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Game Notes: Griffins vs. Wolves - March 8, 2024

Mar 08, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (27-16-6-3) vs. Chicago Wolves (19-27-3-2)

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

Griffins Game #53 * Home Game #29 * AHL Game #859

Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Home Series: 2-0-0-0 Road Series: 1-0-0-0
All-Time Series:
99-84-2-8-4 All-Time Home Series: 48-38-2-6-3 All-Time Road Series: 51-46-0-2-1

Wolves at Griffins
Fourth of eight meetings overall, third of four at Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids has faced Chicago 197 times in the regular season dating back to their IHL days, the second-most of any Griffins opponent (Milwaukee, 217)…The Griffins are one win away from 100 against Chicago in the all-time series during the regular season...Grand Rapids has points in six of the last seven meetings (5-1-0-1) against Chicago, dating back to March 12, 2023...The Wolves are 3-7-0-0 in their last 10 games, while the Griffins are 6-1-2-1 in their last 10...At home, Grand Rapids is 17-6-4-1 and is on a 13-game home point streak (9-0-3-1)...Chicago is 10-16-0-1 on the road and has won just one of its last eight road contests (1-8-0-0)...The Griffins have won five of the past seven meetings against the Wolves (5-1-0-1)...Since the 2019-20 season, Grand Rapids is just 15-23-2-1 (.402) against the Wolves and has been outscored 151-113. Also since the 2019-20 season, the Griffins are 6-11-2-1 (.375) against the Wolves in Grand Rapids and have been outscored 69-50...The Wolves are tied for seventh in the AHL with a power-play percentage of 20.6%, while their penalty kill ranks seventh at 84.0%...Grand Rapids ranks 19th with a power-play rate of 18.0% and is tied for 17th with a penalty kill at 81.5%...With a 5-3-1-1 record against the Wolves last season, the Griffins finished above the .500 mark against Chicago for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign...Chicago’s Chris Terry skated for the Griffins from 2018-20 and totaled 112 points (50-62—112) in 126 games.

Last Time Out
The Griffins suffered their first regulation loss since Jan. 12 with a 5-3 defeat to the Cleveland Monsters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday, which ended their 18-game point streak (13-0-3-2). The Griffins finished one game shy of tying the team's franchise record point streak of 19 consecutive contests, which occurred from Feb. 4-March 20, 2015. Grand Rapid's nine-game road point streak, which was the second longest in the AHL this season, also came to an end. Jonatan Berggren's point streak lived on to six games (3-5--8) after he registered a goal, which put him at 28 points (12-16--28) in his last 24 outings. Zach Aston-Reese extended his point streak (3-2--5) to five games with an assist.

This Date in Griffins History
2011: Jordan Pearce sinks the Rivermen with his first career shutout to give Grand Rapids a 3-0 win over Peoria at Carver Arena, extending the Griffins' winning streak to four games in their push toward the playoffs.

Keep the Good Times Rolling
The Griffins saw their 18-game point streak (13-0-3-2 from Jan. 13-March 2) come to an end on Monday, 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. The Griffins’ active 13-game home point streak (9-0-3-1) 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 25 of their last 29 contests (19-4-4-2). The Griffins are 18-3-3-2 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 19 of its last 22 games (15-4-3-1) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in 10 of its past 12 road appearances (8-2-1-1). The Griffins have been solid at home with a 17-6-4-1 mark, outscoring their opponents 88-67. Grand Rapids found its rhythm on the road, earning points in nine of its last 10 games to move to .500 away from home (10-10-2-2).

Young Guns
Rookie forwards Marco Kasper and Carter Mazur have had promising starts to their professional careers. Mazur has six points in his last four games (3-3—6) and ranks second on the team with 29 points (14-15—29) in 45 contests. The Jackson, Michigan, native’s six power-play goals are tied for fourth among AHL rookies, as he enjoyed a three-game goal streak from Feb. 28-March 2 and now has 11 points (4-7—11) in his last 14 games from Jan. 26-March 4. 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 in his last four outings and is tied for fifth on the roster with 25 points (10-15—25) in 51 outings. Since Jan. 19, the 19-year-old has 11 points (7-4—11) in 17 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.

Valuable Experience
Sixth-year pro Tim Gettinger and veterans Zach Aston-Reese and Joel L’Esperance have ramped up production on the offensive side of the ice. Gettinger has three points in his last five games (0-3—3), L’Esperance has four points in five games (1-3—4), and Aston-Reese (3-2—5) is on a five-game point streak. Gettinger (73-84—157 in 286 GP) and L’Esperance (118-88—206 in 295 GP) are no strangers to the AHL, as they have combined competed in 581 contests and registered 363 points. Aston-Reese has spent the majority of his career in the NHL with 80 points (42-38—80) in 308 outings from 2017-24. Aston-Reese has already set a new career high with 47 AHL games played this season, beating out his previous record of 41 during his rookie campaign in 2017-18.

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 12th 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).

Sea Bass Fishing
Sebastian Cossa
was named the Howies Hockey Tape/AHL Player of the Week last Monday 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 10-game point streak (7-0-3) from Jan. 19-March 2. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 9-1-3 ledger with a 2.13 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. The former 15th overall pick by the Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has allowed more than two goals just four times in his past 13 games. Through 26 contests, Cossa is 13-7-6 with one shutout to go along with a 2.66 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. Cossa 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 a 13-9-3 mark with one shutout in 26 games to go along with a 2.78 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 8-2-2 record with a .901 save percentage and a 2.58 goals against average. The Barrie, Ontario, native has an all-time AHL record of 119-80-23 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.

Thou Shall Not Pass
The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.46 goals per game from Dec. 27-March 4. 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 150 goals through 52 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and ties for eighth in the AHL. Grand Rapids is also 11th on the circuit with 2.88 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.51). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.66) and Michael Hutchinson (2.78) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Wyatt Newpower (+9), Antti Tuomisto (+6), Albert Johansson (+4), Simon Edvinsson (+4), William Wallinder (+4), Brogan Rafferty (+1) and Eemil Viro (+1) all have a positive plus-minus rating.

Oh, It’s You Again
The Griffins are in second place in the Central Division with a 27-16-6-3 record and 63 points, 20 points clear of a playoff spot. In the final 20 games of the regular season, Grand Rapids will compete against the Central Division 18 times, with its only games outside of the division coming against Cleveland (2). The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 21-9-3-1 (.676) with a plus-19 scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Chicago (3-0-0-0) and Iowa (4-0-0-0). Chicago will be the Griffins’ most frequent opponent down the stretch, as there are still five meetings remaining on the slate.

Pucks on Net
The Griffins have done well when outshooting their opponents this season with a 14-3-3-3 (.739) record compared to a 12-12-3-0 (.500) mark when they are being outshot. Grand Rapids is 16-5-2-3 (.712) when producing at least 30 shots and 16-8-5-1 (.633) 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 sixth fewest in the league at 28.4. The Griffins are averaging 34.1 shots per game in their last 11 outings, while giving up an average of 28.6.

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 8-15-4-3 (.383). Grand Rapids has surpassed the four-goal mark in 14 of its last 29 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 7-13-6-3 (.397) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 20-3-0-0 mark (.870) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 29 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals 15 times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Jonatan Berggren
—46 points are tied for 12th
Sebastian Cossa—2.66 GAA places seventh among rookie netminders, .908 save percentage is tied for seventh among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson—Eight goals are tied for 10th among defensemen, three game-winners are tied for fourth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—Six power-play goals are tied for fourth among rookies
Antti Tuomisto—Four goals are tied for ninth among rookie defensemen, one power-play goal is tied for seventh among rookie defensemen, two game-winners are tied for second among rookie defensemen, plus-six rating is tied for 11th among rookie defensemen

On Saturday, Simon Edvinsson appeared in his 100th game as a Griffin and Antti Tuomisto skated in his 100th pro contest.
Taro Hirose—Three goals from 50 as a Griffin
Albert Johansson—One game from 100 as a Griffin
Elmer Soderblom—Two goals from 50 as a pro
Tyler Spezia—One assist from 50 as a Griffin
Dan Watson—One win from 300 as a head coach
Zach Aston-Reese—One point from 150 as a pro

Photo by Chicago Wolves