This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS vs. Chicago Wolves // Wed., Oct. 27 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS vs. Chicago Wolves // Sun., Oct. 31 // 4 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. Wed. and 3:35 p.m. Sun.
Season Series: First and second of 12 meetings overall, first and second of six at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 90-71-2-6-3 Overall, 44-32-2-4-2 Home
NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes
Noteworthy: The Griffins posted a 3-7-0-0 record against Chicago last season after going 22-16-1-1 in the previous five campaigns against their rival.
GRIFFINS vs. Milwaukee Admirals // Sat., Oct. 30 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 0-1-0-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 home. Second of 12 meetings overall, first of six at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 102-69-7-7-8 Overall, 54-33-2-2-3 Home
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: Grand Rapids’ 102 victories over Milwaukee are the most against any opponent in franchise history. Furthermore, the Griffins have faced the Admirals more than any club in the AHL, competing in 193 games dating back to the 2001-02 campaign when both teams joined the AHL from the International Hockey League. Last season was the first year that the Griffins and Admirals did not play each other due to Milwaukee opting out of the shortened season.
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Oct. 22 // GRIFFINS 0 at Manitoba Moose 1 // 1-2-0-0 (2 pts., 0.333, T6th Central Division)
Sun., Oct. 24 // GRIFFINS 2 at Manitoba Moose 3 (SO) // 1-2-0-1 (3 pts., 0.375, 5th Central Division)
Last Week’s Notes
Friday at Manitoba (0-1 L) – Calvin Pickard
recorded his most saves (37) since Jan. 5, 2020, when he made 39 stops in a 4-5 losing effort at San Antonio. Grand Rapids went 0-for-6 on the power play, marking the first contest the Griffins have not scored with the man-advantage. Ben Simon coached in his 300th professional game as head coach and Jon Martin made his Griffins debut in his hometown of Winnipep. Recap | Highlights
Sunday at Manitoba (2-3 SOL) – Grand Rapids dropped its third consecutive road game in its first shootout since May 3, 2021. The shootout loss halted the Griffins’ franchise-record 33-game streak of road contests ending in regulation that dated back to Dec. 21, 2019. Victor Brattstrom stopped 28 shots. Ryan Murphy bagged his first goal of the season and pushed his team-high point total to five (1-4—5). Dennis Yan collected his second goal of the campaign. Dan Renouf skated in his 150th game as a Griffin and Josh Dickinson made his Grand Rapids debut. Recap | Highlights
Rarified Air: Brian Lashoff’s 517 games played for the Griffins ranks first among active AHL players who have spent their entire AHL career with the same club and tie for seventh 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 tied No. 7-ranked Pete Kapusta (Providence Reds 1946-55) on Oct. 24 at Manitoba. Lashoff is still 138 games away from breaking the Griffins’ all-time record, held by Travis Richards with 655 games (1995-2006).
Start Your Engines: Forward Taro Hirose and defenseman Ryan Murphy are tied for fifth in the AHL with four assists, while Hirose’s four power-play helpers rank second on the circuit and Murphy’s three PPA are tied for third. Murphy is also tied for second among the league’s defensemen with five points (1-4—5). Joe Veleno’s two power-play goals are tied for second in the AHL. Kirill Tyutyayev has collected two assists to tie for 12th among rookies. Calvin Pickard has the ninth-best GAA at 1.01 and is tied for second with a 0.968 save percentage.
Hometown Hero: Holland, Mich., native Luke Witkowski became the fourth West Michigander to play with the Griffins on Oct. 15, 2021 against Rockford. Witkowski joined East Grand Rapids native Luke Glendening, Kentwood local Mike Knuble and Muskegon legend Justin Abdelkader. Witkowski spent two years with Detroit from 2017-19 but never saw action in the AHL.
