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This Week’s Games

GRIFFINS vs. Milwaukee Admirals // Wed., Dec. 22 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

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

Watch: AHLTV

Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fourth of 12 meetings overall, second of six at Van Andel Arena

All-Time Series: 104-69-7-7-8 Overall, 55-33-2-2-3 Home

NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators

Noteworthy: Grand Rapids’ 104 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 195 games dating back to the 2001-02 campaign when both teams joined the AHL from the International Hockey League.

Last Week’s Results
Sat., Dec. 18 // GRIFFINS vs. Toronto – Postponed // Rescheduled for Mon., Jan. 24
Sun., Dec. 19 // GRIFFINS vs. Toronto – Postponed // Rescheduled date Wed., Feb. 2

Leaders of the Pack: On Dec. 17, Paul Maurice resigned from the Winnipeg Jets. With that, three of the NHL’s five longest-tenured head coaches are Griffins alumni:
1. Jon Cooper – Tampa Bay – March 2013
2. Jeff Blashill – Detroit – June 2015 (Griffins head coach 2012-15; 2013 Calder Cup Champion; 2013-14 AHL Coach of the Year)
3. Mike Sullivan – Pittsburgh – Dec. 2015
4. Jared Bednar – Colorado – Aug. 2016 (Griffins defenseman 1998-99)
5. Bruce Cassidy – Boston – Feb. 2017 (Griffins head coach 2000-02; 2001-02 AHL Coach of the Year)

World Traveler: On Dec. 12, defenseman Donovan Sebrango was selected to the 25-man roster for Team Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship. The 19-year-old will represent his home country at the tournament that runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. This marks the third time in the past four years a player has left the Griffins mid-season to compete in the World Junior Championship, after Filip Zadina represented the Czech Republic in 2019 and Joe Veleno (Canada) and Moritz Seider (Germany) competed at the event in 2020.

Huffin’ and Puffin’: So far this season, the Griffins are 1-8-1-1 (0.182) against the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves and second-place Manitoba Moose. However, Grand Rapids is 8-2-1-0 (0.773) against the rest of the AHL.

Spartan Store: Matt Berry became the 20th former Michigan State Spartan to play for Grand Rapids, extending that program’s lead as the most productive at developing future Griffins (including teammate Taro Hirose). Michigan (13, including current assistant coach Mike Knuble), Notre Dame (11, including current head coach Ben Simon), and Miami (10, including Riley Barber) are in double-digits as well. Wisconsin comes in fifth with nine Griffins alumni, before the first non-Midwest school makes an appearance as part of a three-way tie at six (8): Maine (Chase Pearson and Dan Renouf), Northern Michigan (Dominik Shine), and Ferris State. A six-school tie for ninth (7) includes Western Michigan (Luke Witkowski) and UMass-Lowell (Seth Barton).

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. After rattling off three first-period goals against Cleveland on Dec. 6, Grand Rapids has now outscored its opponents 8-2 over the opening 20 minutes of its last four games. The Griffins are 8-4-0-0 (0.667) this season when scoring first and 7-2-0-0 (0.778) when leading after the opening frame. Almost half of Grand Rapids’ goals (27, 42%) have come during the first period.

Return of Riley: On Dec. 18, Riley Barber became the Griffins’ 188th alumnus to play in the NHL when he made his season debut with Detroit against New Jersey. Although it was a slow start to this year, Riley Barber rattled off a six-game point streak (4-5—9) from Oct. 30-Nov. 13 and is currently in the midst of a three-game stretch (2-1—3). His 16 points (7-9—16) this season are tied for third on the roster while his four power play goals are tied for fourth in the AHL. Barber led the Griffins in goals (20), points (34) and points per game (1.06) a season ago. His scoring pace equaled a 48-goal, 81-point clip in a regular 76-game AHL season. Barber also ranked second in the league for goals, just one shy of Cooper Marody (who played seven more games), and was named a Central Division AHL All-Star. Six game-winning goals tied a career best while his four-game goal streak from Feb. 26 through March 11 also matched a career high. The forward added seven multi-point outings out of 32, including a career-high four points (2-2—4) on May 7 against Chicago. Barber posted a nine-game point streak (8-5—13) 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.

Cris-COOL-o: After being sidelined in the first four games due to an injury, center Kyle Criscuolo has made up for his lost time with 17 points (9-8—17) in 15 contests. The Harvard University graduate logged a two-game point streak (1-1—2) from Oct. 30-31 and surpassed that mark with an active seven-game point streak (7-7—14) from Nov. 20-Dec. 6, which is a new career high for the forward. He posted back-to-back three-point (1-2—3) nights against Milwaukee and Chicago on Nov. 24 and 26. Criscuolo’s three-game goal streak (Nov. 20-26, Dec. 3-6) tied Jonatan Berggren (Oct. 30-Nov. 5) for the longest on the team this season while his four-game assist streak (Nov. 20-28) set a new season high for Grand Rapids. The sixth-year pro is second on the roster with 17 points while his nine goals pace the team and are tied for ninth in the AHL. On Nov. 29, Criscuolo was recalled by Detroit and made his NHL season debut on Dec. 1 against Seattle, marking his first NHL game since March 5, 2018. Criscuolo was then reassigned to Grand Rapids the following morning and returned to Detroit on Dec. 7.

Jonny on the Spot: Rookie Jonatan Berggren saw his season-high six-game point streak (3-4—7 from Oct. 30-Nov. 13) come to a close on Nov. 17 against Chicago. 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 the AHL 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 sixth among league rookies with seven goals while his 16 points (7-9—16) are tied for eighth among first-year players.

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 15 helpers in the opening 22 games, which is a team high and tied for seventh in the league. Eight assists have come on the power play, which is tied for third in the AHL. Hirose saw his season-best six-game point streak (2-7—9) from Oct. 30-Nov. 13 come to an end on Nov. 17 against Chicago. Hirose’s 19 points (4-15—19) this season pace the Griffins and are tied for 14th on the circuit.

Timmy Turner: Veteran Turner Elson surpassed his goal count (4) from the 2020-21 season, as he totaled his fifth goal of the campaign on Nov. 19. The Edmonton, Alberta, native began the campaign with a goal during the season opener but then was held scoreless in the next four outings. The nine-year pro has cranked it up as of late with a three-game goal streak (Dec. 6-11), which is tied with Jonatan Berggren and Kyle Criscuolo for the longest on the team this year. In addition, the left winger is enjoying a season-high four-game (3-2—5) point streak from Dec. 4-11. Elson’s eight goals are place second on the roster while his 15 points (8-7—15) rank fifth.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker:
Riley Barber
—Four power play goals are tied for fifth
Jonatan Berggren
—Seven goals are tied for eighth among league rookies, 16 points (7-9—16) are tied for 13th among first-year players
Kyle Criscuolo
—Nine goals are tied for 17th
Taro Hirose
—15 assists are tied for eighth, eight power play assists are tied for fifth
Ryan Murphy
—Four goals are tied for eighth among blueliners, 14 points (4-10—14) are tied for 12th among defensemen
Wyatt Newpower
—37 penalty minutes are third among rookies and tied for seventh among league defensemen
Calvin Pickard
—2.47 goals against average ranks 12th, 0.926 save percentage is tied for fifth
Dominik Shine
—56 penalty minutes places fifth
Luke Witkowski
—43 penalty minutes are fourth among league blueliners

Milestones:

Riley Barber bagged his 50th point as a Griffin on Dec. 11 at Manitoba. Other upcoming milestones include:
Riley Barber—One game from 350 as a pro
Josh Dickinson—One game from 150 as a pro
Turner Elson—Two assists from 100 in the AHL, two goals from 50 as a Griffin, four points from 200 in the AHL
Brian Lashoff—Two assists from 100 as a pro
Brett McKenzie—Three goals from 50 as a pro
Luke Witkowski—Two points from 50 in the AHL

Photo by Milwaukee Admirals

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