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Game Notes: Griffins vs. Wolves - Nov. 15, 2023

Nov 15, 2023
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (3-5-1-1) vs. Chicago Wolves (2-6-1-1)

Game Time: 11 a.m. at Van Andel Arena

Griffins Game #11 * Home Game #6 * AHL Game #185

Season Series: 0-0-0-0 Home Series: 0-0-0-0 Road Series: 0-0-0-0
All-Time Series:
96-84-2-8-4 All-Time Home Series: 46-38-2-6-3 All-Time Road Series: 50-46-0-2-1

Wolves at Griffins
First of eight meetings overall, first of four at Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids has faced Chicago 194 times in the regular season dating back to their IHL days, the second-most of any Griffins opponent (Milwaukee, 213)…The Griffins’ four-game point streak against Chicago from Dec. 22-Feb. 24, 2023 was their longest run against the Wolves since a five-game point streak from Nov. 21, 2015-Feb. 28, 2016...Sixteen total goals were scored between the two teams on Dec. 22, 2022 (8-7 OTW), which was Grand Rapids’ first 8-7 result in franchise history. Chicago’s seven goals were the second-most allowed by the Griffins in a win, trailing only a 10-8 victory over Chicago on Nov. 27, 2010...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...Since the 2019-20 season, Grand Rapids is just 12-23-2-1 (.355) against the Wolves and has been outscored 146-98...Since the 2019-20 season, the Griffins are 4-11-2-1 (.306) against the Wolves in Grand Rapids and have been outscored 67-41...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 were shut out by the Toronto Marlies 4-0 on Saturday at Van Andel Arena, following a 23-save performance from Marlies’ goaltender Dennis Hildeby. The Griffins failed to solve the puzzle that was Hildeby, as the rookie netminder secured his second consecutive shutout and improved to a league-leading 1.26 goals against average and a .950 save percentage.

Roster Shake Up
- Oct. 20—F Jonatan Berggren recalled by Detroit
- Oct. 29—F Jonatan Berggren reassigned by Detroit
- Oct. 31—F Carter Mazur assigned by Detroit

This Date in Griffins History
2013: Tomas Jurco registers his first pro hat trick off three assists from Gustav Nyquist as the Griffins roll to a 5-3 win over Rockford, marking their eighth victory in their last nine outings. Jordin Tootoo makes his Griffins debut on assignment from the Detroit Red Wings, logging his first AHL game since the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Stumbling Out of the Gate
First periods have been very unkind to the Griffins to begin the season, as they have been outscored 11-4 and outshot 115-84. Grand Rapids has a record of 1-4-0-0 when trailing after the first stanza, compared to a 2-1-1-1 mark when it is tied or leading after the first. The Griffins have won just one first period in the first 10 games of the season, a 2-0 advantage over Colorado on Oct. 14, which was the second contest of the campaign. Since beginning 2-0-0-0, the Griffins have gone on to win just one game in their last eight outings (1-5-1-1).

Patience is a Virtue
With plenty of highly touted prospects on the team, the Griffins have high expectations on the offensive side of the ice. However, things have not started out that way, as Grand Rapids ranks 31st out of 32 teams with just 2.20 goals per game, leading only Bridgeport (2.00 goals per game). The Griffins have been shut out twice in the past five contests and have averaged 1.60 goals during that span. Patience is a virtue, though, as the average age of Griffins forwards is 24, which includes five players who are 22 years old or younger. Forward prospects Jonatan Berggren, Cross Hanas, Marco Kasper, Amadeus Lombardi, Carter Mazur and Elmer Soderblom, who combined average an age of 21, are all still finding their groove at the professional level, showing a combined four goals to start the campaign.

Well, Well, Well, Look Who We Have Here
Starting this week, the Griffins’ next eight games will be against Central Division rivals. Grand Rapids will face Chicago, Manitoba, Milwaukee and Texas all twice from Nov. 15-Dec. 2. Out of the remaining 62 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 1-1-0-0 against the Central Division, 2-2-0-0 against the Pacific Division and 0-2-2-0 versus the North Division.

Power Moves
The Griffins’ power play has had a strong showing to start the season. Through 10 games, Grand Rapids ranks 10th in the AHL with a power-play conversion rate of 21.7% (5 for 23). The Griffins have been on the power play just 23 times this season, which ranks last in the AHL by four. During the 2022-23 campaign, Grand Rapids finished 25th on the circuit with a power-play rate of 17.8% (52 for 292).

The Climb
Dominik Shine
is just the third player in franchise history to reach eight seasons of service, while Tyler Spezia is the eighth player to compete in his sixth campaign. Last Friday, Shine passed Mitch Callahan for third with 367 career games played for the Griffins and currently stands ninth with 433 penalty minutes. Shine is behind only current assistant coach Brian Lashoff (629 GP) and Travis Richards (655) on the Griffins’ all-time games played list. Taro Hirose also continues to climb the Griffins’ all-time leaderboard, as he is currently ranked 10th in points (174) and tied for fifth in assists (130).

Shoot Your Shot
After allowing an average of 39.75 shots in their first four games, the Griffins allowed an average of just 25.6 shots in their last six outings. Since Oct. 21, Grand Rapids has not allowed its opponent to fire more than 29 shots in a game. However, the Griffins still rank 22nd in the league with an average of 31.3 shots allowed per game. Grand Rapids has also struggled to put pucks on net, as it places 29th out of 32 teams at 26.8 shots per game. The first period has been the killer, as the Griffins have been outshot 115-84 in the opening frame. In the second period, Grand Rapids has been outshot 109-87 but it has outshot its opponent in the third by a slim 90-86 margin.

Last Friday, Dominik Shine passed Mitch Callahan for third on the Griffins’ all-time games played list with 366 games, Taro Hirose tied Derek King for fifth on the team’s all-time assists list with 130, Josiah Didier competed in his 400th game as a pro and Jonatan Berggren skated in his 250th pro contest.
Zach Aston-Reese—Three points from 50 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—Two goals from 50 as a pro, four assists from 150 as a pro, three points from tying Eric Tangradi (177) for ninth on the Griffins’ all-time points list, three assists from tying Kip Miller (133) for fourth on the Griffins’ all-time assists list
Michael Hutchinson—Three wins from 200 as a pro
Jared McIsaac—Two points from 50 as a pro and as a Griffin
Tyler Spezia—One goal from 50 as a pro
William Wallinder—One assist from 50 as a pro, two games from 200 as a pro

Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins