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Game Notes: Griffins vs. Stars - Feb. 21, 2024

Feb 21, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (22-15-5-3) vs. Texas Stars (24-17-3-2)

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

February 21, 2024  ·  2 Minutes

Game Day Preview - February 21 vs. Texas Stars

Griffins Game #46 * Home Game #23 * AHL Game #761

Season Series: 1-4-1-0 Home Series: 1-1-0-0 Road Series: 0-3-1-0
All-Time Series:
40-29-5-5 All-Time Home Series: 21-12-1-4 All-Time Road Series: 19-17-4-1

Stars at Griffins
Seventh of eight meetings overall, third of four at Van Andel Arena...Since the 2019-20 season, the Griffins are 10-14-3-2 (.431) against Texas with a minus-21 scoring margin (102-81)...Also since 2019-20, Grand Rapids is 5-6-1-1 (.462) against the Stars at Van Andel Arena and has been outscored 41-38...The Griffins have points in three of the past four home games against Texas (2-1-0-1)…Through 46 games, Texas ranks second in the AHL with an average of 3.59 goals scored, while conceding an average of 3.24 goals (24th in AHL)...Texas is 5-3-1-1 in its last 10 games and 13-9-1-1 on the road this season...The Griffins are 7-0-1-2 in their last 10 and 12-6-3-1 at home...Grand Rapids is on a 12-game point streak overall (8-0-2-2) and a seven-game home point streak (4-0-2-1)...The Stars are on a five-game point streak (3-0-1-1) and have won back-to-back outings...The Stars’ penalty kill unit is tied for 22nd on the circuit at 80.4% and the Griffins come in at 26th (79.1%)...Texas’ power play places second at 22.9%, while the Griffins rank 13th (18.9%)...Joel L’Esperance competed with the Texas Stars from 2017-22 and totaled 136 points (80-56—136) in 183 games...Texas’ Logan Stankoven (24-33—57, 1st) and Mavrik Bourque (17-38—55, 2nd) are the top two scorers in the AHL. Bourque also paces the league in assists, while Stankoven is tied for second in goals.

Last Time Out
Austin Czarnik's
third-period game-winner stretched the Griffins' point streak to 12 games, as they beat the Rockford IceHogs 3-2 at the BMO Center on Saturday. The 12-game point streak is the team's longest since a 13-game run from Feb. 20-March 16, 2016. The Griffins also extended their road point streak to nine games (8-0-0-1), which is the longest road point streak by Grand Rapids since an 11-game run (9-0-1-1) from Jan. 29-March 12, 2015. Nine different Griffins registered a point in the contest. Czarnik's tally put the veteran at 15 points (5-10--15) in his last 16 contests, while Amadeus Lombardi's goal put the rookie at four points (2-2--4) in his last six outings.

Roster Shakeup
- Feb. 13—D Jared McIsaac reassigned to HC Ambri-Piotta (Switzerland) from Grand Rapids by Detroit
- Feb. 19—F Matt Luff assigned by Detroit

This Date in Griffins History
2004: A 2-1 victory over Milwaukee makes it a 14-game unbeaten streak for the Griffins on home ice.

Keep the Good Times Rolling
The Griffins saw their season-high seven-game win streak (Jan. 19-Feb. 9) come to an end on Feb. 9, which was the longest win streak since the team rattled off a 13-game run from Feb. 20-March 19, 2016. However, Grand Rapids is still on a 12-game point streak (8-0-2-2, Jan. 13-Feb. 17), which is the second-longest run in the AHL this season and the team’s longest since Feb. 20-March 19, 2016 (13-0-0-0). Grand Rapids saw its season-best seven-game road winning streak (Dec. 27-Feb. 2) come to an end last Tuesday, which was tied for the longest road winning streak in franchise history (Jan. 29-Feb. 28, 2015 and Oct. 16-Dec. 3, 2004). Grand Rapids’ active nine-game road point streak (8-0-0-1) is the longest since an 11-game run (9-0-1-1) from Jan. 29-March 12, 2015. The Griffins have secured at least a point in 19 of their last 22 contests (14-3-3-2). The Griffins are 13-2-2-2 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 13 of its last 17 games (10-4-2-1) 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 12-6-3-1 mark, outscoring their opponents 68-54. Grand Rapids has started to find a rhythm on the road, earning points in nine straight games to move above the .500 mark away from home (10-9-2-2).

I Need to Rest
The Griffins competed in five straight games that were decided past regulation from Feb. 2-16, which tied a franchise record set from Jan. 19-20, 2009. Last Friday was the first time in Griffins history that they lost on a penalty shot in overtime. The only other time they faced one was against the Monsters on Nov. 7, 2010 when Jordan Pearce stopped Lake Erie’s Brandon Rogers. The Griffins came away with two of the five victories from Feb. 2-16 (2-0-1-2) and are now 4-8 this season in games decided after regulation. 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.

Sea Bass Fishing
Rookie netminder Sebastian Cossa won a team-high four straight games from Jan. 19-Feb. 2 and is currently on a six-game point streak (4-0-2) from Jan. 19-Feb. 16. The 6-foot-7 goaltender is 7-2-3 in his last 12 outings from Dec. 15-Feb. 16. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 6-1-2 ledger with a 2.11 goals against average and a .919 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 nine games. Through 22 contests, Cossa is 10-7-5 with a 2.76 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. The 21-year-old ranks seventh among rookie goaltenders in goals against average and tied for seventh in save percentage.

Clutch Hutch
Veteran goaltender Michael Hutchinson has been solid for the Griffins this year, posting an 11-8-3 mark with one shutout in 23 games to go along with a 2.79 goals against average and a .897 save percentage. The 33-year-old is on an active five-game point streak from Jan. 13-Feb. 17 (3-0-2) and has a .903 save percentage and a 2.52 goals against average during the run. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Hutchinson has accumulated a 6-1-2 record with a .865 save percentage and a 2.55 goals against average. The Barrie, Ontario, native has an all-time AHL record of 117-79-23 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.

Rookie defenseman William Wallinder is on a season-high three-game assist streak (0-3—3) from Feb. 13-17. Through 43 games, the Solleftea, Sweden, native has 11 points (3-8—11), eight penalty minutes and a plus-four rating. Wallinder’s three goals are tied for 12th among first-year defensemen in the AHL. The 21-year-old was selected with the 32nd overall pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Last season with Rogle BK (SHL), Wallinder paced the Champions Hockey League defensemen with seven assists and in 2021-22 was named the Swedish Junior Hockey Player of the Year in addition to claiming a bronze medal at the World Junior Championship.

Lock it Down
The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.42 goals per game from Dec. 27-Feb. 17. 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 132 goals through 45 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and tied for seventh in the AHL. Grand Rapids also ranks 12th on the circuit with 2.93 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.38). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.76) and Michael Hutchinson (2.79) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Wyatt Newpower (+9), Albert Johansson (+7), Simon Edvinsson (+5), William Wallinder (+4), Antti Tuomisto (+2) and Brogan Rafferty (+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 four-game point streak (3-1—4) from Feb. 9-16 and has 14 points (8-6—14) in his last 12 games from Jan. 13-Feb. 17. Berggren also has 20 points (9-11—20) in his last 17 outings and 23 points (11-12—23) in his last 20 contests from Dec. 15-Feb. 17. The 23-year-old leads the roster in points (16-22—38), assists (22) and goals (16) through 36 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 109 points (41-68—109) in 113 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.

Oh, It’s You Again
The Griffins are in third place in the Central Division with a 22-15-5-3 record and 52 points, 13 points clear of a playoff spot. In the final 27 games of the regular season, Grand Rapids will compete against the Central Division 24 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 16-9-2-1 (.625) with a plus-12 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 will be the Griffins’ most frequent opponents down the stretch, as there are still six meetings against the franchise. Grand Rapids will also see a lot of Chicago (5) and Rockford (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 6-14-4-3 (.352). Grand Rapids has surpassed the four-goal mark in 10 of its last 22 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 6-12-5-3 (.385) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 16-3-0-0 mark (.842) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 22 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals 12 times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.76 GAA places seventh among rookie netminders, .905 save percentage is tied for 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 13th 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 first among rookie defensemen
William Wallinder—Three goals are tied for 12th among rookie defensemen

Zach Aston-Reese
competed in his 100th game in the AHL last Friday. Jonatan Berggren recorded his 200th point as a pro on Feb. 10 against Manitoba, while Simon Edvinsson registered his 50th point as a Griffin.
Taro Hirose—Three goals from 50 as a Griffin
Dominik Shine—Two games from 400 as a Griffin
Tyler Spezia—One assist from 50 as a Griffin

Photo by Texas Stars