Here’s the Grand Rapids Griffins’ weekly press release:
PLAYOFF-BOUND GRIFFINS COMPLETE
REGULAR SEASON THIS WEEK
This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS at Texas Stars // Wed., April 11 // 8:30 p.m. EDT // H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM at 8:05 p.m.
Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Road, 2-2-0-1 Overall. Sixth of six meetings overall, third of three at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
All-Time Series: 12-7-1-0 Road, 25-12-1-3 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars
Noteworthy: The Griffins have won seven of the last nine at Texas, including a six-game winning streak from Jan. 25, 2014-March 4, 2017.
GRIFFINS at San Antonio Rampage // Thu., April 12 // 8 p.m. EDT // AT&T Center
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM at 7:35 p.m.
Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Road, 3-0-0-0 Overall. Fourth of four meetings overall, second of two at the AT&T Center
All-Time Series: 21-14-0-2-1 Road, 43-26-1-5-2 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche
Noteworthy: After San Antonio swept all four meetings in the 2015-16 season, Grand Rapids has won each of the last seven games against the Rampage.
Cleveland Monsters at GRIFFINS // Sat., April 14 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Home, 5-1-0-1 Overall. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth of four at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 28-14-1-2 Home, 49-28-4-10 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets
Noteworthy: The Griffins have points in 29 of 41 games against the Monsters since the start of the 2014-15 season, including in seven of the last eight (5-1-0-2).
Last Week’s Results
Fri., April 6 GRIFFINS 0 at Tucson Roadrunners 3 39-25-1-7 (86 pts, 4th Central Division)
Sat., April 7 GRIFFINS 4 at Tucson Roadrunners 1 40-25-1-7 (88 pts, T2nd)
Opening Faceoff: The playoff-bound Grand Rapids Griffins are 7-1-0-1 in their last nine games and tie Manitoba for second in the Central Division. Grand Rapids wraps up the franchise’s 22nd regular season campaign with a back-to-back at Texas and San Antonio on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, before hosting Cleveland on Saturday.
Follow the Leaders:
Points: Eric Tangradi (31-31—62)
Goals: Tangradi (31)
Assists: Ben Street (42)
PIM: Dylan McIlrath (119)
Plus-Minus: Filip Hronek (+20)
Goaltender Wins: Jared Coreau (20)
Goals Against Average: Coreau (2.47)
Save Percentage: Coreau (0.916)
Last Week’s Notes:
Friday at Tucson: Grand Rapids played its first game in the state of Arizona since facing off against the IHL’s Phoenix Roadrunners on March 5, 1997…Joe Hicketts and Evgeny Svechnikov made their return to the Grand Rapids lineup after being assigned by Detroit on Wednesday…The Griffins were shut out for the fourth time this season…Tom McCollum stopped 25-of-27 shots but had his season-high six-game winning streak ended…Captain Matthew Ford skated in his 600th career AHL game.
Saturday at Tucson: Grand Rapids clinched a playoff berth following its win and Milwaukee’s 5-1 loss at Chicago…Eric Tangradi scored the Griffins’ first two goals…Defenseman Dan Renouf potted his first goal of the season at 10:00 of the second period…Tom McCollum made 22 saves and won for the seventh time in his last eight starts…The Griffins registered one shot in the third period, tying a franchise record for fewest shots for in a road period (March 29, 2000 at Orlando).
Current Playoff Picture:
Opp. Winning %
GR Magic # Over (Pts.)
Magic # Over GR
x-Clinched playoff berth
Currently in playoff position
Eliminated from playoff contention
Defending Champs Are Back: Grand Rapids has clinched a franchise-record sixth consecutive Calder Cup Playoff berth. The Griffins will attempt to become the first team since Hershey in 2009 and 2010 to repeat as champions. Including Grand Rapids’ first Calder Cup in 2013, the Griffins have advanced to at least the second round in each of the previous five postseasons. Third-year head coach Todd Nelson is the second coach (Jeff Blashill) in franchise history to lead the Griffins to three straight postseason appearances. This season’s berth also marks the seventh time in as many full seasons as an AHL head coach that Nelson has guided his team to the playoffs. Grand Rapids was the third team in the division to clinch a playoff spot.
40 and Counting: The Griffins have reached the 40-win plateau for the sixth consecutive season and 15th time overall in the franchise’s 22-year history. Grand Rapids has qualified for the playoffs in 14 of the 15 seasons when notching 40 or more wins. The Griffins are two points away from also achieving the 90-point mark for the sixth straight year.
From There to Here: Following a 5-4 loss at Chicago on Dec. 21, the Griffins stood a season-low five games below the 0.500 mark (10-15-1-3), placed last in the Central Division and trailed division-leading Manitoba by 23 points. Now with three games left in the regular season, Grand Rapids is tied with Manitoba for second in the division with 88 points. After its 32nd game on Dec. 29 Grand Rapids was 12-15-1-4, six points out of a playoff spot; never in team history had the Griffins made the playoffs with only 29 points through that point of the season. The Griffins tallied a 21-4-0-3 record (0.806) from Dec. 22-Feb. 28 and have been on the plus side of a postseason spot since Game 49 on Feb. 7.
Filip Hero-nek: Defenseman Filip Hronek last Wednesday was named to the 2017-18 AHL All-Rookie Team. The 53rd overall selection by Detroit in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Hronek ranks among the league’s rookie defenseman leaders with 34 points (2nd), nine goals (T2nd), 25 assists (3rd) and a plus-20 rating (2nd). He paces all team defensemen in power play production with 18 points (3-15—18) and has been instrumental in Grand Rapids’ power play ranking third in the league (20.8%). Hronek is just the fourth defenseman in team history to be named to the All-Rookie Team and the eighth Griffin overall to garner such accolades. All seven previous All-Rookie Team members from the Griffins have gone on to play at least one game in the NHL.
Top Single-Season Rookie Defenseman Scorers in Griffins History:
Robbie Russo (2015-16)
Clay Wilson (2005-06)
Chad Billins (2012-13)
Filip Hronek (2017-18)
Joe Hicketts (2016-17)
Brendan Smith (2010-11)
Ryan Sproul (2013-14)
Tangoal: Eric Tangradi potted his team-leading 30th and 31st goals of the season in last Saturday’s 4-1 win at Tucson and is the first Griffin with 30 or more goals since Teemu Pulkkinen banked a league-best 34 markers in 2014-15. A ninth-year pro, Tangradi has established career highs for goals (31), assists (31) and points (62) this season, breaking his previous marks of 28-28—56, which were set during his first year as a Griffin in 2015-16. In the AHL, Tangradi ties for third in goals and ranks fifth in points. Since Jan. 1, he leads the league with 22 goals, while his 40 points in 39 GP in that span place second.
Hot Street: Ben Street chipped in an assist in last Saturday’s win to bring his season point total to 61 (19-42—61) and establish a new career high (60 points with Abbotsford in 2013-14). He shows six points (3-3—6) in the last five games and needs one more goal to become the fifth Griffin to hit the 20-goal plateau. Street has 38 points in 39 GP since Jan. 1, which ties for third in the league.
AHL’s Top-5 Scorers Since Jan. 1:
Carter Camper (TUC)
Eric Tangradi (GR)
Austin Czarnik (PRO)
Ben Street (GR)
Cal O’Reilly (IA)
Taking the Reigns: Since Feb. 20, Tom McCollum posts an 11-6 record, a 2.11 GAA, a 0.925 save percentage and one shutout in 17 appearances, and has won seven of his last eight starts. McCollum, in his eighth season as a Griffin, became Grand Rapids’ all-time winningest goaltender on Feb. 2 following a 4-2 victory at Cleveland.
Special Teams: The Griffins are one of three teams in the league to rank in the top 10 for both power play (3rd) and penalty kill (T5th). Matt Lorito leads the team with 25 power play points (9-16—25), followed by Matt Puempel (9-13—22) and Ben Street (5-16—21). Matthew Ford’s 12 PPGs tie for fourth in the league and tie for the seventh most in a single season in franchise history. The penalty kill has gone 8-for-8 in the last three games and 12-for-13 in the last five.
Coreau, Hicketts and Svechnikov Back in GR: The Red Wings last Wednesday assigned defenseman Joe Hicketts and forward Evgeny Svechnikov to the Griffins. On Sunday, the Wings assigned goaltender Jared Coreau to Grand Rapids. This season in Detroit: Hicketts tallied three points (0-3—3) and a plus-five rating in 5 GP; Svechnikov posted four points (2-2—4) in 14games; and Coreau showed a 4.26 GAA and a 0.867 save percentage in seven games.
Road Work: The Griffins are 6-1-0-1 in their last eight road games and 16-3-0-3 in their last 22. The Griffins’ 21 overall road victories are second in the division to only Manitoba’s 23 and tie for the fourth-most in the entire AHL. Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, Grand Rapids is 62-40-1-9 (0.598) on the road.
Home vs. Road:
Matt Puempel (10-21–31)
Eric Tangradi (19-15–34)
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 fourth in the AHL and tie for the seventh most in a single season in franchise history.
Puemped Up: Fifth-year pro and first-year Griffin Matt Puempel has accumulated an AHL career-high 56 points (23-33—56) in 59 games and ranks third on the Griffins in scoring. Acquired by the Red Wings via trade on Oct. 21, Puempel has not gone more than three consecutive games without recording a point in a Grand Rapids uniform.
Ben Street – two games played to reach 500 as a pro
Brian Lashoff – two games played to reach 400 as a Griffin
Eric Tangradi – two games played to reach 200 as a Griffin
Dylan McIlrath – two games played to reach 300 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 (131) and Oklahoma City (176), part of his all-time AHL ledger of 307-189-15-47 (.606). 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.
Championship Effects: Nine players from the 2017 Calder Cup championship team 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).
Griffins to Wings: A total of six players were recalled by Detroit from Grand Rapids this season, including two (Joe Hicketts and Dominic Turgeon) who made their NHL debut with the Red Wings. A total of 29 players appeared in at least one game for the Red Wings this year and all but six spent time in Grand Rapids during their careers.
Texas Notes: Since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, Grand Rapids is 15-5-0-1 (0.738) against the Stars, including 8-2-0-1 at home and 7-3-0-0 away…The Griffins have won seven of the last nine at Texas, including a six-game winning streak from Jan. 25, 2014-March 4, 2017…Grand Rapids has points in 14 of the last 18 overall against Texas (13-4-0-1)…Todd Nelson holds a 36-21-3-4 (0.617) all-time record against Texas as an AHL head coach.
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…A Trenton, Mich., native, Tony Calderone just finished a four-year collegiate career at Michigan…Roope Hintz and Corey Elkins 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 Antonio Notes: After San Antonio swept all four meetings in the 2015-16 season, Grand Rapids has won each of the last seven games against the Rampage and outscored them 35-13 in that span…The Griffins have claimed four of the last six at San Antonio, including three consecutive victories…Grand Rapids has scored four or more goals in all three meetings so far this season…The Griffins scored five goals in the second period in the Nov. 14 victory at San Antonio, a season-high for most tallies in a frame.
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…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.
Cleveland Notes: The last two Calder Cup champions face off against each other on Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams…Grand Rapids has outscored Cleveland 27-17 this season…The Griffins have points in 29 of 41 games against the Monsters since the start of the 2014-15 season, including in seven of the last eight (5-1-0-2)…Tom McCollum became Grand Rapids’ all-time winningest goalie following a 4-2 victory at Cleveland on Feb. 2…Matt Puempel (5-5—10 in 7 GP), Eric Tangradi (6-3—9 in 7 GP) and Ben Street (2-5—7 in 7 GP) lead the Griffins in the season series…A former Michigan Wolverine (1993-97), John Madden is wrapping up his second season as the Monsters’ head coach…Madden logged 898 games as a player in the NHL from 1998-2012 and won three Stanley Cups: New Jersey in 2000 and 2003 and Chicago in 2010…In the last meeting on Feb. 4 at Cleveland, Tangradi scored a pair of goals and the Griffins won 6-3…In the last matchup at Van Andel Arena on Jan. 13, Joonas Korpisalo recorded 35 saves and Cleveland came away with a 2-1 victory.
Cleveland Connections: Head coach Todd Nelson played one season (1992-93) on the shores of Lake Erie for the IHL’s Lumberjacks, totaling 42 points (7-35—42) and 115 penalty minutes in 76 games…Assistant coach Ben Simon is a native of Shaker Heights, a Cleveland suburb…Captain Matthew Ford spent most of his first three pro seasons (2008-11) with the Monsters, totaling 69 points (39-30—69) in 126 appearances…Ben Street played in 44 games with the Monsters in 2014-15 and accumulated 39 points (9-30—39).
One Last Time: The Griffin post an 8-12-0-1 record all time in the final game of the regular season, including a 3-4 mark when it is played at home. In the 13 times Grand Rapids has dropped the last game, the Griffins have gone on to the postseason 10 times and posted a 50-50 playoff mark. In the eight times Grand Rapids has been victorious to close out the season, the Griffins have continued onto the playoffs five times and tallied a 44-26 mark.
Up and Down: With a 40-25-1-7 record through 73 games, take a look at how the statistics compare between the Griffins’ 40 wins and 33 (including overtime and shootout) losses:
Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play its 24th and final back-to-back of the season on Wednesday and Thursday. Grand Rapids has won nine of the last 13 on the first night and seven of the last 10 on the second night. Compare the statistics for when Grand Rapids has played on consecutive days:
L (incl. OT, SO)
Walleye Report: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye finished the regular season with the Western Conference’s best record (50-17-3-2, 105 points). Toledo begins the Kelly Cup Playoffs on Friday against Indy. Griffins-contracted Pat Nagle was named to the All-ECHL Second Team after his league-leading 36 victories tied for the third-most in a single season in ECHL history.