This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS vs. Manitoba Moose // Fri., Nov. 24 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS vs. Manitoba Moose // Sun., Nov. 26 // 5 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. on Sunday
Season Series: First and second of eight meetings overall, first and second of four at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 70-42-1-1-9 Overall, 38-18-1-1-6 Home
NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets
Noteworthy: Manitoba has two rookies that place in the top five in scoring among first-year players in the AHL, as Nikita Chibrikov (5-9—14) ranks third and Brad Lambert (6-7—13) is tied for fourth. Despite a 6-7-0-0 overall record, the Moose are 4-1-0-0 on the road.
Home Sweet Home: The Griffins will begin a four-game homestand this Friday against the Manitoba Moose. The Moose, who visit Grand Rapids for a two-game set this weekend, are two points ahead of the Griffins in the Central Division standings. Van Andel Arena has been kind to Grand Rapids, as the team shows a 3-2-1-0 record and are coming off a 5-2 home win against the Chicago Wolves on Nov. 15.
It’s Taco Time: Taro Hirose, who has competed for the Griffins for the past five seasons, has continued to climb the Griffins’ all-time leaderboard for assists and points. Last Saturday, Hirose tied Eric Tangradi (2015-18; 2019-20) for ninth on the Griffins’ all-time points list with 177 and is now two points from tying Jiri Hudler (2003-06) for eighth. The Calgary, Alberta, native also ranks fifth on the team’s all-time assists list with 132 and is one helper from tying Kip Miller (2001-02; 2004-05; 2006-07) for fourth place.
U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A: Last Thursday, former Griffin Brett Peterson was named the general manager of the 2024 U.S. Men’s National Team. As part of his five-year pro career, Peterson suited up for 18 regular-season games with the Griffins in 2008-09 and notched one assist and four penalty minutes, adding one assist in one postseason contest. The 42-year-old is in his fourth season as the assistant general manager for the Florida Panthers (2020-24), making a trip to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. The U.S. Men’s National Team will compete in the 2024 IIHF Men’s World Championship from May 10-26 in Prague and Ostrava, Czechia.
Stumbling Out of the Gate: First periods have been very unkind to the Griffins to begin the season, as they have been outscored 14-6 and outshot 141-128. However, the Griffins did post a 21-10 shot advantage in their last first period on Friday at Texas but trailed 3-2. Grand Rapids has a record of 1-5-0-0 when trailing after the first stanza, compared to a 3-2-1-1 mark when it is tied or leading after the first. The Griffins have won just one first period in the first 13 games of the season, a 2-0 advantage over Colorado on Oct. 14, which was the second contest of the campaign. Since beginning 2-0-0-0, the Griffins have won just two games in their last 11 outings (2-7-1-1).
Bad Recipe: The Griffins are tied for 26th in the AHL with 2.54 goals scored per game and 27th with 3.62 goals allowed per game, which is not a winning recipe. However, after scoring an average of 1.60 goals from Oct. 28-Nov. 11, Grand Rapids is averaging 3.67 goals in its last three contests. Keeping the puck out of the net has been a problem, as the team gave up an average of 5.50 goals per game this past weekend against the Texas Stars and has averaged 4.80 goals against in its last five games from Nov. 10-18. Newcomer Tim Gettinger leads the squad with six goals in 11 outings, while goaltenders Sebastian Cossa and Michael Hutchinson have a combined 3.38 goals against average.
Well, Well, Well, Look Who We Have Here: The Griffins’ next five games will be against Central Division rivals, after having their past three against the Central Division as well. Grand Rapids will face Chicago once, and Manitoba and Milwaukee twice from Nov. 24-Dec. 2. Out of the remaining 59 games, only 12 of those will be against teams outside of the Central Division (Belleville – 4, Cleveland – 6, Toronto – 2). So far, the Griffins are 2-3-0-0 against the Central Division, 2-2-0-0 against the Pacific Division and 0-2-2-0 versus the North Division.
Shoot Your Shot: After allowing an average of 39.75 shots in their first four games, the Griffins allowed an average of just 26.9 shots in their last nine outings. Last Saturday at Texas, Grand Rapids allowed more than 29 shots for the first time since Oct. 21. The Griffins have climbed the AHL shots allowed standings but are still 19th in the league with an average of 30.9 shots allowed per game. After struggling to put pucks on net itself early in the season, Grand Rapids has surged in that category, showing 40-plus shots in two of its last three games. The Griffins rank 17th out of 32 teams at 29.3 shots per game. Last Wednesday against the Chicago Wolves, the Griffins blasted a season-high 44 shots in a 5-2 victory and showed 41 shots last Saturday at the Texas Stars. The first period has been the killer, as the Griffins have been outshot 141-128 in the opening frame. In the second period, Grand Rapids has been outshot 140-123 but it has outshot its opponent in the third by a slim 123-117 margin.
AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Simon Edvinsson—Three goals are tied for eighth among defensemen, two power-play goals are tied for first among defensemen, 36 shots are tied for eighth among defensemen
Carter Mazur—14 penalty minutes rank ninth among rookie forwards
Wyatt Newpower—31 penalty minutes rank fifth among defensemen
Dominik Shine—35 penalty minutes are tied for eighth among forwards
Last Saturday, Taro Hirose tied Eric Tangradi (177) for ninth on the Griffins’ all-time points list and Tyler Spezia scored his 50th pro goal.
Zach Aston-Reese—Three points from 50 in the AHL
Austin Czarnik—Three goals from 100 in the AHL
Tim Gettinger—Two games from 250 in the AHL
Taro Hirose—One goal from 50 as a pro, two assists from 150 as a pro, three points from 200 as a pro, one assist from tying Kip Miller (133) for fourth on the Griffins’ all-time assists list
Joel L’Esperance—One game from 300 as a pro
Jared McIsaac—One point from 50 as a pro and as a Griffin, two games from 150 as a Griffin, one game from 150 as a pro
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/Moose