Prospect round-up: Griffins drop opener to Texas; Walleye win preseason game vs. K-Zoo

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins opened their regular season with a 3-1 loss to the Texas Stars. Matthew Ford scored the Griffins’ only goal, and Harri Sateri stopped 18 of 20 shots.

I watched some of the game on AHL TV (they’ve got a free preview going this weekend), and as I said on Twitter:

1. The Griffins’ Finns, Vili Saarijarvi and Sateri, were excellent. I really like the pairing of Saarijarvi and McIlrath on defense, and Grand Rapids stands to get a lot better on the blueline when Detroit gets healthier (and Brian Lashoff returns from the IR), but Grand Rapids looked solid on defense, just a little offensively thin (still, kudos to MacKenzie Stewart, Jake Chelios, Trevor Hamilton and Marcus Crawford for holding their own).;

2. The Griffins have a significant number of veteran scorers in the lineup in Chris Terry, Carter Camper, Wade Megan, Turner Elson, Matt Puempel and Ford, so it’s going to be a balancing act personnel-wise given that the Griffins want to foster development from the Wings’ younger players as well;

3. Filip Zadina looked like a young man playing his first pro game. That isn’t a positive or a negative–he’s just at the start of his learning curve, and we already know that he’s a driven player who learns quickly.

4. The AHL’s new online package is pretty slick. The delay wasn’t too bad, the picture quality was excellent, and Bob Kaser came in loud and clear.

Anyway, here’s the Griffins’ recap of Friday night’s game

Stars Spoil Simon’s Debut


CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars skated away with a 3-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park to spoil Ben Simon’s Grand Rapids coaching debut.

Captain Matthew Ford banked the tying goal at 11:57 of the first period but Brighton, Mich., native Joel L’Esperance tallied what turned out to be the game-winning marker with 5:47 remaining in the middle frame.

Texas netminder Landon Bow turned aside 24-of-25 shots to improve to 3-0-1 in his career against the Griffins.

Grand Rapids (0-1-0-0) concludes its two-game season-opening road swing tomorrow at San Antonio at 8 p.m. EDT.

The Griffins received the game’s first power play chance 2:22 into the opening frame, but it was the Stars (1-0-0-0) who would capitalize shorthanded at the 3:03 mark. In a battle for the puck that was drifting toward the Grand Rapids goal, L’Esperance had a step on Chris Terry. Harri Sateri skated up to the hash marks and beat L’Esperance to the puck but the netminder’s clearing attempt fell right onto the stick of a charging Colton Hargrove, who fired a quick shot inside the right goal post of the vacated cage.

Grand Rapids used a 5-on-3 advantage to notch its first tally of the season and even the score with 8:03 remaining in the period. Ford, in his second season as Griffins captain, camped out in front of the crease and tipped Matt Puempel’s rising shot from just inside the blue line past the 6-5 frame of Bow. Terry, last season’s AHL scoring champion skating in his first game as a Griffin, picked up the secondary assist.

The Griffins outshot Texas by a 10-5 margin in the first stanza thanks to four power play opportunities.

The Stars regained their lead at 14:13 in the middle period. After receiving a pass from Erik Condra to gain the zone, L’Esperance skated in to the right-wing circle and snapped a shot by Sateri’s catching mitt.

Grand Rapids emptied its net following a timeout with 1:43 left in regulation, but the Griffins were unable to find the equalizer. Justin Dowling added an empty-net goal with 34 seconds remaining to cap the game’s scoring.

Grand Rapids’ lineup, which featured six skaters considered to be AHL rookies, finished 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and held Texas to 21 shots. The Griffins converted on 1-of-6 power play opportunities. In his Griffins debut, Sateri blocked 18-of-20 shots.

Notes: Head coaches in their first game behind the Griffins’ bench show a 4-5-1-1 record…Filip Zadina, the sixth overall selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and highest Red Wings draft pick to ever play for the Griffins, made his North American professional debut…Carter Camper, Chris Chelios, Marcus Crawford, Trevor Hamilton, Wade Megan, Sateri, Mackenze Stewart, Terry and Zadina all made their Griffins debuts…Bow has stopped 135-of-142 shots (0.951) in five career games against the Griffins…Grand Rapids drops to 13-7-2-1 all time in season openers and 14-7-2-0 in road openers.

Three Stars: 1. TEX L’Esperance (game-winning goal); 2. TEX Hargrove (goal); 3. TEX Bow (W, 24 saves)

The Griffins’ website also posted a photo gallery; the Texas Stars’ website posted a recap and a highlight clip:


Elsewhere, in the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye won a 4-2 preseason decision over the Kalamazoo K-Wings. Kevin Tansey had a goal and an assist for Toledo, and Kaden Fulcher stopped 23 of 25 shots.

Here’s the Walleye’s website’s recap:

Walleye clip Wings in preseason opener

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Toledo Walleye opened their preseason on a winning note, tallying three unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday at Wings Event Center.

Kevin Tansey ended the night with a goal and an assist, while Hunter Smith, Greg Wolfe and Tyler Spezia each found the net for the first time in a Toledo uniform. Kaden Fulcher went the distance between the pipes for the Walleye, stopping 23-of-25 shots in a winning cause.

The Walleye needed little time to capture the lead, as Smith started the scoring on the power play 2:19 into the contest. Toledo’s top defensive pairing of Tansey and Brenden Kotyk set up the newly acquired 6-foot-7 winger to stake the visitors to a 1-0 advantage.

Kalamazoo moved ahead later in the opening frame with a pair of goals 68 seconds apart. Chad McDonald’s power play tally at the 10:46 mark evened the score, before Zach Diamantoni lit the lamp to give the Wings a 2-1 edge with 8:06 to play in the first.

Toledo managed to restore parity with just over five minutes remaining in the first. Wolfe took a feed from Hinckley, Ohio, native Jake Faiella and scored at the 14:56 mark to knot the score at 2-2 heading into the first intermission.

After managing five shots in the first 20 minutes of play, the Walleye carried the play throughout the second stanza, outshooting the Wings by a 17-4 margin. Tansey netted what proved to be the game-winning goal just 39 seconds into the middle frame to provide Toledo with a 3-2 edge.

The visitors’ fourth goal arrived when Spezia doubled Toledo’s advantage 5:27 into the final frame. The Bowling Green State University product accepted a pass from Kevin Lohan and beat Kalamazoo netminder Jake Hildebrand to make it a 4-2 cushion. Tansey completed his Gordie Howe hat trick when he dropped the gloves against Zach Saar with 5:23 remaining in regulation.

Toledo finished 1-for-7 on the man advantage while Kalamazoo converted on one of three opportunities. Wings’ starter Keegan Asmundson blocked 8-of-11 shots in defeat, before Hildebrand turned away 18-of-19 shots in relief.

What’s Next:
The Walleye return to the Huntington Center on Saturday to wrap up their home-and-home preseason series against Kalamazoo. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Fish Tales:
• The Detroit Red Wings’ opening night roster featured three Walleye alumni: defenseman Nick Jensen, and forwards Luke Glendening and Martin Frk. Additionally, goaltender Carter Hutton now plays for the Buffalo Sabres, while defenseman Jacob MacDonald and goaltender Petr Mrazek represent the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively.
• The AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins feature three Toledo alumni on their active roster: defensemen Jake Chelios and Vili Saarijarvi, and forward Trevor Hamilton.
• The ECHL on Thursday announced that Toledo will be one of four teams in the league to have instant replay available for all home games during the 2018-19 season.

In the Dansk Metal League, Joren van Pottelberghe stopped 18 of 21 shots as Rungsted Seier Capital lost 3-0 to SonderjyskE;

In the QMJHL, Joe Veleno had an assist, finishing at -2 with 2 shots and a 5-for-13 faceoff record in the Drummondville Voltigeurs’ 4-1 loss to the Rimouski Oceanic;

In the OHL, Brady Gilmour had an assist, finishing at +1 and going 2-for-12 on faceoffs, and Reilly Webb finished even in the Saginaw Spirit’s 4-3 OT win over the Kitchener Rangers;

Alec Regula finished at +1 in the London Knights’ 4-1 win over Owen Sound;

In the WHL, Lane Zablocki remained sidelined as his Kelowna Rockets lost 4-3 to Victoria;

And in the USHL, Ryan O’Reilly finished even with 3 shots in the Fargo Force’s 3-1 win over the Sioux Falls Stampede.


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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.

One thought on “Prospect round-up: Griffins drop opener to Texas; Walleye win preseason game vs. K-Zoo”

  1. Hello George—I don’t mean to discriminate against other prospects, but I welcome your continued insight especially of Zadina’s progress, and also Veleno’s.

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