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Game Notes: Griffins vs. Wild - March 4, 2023

Mar 04, 2023
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Grand Rapids Griffins (22-26-3-2) vs. Iowa Wild (24-22-5-4)

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

March 4, 2023  ·  3 Minutes

Game Day Preview - March 4 vs Iowa Wild

Griffins Game #54 * Home Game #29 * AHL Game #866

Season Series: 2-4-0-1 Home Series: 1-3-0-0 Road Series: 1-1-0-1
All-Time Series:
42-22-4-3 All-Time Home Series: 21-10-3-2 All-Time Road Series: 21-12-1-1

Wild at Griffins
Eighth of 10 meetings overall, fifth of five at Van Andel Arena…The Griffins are 18-18-4-1 (0.500) overall since the 2017-18 seasons against the Wild but have been outscored by Iowa 137-118...Grand Rapids is 10-7-3-1 (0.571) at home against Iowa since the 2017-18 season with a minus-six scoring margin (64-58)...The Griffins have points in 10 of the last 17 overall meetings (8-7-1-1, 0.529) against the Wild...The Wild are 14-9-3-1 on the road this season while Grand Rapids is 10-14-3-1 at home...Iowa is 2-8-0-0 in its last 10 outings and have just two wins in its last 12 games (2-8-1-1, 0.250)...Last night, Iowa has scored three goals in one period for the first time since Feb. 11 when the Wild netted four in the first against Chicago. The Wild totaled as many as three goals in just one of their previous seven games...The Griffins are 3-6-1-0 in their last 10...The last time the Griffins had a losing record against the Wild in West Michigan was in 2018-19 (0-1-1-1)...2017 Calder Cup champion with the Griffins, Joe Hicketts (2016-21) is in his final year of a two-year contract with the Minnesota Wild...Former Griffin Patrick Curry (2020-22) signed with the Iowa Wild this past offseason...Wild forward Mitchell Chaffee grew up 20 minutes north of Grand Rapids in Rockford, Mich., and played a season of youth hockey with the Michigan Nationals 18U AAA team located in Bryon Center, Mich., which is 10 miles south of Grand Rapids.

Last Time Out
The Griffins dropped a pivotal game in the playoff race in a 5-2 loss to the Iowa Wild on Friday at Van Andel Arena. Riley Sawchuk recorded his first-professional goal and point in the opening stanza. Danny O’Regan pushed his assist streak to four games, tying Taro Hirose for the longest stretch by Griffin this season. Ben Simon led the team in his 300th game as the Griffins’ head coach, the second coach to reach that milestone for the franchise. Grand Rapids is eight points from a playoff spot that the Wild currently hold, but the Griffins have two games in hand.

Roster Shake Up
- Feb. 23—F Jakub Vrana recalled by Detroit; D Seth Barton reassigned to Grand Rapids from Toledo by Detroit
- March 2—F Adam Erne recalled by Detroit
- March 3—F Alex Chiasson released from PTO by Grand Rapids and signed to a one-year contract by Detroit; G Alex Nedeljkovic recalled by Detroit; G John Lethemon released from AHL contract and signed to a one-year contract by Detroit; G John Lethemon reassigned to Grand Rapids by Detroit from Toledo

This Date in Griffins History
2003: Following a February in which he tallied 13 points (4-9—13) and a team-high plus-10 rating in 11 games, Tomas Kopecky becomes the first Griffin honored with the AHL’s Rookie of the Month award.

Inching Closer & Closer
The Griffins secured three out of four possible points last week and now have points in three of their past six games (2-3-1-0). Grand Rapids faces an extremely important slate of games this week, as it battles Iowa, its rivals for the final playoff position in the Central Division. Grand Rapids is seventh in the division and is now eight points out of a playoff spot with two games in hand (19 remaining) on fifth-place Iowa. Grand Rapids has points in 12 of its last 20 contests (9-7-2-1, 0.525). Since the new year, Grand Rapids has lost in regulation just nine times through 24 games (11-9-2-2, 0.542).

Momma We Made It
On Thursday, Adam Erne became the 200th Griffins alum to compete in the NHL. Since 1996, 200 Griffins players (25 goalies, 175 skaters) have gone on to play at least one game in the NHL. Some of the more accomplished members of the Griffins’ alumni class include 18 Stanley Cup champions, two members of the Triple Gold Club — Stanley Cup champ, Olympic gold medalist, World Championship gold medalist — (Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula), one Calder Trophy winner (Moritz Seider), one Calder Trophy finalist (Jimmy Howard), and two Lady Byng winners (Pavol Demitra and Jiri Hudler). So far, 33 Griffins alumni have logged ice time with 14 NHL teams this season and all 32 NHL teams have had a former Griffin play for them at some point in their career. One hundred six players have made their NHL debuts after playing for the Griffins, including 70 who made their debut during the same season they played in Grand Rapids.

Rewrite the Record Book
Taro Hirose
has been known for his passing abilities throughout four seasons with the Griffins. The former Michigan State Spartan has continued to climb the Griffins’ all-time assist leaderboard, and with 113 assists he is now one shy of tying Jiri Hudler for seventh in franchise history. Hirose is as consistent as they come, as he has had at least 22 assists in each AHL campaign in his career. The Calgary, Alberta, native has totaled a team-leading 30 helpers in 53 games this year. In addition, his 15 power-play assists this season are tied for 14th in the AHL. Hirose also leads the roster with 42 points (12-30—42) in 53 appearances.

Jumping for Joel
Joel L’Esperance
has been on a tear as of late with goals in five straight games from Feb. 19-March 1, which set a new career-high run for L’Esperance and is the longest streak by a Griffin this season. His five-game goal streak was the longest by a Griffin since Riley Barber’s last season (April 20-30, 2022). L’Esperance has seven points (5-2—7) in his last six contests and leads the team with 19 tallies in 53 games. In addition, L’Esperance’s 10 power-play goals are tied for fifth in the AHL.

Shine Like a Diamond
Veteran forward Dominik Shine tied a career high with two goals last Saturday and now has lit the lamp three times in his last four contests. The Detroit native has 11 goals in 50 games this season and has a career-high 14.7 shooting percentage on 75 shots. Last season, Shine posted a career-best 17 goals, and he’s on pace for 15 this campaign. Shine has spent his entire pro career with the Griffins and has 98 points (48-50—98) in 338 appearances.

Danny Boy
Danny O’Regan
is starting to find a rhythm with the Griffins after joining the team on Dec. 19. After exploding for three points (2-1—3) in his Griffins debut, O’Regan had just three points in his next 12 games from Dec. 28-Feb. 15. However, the German-born forward has amassed two points in three of his last five contests and has nine points in his last seven outings, including six points (1-5—6) in his previous four games.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity, Jig
The Griffins are in the midst of a five-game homestand and will play seven out of eight games at Van Andel Arena from Feb. 24-March 11. Grand Rapids is 10-14-3-1 (0.429) at home this season and has been outscored 104-79. On the road, the Griffins are 12-12-0-1 (0.500) with a minus-21 scoring margin. Out of the 19 remaining games, Grand Rapids will play eight at Van Andel Arena.

Just Keep it Close
The Griffins have had their ups and downs this season, but they have excelled at winning close games. In fact, Grand Rapids is 12-1-3-2 (0.806) in games decided by one goal and 4-0-3-0 in overtime contests. In comparison, the Griffins are just 10-25-0-0 (0.286) in games decided by two or more tallies. In the 2021-22 season, the Griffins finished with a 13-7-6-2 (0.607) mark in games decided by one goal.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Austin Czarnik
—Five game-winning goals are tied for sixth, three short-handed goals are tied for first
Simon Edvinsson—20 assists rank fifth among rookie defensemen, 25 points rank fifth among rookie defensemen, five goals are tied for sixth among rookie defensemen
Joel L’Esperance—10 power-play goals are tied for fifth, 171 shots rank fourth

Ben Simon
coached in his 300th game as head coach for the Griffins on March 3, making him just the second coach in franchise history to reach 300 games. Joel L’Esperance recorded his 100th goal as a pro on Feb. 19 at Manitoba. Adam Erne eclipsed 50 assists in the AHL on Feb. 17 against the Cleveland Monsters.
Steven Kampfer—Two assists from 150 as a pro
Joel L’Esperance—Two goals from 100 in the AHL
Chase Pearson—Two assists from 50 as a pro, in the AHL and as a Griffin
Dominik Shine—Two goals from 50 as a pro, as a Griffin and in the AHL

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins