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Game Notes: Griffins vs. Moose - Jan. 14, 2022

Grand Rapids Griffins (13-11-4-1) vs. Manitoba Moose (19-9-1-1)

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

Game Day Preview - January 14 vs. Manitoba Moose

Griffins Game #30 * Home Game #16 * AHL Game #507

Season Series: 1-4-0-1 Home Series: 1-1-0-0 Road Series: 0-3-0-1
All-Time Series: 66-37-1-1-8 All-Time Home Series: 36-15-1-1-5 All-Time Road Series: 30-22-0-0-3

Moose at Griffins
Seventh of eight meetings overall, third of four at Van Andel Arena…Since the Moose rejoined the AHL in 2015-16, Grand Rapids is 22-13-0-1 against them, including a 14-5-0-0 ledger in Grand Rapids…Grand Rapids has won four of the past six meetings against the Moose at Van Andel Arena, dating back to the 2019-20 season...This is the 114th meeting between the two teams, which is the third most encounters by any Grand Rapids opponent...Manitoba is 6-3-0-1 in is last 10 games...On foreign ice this season, the Moose are 9-7-1-0 while the Griffins bolster a 7-5-3-0 ledger in West Michigan...The Moose rank third in the AHL with a penalty kill percentage of 86.2% while their power play places 16th at 18.5%...The Griffins have managed to score just two goals or less in every meeting against Manitoba this season...Riley Barber (2-3—5) and Turner Elson (4-1—5) lead the Griffins against the Moose...Calvin Pickard lives in Winnipeg during the offseason and forward Jon Martin was born there.

Last Time Out
Stefan Noesen’s two-goal night helped the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves to a 4-0 shutout victory over the Griffins on Wednesday at Allstate Arena. Chicago’s Andrew Poturalski notched two points (1-1—2), adding to his total of 16 in six games against Grand Rapids this season. The Griffins are now winless against Chicago in the past six meetings (0-5-1-0), being shutout twice. The Griffins’ six-game point streak (4-0-2-0) from Dec. 22-Jan. 8 came to an end. Ben Simon appeared in his 200th game as head coach for Grand Rapids and Brian Lashoff tied No. 5 Pete Backor (Pittsburgh Hornets 1945-54) for most games played with the same team in AHL history with 534. Jonatan Berggren (0-5—5, 4GP) and Taro Hirose (3-3—6, 4GP) saw their point streaks end.

Roster Shakeup
Jan. 11, 2022—Detroit reassigned defenseman Luke Witkowski to the Griffins from its taxi squad.
- Jan. 13, 2022—Detroit recalled center Kyle Criscuolo from the Griffins.

Huffin’ and Puffin’
So far this season, the Griffins are 1-9-1-1 (0.167) against the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves and second-place Manitoba Moose. However, Grand Rapids is 12-2-3-0 (0.794) against the rest of the AHL.

Going with the Flow
It has been a busy season thus far for head coach Ben Simon and general manager Pat Verbeek, as players on professional tryouts have been plentiful for the Griffins this year. Nine PTO skaters have seen action so far this season and have totaled 61 games played; both numbers surpass any full season since Simon joined the team as an assistant coach in 2015-16. On average, 10.4% of Grand Rapids’ lineup has been tryout players, yet the team sits in fourth place in the Central Division with a 0.534 winning percentage through Jan. 13.

Historic Night
Tonight’s contest against Manitoba will mark the first Griffins game ever worked by a female official, as Kirsten Welsh will be a linesperson this evening. In addition, the NHL supervisor of officials for tonight’s game will be Jay Sharrers, the NHL’s first black official who worked over 1,600 NHL games as a linesman and referee from 1990-2016.

Winning Resolution
The Griffins have gotten off to a strong start to ring in 2022, as the team has seven points (3-1-1-0) in the opening five games of the new year. Grand Rapids has outscored its opponents 15-11 in January and has scored an average of three goals per game while allowing just 2.20. The seven points in five games this month have already surpassed the Griffins’ point total in October (7 GP, 5 pts.) and tied their December count (7 GP, 7 pts.). The Griffins enjoyed a six-game point streak from Dec. 22-Jan. 8, which was the longest since an identical 4-0-2-0 run from March 3-26, 2021.

Fast Starts

On Dec. 4, the Griffins set a season high for goals in a period when they exploded for five tallies in the opening frame against Rockford. After rattling off three first-period goals against Cleveland on Dec. 6, Grand Rapids has now outscored its opponents 15-6 over the opening 20 minutes of its last 11 games. The Griffins are 11-4-2-0 (0.706) this season when scoring first and 10-2-0-0 (0.833) when leading after the opening frame. Almost half of Grand Rapids’ goals (34, 40%) have come during the first period.

This Date in Griffins History
2006: On his 29th birthday, Donald MacLean finishes off his team-record third hat trick of the season 35 seconds into overtime to single-handedly give the Griffins a 3-2 win over Manitoba.

High-Flying Hirose
After leading the Griffins in assists a year ago with 23, Taro Hirose has picked off right where he left off as he has bagged 18 helpers in the opening 28 games, which is a team high and tied for ninth in the league. Eight assists have come on the power play, which is tied for 12th in the AHL. Hirose logged his second three-point night (2-1—3) of the season on Jan. 1 against Milwaukee, which tied a career high for the forward. In that same game, he also tied a career-best two goals. The former Michigan State Spartan enjoyed a four-game point streak (3-3—6) from Jan. 1-8. Hirose’s 25 points (7-18—25) this season pace the Griffins and are tied for 19th in the league. He was recalled by Detroit on Dec. 15 and made his NHL season debut on Dec. 18 against the Devils.

Jonny Apple Seed
Rookie Jonatan Berggren completed a four-game point streak (0-5—5) from Dec. 22-Jan. 8, which tied Kyle Criscuolo for the longest assist streak on the team this season. The Uppsala, Sweden, native bagged his first AHL goal and two-point (1-1—2) night on Oct. 30, which began a three-game goal scoring streak for the right winger. The forward recorded his first two-goal night in North America on Nov. 20 at Texas. The former second-round draft choice notched his 50th pro assist on Nov. 12 against Manitoba and is tied for 15th among league rookies with seven goals. His 21 points (7-14—21) are tied for seventh among first-year players on the circuit and rank third on the Griffins’ roster.

Murphy’s Law
Reigning AHL defenseman of the year Ryan Murphy has started to find a rhythm offensively for the Griffins. The nine-year pro is tied for sixth on the roster and leads all Grand Rapids’ blueliners with 15 points (5-10—15) in 29 outings. Murphy has climbed up the defensemen leaderboard in the AHL, as his point total is tied for 18th while five goals are tied for fifth. The Aurora, Ontario, native signed a one-year contract with Detroit on July 28, 2021 and is the midst of his inaugural season with the Griffins.

After being sidelined in the first four games due to an injury, center Kyle Criscuolo has made up for his lost time with 22 points (10-12—22) in 21 contests. The Harvard University graduate logged a two-game point streak (1-1—2) from Oct. 30-31 and surpassed that mark with a 10-game point streak (7-11—18) from Nov. 20-Jan. 5, which set a new career high for the forward. His point streak was the 17th-longest in Griffins history. Most recently, Riley Barber had a nine-game point streak from Feb. 5-March 11, 2021 that was the longest to ever start a Griffins season or career. Criscuolo’s 10-game streak also tied for the ninth-longest scoring run in Grand Rapids history and the longest since Matt Puempel’s 11-game tear from Oct. 23-Nov. 15, 2019.

Rarified Air
Brian Lashoff’s 534 games played for the Griffins ranks first among active AHL players who have spent their entire AHL career with the same club and tied for fifth in league history among one-team players. Of the players ahead of him on that list, the most recent – and, coincidentally, the record-holder – last played during the 1970-71 season (Bill Needham of the Cleveland Barons, 981 games played). Lashoff overtook Roger DeJordy (Hershey Bears 1962-70) for the No. 6 spot on Jan. 7 against Iowa and tied No. 5 Pete Backor (Pittsburgh Hornets 1945-54) on Jan. 12 at Chicago. Lashoff is still 121 games away from breaking the Griffins’ all-time games played record, held by Travis Richards with 655 games (1995-2006).

Calvin’s University
Goaltender Calvin Pickard is off to a fast start, as he has allowed two goals or less in 13 of his 24 appearances this season. The 10-year-pro currently ranks 10th in the AHL with a 2.37 goals against average while his 0.929 save percentage is tied for fourth. The netminder made his sixth straight start on Nov. 28 and 10th consecutive appearance, both personal highs as a Griffin. In fact, Pickard has seen action in 23 of the 28 games this season, including 16 straight from Nov. 5-Dec. 22. Pickard made his 12th consecutive start on Dec. 22, which set a new career high for the goaltender and was only halfway to Joey MacDonald’s franchise record of 24, set during the 2004-05 season. The goaltender recorded his third assist of the season on Dec. 4 versus Rockford, which set a new AHL career high for assists in a season. Pickard recorded his first shutout of the year and fourth as a Griffin on Nov. 12 against Manitoba, moving him into a tie for 10th place in franchise history with Jani Hurme, Martin Prusek, and Eddie Pasquale.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker

Riley Barber
—Five power play goals are tied for sixth
Jonatan Berggren—Seven goals are tied for 15th among league rookies, 21 points (7-14—21) are tied for seventh among first-year players
Taro Hirose—18 assists are tied for ninth, eight power play assists are tied for 12th
Ryan Murphy—Five goals are tied for fifth among blueliners, 15 points (5-10—15) are tied for 18th among defensemen
Wyatt Newpower—39 penalty minutes are third among rookies and tied for 12th among league defensemen
Calvin Pickard
—2.37 goals against average ranks 10th, 0.929 save percentage is tied for fourth, 1417 minutes and 731 saves both lead the league
Dominik Shine—58 penalty minutes are tied for sixth
Luke Witkowski
—47 penalty minutes are tied for fourth among league blueliners

Turner Elson scored his 50th goal as a Griffin on Jan. 5 versus Milwaukee. Head coach Ben Simon appeared in his 200th game as head boss for the Griffins on Jan. 12 at Chicago. Other upcoming milestones include:
Erik Bradford—One point from 300 as a pro
Turner Elson—One assist from 100 in the AHL, one point from 200 as a pro
Brian Lashoff—One assist from 100 as a pro
Brett McKenzie—Three goals from 50 as a pro
Ryan Murphy—Five goals from 50 as a pro
Dan Renouf—One game from 300 in the AHL
Dominik Shine—Six points from 100 as a pro
Luke Witkowski—One point from 50 in the AHL

Photo by Jonathan Kozub/Moose

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