Prospect round-up: Walleye win big over Nailers; Sulak scores a goal; Griffins weekly press release available

In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye got 2 goals from Connor Crisp, 3 assists from David Obuchowski and 2 assists from Davis Vandane during a 6-2 win over the Wheeling Nailers. The Walleye’s website posted a recap:

Walleye score five unanswered goals to defeat Nailers

(Wheeling, WV) – The Walleye took down the Nailers 6-2 on Tuesday night in Wheeling. Matej Machovsky stopped 32 of 34 shots to improve to 10-7-0-1 on the season. The Walleye are 30-12-2-2 on the season and 13-8-2-2 on the road.

Christian Hilbrich scored a power play goal at 9:08 of the first period to give the Walleye a 1-0 lead. The Nailers tied the game 1-1 with a power play goal at 17:43 of the first.

The Nailers took a 2-1 lead at 7:41 of the second period. Dylan Sadowy scored on the power play at 10:24 of the second to tie the game 2-2. The Walleye took a 3-2 lead with a goal by Connor Crisp to make it a 3-2 game.

Mike Embach extended the Walleye lead to 4-2 with a goal at 2:06 of the third period. Erik Bradford scored a power play goal at 12:27 of the third to make it a 5-2 Walleye lead. Crisp scored his second of the game with a short-handed, empty net goal at 18:35 of the third to make it 6-2 Walleye.

Fish Tales:

  • The Walleye return home on Friday and Saturday for a 7:15 p.m. puck drop against Kansas City and Sunday for a 5:15 p.m. puck drop against Wichita.

  • Machovsky stopped 32 of 34 shots and is now 10-7-0-1 on the season.

  • Ryan Obuchowski leads the Fish with seven points vs. Wheeling this season.

  • Mike Embach has four points in his first two games as a Walleye. The Walleye finished 3/6 on the power play and scored one short handed goal.

Elsewhere, in the Finnish Liiga, Libor Sulak scored a goal on 2 shots, playing 23:07 in the Lahti Pelicans’ 5-2 win over Lukko;

Julius Vahatalo won 36% of his faceoffs in 16:53 played during Jukurit’s 4-3 loss to Assat;

In the Swedish Allsvenskan, Mattias Elfstrom played center on the 4th line in Vasterviks IK’s 5-0 win over Vita Hasten;

In the OHL, Givani Smith had 3 shots and went 1-for-2 on faceoffs in the Kitchener Rangers’ 3-1 win over Niagara;

And Michael Rasmussen finished at -1 with 5 shots and an 11-for-20 faceoff record in the Tri-City Americans’ 3-2 shootout loss to Seattle.

Also: in the AHL, here’s the Grand Rapids Griffins’ weekly press release:


This Week’s Games
Manitoba Moose at GRIFFINS // Wed., Feb. 7 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 1-2-0-0 Home, 3-2-0-0 Overall. Sixth of eight meetings overall, fourth of four at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 28-12-1-1-5 Home, 53-28-1-1-7 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets
Noteworthy: Since the Moose rejoined the AHL in 2015-16 following a four-year hiatus, the Griffins are 9-4 against their Central Division counterpart, including a 5-2 mark in games at Van Andel Arena.

San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS // Fri., Feb. 9 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Home, 2-0-0-0 Overall. Third of four meetings overall, second of two at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 21-12-1-3-1 Home, 42-26-1-5-2 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche
Noteworthy: Grand Rapids has won six consecutive games against San Antonio and has outscored the Rampage 31-10 in that span.

Stockton Heat at GRIFFINS // Sat., Feb. 10 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 0-0-0-0 Home, 0-1-0-0 Overall. Second of two meetings overall, first and last at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 1-0-0-0 Home, 1-1-0-1 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames
Noteworthy: In Stockton’s inaugural visit to Van Andel Arena on Jan. 28, 2017, Ben Street scored the game-winning goal with 2:51 remaining in regulation to give Grand Rapids a 2-1 victory.

Last Week’s Results
Thu., Feb. 1    GRIFFINS 2 at Cleveland Monsters 3 SO    22-18-1-5 (50 pts, 5th Central Division)
Fri., Feb. 2    GRIFFINS 4 at Cleveland Monsters 2    23-18-1-5 (52 pts, 5th)
Sun., Feb. 4    GRIFFINS 6 at Cleveland Monsters 3    24-18-1-5 (54 pts, 4th)

Listen here to Eric Tangradi’s Tuesday interview with West Michigan’s Morning News on WOOD Radio

Opening Faceoff: The Grand Rapids Griffins have points in six straight games (5-0-0-1) and in 16 of the last 19 (14-3-0-2). Grand Rapids places fourth in the Central Division, its highest standing since mid-October. The Griffins play three times in four nights at Van Andel Arena this week to start a home-heavy stretch where they will play nine of their next 11 games inside friendly confines.

