Chicago Wolves (15-4-0-1) at GRIFFINS // Thurs., April 15 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Watch: WXSP-TV and AHLTV
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM
Season Series: 1-4-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home, 0-4-0-0 Road. Sixth of 10 meetings overall, second of five in Grand Rapids
All-Time Series: 88-68-2-6-3 Overall, 43-29-2-4-2 Home, 45-39-0-2-1 Road
NHL Affiliations: Carolina Hurricanes (primary), Nashville Predators (2020-21)
Noteworthy: The home team is 5-0 in the season series.
Iowa Wild (10-9-4-0) at GRIFFINS // Fri., April 16 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Iowa Wild at GRIFFINS // Sat., April 17 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Watch: WXSP-TV and AHLTV
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM
Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home, 1-1-0-0 Road. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Grand Rapids
All-Time Series: 34-15-3-2 Overall, 16-6-2-2 Home, 18-9-1-0 Road
NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild
Noteworthy: Iowa's last visit to Van Andel Arena, a 4-1 loss to the Griffins on March 11, 2020, proved to be the final game of the COVID-shortened 2019-20 campaign.
Cleveland Monsters (9-5-1-0) at GRIFFINS // Tue., April 20 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Cleveland Monsters at GRIFFINS // Wed., April 21 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Watch: WXSP-TV and AHLTV
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM
Season Series: 3-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home, 2-1-0-0 Road. Fifth and sixth of eight meetings overall, second and third of four in Grand Rapids
All-Time Series: 57-32-5-10 Overall, 32-16-1-2 Home, 25-16-4-8 Road
NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets
Noteworthy: The Griffins beat the Monsters 2-1 in overtime in their home opener on Feb. 20.
Thurs., April 1 // GRIFFINS 2 at Chicago Wolves 5 // 8-5-2-0 (18 pts., 2nd Central Division) Recap | Highlights
Sat., April 3 // GRIFFINS 2 at Cleveland Monsters 4 // 8-6-2-0 (18 pts., 3rd) Recap | Highlights
After playing just 16 games overall and only four times at home during the first 69 days of this 2020-21 season – owing to both a light early schedule and five postponements over the last month – the Griffins are scheduled to play their final 16 games and 12 home contests over a span of only 31 days. With Thursday’s clash against Chicago, they’ll begin a seven-game homestand along with a gauntlet of three home games in as many nights and five home games in just seven nights. It’ll be just the 11th 3-in-3 at Van Andel Arena in franchise history, with the last coming Feb. 26-28, 2016, when they beat Iowa twice before besting Chicago in overtime. They’ll face that same slate of opponents, in reverse order, this week.
A Long Time Coming
The Griffins have not played since a 4-2 setback at Cleveland on Saturday, April 3, and they haven’t played at home since a 2-1 overtime loss to Rockford on March 16. While Grand Rapids enters the week on its first three-game losing streak of the season, the team has earned points in all four home games thus far (2-0-2-0).
Last Time Out
On April 3 at Cleveland, the Griffins started strong by building a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes on a power play goal by Riley Barber plus Mathias Brome’s first AHL tally, but the Monsters rallied with four answered goals for a 4-2 victory, their first series win in four tries this season. Four straight minor penalties committed by the Griffins in the second period – including a pair of too-many-men calls – opened the door for the Monsters, who scored the first two of their three second-period goals on the power play. Cleveland then shut that door on Grand Rapids thanks largely to Daniil Tarasov, who made his North American debut after beginning this season in the KHL. The 2017 third-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets finished with 27 saves and stopped the last 21 shots he faced.
Try This Again
Thursday marks the third attempt to play that particular game (AHL Game #157) between the Griffins and Wolves. Postponed from its original March 19 date due to league COVID-19 protocols affecting Chicago, it was subsequently bumped from its April 13 rescheduled date due to protocols affecting Grand Rapids over the last week. The Griffins’ games scheduled for last Friday in Cleveland and Saturday at home against Rockford also fell victim but have been re-slated for May 11 and May 3, respectively.
That’s a First
The Griffins on Thursday will begin a seven-game April homestand that surpasses their most regular season home games ever during the month. Prior to this season, their high-water mark for regular season games at Van Andel Arena during April had been five, established in 2015.
Life of Riley
Riley Barber has goals in two straight games and four of the last five outings, along with points in 13 of 16 games this season. His 12 goals on the season tie him third in the league, amazing considering that his 16 games played are nine fewer than every other player in the top five of the AHL’s goal-scoring race. Barber’s 19 points (12-7—19) tie for 18th in the league while his nine power play points tie for fifth. He posted a nine-game point streak from Feb. 5-March 11 that was the longest ever to start a player's Griffins career as well as the longest from the start of a Griffins season.
