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Just Keep Winning

Feb 27, 2024
Written By: Andrew Streitel

This Week’s Games

GRIFFINS vs. Iowa Wild // Wed., Feb. 28 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS vs. Iowa Wild // Fri., March 1 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m. each night

Watch: AHLTV

Season Series: 2-0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0-0 home. Third and fourth of eight meetings overall, first and second of four at Van Andel Arena.

All-Time Series: 45-23-5-3 Overall, 21-10-4-2 Home

NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild

Noteworthy: Former Griffins head coach Ben Simon returns to Van Andel Arena for the first time since his departure from Grand Rapids last offseason. Simon spent five seasons as the head coach of the Griffins from 2018-23 and served as an assistant coach for Grand Rapids from 2015-18. Simon’s five seasons as bench boss made him the longest-tenured head coach in franchise history and his 144 wins rank second in Griffins’ history.

GRIFFINS vs. Rockford IceHogs // Sat., March 2 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7 p.m.

Watch: WXSP-TV and AHLTV

Season Series: 4-2-1-0 overall, 1-1-1-0 home. Eighth of 12 meetings overall, fourth of six at Van Andel Arena

All-Time Series: 65-45-10-11 Overall, 39-15-6-5 Home

NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks

Noteworthy: The Griffins are on a three-game winning streak against the IceHogs after beginning the season series 1-2-1-0.

Historic Bout: On Sunday, the Griffins and Milwaukee Admirals made AHL history, as it was the first meeting between two teams riding point streaks of 14 games or more. Grand Rapids entered the night with points in 14 straight games and Milwaukee was on a 19-game winning streak, which was the second-longest run in AHL history. The Griffins came away victorious in a 4-2 win to extend their point streak to 15 outings (11-0-2-2), snapping the Admirals’ historic run. Sebastian Cossa finished with 37 saves and Marco Kasper was credited with the game-winner. The Griffins have not lost in regulation since a 2-0 setback on Jan. 12 against Rockford, while the Admirals’ defeat was their first since New Year’s Eve.

Keep the Good Times Rolling: The Griffins are on a 15-game point streak (11-0-2-2) from Jan. 13-Feb. 25, which is the second-longest run in the AHL this season and the team’s longest since Nov. 18-Dec. 26, 2015 (15-0-0-0). The Griffins’ active 10-game home point streak (7-0-2-1) is the second-longest run in the AHL this season and the team’s first since the they earned a point in 15 straight games at Van Andel Arena from Nov. 11, 2015-Jan. 17, 2016 (14-0-1-0). Grand Rapids’ active nine-game road point streak (8-0-0-1) is their longest since an 11-game run (9-0-1-1) from Jan. 29-March 12, 2015 and the longest in the AHL this season. The Griffins have secured at least a point in 22 of their last 25 contests (17-3-3-2). The Griffins are 16-2-2-2 since Christmas and have had a pair of winning streaks of five or more games in the same season for the first time since 2015-16. Grand Rapids has points in 16 of its last 19 games (13-4-2-1) inside Van Andel Arena and has points in 10 of its past 11 road appearances (8-1-1-1). The Griffins have been solid at home with a 15-6-3-1 mark, outscoring their opponents 77-57. Grand Rapids found its rhythm on the road, earning points in nine straight games to move above the .500 mark away from home (10-9-2-2).

Sea Bass Fishing: Sebastian Cossa was named the Howies Hockey Tape/AHL Player of the Week on Monday when he posted a 2-0-0 record with one shutout to go along with a 1.00 GAA and a .970 save percentage from Feb. 21-25. Last Wednesday, the 21-year-old collected his first AHL shutout with 28 saves in a 1-0 victory over the Texas Stars, lifting Grand Rapids past Texas into second place in the Central Division and becoming just the third Griffins rookie to record a shutout over the last nine seasons. Cossa went on to stop 37 shots on Sunday, including 14 in the third period, to help the Griffins snap Milwaukee’s 19-game winning streak and extend Grand Rapids’ point streak to 15 games (11-0-2-2). Cossa won a team-high four straight games from Jan. 19-Feb. 2 and is currently on an eight-game point streak (6-0-2) from Jan. 19-Feb. 25. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Cossa has a 8-1-2 ledger with a 1.90 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. The former 15th overall pick by the Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has allowed more than two goals just three times in his past 11 games. Through 24 contests, Cossa is 12-7-5 with one shutout to go along with a 2.61 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. Cossa ranks sixth among rookie goaltenders in both goals against average and save percentage.

Thou Shall Not Pass: The Griffins’ defense has been much improved since the holiday break, allowing an average of 2.32 goals per game from Dec. 27-Feb. 25 and 1.25 goals per game in their last four outings (Feb. 17-25). Prior to the holiday break, Grand Rapids allowed 3.31 goals per game from Oct. 13-Dec. 20. The Griffins have allowed a total of 135 goals through 48 games this season, which ranks second in the Central Division and fifth in the AHL. Grand Rapids also ranks seventh on the circuit with 2.81 goals against per game, which is second in the division trailing only Milwaukee (2.40). Netminders Sebastian Cossa (2.61) and Michael Hutchinson (2.72) each possess a goals against average below 3.00. Defensemen Wyatt Newpower (+9), Albert Johansson (+8), Simon Edvinsson (+6), William Wallinder (+4), Brogan Rafferty (+4) and Antti Tuomisto (+4) all have a positive plus-minus rating.

Clutch Hutch: Veteran goaltender Michael Hutchinson has been solid for the Griffins this year, posting a 12-8-3 mark with one shutout in 24 games to go along with a 2.72 goals against average and a .899 save percentage. The 33-year-old is on an active six-game point streak from Jan. 13-Feb. 24 (4-0-2) and has a .890 save percentage and a 2.63 goals against average during the run. Since returning from the holiday break on Dec. 27, Hutchinson has accumulated a 7-1-2 record with a .905 save percentage and a 2.41 goals against average. The Barrie, Ontario, native has an all-time AHL record of 118-79-23 with a 2.60 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. Hutchinson has also appeared in 154 NHL contests, showing a 2.94 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.

Johnny Bravo: Jonatan Berggren enjoyed a four-game point streak (3-1—4) from Feb. 9-16 and has 17 points (9-8—17) in his last 15 games from Jan. 13-Feb. 25. Berggren also has 23 points (10-13—23) in his last 20 outings and 26 points (12-14—26) in his last 23 contests from Dec. 15-Feb. 25. The 23-year-old leads the roster in points (17-24—41), assists (24) and goals (17) through 39 appearances this season. The Enkoping, Sweden, product became the seventh-fastest player to reach 100 points as a Griffin, doing so in just his 106th game on Jan. 26 against Belleville. Berggren has a combined 112 points (42-70—112) in 116 career AHL appearances from 2021-24, collecting an assist during his 100th game as a Griffin on Jan. 10 against Milwaukee. During his rookie season with the Griffins in 2021-22, Berggren broke Grand Rapids’ rookie single-season scoring record with 64 points (21-43—64) in 70 games, five more points than the previous record held by Teemu Pulkkinen (2013-14).

Oh, It’s You Again: The Griffins are in second place in the Central Division with a 25-15-5-3 record and 58 points, 18 points clear of a playoff spot. In the final 24 games of the regular season, Grand Rapids will compete against the Central Division 21 times, with its only games outside of the division coming against Cleveland (3). The Griffins have done well against their division rivals, as they are 19-9-2-1 (.661) with a plus-18 scoring margin against the Central Division. Grand Rapids is undefeated this season against Chicago (3-0-0-0) and Iowa (2-0-0-0). Iowa will be the Griffins’ most frequent opponents down the stretch, as there are still six meetings against the franchise. Grand Rapids will also see a lot of Chicago (5) and Rockford (5) as the season progresses.

Pucks on Net: The Griffins have done well when outshooting their opponents this season with a 13-2-3-3 (.762) record compared to a 11-12-2-0 (.480) mark when they are being outshot. Grand Rapids is 15-4-2-3 when producing at least 30 shots and 15-7-4-1 when it keeps its opponents between 20-29 shots. The Griffins are tied for 16th in the AHL with 29.7 shots per game, while they concede the seventh fewest in the league at 28.4. The Griffins are averaging 35.3 shots per game in their last seven outings, while giving up an average of 28.7.

Under Three is Key: Unsurprisingly, the Griffins have done well in games where they have scored four or more goals, going 18-1-1-0 (.925). Although, when scoring three goals or less the team is just 7-14-4-3 (.375). Grand Rapids has surpassed the four-goal mark in 12 of its last 25 outings. On the flip side, Grand Rapids is just 6-12-5-3 (.385) when allowing at least three goals, compared to a 19-3-0-0 mark (.863) when allowing two goals or less. In their last 25 appearances, the Griffins have allowed three or more goals 12 times.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker
Sebastian Cossa
—2.61 GAA places sixth among rookie netminders, .911 save percentage ranks sixth among rookie goaltenders
Simon Edvinsson
—Two game-winners are tied for sixth among defensemen
Carter Mazur
—Five power-play goals are tied for ninth among rookies
Antti Tuomisto
—Four goals are tied for eighth among rookie defensemen, one power-play goal is tied for sixth among rookie defensemen, two game-winners are tied for first among rookie defensemen

Matt Luff
appeared in his 200th game in the AHL on Sunday. On Saturday, Dominik Shine competed in his 400th game as a Griffin. Zach Aston-Reese competed in his 100th game in the AHL on Feb. 16.
Austin Czarnik—One game from 300 in the AHL
Simon Edvinsson—Three games from 100 as a Griffin
Tim Gettinger
—Two games from 300 as a pro
Taro Hirose
—Three goals from 50 as a Griffin
Elmer Soderblom—Three goals from 50 as a pro
Tyler Spezia
—One assist from 50 as a Griffin
Antti Tuomisto
—Three games from 100 as a pro
Dan Watson
—Three wins from 300 as a head coach

Photo by Iowa Wild