 300th pro game. Taro Hirose joined L’Esperance in celebrating a milestone, as he tied Kip Miller for fourth place on the Griffins’ all-time assists list at 133 with a helper on Jonatan Berggren’s tally. The Griffins’ penalty kill shut down Manitoba’s No. 1 ranked power play in the victory, killing off all three man-advantages.
Roster Shake Up
- Oct. 31—F Carter Mazur assigned by Detroit
- Nov. 16—G John Lethemon reassigned to Grand Rapids from Toledo (ECHL) by Detroit; F Riley Sawchuk assigned to Toledo (ECHL) by Grand Rapids
- Nov. 19—G John Lethemon reassigned to Toledo (ECHL) from Grand Rapids by Detroit; F Austin Czarnik reassigned by Detroit
This Date in Griffins History
2008: Darren McCarty makes his season debut with the Griffins, lighting the lamp in the shootout of a 3-2 loss during Grand Rapids’ first-ever meeting with the Manchester Monarchs.
Home Sweet Home
The Griffins began a four-game homestand on Friday against the Manitoba Moose. The Moose, who conclude a two-game set this weekend against Grand Rapids, are tied with the Griffins in the Central Division standings. Van Andel Arena has been kind to Grand Rapids, as the team shows a 4-2-1-0 record and is coming off consecutive wins with at five goals scored for.
It’s Taco Time
Taro Hirose, who has competed for the Griffins for the past five seasons, has continued to climb the Griffins’ all-time leaderboard for assists and points. On Friday, Hirose tied Jiri Hudler for eighth on the Griffins’ all-time points list with 179 and is now seven points from tying Mitch Callahan for seventh. The Calgary, Alberta, native is also tied for fourth on the team’s all-time assists list with 133 and is two helpers from tying Francis Pare for third place.
Stumbling Out of the Gate
First periods have been very unkind to the Griffins to begin the season, as they have been outscored 14-7 and outshot 150-139. However, the Griffins did win the first period on Friday against the Manitoba Moose with a 1-0 advantage. Grand Rapids has a record of 1-5-0-0 when trailing after the first stanza, compared to a 4-2-1-1 mark when it is tied or leading after the first. The Griffins have won just two first periods in the first 14 games of the season. Since beginning 2-0-0-0, the Griffins have won just three games in their last 12 outings (3-7-1-1).
The Griffins place 25th in the AHL with 2.71 goals scored per game and 26th with 3.43 goals allowed per game, which is not a winning recipe. However, after scoring an average of 1.60 goals from Oct. 28-Nov. 11, Grand Rapids is averaging four goals in its last four contests. Keeping the puck out of the net has been a problem, as the team gave up an average of 5.50 goals per game last weekend against the Texas Stars and has averaged 4.17 goals against in its last six games from Nov. 10-24. Newcomer Tim Gettinger leads the squad with six goals in 12 outings, while goaltenders Sebastian Cossa and Michael Hutchinson have a combined 3.20 goals against average.
Well, Well, Well, Look Who We Have Here
The Griffins’ next four games will be against Central Division rivals, after having their past four against the Central Division as well. Grand Rapids will face Chicago and Manitoba once, and Milwaukee twice from Nov. 26-Dec. 2. Out of the remaining 58 games, only 12 of those will be against teams outside of the Central Division (Belleville – 4, Cleveland – 6, Toronto – 2). So far, the Griffins are 3-3-0-0 against the Central Division, 2-2-0-0 against the Pacific Division and 0-2-2-0 versus the North Division.
Shoot Your Shot
After allowing an average of 39.75 shots in their first four games, the Griffins allowed an average of just 27.2 shots in their last 10 outings. Last Saturday at Texas, Grand Rapids allowed more than 29 shots for the first time since Oct. 21. The Griffins have climbed the AHL shots allowed standings but are still 18th in the league with an average of 30.8 shots allowed per game. After struggling to put pucks on net itself early in the season, Grand Rapids has surged in that category, showing 40-plus shots in two of its last four games. The Griffins are tied for 15th out of 32 teams at 29.9 shots per game. On Nov. 15 against the Chicago Wolves, the Griffins blasted a season-high 44 shots in a 5-2 victory and showed 41 shots last Saturday at the Texas Stars. The first period has been the killer, as the Griffins have been outshot 150-139 in the opening frame. In the second period, Grand Rapids has been outshot 151-134 but it has outshot its opponent in the third by a slim 138-127 margin.
U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A
Last Thursday, former Griffin Brett Peterson was named the general manager of the 2024 U.S. Men’s National Team. As part of his five-year pro career, Peterson suited up for 18 regular-season games with the Griffins in 2008-09 and notched one assist and four penalty minutes, adding one assist in one postseason contest. The 42-year-old is in his fourth season as the assistant general manager for the Florida Panthers (2020-24), making a trip to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. The U.S. Men’s National Team will compete in the 2024 IIHF Men’s World Championship from May 10-26 in Prague and Ostrava, Czechia.
AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Simon Edvinsson—Three goals are tied for ninth among defensemen, two power-play goals are tied for first among defensemen
Wyatt Newpower—31 penalty minutes rank sixth among defensemen
On Friday, Taro Hirose tied Kip Miller (133) for fourth on the Griffins’ all-time assists list and Joel L’Esperance competed in his 300th pro game, scoring two goals in the process.
Zach Aston-Reese—Three points from 50 in the AHL
Austin Czarnik—Three goals from 100 in the AHL
Tim Gettinger—One game from 250 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—One assist from 150 as a pro, one point from 200 as a pro
Jared McIsaac—One point from 50 as a pro and as a Griffin, two games from 150 as a Griffin, one game from 150 as a pro
Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins