Calder Cup Champions - 2013 & 2017
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Game Notes: Griffins vs. Wild - March 15, 2024

Mar 15, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (27-17-7-4) vs. Iowa Wild (20-31-3-2)

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

Griffins Game #56 * Home Game #30 * AHL Game #908

Season Series: 4-0-0-0 Home Series: 2-0-0-0 Road Series: 2-0-0-0
All-Time Series:
47-23-5-3 All-Time Home Series: 23-10-4-2 All-Time Road Series: 24-13-1-1

Wild at Griffins
Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four at Van Andel Arena…The Griffins are 16-11-4-1 (.578) overall since the 2019-20 season against the Wild but have been outscored by Iowa 105-97...Grand Rapids is 9-4-3-0 (.656) at home against Iowa since the 2019-20 season with a plus-one scoring margin (48-47)...The Griffins have points in eight of the last 12 meetings (6-4-2-0, .583) against the Wild in Grand Rapids...The Wild are 9-15-3-1 on the road this season, while Grand Rapids is 17-6-4-2 at home...Iowa is 3-5-2-0 in its last 10 outings and has just one win in its last eight games (1-5-2-0)…The Griffins are 5-2-2-1 in their last 10 and are on a 14-game point streak at home (9-0-3-2)...The Wild’s power play is tied for 26th on the circuit at 16.4% and their penalty kill comes in at 72.9% (32nd)...The Griffins rank 24th in the league with a power-play rate of 17.3%, while their penalty kill is tied for 20th at 81.2%...Iowa ranks 30th out of 32 teams with an average of 2.52 goals scored per game and 31st with an average of 3.48 goals allowed per contest...Former Griffins head coach Ben Simon (2018-23) is now an assistant coach for the Wild...Former Griffin Turner Elson is featured on Iowa’s roster after being acquired by the Minnesota Wild at the NHL Trade Deadline.

Last Time Out
After trading blows through three periods, the Griffins ultimately fell 3-2 in overtime to the Cleveland Monsters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Tuesday. In their last 12 road games, the Griffins earned points in 10 of those outings. Sebastian Cossa's point streak extended to 12 contests (7-0-5) in the defeat, as the rookie netminder has not suffered a regulation loss since Jan. 12. Taro Hirose bagged a helper on Elmer Soderblom's goal, which put the fifth-year pro at four points (1-3--4) in his last seven games. Brogan Rafferty picked up an assist to stretch his helper streak (0-3--3) to three games. The overtime defeat pushed the Griffins' losing streak to five outings, which is tied for the season high. This was the fifth meeting against Cleveland out of seven games that entered overtime.

This Date in Griffins History
2006: Eric Manlow puts a happy end to a team-record 14 shootout rounds in a 3-2 triumph over Manitoba.

Roster Shake Up
- March 8—D Radim Simek assigned by Detroit
- March 9—F Jonatan Berggren recalled by Detroit
- March 11—F Tim Gettinger re-signed to a one-year contract extension by Detroit
- March 14—F Austin Czarnik recalled by Detroit; F Trenton Bliss recalled from Toledo (ECHL) by Grand Rapids

No Need for Extra Bodies
Last season, the Griffins used a franchise-record 49 players, which included a franchise-record eight goaltenders. The 49 players last campaign beat out the previous record of 48 set during the 2021-22 season. However, it has been much different this season, as the Griffins have not had a single skater compete on a professional tryout. Grand Rapids has used just four goaltenders this season, with two of them suiting up for just one game (John Lethemon & Ville Husso). The team has also used just 28 skaters throughout the season, a drastic change from the 49 and 48 players used in the past two seasons, respectively.

Let’s Not Get Too Down on Ourselves
The Griffins saw their 18-game point streak (13-0-3-2 from Jan. 13-March 2) come to an end last Monday in Cleveland, which was one game shy of tying the franchise record of 19 contests (Feb. 4-March 20, 2015 15-0-3-1) and is the second-longest run in the AHL this season. After last weekend’s games, the Griffins have now dropped five straight (0-2-2-1), which is tied for the season-high losing skid (Oct. 20-Nov. 1). The Griffins’ active 14-game home point streak (9-0-3-2) is the second-longest run in the AHL this season and the team’s first since it earned a point in 15 straight games at Van Andel Arena from Nov. 11, 2015-Jan. 17, 2016 (14-0-1-0). Grand Rapids’ nine-game road point streak (8-0-0-1) from Dec. 27-Feb. 17 was their longest since an 11-game run (9-0-1-1) from Jan. 29-March 12, 2015 and is tied for the second longest in the AHL this season. The Griffins have secured at least a point in 27 of their last 32 contests (19-5-5-3). The Griffins are 18-4-4-3 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 20 of its last 23 games (15-4-3-2) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in 11 of its past 14 road appearances (8-3-2-1). The Griffins have been solid at home with a 17-6-4-2 mark, outscoring their opponents 89-69. Grand Rapids has battled on the road this season, earning points in 10 of its last 12 games to move to 10-11-3-2 away from home.

Young Guns
Rookie forwards Marco Kasper and Carter Mazur have had promising starts to their professional careers. Mazur has eight points in his last seven games (4-4—8) and ranks second on the team with 31 points (15-16—31) in 48 contests. The Jackson, Michigan, native’s 15 goals are tied for eighth among first-year players in the AHL and his six power-play goals are tied for sixth. Mazur has three multi-point outings in his last six games and now has 13 points (5-8—13) in his last 17 games from Jan. 26-March 12. 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, who was named the AHL Player of the Week on Jan. 22, has three goals and four points in his last seven outings and is tied for fifth on the roster with 26 points (10-16—26) in 54 outings. Since Jan. 19, the 19-year-old has 12 points (7-5—12) in 20 appearances. Kasper was selected with the eighth overall pick by Detroit in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and made his NHL debut as an 18-year-old last season.

New Kid on the Block
Last Friday at the NHL Trade Deadline, the Detroit Red Wings acquired defenseman Radim Simek and a seventh-round pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for left wing Klim Kostin. Simek was then assigned to the Griffins later that afternoon. Simek, who was the captain of the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda, has 16 points (4-12—16), 29 penalty minutes and a plus-four rating in 40 games this season. The 6-foot, 200-pound defenseman has spent just three campaigns in the AHL with the Barracuda (2017-18, 2019-20, 2023-24), amassing 45 points (11-34—45), 49 penalty minutes and a plus-12 rating in 109 contests. Simek has spent five campaigns in the NHL with San Jose from 2018-23 and has suited up for 209 contests with 29 points (7-22—29) and 74 penalty minutes.

Matty Ice
On Feb. 21, Matt Luff made his season debut after rehabbing an injury suffered in training camp that kept him sidelined for the first 45 games of the season. After being held scoreless in his first five outings, Luff went on to record a point in three straight games from March 2-8 and now has five points (2-3—5) in his last five contests. Last season, the 26-year-old posted 25 points (8-17—25) and six penalty minutes in 28 games with the Griffins on top of producing four points (2-2—4) in 19 outings with the Detroit Red Wings. The Windsor, Ontario, native has 150 points (59-91—150) in 207 career AHL outings from 2016-24.

Sea Bass Fishing
Sebastian Cossa
was named the Howies Hockey Tape/AHL Player of the Week on Feb. 26 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. On Feb. 21, 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 Feb. 25, 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 12-game point streak (7-0-5) from Jan. 19-March 12. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 9-1-5 ledger with a 2.09 goals against average and a .922 save percentage. The former 15th overall pick by the Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has allowed more than two goals just five times in his past 15 games. Through 28 contests, Cossa is 13-7-8 with one shutout to go along with a 2.60 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. Cossa ranks eighth among rookie goaltenders in goals against average and seventh in save percentage.

Clutch Hutch
Veteran goaltender Michael Hutchinson has been solid for the Griffins this year, posting a 13-10-3 mark with one shutout in 27 games to go along with a 2.79 goals against average and a .898 save percentage. The 33-year-old enjoyed a seven-game point streak from Jan. 13-March 1 (5-0-2). Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Hutchinson has accumulated an 8-3-2 record with a .902 save percentage and a 2.62 goals against average. The Barrie, Ontario, native has an all-time AHL record of 119-81-23 with a 2.61 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.

Crunch Time
The Griffins have excelled during the third period of games this season, as they have outscored their opponents 67-47 in the final frame and outshot their opponents 521-486. Grand Rapids has six wins when trailing after the second period, which is tied for second in the AHL. The Griffins also have a 35-24 shot advantage in overtime this campaign. However, Grand Rapids is just 5-11 in games decided past regulation (3-7 in OT, 2-4 in SO).

Thou Shall Not Pass
The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.52 goals per game from Dec. 27-March 12. 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 159 goals through 55 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and eighth in the AHL. Grand Rapids also ranks 11th on the circuit with 2.89 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.65). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.60) and Michael Hutchinson (2.79) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Wyatt Newpower (+10), Antti Tuomisto (+4), Albert Johansson (+4), Radim Simek (+4), Simon Edvinsson (+4), William Wallinder (+4), Eemil Viro (+2) and Brogan Rafferty (+1) all have a positive plus-minus rating.

Johnny Bravo
Jonatan Berggren
is on an active six-game point streak (3-5—8) from Feb. 24-March 4 and has 22 points (11-11—22) in his last 19 games from Jan. 13-March 4. Berggren also has 28 points (12-16—28) in his last 24 outings and 31 points (14-17—31) in his last 27 contests from Dec. 15-March 4. The 23-year-old is now tied for 19th in the AHL with 46 points (19-27—46) and also leads the roster in points (19-27—46), assists (27) and goals (19) through 43 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 117 points (44-73—117) in 120 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). Berggren was recalled by Detroit last Saturday.

Oh, It’s You Again
The Griffins are in second place in the Central Division with a 27-17-7-4 record and 65 points, 18 points clear of a playoff spot. In the final 17 games of the regular season, Grand Rapids will compete against the Central Division 16 times, with its only game outside of the division coming against Cleveland. The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 21-10-3-2 (.653) with a plus-16 scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Iowa (4-0-0-0). Chicago, Iowa and Rockford will all be the Griffins’ most frequent opponents down the stretch, as there are still four meetings remaining against each franchise.

Pucks on Net
The Griffins have done well when outshooting their opponents this season with a 14-3-4-4 (.720) record compared to a 12-13-3-0 (.482) mark when they are being outshot. Grand Rapids is 16-5-3-4 (.696) when producing at least 30 shots and 16-8-5-2 (.629) when it keeps its opponents between 20-29 shots. The Griffins rank 17th in the AHL with 29.9 shots per game, while they concede the seventh fewest in the league at 28.5. The Griffins are averaging 33.2 shots per game in their last 14 outings, while giving up an average of 28.9.

Under Three is Key
Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 19-1-2-0 (.909). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 8-16-5-4 (.379). Grand Rapids has surpassed the four-goal mark in 14 of its last 32 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 7-14-7-3 (.387) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 20-3-0-1 mark (.854) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 32 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals 17 times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.60 GAA places eighth among rookie netminders, .910 save percentage ranks seventh among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—Eight goals are tied for 12th among defensemen, three game-winners are tied for fourth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—Six power-play goals are tied for sixth among rookies, 15 goals are tied for eighth among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Four goals are tied for 10th among rookie defensemen, one power-play goal is tied for eighth among rookie defensemen, two game-winners are tied for second among rookie defensemen, plus-four rating is tied for 14th among rookie defensemen
William Wallinder—Three goals are tied for 15th among rookie defensemen, plus-four rating is tied for 14th among rookie defensemen

On Tuesday, Matt Luff bagged his 150th point in the AHL. Albert Johansson suited up for his 100th game as a Griffin last Saturday.
Zach Aston-Reese—One point from 150 as a pro
Taro Hirose—Two goals from 50 as a Griffin
Albert Johansson—Two games from 250 as a pro
Joel L’Esperance—Two games from 300 in the AHL
Elmer Soderblom—One goal from 50 as a pro, two games from 200 as a pro
Tyler Spezia—One assist from 50 as a Griffin
Dan Watson—One win from 300 as a head coach

Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins