Griffins news: a Game Day Preview video and weekly press release

Here’s the Grand Rapids Griffins’ Game Day Preview video ahead of tonight’s game vs. Milwaukee:

And here’s the Griffins’ weekly press release:


This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals // Tues., March 20 // 8 p.m. EDT // UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:35 p.m.
Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Road, 5-2-1-0 Overall. Ninth of 10 meetings overall, fourth of five at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
All-Time Series: 40-32-5-5-5 Road, 90-61-7-7-7 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: Since the Admirals moved to Panther Arena prior to the 2016-17 season, the Griffins are 7-2 at Milwaukee in the regular season.

GRIFFINS at Iowa Wild // Fri., March 23 // 8 p.m. EDT // Wells Fargo Arena
GRIFFINS at Iowa Wild // Sat., March 24 // 7 p.m. EDT // Wells Fargo Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:35 p.m. on Friday and 6:35 p.m. on Saturday
Season Series: 1-2-0-0 Road, 4-4-0-0 Overall. Ninth and 10th of 10 meetings overall, fourth and fifth of five at Wells Fargo Arena
All-Time Series: 13-5-0-0 Road, 27-10-0-1 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild
Noteworthy: After Saturday’s game, Grand Rapids and Iowa will have met four times in an 11-day span.

GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves // Sun., March 25 // 6 p.m. EDT // Allstate Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 5:35 p.m.
Watch:, CW50 (Chicago)
Season Series: 1-2-0-0 Road, 2-5-0-0 Overall. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth of four at Allstate Arena
All-Time Series: 41-31-0-2-0 Road, 81-56-2-6-2 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Vegas Golden Knights
Noteworthy: Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, the Griffins are 16-8-1-0 against Chicago, including 8-4-1-0 at Van Andel Arena and 8-4-0-0 at Allstate Arena.

Last Week’s Results
Wed., March 14    Iowa Wild 4 at GRIFFINS 2    32-23-1-6 (71 pts, 4th Central Division)
Fri., March 16    Rockford IceHogs 3 at GRIFFINS 4 OT    33-23-1-6 (73 pts, 4th)
Sat., March 17    Iowa Wild 2 at GRIFFINS 1    33-24-1-6 (73 pts, 4th)

Listen here to Todd Nelson’s Monday interview on West Michigan’s Morning News (WOOD Radio)

Opening Faceoff: The Grand Rapids Griffins currently hold the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division and face four critical division matchups this week. Grand Rapids begins a four-game road swing tonight at the sixth-place Milwaukee Admirals and wraps up the trip with a three-in-three this weekend.

Follow the Leaders:
Points: Matt Puempel (21-31—52), Ben Street (16-36—52)
Goals: Eric Tangradi (26)
Assists: Street (36)
PIM: Dylan McIlrath (115)
Plus-Minus: Filip Hronek (+22)
Goaltender Wins: Jared Coreau (20)
Goals Against Average: Coreau (2.47)
Save Percentage: Coreau (0.916)

Last Week’s Notes:
Wednesday vs. Iowa: Grand Rapids led 2-0 2:36 into the game but saw Iowa score four unanswered goals, including three in a 1:54 span in the third period…Ben Street scoring 14 seconds into the game marked the fastest goal by a Griffin to start a contest since Andy Miele scored at 14 seconds on Dec. 27, 2014 vs. Iowa…The line of Street (1-1—2), Matt Puempel (1-1—2) and Eric Tangradi (0-2—2) all recorded multi-point games…Iowa won at Van Andel Arena for only the fourth time ever in regulation in 19 games.
Friday vs. Rockford: Eric Tangradi scored the game-winner 3:53 into overtime…Luke Johnson tied the game with 41 seconds remaining to force the extra session…Matt Lorito tied a season high with three points (1-2—3)…Lorito potted his 20th goal of the season and is the fourth Griffin to reach the 20-goal mark, joining Matt Puempel (21), Matt Ford (22), and Tangradi (26)…Ford scored the game’s first goal at 16:37 of the first period…Ben Street lit the lamp on the power play at 12:47 of the third frame to extend his goal streak to four games…The Griffins finished 2-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill…Grand Rapids won the season’s last four meetings against Rockford after going 0-3-0-3 over the first six…The Griffins celebrated the local Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers by wearing West Michigan Whitecaps-inspired jerseys.
Saturday vs. Iowa: Alex Grant scored the game-winning goal while on the power play with 16 seconds remaining in regulation…Tom McCollum turned aside 35-of-37 shots…Matt Lorito potted Grand Rapids’ goal at 11:08 of the first period, his second straight game lighting the lamp…The Griffins were outshot 37-20.

Current Playoff Picture:


Place Team Points PCT Games Left Home Road Opp. Winning % GR Magic # Over (Pts.) Magic # Over GR
1 MB 84 0.656 12 8 4 0.559 36 14
2 CHI 77 0.611 13 7 6 0.547 31 21
3 IA 74 0.578 12 8 4 0.563 26 24
4 GR 73 0.570 12 3 9 0.563
5 RFD 74 0.569 11 4 7 0.591 24 24
6 MIL 69 0.539 12 8 4 0.571 21 29
7 CLE 50 0.403 14 8 6 0.589 6 48

X – Clinched playoff berth
Currently in playoff position

Whoa, Nelly: Todd Nelson became the 20th head coach in the 82-year history of the AHL to reach 300 career victories following last Friday’s overtime win versus Rockford. Nelson’s wins have been split between Grand Rapids (124) and Oklahoma City (176), part of his all-time AHL ledger of 300-188-15-46 (.602). 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.

On the Road: The Griffins will play nine of their final 12 contests of the season on the road, including a four-game road trip this week. Grand Rapids is 8-1-0-1 in its last 10 games on foreign ice and 11-2-0-2 in its last 15.

Taking the Reigns: Since Jared Coreau was recalled by Detroit on Feb. 20, Tom McCollum posts a 2.38 GAA, a 0.920 save percentage and one shutout in nine appearances (4-5 record). He’s allowed two goals or fewer in five of his last nine starts. McCollum, who became Grand Rapids’ all-time winningest goaltender on Feb. 2, also shows a 9-6 mark in his last 15 appearances to go along with a 2.36 GAA and a 0.923 save percentage in that span.

Tangoal: Eric Tangradi scored the game-winning goal in overtime last Friday for his 26th goal of the campaign, which ties for fourth in the league. The ninth-year pro has surpassed the 20-goal plateau for the second time in his AHL career and is just two shy of matching his career high of 28 set in 2015-16 with Grand Rapids. Since Jan. 1, Tangradi paces the league with 17 goals, while his 29 points in 30 GP in that span tie for sixth.

Special Teams: After allowing two goals on two opportunities against Milwaukee on March 3, the Griffins’ penalty kill has gone 19-for-20 over the last five games. The power play places third in the AHL with a season percentage of 20.9%. Matt Lorito leads the team with 24 power play points (8-16—24), followed by Matt Puempel (7-13—20), Ben Street (5-13—18) and Matthew Ford (12-5—17). Ford’s 12 PPGs tie for third in the league and tie for the seventh most in a single season in franchise history.

Model Year:
Captain Matthew Ford, a 10th-year pro, has 20-plus goals for the fifth time in his AHL career. His 12 power play goals tie for third in the AHL and tie for the seventh most in a single season in franchise history.

Hot Street: Ben Street had his career-high tying four-game goal streak snapped in last Saturday’s loss. In the last 25 games, the eighth-year pro has produced 26 points (11-15—26) and a plus-10 rating. Street’s team-high 36 assists tie for ninth in the AHL.

Cool Ranch Loritos: Matt Lorito has collected four points in the last two games, including matching a season high with three points (1-2—3) last Friday. He surpassed 100 points as a Griffin with his Friday output and tied Ben Street for the 10th fastest in franchise history to hit the century mark (116 GP). Thirty-eight players in team history have achieved 100 or more points.

Puemped Up: Matt Puempel has points in three of the last four games, showing five points (1-4—5) in that span. Acquired by the Red Wings via trade on Oct. 21, Puempel ties with Ben Street for the team lead in points with 52. Fifty-two points also marks an AHL career high for the fifth-year pro.

Filip Hero-nek: Rookie defenseman Filip Hronek, the 53rd overall selection by Detroit in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, ranks among the league’s rookie defensemen leaders with 31 points (2nd), eight goals (T3rd), 23 assists (T2nd) and a plus-22 rating (2nd).

Top Single-Season Rookie Defenseman Scorers in Griffins History:

Player (Season) GP G A Pts
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
Brendan Smith (2010-11) 63 12 20 32
Ryan Sproul (2012-13) 72 11 21 32
Filip Hronek (2017-18) 56 8 23 31

Marching On: Historically, March has been successful for the Griffins as they have posted a winning record in the month in each of the last nine seasons.

Championship Effects: Nine 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) Evgeny Svechnikov (Detroit) and Dominic Turgeon (Detroit), goaltender Jared Coreau (Detroit), and defensemen Joe Hicketts (Detroit) and Brian Lashoff (Detroit).

Robbie Russo – four points to reach 100 as a pro
Ben Street – two points to reach 400 as a pro
Turner Elson – two points to reach 100 as a pro
Matt Lorito – one game to reach 200 in the AHL
Matt Puempel – one game to reach 300 as a pro

Milwaukee Notes: With a rivalry dating back to the International Hockey League days, the Griffins have faced the Admirals more than any other opponent in team history as the two clubs will meet up for the 173rd time tonight…Since the Admirals moved to Panther Arena prior to the 2016-17 season, the Griffins are 7-2 at Milwaukee in the regular season…The Griffins have points in seven of the last nine meetings against the Admirals (6-2-1-0)…Since the 2013-14 season, Grand Rapids posts a 31-15-2-0 (0.667) regular season mark against Milwaukee, including a 17-7-1-0 record in 25 games at Van Andel Arena…That comes on the heels of an 18-24-4-4 (0.440) record the Griffins tallied against the Admirals from the 2006-07 season to 2012-13…Grand Rapids has scored a power play goal in seven of eight meetings this season, including four times scoring two or more PPGs…The Griffins’ special teams are 31.6% (12/38) on the power play and 87.9% (29/33) on the penalty kill in the season series…Grand Rapids has outshot Milwaukee in seven of eight games this season…Matt Puempel (4-5—9 in 7 GP), Matthew Ford (4-3—7 in 8 GP) and Ben Street (2-5—7 in 7 GP) lead the team in scoring in the season series…Milwaukee skated away with a 4-1 victory in the most recent matchup on March 3 in West Michigan, as the Admirals scored twice on the power play and Troy Grosenick stopped 36-of-37 shots….In the last meeting at Milwaukee on Jan. 19, the Griffins finished 2-for-2 on the power play, 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, scored a shorthanded goal and won 5-2.

Milwaukee Connections: Grand Rapids assistant coaches Ben Simon (18 GP in 2003-04) and Bruce Ramsay (3 GP in 1995-96) had cups of coffee on the other side of Lake Michigan during their playing days…Mark Zengerle played in 144 regular season games with the Griffins from 2014-16 and totaled 84 points (24-60—84), a plus-19 rating and 42 PIM while adding 15 points (2-13—15) in 24 Calder Cup Playoff contests…Tyler Moy and Luke Esposito were teammates at Harvard from 2013-17 and helped the Crimson reach the 2017 Frozen Four.

Iowa Notes: After winning the first eight all-time meetings between the teams at Wells Fargo Arena, the Griffins are 5-5-0-0 in their last 10 games at Iowa…The Griffins and Wild conclude their 10-game season series this weekend…After Saturday’s game, Grand Rapids and Iowa will have met four times in an 11-day span…Iowa won both matchups last week at Van Andel Arena…Ben Street scored 14 seconds in last Wednesday, the fastest goal by a Griffin to start a contest since Andy Miele scored at 14 seconds on Dec. 27, 2014 vs. Iowa…In the most recent meeting last Saturday, Alex Grant scored the game-winning goal while on the power play with 16 seconds remaining…In the last matchup at Iowa on Dec. 22, Matthew Ford tallied the game-tying goal with 1:47 left in regulation and the Griffins went on to win in an eight-round shootout…Three of the Griffins’ four victories against Iowa this season have come in a shootout…12 of the last 16 games have been decided by one goal…Goaltender Matej Machovsky made his first AHL start on Feb. 25 against Iowa and earned the victory after stopping 26 shots and all three of Iowa’s shootout attempts…Street (3-3—6 in 8 GP) and Eric Tangradi (0-6—6 in 8 GP) tie for the team scoring lead in the season series…Iowa is celebrating its fifth season as an AHL franchise and is currently in position for its first postseason appearance.

Iowa Connections: Wild forward Landon Ferraro was a second-round draft selection by Detroit in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft…Ferraro tallied 140 points (75-65—140) in 270 games with the Griffins over parts of five seasons (2009-10; 2011-15) and helped the team win the 2013 Calder Cup…Derek Lalonde is in his second season at the helm of the Wild after spending the previous two years as head coach of the Toledo Walleye, the ECHL affiliate of the Red Wings and Griffins…Wild rookie and Wyandotte, Mich., native Gerald Mayhew skated four seasons with the Ferris State Bulldogs (WCHA) and tallied 119 points (52-67—119) in 150 games from 2013-17…Wild defenseman Matt Caito appeared in 13 games with the Griffins during his rookie campaign in 2016-17 and logged two points (1-1—2).

Chicago Notes: Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, the Griffins are 16-8-1-0 against Chicago, including 8-4-1-0 at Van Andel Arena and 8-4-0-0 at Allstate Arena…The Wolves have won four consecutive in the season series…In the most recent matchup on Feb. 21 in West Michigan, Chicago finished 3-for-4 on the power play and won 5-2 to snap Grand Rapids’ 11-game point streak…Goaltender Matej Machovsky appeared in his first AHL game on Feb. 21, and stopped 14-of-15 shots in 32:48 during a relief effort…In the last meeting at Chicago on Jan. 6, Kasimir Kaskisuo shut out Grand Rapids to snap the Griffins’ five-game winning and seven-game point streak…Kaskisuo also blanked Grand Rapids on Nov. 3…Grand Rapids has not lost the season series to Chicago since posting a 1-2-1-0 record in the 2011-12 campaign…Ben Street (1-7—8 in 7 GP) and Matt Lorito (4-3—7 in 6 GP) lead the team in scoring in the season series…Lorito banked his first pro hat trick in the year’s first matchup on Oct. 27…Nelson won his 100th game as a Griffin on Dec. 2 at Chicago…Both teams have shown success on the power play in the season series, as Grand Rapids operates at 25.0% (7/28) and Chicago is 25.7% (9/35).

Chicago Connections: Wolves first-year head coach Rocky Thompson served on Todd Nelson’s staff as an assistant with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons from 2010-14…In those four seasons, the Barons posted a 161-105-10-32 (0.591) record and advanced to the postseason every year, including a trip to the 2013 Western Conference Finals…Wolves winger Teemu Pulkkinen skated in 119 games with the Griffins from 2012-15, scored 121 points (65-56—121), was named a First Team AHL All-Star selection in 2014-15 and helped Grand Rapids win the 2013 Calder Cup…Nelson served as an assistant coach for the Wolves for two seasons (2006-08) and won the 2008 Calder Cup in his final season with Chicago…Assistant coach Ben Simon appeared in 196 games with the Wolves from 2001-03 and 2004-05 and was a part of Chicago’s first Calder Cup title in 2002…Third-year defenseman Robbie Russo is from Chicagoland’s Westmont.

Up and Down: With a 33-24-1-6 record through 64 games, take a look at how the statistics compare between the Griffins’ 33 wins and 31 (including overtime and shootout) losses.

W (33) 4.30 2.09 28.26% 89.06% 32.21 29.91
L (31) 1.71 3.65 12.71% 78.72% 32.10 30.42

Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play back-to-back games a total of 24 times this season. Grand Rapids has won seven of the last 10 on the first night and four of the last seven on the second night. The Griffins play their fourth and final three-in-three of the season this weekend. Compare the statistics for when Grand Rapids has played on consecutive days:

W L (incl. OT, SO) GF GA PP% PK% SF SA
First Night 10 10 3.40 3.10 26.32% 85.00% 30.45 29.70
Second Night 8 12 2.45 2.95 18.57% 80.23% 30.45 31.15
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 clinched a playoff spot and lead the Western Conference with 97 points (46-15-3-2 record). Tyler Barnes (19-30—49) and Kyle Bonis (24-24—48) lead the team in scoring while Griffins-contracted Mike Borkowski (17-26—43) ties for fourth.  Griffins-contracted and 2018 ECHL All-Star Pat Nagle leads the league with 33 victories (33-4-4) while his 2.19 GAA ranks fifth and his 0.924 save percentage places fourth.

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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.