From the Grand Rapids Griffins comes their weekly press release:
GRIFFINS CONTINUE PLAYOFF PUSH WITH THREE GAMES IN FOUR NIGHTS
This Week’s Games
Texas Stars at GRIFFINS // Wed., March 28 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 0-1-0-1 Home, 1-2-0-1 Overall. Fifth of six meetings overall, third of three at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 12-5-0-3 Home, 24-12-1-3 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars
Noteworthy: Since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, Grand Rapids is 14-5-0-1 against the Stars, including a 7-2-0-1 mark at the Van.
San Jose Barracuda at GRIFFINS // Fri., March 30 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 0-0-0-0 Home, 1-0-0-0 Overall. Second of two meetings overall, first and last at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 0-1-0-0 Home, 1-1-0-1 Overall
NHL Affiliation: San Jose Sharks
Noteworthy: Friday marks San Jose’s first trip to West Michigan since last season’s Western Conference Finals.
GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals // Sun., March 31 // 7 p.m. EDT // UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 4-0-0-0 Road, 6-2-1-0 Overall. Tenth of 10 meetings overall, fifth of five at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
All-Time Series: 41-32-5-5-5 Road, 91-61-7-7-7 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: Since the Admirals moved to Panther Arena prior to the 2016-17 season, the Griffins are 8-2 at Milwaukee in the regular season, including six consecutive victories.
Last Week’s Results
Tues., March 20 GRIFFINS 2 at Milwaukee Admirals 1 34-24-1-6 (75 pts, 4th Central Division)
Fri., March 23 GRIFFINS 5 at Iowa Wild 3 35-24-1-6 (77 pts, 3rd)
Sat., March 24 GRIFFINS 3 at Iowa Wild 2 SO 36-24-1-6 (79 pts, 3rd)
Sun., March 25 GRIFFINS 2 at Chicago Wolves 3 SO 36-24-1-7 (80 pts, 3rd)
Listen here to Matt Ford’s Tuesday interview on West Michigan’s Morning News (WOOD Radio)
Opening Faceoff: After claiming seven out of a possible eight points in last week’s four-game road trip, the Grand Rapids Griffins sit in third place in the Central Division’s playoff race. Grand Rapids steps out of the division for two home games this week – Wednesday vs. Texas and Friday vs. San Jose – before concluding the week at longtime rival Milwaukee. After Friday’s game, the Griffins have just one home game remaining (April 14 vs. Cleveland).
Follow the Leaders:
Points: Eric Tangradi (27-28—55), Ben Street (16-39—55)
Goals: Tangradi (27)
Assists: Street (39)
PIM: Dylan McIlrath (117)
Plus-Minus: Filip Hronek (+21)
Goaltender Wins: Jared Coreau (20)
Goals Against Average: Coreau (2.47)
Save Percentage: Coreau (0.916)
Last Week’s Notes:
Tuesday at Milwaukee: Grand Rapids built a 2-0 lead and then held on late for the victory…The Griffins finished 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, including fending off a Milwaukee power play with 2:27 remaining in regulation when it was a one-goal game…Matt Lorito scored at 11:25 of the second period to extend his goal streak to three games…Three of Corey Elkins’ nine goals on the season have come against the Admirals…All four of Grand Rapids’ assists on the night came from defensemen…Tom McCollum recorded 21 saves for his 13th win of the season…Since the Admirals moved to Panther Arena prior to the 2016-17 season, the Griffins are 8-2 at Milwaukee in the regular season.
Friday at Iowa: After trailing 2-0, Grand Rapids scored four goals in a 2:24 span late in the second period…Matt Puempel scored the Griffins’ first goal on the power play, his 22nd of the season, at 15:56 of the second period…Luke Esposito tallied a PPG, his first AHL goal, at 16:34 of the second period…Robbie Russo potted his seventh goal of the campaign at 17:16…Eric Tangradi recorded his team-leading 27th marker at 18:20 to close Grand Rapids’ goal fury…Ben Street (0-3—3) and Tangradi (1-2—3) both logged three-point nights…Matt Lorito scored on the power play at 11:54 of the third period to extend his goal streak to a career-high four games…Grand Rapids outshot Iowa 42-28…The Griffins finished 3-for-5 on the power play.
Saturday at Iowa: All four of Grand Rapids’ shootout victories (4) this season have come against Iowa…Axel Holmstrom and Filip Hronek both scored in th e shootout, with Hronek’s being the winner…The Griffins are 100-107 all time in franchise history in the skills competition…Holmstrom scored the Griffins’ first goal at 10:31 of the second period…Matt Puempel notched his 23rd goal of the season at the 16:01 mark of the second period to mark his second straight game lighting the lamp…Grand Rapids has outscored Iowa 6-1 in the second period in the last two meetings…The Griffins finished the season series against the Wild with a 6-4 record.
Sunday at Chicago: Chicago scored twice in the third period to tie the game, including a goal with 31 seconds remaining…Robbie Russo scored his eighth goal of the season, and second in the last three games, at 16:15 of the first period…Matej Machovsky picked up the secondary assist on Russo’s goal, the first Griffins goalie with an assist since Eddie Pasquale on April 15, 2017 at Milwaukee…Machovsky finished with 26 saves in his fourth AHL appearance…Brian Lashoff tallied his fourth goal of the campaign with five seconds to play in the opening period…Grand Rapids finished 2-5-0-1 against Chicago, the first time the Griffins have lost the season series since 2011-12.
Current Playoff Picture:
Place Team Points PCT Games Left Home Road Opp. Winning % GR Magic # Over (Pts.) Magic # Over GR 1 MB 86 0.632 8 5 3 0.560 23 11 2 CHI 83 0.619 9 6 3 0.568 22 14 3 GR 80 0.588 8 3 5 0.555 — — 4 RFD 78 0.574 8 2 6 0.584 15 19 5 IA 75 0.560 9 6 3 0.568 14 22 6 MIL 73 0.545 9 6 3 0.567 12 24 7 CLE 52 0.394 10 4 6 0.583 N/A N/A
x-Clinched playoff berth
Currently in playoff position
Eliminated from playoff contention
Hicketts Recalled: The Detroit Red Wings yesterday recalled defenseman Joe Hicketts from the Griffins. A second-year professional, Hicketts has posted 10 points (3-7—10) and 32 penalty minutes in 63 games with the Griffins this season. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound blueliner became the 168th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL when he made his debut with the Red Wings during the team’s 3-0 win at New Jersey on Jan. 22. In 15:13 of ice time, Hicketts blocked three shots, recorded one hit and finished with a plus-one rating.
Sulak Reassigned to Griffins: The Detroit Red Wings last Thursday reassigned defenseman Libor Sulak from the Finnish Elite League’s Lahti Pelicans to the Griffins. Sulak, 24, led all team defensemen in scoring with a career-hig h 32 points (9-23—32), while adding a plus-five rating and 66 PIM in 42 games for the Pelicans this season. Sulak was signed to a two-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings on May 24, 2017.
Road Work: The Griffins have points in five consecutive road games (4-0-0-1) while outscoring their home opponents 15-9. Grand Rapids is 11-1-0-2 in its last 14 games on foreign ice and 14-2-0-3 in its last 19. The Griffins’ 19 overall road victories are second in the division to only Manitoba’s 23 and tie for the fifth-most in the entire AHL.
Home vs. Road:
Home Road 17-15-1-2 Record 19-9-0-5 -9 Goal Differential +25 2.86 GF (avg.) 3.24 3.11 GA (avg.) 2.48 21.38% PP% 21.09% 80.26% PK% 88.19% 32.06 SF (avg.) 32.88 29.66 SA (avg.) 30.42 Matt Puempel (10-20–30) Leading Scorer Eric Tangradi (15-13–28)
Taking the Reigns: Since Jared Coreau was recalled by Detroit on Feb. 20, Tom McCollum posts a 2.26 GAA, a 0.921 save percentage and one shutout in 12 appearances (7-5 record). McCollum, who became Grand Rapids’ all-time winningest goaltender on Feb. 2, also shows a 12-6 mark in his last 18 appearances to go along with a 2.28 GAA and a 0.923 save percentage in that span.
Rookie Espo: Since his most recent recall from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye on March 15, rookie forward Luke Esposito has tallied a point in five of six games (1-4—5), including scoring his first AHL goal last Friday at Iowa.
Tangoal: Eric Tangradi banked his team-leading 27th goal of the campaign last Friday, which also ties for fourth in the AHL. Since Jan. 1, Tangradi paces the league with 18 goals, while his 33 points in 34 GP in that span tie for third. The ninth-year pro has already equaled his career high in assists with 28, and needs one more goal and one more point to match his career bests in those categories. Tangradi tallied career highs in goals (28), assists (28) and points (56) during his first season in Grand Rapids in 2015-16.
Special Teams: The Griffins are one of four teams in the league to rank in the top 10 for both power play (3rd) and penalty kill (10th). Grand Rapids has scored four power play goals in the last three games and shows a season percentage of 21.2%. Matt Lorito leads the team with 25 power play points (9-16—25), followed by Matt Puempel (9-13—22), Ben Street (5-15—20) 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. The penalty kill has gone 27-for-29 over the last nine games.
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 matched a season high with three assists in last Friday’s 5-3 victory at Iowa. In the last 29 contests, the eighth-year pro is averaging 1.00 points per game (11-18—29) and shows a plus-eight rating. Street’s 55 points tie Eric Tangradi for tops on the team, while tying for ninth in the AHL. His career-high 39 assists rank ninth on the circuit.
Cool Ranch Loritos: Matt Lorito had his career-high four-game goal streak come to a close in last Saturday’s shootout victory. Lorito has 23 markers on the season and is one of four Griffins skaters with 20-plus goals, along with Matthew Ford (22), Matt Puempel (23) and Eric Tangradi (27).
Puemped Up: Fifth-year pro and first-year Griffin Matt Puempel has lit the lamp in two of the last three games. Acquired by the Red Wings via trade on Oct. 21, Puempel has accumulated an AHL career-high 54 points (23-31—54) and ranks third on the Griffins in scoring.
Macho Macho Man: Making his third career AHL start last Sunday at Chicago, Matej Machovsky stopped 26-of-28 shots but the Griffins lost 3-2 in a shootout. In four appearances this season, Machovsky is 1-1-1 with a 2.43 GAA and has stopped 92-of-101 attempts (0.911).
Filip Hero-nek: Rookie defenseman Filip Hronek scored the shootout-deciding goal in last Saturday’s victory at Iowa. Four of his eight g oals on the season have been of the game-winning variety, which ties for the league lead among blueliners. The 53rd overall selection by Detroit in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, ranks among the league’s rookie defenseman leaders with 32 points (2nd), eight goals (T3rd), 24 assists (T2nd) and a plus-21 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 Filip Hronek (2017-18) 60 8 24 32 Brendan Smith (2010-11) 63 12 20 32 Ryan Sproul (2013-14) 72 11 21 32
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.
Robbie Russo – three games played to reach 200 as a Griffin
Corey Elkins – three games played to reach 500 as a pro
Matthew Ford – four games played to reach 600 in the AHL
Whoa, Nelly: Todd Nelson became the 20th head coach in the 82-year history of the AHL to reach 300 career victories following March 16’s overtime win versus Rockford. Nelson’s wins have been split between Grand Rapids (127) and Oklahoma City (176), part of his all-time AHL ledger of 303-188-15-47 (.604). 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 Tex as, 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.
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).
Texas Notes: The season series will conclude April 11 at Texas…Since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, Grand Rapids is 14-5-0-1 against the Stars, including a 7-2-0-1 mark at the Van…Todd Nelson holds a 35-21-3-4 (0.611) all-time mark against T exas as an AHL head coach…In the last meeting in West Michigan on Dec. 1, the Stars tied the game with just six seconds left in regulation before claiming a 5-4 shootout victory…The Griffins have either won or shared the season series against Texas every year since 2011-12…The Griffins have points in 13 of the last 17 overall against Texas (12-4-0-1), including a 10-game winning streak from Jan. 25, 2014-Nov. 16, 2016…After an eight-game winning streak against the Stars at Van Andel Arena that lasted from Dec. 1, 2012-Nov. 16, 2016, Grand Rapids is winless in the last three matchups in West Michigan (0-2-0-1).
Texas Connections: Sheldon Dries is from Macomb, Mich., and played four seasons (2013-17) at Western Michigan…Robbie Payne, a Gaylord, Mich., native, played four seasons at Northern Michigan (2014-18) and was teammates with Dominik Shine from 2014-17…Roope Hintz and Corey Elkins</ strong> were teammates with HIFK Helsinki in Finland from 2015-17…Greg Rallo is a former Ferris State Bulldog (2002-06)…Reece Scarlett and Matt Lorito were teammates with the Albany Devils from 2014-16.
San Jose Notes: The Griffins have welcomed a team from California to Van Andel Arena nine times previously, showing a 1-3 mark vs. Long Beach in IHL, 1-0 vs. San Diego, 0-1 vs. Bakersfield, 0-1 vs. San Jose and 1-0-0-1 vs. Stockton…Friday marks San Jose’s first trip to West Michigan since last season’s Western Conference Finals. The Griffins disposed of the Western Conference’s regular-season champions in five games, including winning three straight games at Van Andel Arena…San Jose is 11-13-3-2 on the road this season, but shows a 6-5-1-1 mark in games played outside the state of California…Grand Rapids won the first meeting of the season on Oct. 13 in Silicon Valley by a final of 7- 3 and was led by two goals apiece from Dominic Turgeon and Turner Elson…Oakland native Roy Sommer is in his 20th season as bench boss of the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the first 20-year head coach in AHL history…Sommer entered 2017-18 with 691 wins and 1,480 games, both the most by a head coach in league history.
San Jose Connections: Second-year pro Dylan Sadowy was San Jose’s fifth choice, 81st overall, in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft…Sadowy never played a game within San Jose’s organization as he was traded to Detroit in exchange for a third-round draft pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft on May 26, 2016…Dominic Turgeon and Alex Schoenborn were teammates with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks from 2012-16 and helped the team win the league championship in 2012-13…San Jose head coach Roy Sommer served as an assistant coach for the Pr ince Albert Raiders of the WHL in 1988-89 and coached Todd Nelson, who, as a defenseman, was playing in his third full WHL campaign.
Sommer-Time in Grand Rapids: Roy Sommer, who is in his 20th season as head coach of the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, appeared in 54 games with the Grand Rapids Owls across two seasons (1977-78, 1979-80) and amassed 43 points (21-22—43).
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 174th time on Saturday…Since the Admirals moved to Panther Arena prior to the 2016-17 season, the Griffins are 8-2 at Milwaukee in the regular season, including six consecutive victories…The Griffins have points in eight of the last 10 meetings against the Admirals (7-2-1-0)…Since the 2013-14 season, Grand Rapi ds posts a 32-15-2-0 (0.673) 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 nine meetings this season, including four times scoring two or more PPGs…The Griffins’ special teams are 30.0% (12/40) on the power play and 88.9% (32/36) on the penalty kill in the season series…Grand Rapids has outshot Milwaukee in eight of nine games this season…Matt Puempel (4-5—9 in 8 GP), Matthew Ford (4-3—7 in 9 GP) and Ben Street (2-5—7 in 8 GP) lead the team in scoring in the season series…In the last meeting on March 20 at Milwaukee, Grand Rapids built a 2-0 lead and then held off a late Milwaukee power play opportunity for a 2-1 win.
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.
Up and Down: With a 36-24-1-7 record through 68 games, take a look at how the statistics compare between the Griffins’ 36 wins and 32 (including overtime and shootout) losses.
GF GA PP% PK% SF SA W (36) 4.22 2.08 29.25% 88.97% 32.69 29.67 L (32) 1.72 3.63 12.10% 78.87% 32.09 30.38
Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play back-to-back games a total of 24 times this season. Grand Rapids has won eight of the last 11 on the first night and five of the last eight on the second night. 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 11 10 3.48 3.10 28.40% 84.52% 31.00 29.62 Second Night 9 12 2.48 2.90 19.44% 80.46% 31.00 31.14 Third Night 1 3 2.25 2.75 17.65% 86.67% 37.00 30.75
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 99 points (47-16-3-2 record). Tyler Barnes (20-30—50) and Kyle Bonis (25-24—49) lead the team in scoring while Griffins-contracted Mike Borkowski (19-27—46) ties for third. Griffins-contracted and 2018 ECHL All-Star Pat Nagle leads the league with 34 victories (34-5-4) while his 2.18 GAA ranks fifth and his 0.925 save percentage places fourth.