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Griffins Attempt to Stay Hot in January

This Week’s Games

GRIFFINS at Cleveland Monsters // Tues., Jan. 18 // 7 p.m. // Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

Listen: 96.1 TheGame at 6:35 p.m.

Watch: Bally Sports Great Lakes / AHLTV

Season Series: 1-0-1-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Away. Third of eight meetings overall, second of four at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

All-Time Series: 62-34-6-10 Overall, 27-17-4-8 Away

NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets

Noteworthy: Grand Rapids went 6-2 against the Monsters last year and possesses an 8-3-1-0 record against Cleveland in the past 12 meetings.

GRIFFINS vs. Milwaukee Admirals // Sat., Jan. 22 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.

Watch: WXSP-TV / AHLTV

Season Series: 5-1-1-0 Overall, 3-0-1-0 Home. Eighth of 12 meetings overall, fifth of six at Van Andel Arena

All-Time Series: 107-69-7-8-8 Overall, 57-33-2-3-3 Home

Noteworthy: Grand Rapids is 10-7-1-0 in the last 18 overall against Admirals, including a six-game point streak (5-0-1-0) this season.

GRIFFINS vs. Toronto Marlies // Mon., Jan. 24 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.

Watch: AHLTV

Season Series: First of four overall, first of two at Van Andel Arena

All-Time Series: 32-31-3-2 Overall, 19-14-1-1 Home

Noteworthy: This game was previously scheduled for Dec. 18 but was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols affecting the Marlies. This will be the first contest between the two teams since Nov. 9, 2019, when the Griffins were defeated by Toronto, 5-2.

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 12 // GRIFFINS 0 at Chicago 4 // 13-11-4-1 (31 pts., 0.534, 4th Central Division)
Fri., Jan. 14 // GRIFFINS 3 vs. Manitoba 2 (OT) // 14-11-4-1 (33 pts., 0.550, 4th Central Division)
Sat., Jan. 15 // GRIFFINS 1 vs. Manitoba 2 (SO) // 14-11-4-2 (34pts., 0.548, 3rd Central Division)

Last Week’s Notes
Wednesday at Chicago (0-4 L) - Stefan Noesen’s two-goal night helped the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves to a 4-0 shutout victory over the Griffins at Allstate Arena. Andrew Poturalski notched two points (1-1—2), adding to his total of 16 (7-8—15) in six games against Grand Rapids this season. The Griffins’ six-game point streak (4-0-2-0) came to an end. Ben Simon appeared in his 200th game as head coach for Grand Rapids and Brian Lashoff tied for fifth for the most games played (534) with only one team in AHL history. The Griffins are now winless against Chicago in the past six meetings (0-5-1-0), having been shut out twice. Recap | Highlights

Friday vs. Manitoba (3-2 OTW) - Jonatan Berggren’s highlight-reel overtime goal gave Grand Rapids a 3-2 victory over the Manitoba Moose at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins extended their home point streak to seven games (5-0-2-0). Grand Rapids garnered points for the seventh time in its last eight games (5-1-2-0) overall and broke a three-game losing streak against Manitoba. With his 11th goal of the campaign, Kyle Criscuolo now leads the roster in tallies. Goaltender Victor Brattstrom has points in three consecutive starts (2-0-1-0). Grand Rapids is now 2-9-1-1 against Manitoba and Chicago, as the Griffins picked up their first win against either club since Nov. 12. Dan Renouf skated in his 300th AHL game while Turner Elson recorded his 100th assist in the AHL, which also gave him 200 points as a pro. This was the Griffins’ first win when trailing after two periods (1-9-2-1). Kirsten Welsh became the first female official to work a Griffins game. Recap | Highlights

Saturday vs. Manitoba (1-2 SOL) - Luke Johnson’s shootout goal lifted the Manitoba Moose over the Griffins 2-1 at Van Andel Arena during the season series finale. The Griffins finished the regular season 2-4-0-2 against Manitoba. Taro Hirose scored Grand Rapids’ lone goal of the contest. Despite the loss, the Griffins extended their home point streak to a season-high eight games (5-0-2-1) and have tallied points in eight of their last nine contests overall (5-1-2-1). Kyle Criscuolo began the shootout with a goal before Jonatan Berggren and Hirose missed their chances. The Moose went 2-for-2 in the shootout to take the victory. Grand Rapids was awarded a season-high nine power plays. Recap | Highlights

History Was Made: On Jan. 14 against Manitoba, Kirsten Welsh became the first female official to work a Griffins game. In addition, the NHL supervisor of officials for that game was 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 10 points (4-1-1-1) in the opening seven games of the new year. In fact, Grand Rapids has points in eight of the last nine outings (5-1-2-1). The Griffins have outscored its opponents 19-15 in January and has scored an average of 2.71 goals per game while allowing just 2.14. The 10 points in seven games this month have already surpassed the Griffins’ point total in October (7 GP, 5 pts.) and December (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.

Huffin’ and Puffin’: So far this season, the Griffins are 2-9-1-2 (0.250) against the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves and second-place Manitoba Moose. The Griffins picked up their first win against either club since Nov. 12 on Jan. 14 (3-2 OTW vs. Manitoba). 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 68 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 third place in the Central Division with a 0.548 winning percentage through Jan. 17.

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. Despite allowing three goals in the past three games in the opening frame, Grand Rapids has still outscored its opponents 15-7 over the opening 20 minutes of its last 12 games. The Griffins are 11-4-2-1 (0.694) this season when scoring first and 10-2-0-0 (0.833) when leading after the opening frame. The majority of Grand Rapids’ goals (34, 38.2%) have come during the first period.

Rarified Air: Brian Lashoff’s 536 games played for the Griffins ranks first among active AHL players who have spent their entire AHL career with the same club and 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 Pete Backor (Pittsburgh Hornets 1945-54) for the No. 5 spot on Jan. 14 against Manitoba and is now 34 games behind No. 4 Paul Larivee (Providence Reds 1952-62). Lashoff is still 119 games away from breaking the Griffins’ all-time games played record, held by Travis Richards with 655 games (1995-2006).

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 13th among league rookies with eight goals. His 23 points (8-15—23) are tied for seventh among first-year players on the circuit and rank third on the Griffins’ roster.

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 19 helpers in the opening 30 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 14th 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 27 points (8-19—27) this season pace the Griffins and are tied for 14th in the league. He was recalled by Detroit on Dec. 15 and made his NHL season debut on Dec. 18 against the Devils. Hirose is currently on Detroit’s taxi squad.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker:
Riley Barber
—Five power play goals are tied for eighth
Jonatan Berggren
—Eight goals are tied for 13th among league rookies, 23 points (8-15—23) are tied for seventh among first-year players
Taro Hirose
—19 assists are tied for ninth, eight power play assists are tied for 14th
Ryan Murphy
—Six goals are tied for second among blueliners, 17 points (6-11—17) are tied for 13th among defensemen
Wyatt Newpower
—39 penalty minutes are tied for third among rookies and tied for 15th among league defensemen
Calvin Pickard
—2.31 goals against average ranks sixth, 0.930 save percentage places second, 1481 minutes and 755 saves both lead the league
Dominik Shine
—75 penalty minutes rank second
Luke Witkowski
—47 penalty minutes are eighth among league blueliners

Milestones: Turner Elson recorded his 100th AHL assist and 200th pro point on Jan. 14 versus Manitoba. Dan Renouf skated in his 300th AHL contest on Jan. 14. Other upcoming milestones include:
Erik Bradford—One point from 300 as a pro
Kyle Criscuolo—Five assists from 100 as a pro, six assists from 100 in the AHL
Brian Lashoff—One assist from 100 as a pro
Brett McKenzie
—Three goals from 50 as a pro
Ryan Murphy—Four goals from 50 as a pro
Luke Witkowski—One point from 50 in the AHL

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins

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