Reassigned to the Griffins from Detroit’s taxi squad on Wednesday, Taro Hirose stands second on the team in scoring with 14 points (3-11—14) in 13 games. He has an assist in two straight games and points in three of the last four outings (2-3—5).
Brian Lashoff’s 513 games played for the Griffins rank first among active AHL players who have spent their entire AHL career with the same club and tie for eighth 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, who has been unfit to play the last three games, tied No. 8-ranked Stan Smrke (Rochester 1957-67) on March 26 and is now four games behind No. 7 Pete Kapusta (Providence Reds 1946-55).
Speaking of the Captain
They say all’s well that ends well. An eventful Saturday before the NHL Trade Deadline saw Brian Lashoff moved from Detroit to Columbus and then finally to Tampa Bay as part of a three-team deal, before he was ultimately reassigned to Grand Rapids by the Lightning. The swap began with Columbus trading defenseman David Savard to Detroit for Lashoff, before the Red Wings sent Savard to Tampa Bay for the Lightning’s fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Columbus then rounded out the bizarre bazaar by trading Lashoff to the Lightning for Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2021 and third-round pick in 2022.
Ready for Action
The Griffins welcomed a pair of fresh faces to their roster this week in center Hayden Verbeek and defenseman Jared McIsaac…On Sunday, Detroit assigned Verbeek after acquiring him and Ottawa's fifth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defenseman Jon Merrill. The 23-year-old has appeared in seven games this season for the AHL's Laval Rocket, contributing three points (1-2--3) and a plus-four rating. He began this season with HC Banska Bystrica in the top Slovakian professional league, scoring two goals in four games before returning to North America. The 5-foot-10, 183-pound forward has skated in 61 AHL games with Laval over his three professional seasons, registering 10 points (5-5--10) and 19 penalty minutes. Verbeek has also skated in 25 career ECHL games between the Maine Mariners and Adirondack Thunder, logging 22 points (5-17--22), a plus-seven rating and six penalty minutes. Originally signed by Montreal as an undrafted free agent on March 25, 2018, Verbeek spent parts of five seasons with the Ontario Hockey League's Soo Greyhounds from 2013-18, logging 136 points (59-77--136), a plus-50 rating and 114 penalty minutes in 250 games. He also logged 20 points (7-13--20), a plus-13 rating and 37 penalty minutes in 45 career OHL postseason games. A native of Kingston, Ontario, Verbeek is the nephew of former Detroit forward (1999-01) and current Red Wings assistant general manager Pat Verbeek…The 21-year-old McIsaac, the Red Wings’ fourth pick (second round, 36th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, was assigned by Detroit on Monday after being activated from injured reserve. He underwent surgery for a shoulder injury in late October and will be available to make his Griffins and AHL debuts this week. McIsaac began his professional hockey career last fall after being loaned to HPK in Finland's SM-Liiga. He wrapped up his major-junior career in 2019-20, splitting time with the Halifax Mooseheads and Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and totaling 19 points (4-15--19) in 28 games. The Truro, Nova Scotia, native also captured a gold medal with Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, contributing four points (1-3--4) in seven games.
Following a 2019-20 campaign in which they finished sixth in the AHL’s power play rankings at 20.9%, the Griffins are off to an even better start this season, currently sitting fourth in the league at 25.0% and third on the road at 31.1%.
The Griffins lead the AHL in shots per game (35.31) and are 13th in goals per game (3.19). They’ve racked up at least 40 shots in five of their last nine outings.
After holding their opposition to two goals or less in five straight contests (March 11-26) and nine times over a stretch of 11 games, the Griffins have surrendered at least four goals in each game of their current three-game skid. Still, Grand Rapids is tied for eighth in the league by allowing just 2.88 goals per game…The Griffins have been outshot in only three of their first 16 games, and only once have they allowed 30 or more shots, a total that they have reached on 12 occasions — including 10 of the last 12 outings. Grand Rapids ranks second in the AHL in shots allowed per game (24.50).
Brian Lashoff – Three assists for 100 as a pro
Dominik Shine – Three points from 50 for his Griffins/AHL/pro career
It’s a Start
The roar of a Griffins crowd was partially restored on March 13 when the team began welcoming 750 fans per home game, pursuant to the most recent order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Griffins 2021-22 season ticket members are being given the first opportunity to purchase tickets to home games during the remainder of the 2020-21 season. Other fans can sign up for Griffins Nation, the team’s official email newsletter, to receive priority access to 2020-21 tickets whenever limited seats are made available for sale throughout the season. On occasion, single-game tickets may also be purchased online at griffinshockey.com.
We Miss You, Bob!
On Feb. 8, the beloved 21-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 at home continues to go well. Everyone in Griffins Nation, the Griffins organization, the AHL, and the Michigan hockey community wishes Bob all the best in his recovery and a quick return to health. We can’t wait until he is back in the booth.
Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins