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Griffins Sign Spezia and Kestner

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Monday signed forwards Tyler Spezia and Josh Kestner to one-year contracts.

During his rookie campaign in 2018-19, the 26-year-old Spezia collected 39 points (11-28—39), a plus-nine rating and 36 penalty minutes in 58 appearances with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, and showed two points (1-1—2) and a plus-two rating in eight games with the Griffins. A 5-foot-10, 180-pound forward, Spezia tied for seventh on Toledo and 19th in the ECHL in Kelly Cup Playoff scoring with 12 points (3-9—12) in 24 games as he helped the Walleye advance to the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. During the regular season, Spezia was the Walleye’s top rookie point producer and tied for second overall on the team in plus-minus rating.

He made his AHL debut with Grand Rapids on Dec. 16 at Rockford, and his first goal on Dec. 22 at Manitoba proved to be the game-winner.

Prior to turning pro, the Clinton Township, Mich., native spent four seasons (2014-18) at Bowling Green State (WCHA) where he collected 72 points (34-38—72), 103 PIM and a plus-34 rating in 147 games. A two-time selection to the WCHA All-Academic Team, Spezia produced a career-high 10 goals as a sophomore and senior and tied for second on the club with a career-high 30 points as a junior.

Kestner, 25, helped the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers capture the 2019 Kelly Cup after skating in 61 regular season games during his first full professional season and ranking among the team’s leaders with 49 points (6th), 22 goals (5th) and 27 assists (6th) while adding a plus-eight rating and 44 PIM. Among league rookies, Kestner tied for 20th in points and 12th in goals. In 21 postseason appearances, Kestner placed fifth on the team with 16 points (9-7—16) and tied for second in goals with nine.

A 6-foot, 173-pound forward, Kestner appeared in one game with the Toronto Marlies in 2018-19 and picked up four PIM. He made his pro debut with the Marlies on March 16, 2018 at Belleville, scoring a goal in the same game, and has totaled four career AHL contests, registering one point (1-0—1) and six PIM.

Kestner spent four seasons competing in his hometown for the University of Alabama in Huntsville (WCHA) Chargers before turning to the pro ranks. In 132 games from 2014-18, Kestner compiled 68 points (44-24—68), was a two-time selection to the WCHA All-Academic Team (2015-16, 2017-18) and was a WCHA Scholar Athlete in 2016-17. He capped his career in 2017-18 by becoming only the second player in program history to earn All-WCHA distinction after being named to the conference’s second team. Kestner’s career-high 32 points as a senior were buoyed by a career-high 24 goals, which tied atop the WCHA leaderboard and tied for the most by a Charger since 2004-05.

The Griffins will open the home portion of the 2019-20 season on Friday, Oct. 11 with Opening Night presented by Huntington Bank.

Single-game tickets will go on sale to the public in September. Fans can secure their full-season, select-season or group ticket packages by calling (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit griffinshockey.com for more information.

Photos by Sam Iannamico/Griffins (Spezia) and Newfoundland Growlers (Kestner)

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