2017-18 SEASON IN REVIEW
Chapter 22: The Grand Rapids Griffins completed the franchise’s 22nd overall season of play, 17th as a member of the American Hockey League and 16th as the primary affiliate of the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings with a 42-25-2-7 record and a second-place finish in the Central Division. Grand Rapids has competed in 1,742 regular season games between the International Hockey League and AHL and has totaled a 927-629-27-51-108 record (0.586) to go along with seven division titles, 16 playoff appearances and two Calder Cup championships (2017, 2013).
Defending Champs Are Back: Following Grand Rapids’ 4-1 win at Tucson and Milwaukee’s 5-1 loss at Chicago on April 7, the Griffins clinched a Calder Cup Playoff berth for the 16th time in club history and a franchise-record sixth consecutive season. The Griffins tie for the third-longest active streak in the AHL (16, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton; 7, Toronto; 6, Providence) and will attempt to become the first team since Hershey in 2009 and 2010 to repeat as champions. Including Grand Rapids’ first Calder Cup in 2013, the Griffins have advanced to at least the second round in each of the previous five postseasons. Third-year head coach Todd Nelson is the second coach (Jeff Blashill) in franchise history to lead the Griffins to three straight postseason appearances. This season’s berth also marks the seventh time in as many full seasons as an AHL head coach that Nelson has guided his team to the playoffs. Grand Rapids was the third team in the Central Division to clinch a playoff spot.
Winning Ways: The Griffins both earned 40 or more wins and accumulated 90 or more points for the sixth consecutive time in franchise history, which breaks the previous record of five set from 1999-2000 through 2003-04.
Follow the Leader(s):
Points: Ben Street (21-44—65)
Goals: Eric Tangradi (31)
Assists: Street (44)
PIM: Dylan McIlrath (119)
Plus-Minus: Filip Hronek (+24)
Goaltender Wins: Jared Coreau (21)
Goals Against Average: Coreau (2.52)
Save Percentage: Coreau (0.913)
Numbers to Know:
3 – Number of players with a hat trick this season. Matt Lorito (Oct. 27 vs. CHI) and Dominic Turgeon (Feb. 17 at MB) each recorded his first career three-goal contest while Colin Campbell (April 14 vs. CLE) registered his second.
3 – Grand Rapids rallied from a three-goal deficit on Dec. 13 versus Iowa to win 4-3 in a shootout and cap off its largest comeback of the season.
4 – Four-point games were achieved by three different players this season. Turner Elson logged a career-high four points (1-3—4) in the season opener, Eric Tangradi tallied two goals and two assists on March 31 at Milwaukee, and Filip Hronek posted a career-best four points (1-3—4) in the season finale.
7 – Grand Rapids scored a season-high seven goals twice (Oct. 13 at SJ and Nov. 8 at SA).
16 – The Griffins finished 16-8-2-7 in one-goal games.
7,960 – Average attendance at Van Andel Arena this season, which ranked sixth in the AHL. Grand Rapids has averaged 7,800+ fans for five consecutive seasons and 7,000+ for the last 10 seasons.
Griffins to Wings: A total of six players were recalled by Detroit from Grand Rapids this season, including two (Joe Hicketts and Dominic Turgeon) who made their NHL debuts with the Red Wings. A total of 29 players appeared in at least one game for the Red Wings this year and all but six spent time in Grand Rapids during their careers.
Whoa, Nelly: Head coach Todd Nelson became the 20th head coach in the 82-year history of the AHL to reach 300 career victories with March 16’s overtime win versus Rockford. Nelson’s wins have been split between Grand Rapids (133) and Oklahoma City (176), part of his all-time AHL ledger of 309-189-16-47 (.607). His 133 wins behind Grand Rapids’ bench are third, trailing only Curt Fraser (146) and Jeff Blashill (134). Milestones also achieved by Nelson this season include: becoming the fifth active AHL head coach to coach in 500 or more games on Nov. 11 at Texas, becoming the fifth coach in team history with 100 or more victories on Dec. 2 at Chicago, becoming the fourth coach in franchise history with 200 or more games coached on Feb. 4 at Cleveland, and coaching in his 800th game as a professional head coach on Jan. 6 at Chicago. The first player ever signed to a Griffins contract, Nelson is one of the most significant defensemen in franchise history. His 236 games played rank eighth all time among defensemen, while his 56 assists and his 67 points both are 16th among Grand Rapids blueliners. Following in the footsteps of Danton Cole (2002-05), whom he served under as an assistant coach, Nelson is the second former Griffins player to be employed as Grand Rapids’ head coach.
From There to Here: Following a 5-4 loss at Chicago on Dec. 21, the Griffins stood a season-low five games below the 0.500 mark (10-15-1-3), placed last in the Central Division and trailed division-leading Manitoba by 23 points. After its 32nd game on Dec. 29 Grand Rapids was 12-15-1-4, six points out of a playoff spot; never in team history had the Griffins made the playoffs with only 29 points through that point of the season. The Griffins tallied a 21-4-0-3 record (0.806) from Dec. 22-Feb. 28 and have been on the plus side of a postseason spot since Game 49 on Feb. 7. Grand Rapids finished with 93 points, one more than the 2012-13 Calder Cup team totaled.
Central Division Standings Since Dec. 22:
Top AHL Scorers Since Dec. 22: Eric Tangradi led the league with 24 goals since Christmastime while Ben Street placed tied for fifth in assists during that span.
|Ben Street (GR)||47||18||29||47||+16|
|Eric Tangradi (GR)||46||24||22||46||+21|
|Carter Camper (TUC)||45||11||34||43||-1|
|Cal O'Reilly (IA)||44||10||34||46||+7|
|Austin Czarnik (PRO)||44||17||27||43||+9|
|Daniel Sprong (WBS)||43||17||26||40||+7|
Tangoal: Ninth-year pro Eric Tangradi potted a career-high 31 goals and is the first Griffin with 30 or more since Teemu Pulkkinen banked a league-best 34 in 2014-15. Tangradi also established career bests in assists (33) and points (64) this season, breaking his previous marks of 28-28—56, which were set during his first year as a Griffin in 2015-16.
Hot Street: Ben Street tallied 21 goals this season to give him back-to-back 20-goal campaigns for the first time in his career. He led the team with a career-high 65 points (21-44—65), breaking his previous best of 60 in 2013-14 with Abbotsford. A second-year Griffin, Street ended the season on a four-game point streak (2-3—5) and found the scoresheet in seven of the season’s last eight contests (5-5—10).
Puemped Up: Matt Puempel, who was acquired by the Red Wings organization from the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Sproul on Oct. 21, scored 13 points (5-8—13) in his first 10 appearances with the Griffins to tie for the second-best start in team history by a player acquired midseason from another organization through 10 games. Including the three points he scored in five games with Hartford to open the season, Puempel set a career-high with 57 points (23-34—57) in 62 games. The fifth-year pro enjoyed a career-high nine-game point streak from Jan. 12-Feb. 4, which also was a team-best for the season. Puempel accumulated 17 points (8-9—17) during an 11-game home point streak, (Nov. 29-Jan. 27), which at the time ranked as the longest single-season home streak in the AHL since Tobias Rieder’s 11-game stretch in the 2013-14 campaign.
Filip Hero-nek: Defenseman Filip Hronek on April 4 was named to the 2017-18 AHL All-Rookie Team, the fourth defenseman in team history to be named to the All-Rookie Team and the eighth Griffin overall to garner such accolades. All seven previous All-Rookie Team members from the Griffins have gone on to play at least one game in the NHL. The 53rd overall selection by Detroit in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Hronek ranked among the league’s rookie defensemen leaders with 39 points (2nd), 11 goals (2nd), 28 assists (T2nd) and a plus-24 rating (2nd). He paced all team defensemen in power play production with 18 points (3-15—18) and was instrumental in Grand Rapids’ power play finishing fourth in the league (20.3%). A native of Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, Hronek posted a career-high four points (1-3—4) in the regular season finale against Cleveland.
Top Single-Season Rookie Defenseman Scorers in Griffins History:
|Filip Hronek (2017-18)||67||11||28||39|
|Robbie Russo (2015-16)||71||5||34||39|
|Clay Wilson (2005-06)||60||10||27||37|
|Chad Billins (2012-13)||76||10||27||37|
|Joe Hicketts (2016-17)||73||7||27||34|
McCollum Sets Record: Entering this season already as Grand Rapids’ all-time goaltending leader in games played, minutes and saves, Tom McCollum became the franchise’s winningest goalie following a 26-save performance in a 4-2 triumph at Cleveland on Feb. 2, to earn his 110th career victory. Since Feb. 20, the eighth-year Griffin posted a 12-6 record, a 2.10 GAA, a 0.926 save percentage and one shutout in 18 appearances, and concluded the season having won eight of his last nine starts.
They Went to Jared: Jared Coreau ended the season on a 10-game point streak (7-0-3) and showed a 1.97 GAA, a 0.931 save percentage and two shutouts in that span. Coreau was recalled by the Red Wings on Feb. 20 and did not return to the Griffins’ lineup until April 11. In his first start back with Grand Rapids on April 11 at Texas, Coreau allowed a goal at 8:47 of the second period to snap his AHL shutout streak at 155:34, which fell just shy of his franchise-record 160:06, which was set Jan. 24-Feb. 6, 2015.
Special Teams: A season after shattering the franchise record for power play efficiency at 24.4%, the Griffins again were a force once again on the man-advantage, finishing fourth in the league at 20.3%. Grand Rapids’ success rate also ranked third on the franchise’s all-time list. Matt Lorito (9-16—25) led the team in power play scoring, followed by Matt Puempel (9-13—22), Ben Street (5-16—21), Matthew Ford (12-6—18), Eric Tangradi (6-12—18) and Filip Hronek (3-15—18). Grand Rapids relied on the power play for 25.3% of its goals this season. The Griffins also placed fourth in the AHL in penalty killing at 84.5% and were the only team in the league to finish in the top five in both special teams categories. The penalty kill finished 13-for-13 over the season’s final six contests.
Road Work: Following Grand Rapids’ 6-2 triumph at San Antonio in its road finale on April 12, the Griffins reached 50 road points (22-10-1-5 record). Grand Rapids accumulated 50 or more points on foreign ice for the fifth time in team history and only the second time (51 points in 2013-14) since the AHL went to a 76-game schedule in 2011-12.
Home vs. Road:
|Matt Puempel (10-21--31), Ben Street (13-18--31)||Leading Scorer||Eric Tangradi (19-16--35)|
Model Year: Captain Matthew Ford, a 10th-year pro, concluded with 22 goals this season, the fifth time in his AHL career he’s been above 20.
Sharing the Wealth: The Griffins had five players (Eric Tangradi, Matt Puempel, Matt Lorito, Matthew Ford, Ben Street) with 20 or more goals, marking the most skaters with 20+ since the 2012-13 Calder Cup team had five.
Iron Men: Dylan McIlrath and first-year Griffin Corey Elkins were the only players to appear in every game this season and became the 10th and 11th Griffins to play all 76 since the league adopted a 76-game schedule in 2011-12.
Championship Effects: The Griffins are the 10th Calder Cup champions to qualify for the postseason in the campaign after winning the Calder Cup since 2001-02, the year Grand Rapids joined the AHL. Only one team in that span repeated as champions (Hershey in 2009 and 2010).
Championship Effects Pt. 2: Nine players from the 2017 Calder Cup championship team played in the NHL this season: forwards Tyler Bertuzzi (Detroit), Kyle Criscuolo (Buffalo), Martin Frk (Detroit), Tomas Nosek (Vegas) Evgeny Svechnikov (Detroit) and Dominic Turgeon (Detroit), goaltender Jared Coreau (Detroit), and defensemen Joe Hicketts (Detroit) and Brian Lashoff (Detroit).
0 to 100: Three players notched their 100th point in a Griffins uniform this season. Ben Street registered a goal and an assist on Feb. 28 to mark his 100th career point and did so in 116 games to rank as the 10th fastest in franchise history to reach the century mark. As part of a three-point night on March 16, Matt Lorito achieved the century mark and tied Ben Street by also accomplishing the feat in his 116 Griffins game. Defenseman Robbie Russo became the fastest blueliner to reach 100 points when he did so on March 25 at Chicago in 197 career games. Russo is just the fourth defenseman in club history with 100 or more points, joining two-time Calder Cup champion Nathan Paetsch, Travis Richards and Derek Meech.
Coreau Named Player of the Week, Month: Goaltender Jared Coreau was named the AHL’s Player of the Week for the period ending Feb. 18, 2018. He led the Griffins to back-to-back shutouts of the then-conference-leading Moose the previous week, stopping all 66 shots he faced. Coreau became the first Griffins goaltender to record a shutout in consecutive starts since Petr Mrazek on Feb. 27-28, 2015, and his 13 career shutouts place third in franchise history. The 6-foot-6 netminder was also named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Month for February after allowing just nine goals on 185 shots and finishing unbeaten in six appearances during the month, compiling a 4-0-2 record, a 1.46 GAA, a 0.951 save percentage and two shutouts before being recalled by the Red Wings on Feb. 20. Coreau garnered his second career monthly accolade (Dec. 2015), and the award marked the fifth time a Griffins goaltender has earned Goalie of the Month honors.
Lorito and Puempel Named All-Stars: Griffins forwards Matt Lorito and Matt Puempel were selected to play for the Central Division All-Star Team at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino, which was held Jan. 28-29 in Utica, N.Y. Lorito, in his third year as a professional, earned his second All-Star bid in as many seasons in Grand Rapids, joining Gustav Nyquist (2012-2013) as the only Griffins forwards to earn back-to-back AHL selections. Puempel, acquired by the Red Wings via trade on Oct. 21, made his first AHL All-Star appearance.
Win Some, Lose Some: Compare the statistics during the Griffins’ 42 wins and 34 losses (including overtime and shootout):
Back-to-Back-to-Back: Compare the statistics for when the Griffins played on successive nights:
|W||L (incl. OT, SO)||GF||GA||PP%||PK%||SF||SA|
Career Years: Several Griffins set personal career highs this season:
|Colin Campbell||35 points, 25 assists, 10 goals (tied)|
|Matt Lorito||23 goals|
|Dylan McIlrath||17 points (tied), 7 goals|
|Matt Puempel||54 points, 32 assists|
|Robbie Russo||9 goals|
|Ben Street||65 points, 44 assists|
|Eric Tangradi||64 points, 31 goals, 33 assists|
|Dominic Turgeon||32 points, 14 goals, 18 assists|
Lucky 13: Thirteen Griffins ranked among the AHL's individual leaders during the regular season:
|Jared Coreau||2.52 GAA (T15th), 21 wins (T9th), 0.913 save percentage (20th), 2213:48 minutes (13th), 38 GP (T16th), 2 shutouts (T15th)|
|Luke Esposito||2 shootout goals (T4th among rookies)|
|Matthew Ford||12 power play goals (T5th)|
|Axel Holmstrom||3 shootout goals (T1st among rookies)|
|Filip Hronek||+24 rating (T15th overall, T11th among defensemen, 2nd among rookie defensemen, T2nd among rookies), 39 points (T7th among defensemen, 2nd among rookie defensemen, T17th among rookies), 11 goals (T8th among defensemen, 2nd among rookie defensemen), 28 assists (T12th among defensemen, T2nd among rookie defensemen, T9th among rookies), 15 power play assists (8th among defensemen, 3rd among rookie defensemen), 4 game-winning goals (T1st among defensemen, T13th among rookies), two shootout goals (T1st among defensemen, T4th among rookies)|
|Matt Lorito||201 shots (T9th)|
|Tom McCollum||20 wins (T12th), 2162:32 minutes (16th), 37 GP (T18th)|
|Dylan McIlrath||119 PIM (T12th, 5th among defensemen)|
|Matt Puempel||57 points (T16th), 7 first goals (T4th)|
|Dan Renouf||83 PIM (T17th among defensemen)|
|Robbie Russo||142 shots (18th among defensemen), 9 goals (T17th among defensemen), 81 PIM (20th among defensemen)|
|Ben Street||65 points (T5th), 44 assists (T8th), 207 shots (T6th)|
|Eric Tangradi||64 points (T8th), 31 goals (T4th), 237 shots (2nd)|
Take Me to Your Leaders: Following this year’s performances, several Griffins rank among the franchise’s all-time top 10 statistical leaders (regular season):
|Jared Coreau||148 goalie games played (4th), 8614:11 minutes (4th), 2.44 GAA (T8th), 85 wins (4th), 13 shutouts (3rd), 3930 saves (4th), 0.918 save percentage (T7th), 7 shootout wins (T5th)|
|Brian Lashoff||400 GP (2nd)|
|Tom McCollum||263 goalie games played (1st), 14900:25 minutes (1st), 123 wins (1st), 8 shutouts (6th), 6640 saves (1st), 9 shootout wins (4th)|
|Robbie Russo||+61 (5th)|
|Eric Tangradi||76 goals (6th), 164 points (9th), 21 power play goals (10th), 14 game-winning goals (4th), 3 overtime goals (T3rd), 7 unassisted goals (T5th)|
One for the Books: A few Griffins enjoyed seasons that ranked statistically among the best in franchise history:
|Luke Esposito||0.667 shootout percentage (T7th)|
|Matthew Ford||12 power play goals (T7th), 1 overtiime goal (T7th)|
|Filip Hronek||1 overtime goal (T7th)|
|Matt Lorito||1 overtime goal (T7th)|
|Matt Puempel||7 first goals (T8th)|
|Eric Tangradi||1 overtime goal (T7th), 5 unassisted goals (T1st)|
Honor Roll: Five Griffins received significant individual honors from the AHL this season:
|Jared Coreau||AHL Player of the Week (2/19/18), AHL Goaltender of the Month for February|
|Filip Hronek||2017-18 AHL All-Rookie Team|
|Matt Lorito||2018 AHL All-Star Classic Participant|
|Tom McCollum||Named Griffins' IOA/American Specialty Man of the Year|
|Matt Puempel||2018 AHL All-Star Classic Participant|
In the Show: With the advancement of three former Griffins to the NHL this season, Grand Rapids has now sent 168 players on to the NHL during its 22 seasons of play. Thirty-seven Griffins alumni logged ice time in the NHL during the 2017-18 regular season.