Oldies but Goodies: The Griffins roster features six veterans including forwards Riley Barber and Turner Elson, and defensemen Brian Lashoff, Ryan Murphy, Dan Renouf and Luke Witkowski. A player receives veteran status if he has competed in at least 260 games in the NHL, AHL or European elite leagues. Lashoff leads all veterans on the team with 653 career-games played in the NHL and AHL, including 517 with Grand Rapids, which ranks first among active players who have spent their entire AHL career with the same club and tie for seventh all time in league history. Murphy has appeared in 479 outings, which ranks second on the roster while Elson places third with 400 contests.
European Influence: Grand Rapids and Detroit has a long tradition of possessing high-level European talent and this season is no different. Forward Jonatan Berggren and netminder Victor Brattstrom hail from Sweden while forward Kirill Tyutyayev comes to the state of Michigan from Russia. All three made their North American debut with the Griffins during opening weekend on Oct. 15-16. Berggren spent three seasons in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) with Skelleftea and logged 60 points (14-46—60) in 99 outings. Fellow forward Tyutyayev totaled 52 points (14-38—52) in 70 games between Gornyak Uchaly in the Supreme Hockey League (VHL) in Russia and Yunost Minsk in Belarus. Goaltender Brattstrom spent time in the SHL and Allsvenskan in Sweden as well as the Liiga in Finland. The fifth-year pro has amassed a 66-44-8 record while holding a 2.30 goals against average.
Under New Leadership: Pat Verbeek takes over as the new general manager of the Griffins, a position previously held by Ryan Martin. In addition to his new role in Grand Rapids, Verbeek retains his assistant general manager position with the Red Wings working under Detroit GM Steve Yzerman. Verbeek oversees all aspects of hockey operations for the AHL franchise, including player personnel decisions, player development, contract negotiations and player movement.
Voice of the Griffins Returns: On Feb. 8, the beloved 22-year Voice of the Griffins, Bob Kaser, underwent successful heart surgery at the Meijer Heart Center in Grand Rapids to repair several blocked arteries. Released from the hospital on Feb. 14, his recovery is now complete and has returned to the booth this season alongside fellow veterans Larry Figurski and Lou Rabaut. Kaser is the newest member of the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame after he was awarded the Warren Reynolds Lifetime Achievement Award on Sept. 28, 2021. Everyone in Griffins Nation, the Griffins organization, the AHL, and the Michigan hockey community welcomes Bob back with open arms and are looking forward to hearing more of his historic soundbites this season.
Milestones Within Reach:
Taro Hirose—One assist from 50 as a Griffin
Brian Lashoff—Three assists from 100 as a pro
Chase Pearson—One point shy of 50 in a Grand Rapids uniform
Luke Witkowski—Three points from 50 in the AHL
Tyler Spezia—Five assists from 50 as a pro
Jonatan Berggren—Three assists from 50 as a pro
Jon Martin—Two assists from 50 as a pro
Simon Says: Ben Simon, 43, begins his fourth season as Grand Rapids’ head coach. A year ago, he guided the Griffins to a 16-12-3-1 record (36 points, 0.563) and a third-place finish in the Central Division. Simon has only coached in one full AHL season as head boss, as his second and third campaigns were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During his inaugural year at the helm in 2018-19, he became the eighth head coach in franchise history to lead the Griffins to the postseason during his first full season behind the bench. Simon served as an assistant coach in Grand Rapids from 2015-18 under Todd Nelson and helped the franchise win its second Calder Cup in 2017. He is the fourth former Griffins assistant to then become the head coach. Appearing in 21 games and scoring nine points (4-5—9) with the Griffins in 2006-07 as part of an 11-year professional playing career, Simon is the third former Griffins player to serve as Grand Rapids’ head coach, joining Nelson and Danton Cole (2002-05).
Griffins in General: The Grand Rapids Griffins began the franchise’s 26th overall season of play, 21st as a member of the American Hockey League and 20th as the primary affiliate of the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 15, 2021 when they defeated the Rockford IceHogs, 6-1. This marked the first time the Griffins began their season at Van Andel Arena since 2017. Grand Rapids has competed in 1,917 games between the IHL and AHL and has amassed a 1,011-697-27-64-118 regular season record (0.575), to go along with 17 playoff appearances, seven division titles and two Calder Cups (2017, 2013).
Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins