Here’s the Grand Rapids Griffins’ weekly press release ahead of the team’s home opener vs. the Hershey Bears on Friday, October 12th. MLive’s Peter J. Wallner has also posted a “Meet the 2018-19 Grand Rapids Griffins” set of head shots and biographies:
GRIFFINS HOST HERSHEY IN HOME OPENER, TRAVEL TO CHICAGO
GRIFFINS vs. Hershey Bears // Fri., Oct. 12 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:05 p.m.
Season Series: First of two meetings overall, first and last at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 3-1-0-0 Home, 7-1-0-0 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals
Noteworthy: In its 81st AHL season, Hershey is the oldest franchise on the circuit.
GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves // Sat., Oct. 13 // 8 p.m. EDT // Allstate Arena
Listen: WBFX 101.3 FM at 7:35 p.m.
Watch: AHLTV, CW50 (Chicago)
Season Series: First of eight meetings overall, first of four at Allstate Arena
All-Time Series: 41-31-0-2-1 Road, 81-56-2-6-3 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Vegas Golden Knights
Noteworthy: Chicago has won back-to-back Central Division titles.
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Oct. 5 GRIFFINS 1 at Texas Stars 3 0-1-0-0 (0 points, T4th Central Division)
Sat., Oct. 6 GRIFFINS 0 at San Antonio Rampage 4 0-2-0-0 (0 points, T6th Central)
23rd Season Underway: The Grand Rapids Griffins have started the franchise’s 23rd season of play with a 0-2-0-0 mark after being defeated by Texas and San Antonio last Friday and Saturday, respectively. Grand Rapids hosts Hershey on Friday to open the 38-game home portion of its schedule before wrapping up the week at Chicago on Saturday.
Home Openers: The Griffins have sold out 22 consecutive home openers and post a 12-9-0-1 record (0.568) in those games. Grand Rapids has hosted its home opener on Oct. 12 twice previously (4-6 L vs. CLE in 2002, 2-3 L vs. MIL in 2012).
Friday Promotions: The first 5,000 fans will receive a 2018-19 Griffins magnet schedule, courtesy of Huntington Bank. Fans can also enjoy $2 domestic drafts and $2 hot dogs from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. Read more.
Captains: The 12th captain in franchise history, Matthew Ford embarks on his second campaign wearing the “C.” The third-year Griffin will be joined by alternate captains Brian Lashoff, Dylan McIlrath, Wade Megan and Chris Terry. Read more.
Z Debuts: The sixth overall selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by Detroit, Filip Zadina made his North American professional debut last Friday. The 18-year-old Zadina is the highest Red Wings draft pick ever to suit up for the Griffins. Only three players in Griffins history were drafted higher than No. 6: Jason Spezza (No. 2 by Ottawa in 2001), Darrin Shannon (No. 4 by Pittsburgh in 1988) and Stephen Weiss (No. 4 by Florida in 2001). Dylan Larkin (selected 15th overall in the 2014 Draft) was the previous highest Red Wings draft selection to play for Grand Rapids.
New Griffins: Carter Camper, Jake Chelios, Marcus Crawford, Matt Finn, Trevor Hamilton, Wade Megan, Harri Sateri, Mackenze Stewart, Chris Terry and Filip Zadina all made their Griffins debuts last weekend.
Father-Son Combo: Jake Chelios made his Griffins debut last Friday. Jake and his father, Chris Chelios, are the first father and son duo to both play for Grand Rapids during their careers. As part of his 26-year Hall of Fame career from 1983-2010, Chris appeared in two games with Grand Rapids during the 2008-09 campaign.
On Our Side: Four newcomers to this season’s squad have previously taken to the ice at Van Andel Arena as adversaries. Chris Terry played in six games at Grand Rapids – all coming as a Charlotte Checker – and tallied six points (5-1—6). Carter Camper skated in three contests at Van Andel Arena as a member of the Cleveland Monsters and posted three points (1-2—3). Defenseman Jake Chelios recorded three points (0-3—3) in nine games at VAA, skating with Chicago and Charlotte. Wade Megan played 11 games at VAA, the most between the four players, while suiting up for San Antonio and Chicago and scored five points (2-3—5).
Few and Far Between: The Griffins will play only three home games in the season’s opening month, and all three will come in a nine-day span (Oct. 12-20). This season marks the seventh time in Grand Rapids history the team has hosted three or less contests at Van Andel Arena in October.
Simon Says: Ben Simon is in his first season as Grand Rapids’ head coach after being named the 11th head coach in franchise history on June 5. Simon spent the previous three seasons as an assistant with the Griffins under Todd Nelson, who was hired by the Dallas Stars as an assistant coach in May. During Simon’s three seasons as a Grand Rapids assistant, the Griffins posted the third-most regular season victories in the AHL and won the franchise’s second Calder Cup in 2017. Appearing in 21 games and scoring nine points (4-5—9) with the Griffins in 2006-07 as part of an 11-year professional playing career, Simon is the third former Griffins player to serve as Grand Rapids’ head coach, joining Nelson and Danton Cole (2002-05).
Assistant to Head: Ben Simon is the fourth former Griffins assistant to then become the head coach. The previous three, Danton Cole, Greg Ireland and Todd Nelson, all qualified for the postseason in their first full campaign. After serving as an assistant from 1999-2001, Cole led Grand Rapids to a 48-22-8-2 record and a first-place division finish as the head coach in 2002-03. Ireland served as an assistant from 2003-05 before helping the club to a franchise-record 55 victories and the league’s best record in 2005-06. Nelson assisted the Griffins in 2002-03 and guided the team to a fourth-place finish in the Central Division in 2015-16.
Model Year: Picking up where he left off last season when he tied for seventh on the franchise’s all-time single-season list with 12 power play goals, captain Matthew Ford notched a tally on the man-advantage during Friday’s season opener.
Only the Beginning: Grand Rapids has started a campaign with two regulation losses for the third time in franchise history. The 2015-16 team under first-year head coach Todd Nelson started 0-4-0-0 before finishing with a 44-30-1-1 mark and advancing to the division finals. In 2002-03, with first-year bench boss Danton Cole at the helm, the Griffins opened with consecutive regulation losses but bounced back to post 106 points (48-22-8-2), win the Central Division and advance to the conference finals.
Hershey Notes:Grand Rapids is 7-1 all time facing the Bears, who are in their 81st AHL season…Hershey earned its first victory against the Griffins last Oct. 21, in what was the Bears’ first visit to West Michigan since Dec. 22, 2005…The Griffins and Bears are matching up in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 2001-02 and 2002-03 campaigns…Hershey’s NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals, claimed the franchise’s first Stanley Cup last June…Fourteen players on Washington’s playoff roster previously played in Hershey, including 10 former Bears who dressed in the Cup-clinching Game 5 win over the Vegas Golden Knights…Captain Matthew Ford played part of the 2011-12 season with Hershey, scoring 28 points (10-18—28) in 39 games…First-year Griffin Carter Camper scored 34 points (9-25—34) in 64 regular season games with the Bears in 2015-16, before leading the club with 17 points (6-11—17) in 21 postseason contests and helping Hershey reach the Calder Cup Finals…2017 AHL Hall of Fame inductee and former Griffin Bryan Helmer serves as Hershey’s vice president of hockey operations…Helmer played in every game during his two-year stay in Grand Rapids from 2004-06, compiling 81 points (19-62—81) in 160 games…He was named the Griffins’ Man of the Year and an AHL Second Team All-Star in 2005-06 while helping the Griffins capture that season’s regular season championship.
Chicago Notes: Chicago has won five straight in the series, including a 3-2 shootout victory in the last matchup of 2017-18…Chicago has won back-to-back regular season Central Division titles…However, from 2016-18, the Wolves combined to post a 69-36-11-8 record (0.633) against division foes, while the Griffins framed a 71-37-2-8 mark (0.644) during that stretch…Grand Rapids finished 10-7-0-1 against Chicago during the past two seasons…Griffins first-year head coach Ben Simon and assistant coach Brad Tapper won the Calder Cup as players with the Wolves in 2002, their second consecutive season capturing a league championship together after hoisting the IHL’s Turner Cup with the Orlando Solar Bears in 2001…Simon logged 196 games with Chicago from 2001-03 and 2004-05, registering 87 points (37-50—87) and 192 PIM…Tapper appeared in 98 games with the Wolves from 2001-04, tallying 58 points (24-34—58) and 130 PIM…Tapper served as an assistant with the Wolves from 2014-16…First-year Griffin Wade Megan totaled 99 points (44-55—99), a plus-34 rating and 109 PIM with Chicago from 2016-18…Megan paced the AHL with 33 goals during his first season with the Wolves in 2016-17…First-year Griffin Jake Chelios made his AHL debut with Chicago on April 11, 2014 at Iowa and went on to skate in 45 games with the Wolves from 2013-15 and picked up 16 points (1-15—16).