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This Week’s Games

GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals // Sat., Jan. 28 // 7 p.m. EST // Panther Arena

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

Watch: AHLTV

Season Series: 1-2-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Fourth of eight meetings overall, second of four at Panther Arena

All-Time Series: 108-76-7-8-8 Overall, 50-40-5-5-5 Road

NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators

Noteworthy: Admirals’ rookie Luke Evangelista ranks fourth in the AHL among first-year players with 30 points (8-22—30) in 39 appearances. The former 42nd overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft has four points (2-2—4) in three games against Grand Rapids.

GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves // Sun., Jan. 29 // 4 p.m. EST // Allstate Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 3:45 p.m. EST

Watch: AHLTV & My50 Chicago at 4 p.m. EST

Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Road. Fourth of 10 meetings overall, third of five at Allstate Arena

All-Time Series: 93-82-2-7-3 Overall, 48-45-0-2-1 Road

NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes

Noteworthy: The Griffins’ two-game win streak over the Wolves is their first since May 8-11, 2021, which spans 14 contests.

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 18 // GRIFFINS 5 at Rockford 2 (15-19-1-2 (33 pts., 0.446, 6th Central)
Sat., Jan. 21 // GRIFFINS 2 vs. Springfield 3 (OT) // 15-19-2-2 (34 pts., 0.447, 6th Central)

Last Week’s Notes
Wednesday at Rockford (5-2 W) - Rapid-fire scoring in the first period propelled the Griffins to a 5-2 victory over the IceHogs at the BMO Center. Grand Rapids opened the game with four goals in 3:58 of play. Nine Griffins tallied points in that time frame, including two from Austin Czarnik who finished the game with three (2-1–3). Jakub Vrana scored the fourth of the night, his first in a Grand Rapids uniform while his teammate Wyatt Newpower recorded his first goal of the season. In addition to each scoring a goal, Danny O’Regan appeared in his 400th pro game and Vrana skated in his 500th pro game. Recap | Highlights

Friday vs. Springfield (2-3 OTL) - The Griffins extended their point streak to four with a 3-2 overtime loss against the Thunderbirds in front of a sellout crowd at Van Andel Arena. Steven Kampfer tallied assists on both of Grand Rapids’ goal and Albert Johansson and Jakub Vrana each recorded their second tallies of the season in the first stanza. Jasper Weatherby suited up for his first game as a Griffin and Vrana notched his 150th pro goal. Following the game and through Sunday, players, coaches and staff members participated in the Griffins’ Great Skate Winterfest at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, connecting with the community through 24 hours of skating. Recap | Highlights

On the Move: On Wednesday, the Detroit Red Wings traded forward Kyle Criscuolo to the San Jose Sharks for forward Jasper Weatherby. In addition, the Griffins acquired forward Patrick McGrath from the San Jose Barracuda for future considerations. Criscuolo appeared in 194 games with the Griffins and totaled 109 points (48-61—109) from 2015-17 and 2020-23, lifting the Calder Cup for Grand Rapids in 2017. Weatherby is in his second year as a pro and has 21 points (8-14—21) in 64 AHL games with San Jose from 2021-23. The 24-year-old played his college years at the University of North Dakota, capturing two NCHC titles from 2019-21. Weatherby made his Grand Rapids debut this past Saturday against Springfield and recorded an assist. McGrath comes to the Griffins with 302 pro games under his belt, amassing 25 points (11-14—25) and 1,127 penalty minutes. McGrath, 30, has appeared in five games with the Barracuda this season and has totaled 42 penalty minutes.

Everyone Gets a Point: The Griffins are currently riding a four-game point streak (2-0-1-1), which is their longest run this season. Since the new year, Grand Rapids has lost in regulation just twice through nine games (4-2-1-2, 0.611). The Griffins jumped into sixth in the Central Division but are still nine points out of a playoff spot, trailing the Iowa Wild.

Vroom Vroom Vrana: After being held off the scoresheet in the first four games of his Griffins career, Jakub Vrana is starting to find the back of the net. He earned his first AHL point of the season on an assist against the Texas Stars on Jan. 6. Now Vrana has goals in consecutive games from Jan. 18-21 and has totaled three points (2-1—3) in 10 outings for Grand Rapids.

Power Struggle: After beginning the season with a 29.3% power-play conversion rate in the first nine games of the year, the Griffins have struggled as of late. Grand Rapids is 5-for-57 (8.8%) on the man-advantage in its last 17 outings and have just eight power-play goals in its last 22 contests (8-for-85, 9.4%). Grand Rapids has been held off the scoresheet on the power play in seven straight games (0-for-21). The Griffins are tied for 25th in the AHL on the power play with a conversion rate of 16.9%.

Chasing Chiasson: Veteran Alex Chiasson is enjoying a three-game assist streak (0-3—3) after not recording a point from Jan. 6-14. The Montreal, Quebec, native has 11 points (5-6—11) in 16 games since signing to a professional tryout by Grand Rapids on Nov. 26. Chiasson has appeared in 631 NHL games across 10 seasons and has amassed 224 points (114-110—224).

Few and Far Between: The Griffins have struggled to find the back of the net in recent games, as the team scored a combined two goals in three outings from Jan. 13-16. However, Grand Rapids exploded for four goals in the opening 3:58 of play on Wednesday against Rockford and finished with a 5-2 victory. The Griffins have tallied a combined 13 goals in the past seven contests (1.86 goals per game). Grand Rapids ranks 29th out of 32 AHL teams with 103 goals scored this campaign (2.71 goals per game).

On the Road Again: The Griffins wrapped up their season-high seven-game homestand that spanned from Dec. 31-Jan. 14. Grand Rapids finished with a 3-3-0-1 mark and are now 8-9-2-1 in West Michigan this season. The Griffins are now in the midst of a stretch of seven out of their next eight games on the road, which began on Jan. 16. Grand Rapids played its only home contest during this run last Saturday against Springfield, a 3-2 overtime defeat. Grand Rapids holds a 7-10-0-1 ledger on foreign ice this season and are just four wins away from 500 on the road in franchise history (496-411-12-34-60).

Just Keep it Close: The Griffins have had an up-and-down start to the season, but they have excelled at winning close games. In fact, Grand Rapids is 8-0-2-2 (0.833) in games decided by one goal and 4-0-2-0 (0.833) in overtime contests. In comparison, the Griffins are just 7-19-0-0 (0.269) in games decided by two or more tallies. In the 2021-22 season, the Griffins finished with a 13-7-6-2 (0.607) mark in games decided by one goal.

Alexander The Great: Netminder Alex Nedeljkovic has been a welcomed addition to the Griffins roster, as the goaltender was assigned on a conditioning loan by Detroit on Jan. 4. After clearing waivers on Jan. 16, the netminder remained with Grand Rapids on a regular loan. Through eight outings, Nedeljkovic has a 4-2-2 record along with a 2.35 goals against average and a 0.922 save percentage. On Jan. 14, Nedeljkovic posted a 27-save shutout against the Chicago Wolves, his first in the AHL since Feb. 7, 2020 against Hartford (17 saves). On Jan. 11, Nedeljkovic recorded his fourth assist and fifth point of his AHL career, which was his first AHL point since Jan. 19, 2020. The only other season in Grand Rapids history during which two NHL goalies (Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg) played for the Griffins on conditioning stints was 2005-06, when both Chris Osgood (3 GP, 2-1, 3.34 GAA, 0.882%) and Manny Legace (1 GP, 1-0, 2.00 GAA, 0.909%) donned the Griffins’ wings instead of Detroit’s.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker:
Pontus Andreasson
—Four power-play goals are tied for 10th among rookies
Austin Czarnik—Five game-winning goals are tied for second, three short-handed goals are tied for first
Simon Edvinsson—13 assists rank sixth among rookie defensemen, 14 points are tied for ninth among rookie defensemen
Taro Hirose
—13 power-play assists are tied for 10th
Joel L’Esperance—Eight power-play goals are tied for sixth, 129 shots rank fourth

Jakub Vrana
bagged his 150th goal as a professional on Jan. 21 against Springfield. Multiple Griffins hit milestones on Jan. 18 against the Rockford IceHogs, including Alex Chiasson (50th AHL point), Austin Czarnik (250th AHL point), Danny O’Regan (400th pro game) and Vrana (500th pro game).
Austin Czarnik
—One point from 300 as a pro
Joel L’Esperance—Two goals from 100 as a pro
Chase Pearson—Two assists from 50 as a pro, in the AHL and as a Griffin
Dominik Shine
—One assist from 50 as a pro, as a Griffin and in the AHL
Jakub Vrana
—Two games from 100 in the AHL, two assists from 150 as a pro, two points from 300 as a pro
Drew Worrad—Two games from 50 as a pro

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins

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