Follow the Leaders:
Points: Matt Puempel (19-24—43)
Goals: Puempel, Eric Tangradi (19)
Assists: Ben Street (29)
PIM: Dylan McIlrath (81)
Plus-Minus: Filip Hronek (+19)
Goaltender Wins: Jared Coreau (17)
Goals Against Average: Coreau (2.66)
Save Percentage: Coreau (0.908)

Last Week’s Notes:
Thursday at Cleveland: The Griffins are 2-5 in shootouts this season and 98-106 all time…Eric Tangradi scored his 17th goal of the season to tie Matt Puempel and Matthew Ford for the team lead…Dominic Turgeon potted his 10th tally of the campaign to become the fifth Griffin with a double-digit goal total…Jared Coreau recorded 31 saves and has points in each of his last three starts…Nathan Gerbe scored the only goal in the shootout.
Friday at Cleveland: Grand Rapids avenged Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Cleveland with a 4-2 victory on Friday…The Griffins scored twice in the game’s final 4:13 after Cleveland tied the score at 8:05 of the third period…Tom McCollum turned aside 26 shots and earned his 110th career victory as a Griffin, establishing a new team record…Rookie defenseman Filip Hronek potted the game-winning goal at 15:47 of the third period and added an assist for his third multi-point game of the season…Matt Puempel scored his team-leading 18th goal of the season and extended his point streak to a season-high eight games…Corey Elkins tallied his eighth goal of the campaign at 14:49 of the second period and Matt Lorito added an empty-netter with 23 seconds remaining in regulation.
Sunday at Cleveland: Grand Rapids earned five out of a possible six points in the three consecutive games at Cleveland…11 different Griffins found the scoresheet, including three-point efforts from Eric Tangradi (2-1—3) and Matt Puempel (1-2—3)…Jared Coreau recorded 25 saves and earned at least a point for the fourth straight start…Todd Nelson coached in his 200th game with the Griffins…Grand Rapids has claimed points in 10 of its last 11 road games (8-1-0-2), including six in a row…The Griffins improved to 5-1-0-1 in the season series against the Monsters…Rookie defenseman Filip Hronek finished with an assist and a plus-five rating…The Griffins played on Super Bowl Sunday for the second time in franchise history, with the first occurrence coming Feb. 3, 2002.

This Week’s Promotions: Wednesday against Manitoba will be a Winning Wednesday presented by Farm Bureau Insurance. Every time the Griffins win at home on Wednesday, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next Wednesday game. Friday versus San Antonio is presented by Spectrum Health Heart and Vascular Care and fans can enjoy $2 hot dogs and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. On Saturday against Stockton, the first 2,500 fans will receive an Evgeny Svechnikov bobblehead, courtesy of Lake Michigan Credit Union. Grand Rapids will also be wearing 2017 Calder Cup championship commemorative jerseys on Saturday that will be auctioned off after the game.

McCarron and Tansey Recalled from Toledo: The Griffins on Monday recalled defensemen Patrick McCarron and Kevin Tansey from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. McCarron ranks among the ECHL’s rookie defensemen leaders this season with seven goals (3rd) and a plus-12 rating (6th), while totaling 14 points and 12 penalty minutes in 42 appearances with the Walleye. Tansey has posted 15 points (7-8—15) in 45 games with Toledo and ties with McCarron for the most goals among team defensemen.

Wins Leader: Grand Rapids’ all-time leader in goaltender games played, minutes and saves, Tom McCollum surpassed Joey MacDonald for the most victories in franchise history following the Griffins’ 4-2 win last Friday. McCollum has won four of his last five starts and shows a 2.20 GAA and a 0.929 save percentage in that span.

Goaltender Wins
1. Tom McCollum (2009-16; 17-pres.) 110
2. Joey MacDonald (2002-07; 10-12) 109
3. Jimmy Howard (2005-09; 16-17) 93
4. Jared Coreau (2013-pres.) 81
5. Mike Fountain (1999-01) 55

Griffins in the Olympics: Eight former Griffins will be a part of the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang: Dick Axelsson (2009-10), Sweden; Chad Billins (2012-13, 2013 Calder Cup champion), USA; Chris Chelios (2008-09), assistant coach USA; Chris Kelly (2001-02), Canada; Alexey Marchenko (2013-16), Olympic Athletes of Russia; Jan Mursak (2006-07; 08-13, 2013 Calder Cup champion), Slovenia; Jim Paek (assistant coach 2005-14, 2013 Calder Cup champion), head coach Korea; and Brock Radunske (2006-07), Korea.

They Went to Jared: In his last 14 appearances between the pipes, Jared Coreau sports a 10-2-2 record along with a 2.19 GAA and a 0.922 save percentage. He ties for fourth in the AHL with 17 victories on the season.

Special Teams: Grand Rapids is one of four teams to rank in the top 10 for both power play and penalty kill. Grand Rapids’ power play places third at 21.2% and has scored a goal in six of the last seven games. The penalty kill ranks seventh at 84.8% and has gone 37-for-42 (88.1%) over the last 12 outings.

Repeat Opponents: Wednesday’s game against Manitoba will mark the final game of a stretch where the Griffins played 28 straight contests against Central Division opponents. Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, the Griffins are 97-50-3-8 (0.649) against the Central and hold a +107 scoring margin in those 158 games.

Home Sweet Home: Grand Rapids has points in seven of its last nine home games (6-2-1-0), including two straight wins. The Griffins will play nine of their next 11 at Van Andel Arena.

On the Road: The Griffins have claimed points in 10 of the last 11 road contests (8-1-0-2), including six in a row.

Tangoal: Ninth-year pro Eric Tangradi scored two goals and an assist in Sunday’s victory for his third three-point game of the season. He has 10 points (7-3—10) in the last seven games and 12 (8-4—12) in the last nine. Since Jan. 1, Tangradi ties for the league lead with 10 goals, while his 16 points in that span tie for fourth.

Puemped Up: Following his third three-point game of the season in Sunday’s win at Cleveland, Matt Puempel extended his point streak to an AHL career-high nine games (6-7—13). He has scored a goal in six of the last eight games. The fifth-year pro has accumulated 17 points (8-9—17) during an 11-game home point streak, which is the longest single-season home streak in the AHL since Tobias Rieder’s 11-game stretch in the 2013-14 campaign. Acquired by the Red Wings via trade on Oct. 21, Puempel has not gone more than three consecutive games in a Griffins uniform without recording a point. He ties Eric Tangradi for the team lead with 19 goals and his 43 points tie for third in the AHL. Since the calendar turned to 2018, Puempel ties for the league lead with 17 points in 14 games.

Filip Hero-nek: Rookie defenseman Filip Hronek potted the game-winning goal with 4:13 remaining in regulation in last Friday’s victory at Cleveland. Three of Hronek’s five goals this season have been of the game-winning variety. The 53rd overall selection by Detroit in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Hronek ranks among the league’s rookie defensemen leaders with 22 points (2nd), five goals (T6th), 17 assists (4th) and a plus-19 rating (2nd).

Cool Ranch Loritos: Skating in his 100th game as a Griffin last Friday, Matt Lorito accounted for a goal. The second-year Griffin and third-year pro is on a five-game point streak (1-4—5) and has at least a point in eight of his last 10 outings.

Whoa, Nelly: Head coach Todd Nelson coached in his 200th game as a Griffin on Sunday and joined Danton Cole, Curt Fraser and Jeff Blashill as the only coaches in franchise history with 200 or more games coached. This is the second franchise milestone Nelson has reached this season as he became the fifth coach in team history with 100 or more victories following a win at Chicago on Dec. 2. Nelson coached in his 800th game as a professional head coach on Jan. 6 at Chicago and became the fifth active AHL head coach to coach in 500 or more games on Nov. 11 at Texas.

Championship Effects: Seven players from the 2017 Calder Cup championship team have played in the NHL this season: forwards Tyler Bertuzzi (Detroit), Kyle Criscuolo (Buffalo), Martin Frk (Detroit), Tomas Nosek (Vegas) and Dominic Turgeon (Detroit), and defensemen Joe Hicketts (Detroit) and Brian Lashoff (Detroit).

Manitoba Notes: Manitoba leads the Western Conference with a 31-10-3-2 record…Grand Rapids and Manitoba have met 90 times since 1996-97 when both were members of the International Hockey League…Since the Moose rejoined the AHL in 2015-16 following a four-year hiatus, the Griffins are 9-4 against their Central Division counterpart, including a 5-2 mark in games at Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids swept a two-game set against the Moose in Winnipeg on Jan. 8 and 10 and has won three straight at Bell MTS Place… Rookie defenseman Filip Hronek potted the game-winner 3:21 into overtime on Jan. 8…Axel Holmstrom scored an AHL career-high three points (2-1—3) and earned first star honors on Jan. 10…Holmstrom made his AHL debut last April 4 at Manitoba…First-year Griffin Turner Elson scored a career-high four points (1-3—4) in the season opener against Manitoba on Oct. 6.

Open Season: Ninth-year pro Eric Tangradi, who appeared in 91 games with the Winnipeg Jets between 2012-14, has shown impressive production against the Jets’ AHL affiliate. In 11 games against the Moose as a member of the Griffins, Tangradi sports 17 points (8-9—17) and a plus-six rating.

Manitoba Connections: Defenseman Dylan McIlrath hails from Winnipeg…Chase De Leo and Dominic Turgeon were teammates with Portland (WHL) from 2011-15 and helped the Winterhawks win the 2012-13 league championship…Eric Tangradi totaled 10 points (4-6—10) and 43 PIM in 91 games with the Winnipeg Jets from 2012-14.

San Antonio Notes: Grand Rapids has won six consecutive games against San Antonio and has outscored the Rampage 31-10 in that span…The Griffins have claimed three straight contests on home ice against the Rampage and have scored five or more goals in each of those games…Feb. 9 will be the first evening matchup of the season between the teams, as Grand Rapids won a pair of matinee affairs earlier in the schedule (7-4 win at Van Andel Arena on Nov. 8 and 6-3 win at the AT&T Center on Nov. 14)…First-year Griffin Turner Elson, who was limited to 13 games due to injury last season while with the Rampage, posted a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” in his first game against his former team on Nov. 8 at Van Andel Arena…The Griffins scored five goals in the second period in the Nov. 14 victory, a season-high for most tallies in a frame…The game on Friday snaps a streak of 28 straight games Grand Rapids played against Central Division rivals from Dec. 2-Feb. 7.

San Antonio Connections: Griffins alternate captain and eighth-year pro Ben Street captained the Rampage in 2015-16, his only season in San Antonio…Street was limited to 15 games due to injury but totaled 21 points (7-14—21) and was named San Antonio’s AHL Man of the Year for his community involvement…Axel Holmstrom and Oskar Sundqvist were teammates with Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League in 2014-15.

Stockton Notes: In the first meeting of the season on Oct. 14 in California, Stockton shut out Grand Rapids 4-0 behind 36 saves from David Rittich…The Griffins have welcomed a team from California to West Michigan eight times previously in the regular season, showing a 1-3 mark vs. Long Beach Ice Dogs in the IHL, 1-0 vs. San Diego Gulls, 0-1 vs. Bakersfield, 0-1 vs. San Jose Barracuda and 1-0 vs. Stockton…This Saturday marks Stockton’s second-ever appearance at Van Andel Arena…In the Heat’s inaugural visit on Jan. 28, 2017, Ben Street scored the game-winning goal with 2:51 remaining in regulation to give Grand Rapids a 2-1 victory.

Stockton Connections: The Griffins have one player on their roster from California, captain Matthew Ford hails from West Hills, located outside Los Angeles… Longtime Griffin Tom McCollum signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Calgary Flames in Oct. 2016…His lone appearance with the Heat came in a relief effort and he picked up the win while showing a 0.950 save percentage…Turner Elson appeared in a total of 162 games with the Flames’ various AHL affiliates from 2011-16, including a 30-point season in 63 games with Stockton in 2015-16.

Up and Down: With a 24-18-1-5 record through 48 games, take a look at how the statistics compare between the Griffins’ 24 wins and 24 (including overtime and shootout) losses.

W (24) 4.71 2.33 30.39% 88.78% 31.96 30.00
L (24) 1.75 3.71 11.70% 81.42% 32.75 30.13

Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play back-to-back games a total of 24 times this season. Compare the statistics for when Grand Rapids has played on consecutive nights:

W L (incl. OT, SO) GF GA PP% PK% SF SA
First Night 7 8 3.67 3.27 27.27% 83.87% 30.67 29.87
Second Night 6 9 2.60 3.20 17.31% 82.81% 31.13 31.67
Third Night 1 2 2.33 2.67 27.27% 85.71% 38.67 31.33

Walleye Report: Under second-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye have points in five straight games and continue to lead the Central Division with a 29-12-2-2 record (62 points). Erik Bradford (10-24—34) and Christian Hilbrich (16-15—31) lead the team in scoring, while Griffins-contracted Mike Borkowski (13-17—30) places third. Griffins-contracted and 2018 ECHL All-Star Pat Nagle leads the league with 20 victories (19-4-3) while placing eighth with a 2.45 GAA and 11th with a 0.917 save percentage. Red Wings-contracted Matej Machovsky paces the ECHL with a 2.01 GAA and ranks third with a 0.929 save percentage while showing a 9-7-1 mark.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

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