The Grand Rapids Griffins posted their weekly notebook ahead of a 3-game home stand:
Griffins Enjoy Three-Game Home Stand
This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS vs. Milwaukee Admirals // Wed., Jan. 5 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 4-1-1-0 Overall, 2-0-1-0 Home. Seventh of 12 meetings overall, fourth of six at Van Andel Arena.
All-Time Series: 106-69-7-8-8 Overall, 56-33-2-3-3 Home
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: Grand Rapids is 9-7-1-0 in the last 17 overall against Admirals, including a five-game point streak (4-0-1-0). The Griffins will face Milwaukee for the fourth straight game.
GRIFFINS vs. Iowa Wild // Fri., Jan. 7 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of eight meetings overall, first of four at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 36-15-4-1 Overall, 17-6-3-2 Home
NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild
Noteworthy: 2017 Calder Cup champions with the Griffins, Joe Hicketts (2016-21) and Dominic Turgeon (2016-21) will make their first trip to Van Andel Arena in a visitor’s uniform. Grand Rapids has won three of the past five overall meetings against Iowa.
GRIFFINS vs. Cleveland Monsters // Sat., Jan. 8 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of eight meetings overall, first of four at Van Andel Arena.
All-Time Series: 62-34-5-10 Overall, 35-17-1-2 Home
NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets
Noteworthy: Grand Rapids went 6-2 against the Monsters last year and possesses an 8-3 record against Cleveland in the past 11 meetings.
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Dec. 31 // GRIFFINS 5 vs. Milwaukee Admirals 4 // 10-10-3-1 (24 pts., 0.500, T4th Central Division)
Sat., Jan. 1 // GRIFFINS 4 at Milwaukee Admirals 2 // 11-10-3-1 (26 pts., 0.520, 3rd Central Division)
Sun., Jan. 2 // GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves – Postponed // Rescheduled date TBD
Last Week’s Notes
Friday vs. Milwaukee (5-4 W) – Overcoming a depleted roster that dressed only 14 skaters – four shy of a full lineup – due to COVID protocols, injuries and NHL callups, the Griffins gritted their way to a 5-4 victory over the Admirals in their 24th annual New Year’s Eve celebration at Van Andel Arena. Victor Brattstrom earned his first AHL win, stopping 29 of 33 Admirals shots, for a Grand Rapids team that played just its second game since Dec. 11 due to a string of recent postponements. Seth Barton and Josh Dickinson netted their first goals as Griffins, helping the home team improve to 12-10-1-1 all time on New Year’s Eve. The Griffins have won five of their last six New Year’s Eve affairs. Recap | Highlights
Saturday at Milwaukee (4-2 W) – A four-goal second period highlighted by Donovan Sebrango’s first AHL tally and Taro Hirose’s two-goal frame helped propel the Griffins past Milwaukee on New Year’s Day at Panther Arena. The Griffins were undermanned for the second consecutive contest, as the team suited up with just 16 skaters due to COVID-19 protocols and injuries. Hirose led all players with a career-tying three-point (2-1—3) outing while Riley Barber (0-2—2) and Kyle Criscuolo (0-2—2) joined the forward with multiple scores. Grand Rapids now has points in the past five contests against Milwaukee (4-0-1-0). Turner Elson’s team-high four-game goal streak from Dec. 6-22 came to an end. Grand Rapids is now 10-2-2-0 (0.786) against AHL teams not named Chicago or Manitoba. Ryan Murphy appeared in his 500th game as a pro. Recap | Highlights
Breeding Contempt: Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will mark the fourth time in Griffins history that they have played four consecutive regular season games against the same opponent. The schedule was not drawn out this way, as Grand Rapids had games against Cleveland (Dec. 27) and Chicago (Jan. 2) postponed. The most recent occurrence of four straight games against the same franchise came from March 3-16, 2021 when the Griffins matched up against Rockford for two weeks in a row. The Manitoba Moose were the foe on two prior occasions, in November 2006 and November 1997.
World Traveler: On Dec. 12, defenseman Donovan Sebrango was selected to the 25-man roster for Team Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship. The 19-year-old represented his home country at the tournament that was cut short after two games. This marked the third time in the past four years a player has left the Griffins mid-season to compete in the World Junior Championship, after Filip Zadina represented the Czech Republic in 2019 and Joe Veleno (Canada) and Moritz Seider (Germany) competed at the event in 2020. Sebrango scored a goal in his World Junior debut on Dec. 26, as Team Canada defeated Czechia 6-3. The defenseman totaled one goal and a plus-two rating in two outings with Canada. In his second game back with the Griffins, Sebrango registered his first goal in the AHL on Jan. 1 at Milwaukee.
Murphy’s Law: Reigning AHL defenseman of the year Ryan Murphy has started to find a rhythm offensively for the Griffins. The nine-year pro ranks sixth on the roster and leads all Grand Rapids blueliners with 15 points (5-10—15) in 25 outings. Murphy has climbed up the defensemen leaderboard in the AHL, as his point total is tied for 13th while five goals are tied for fourth. The Aurora, Ontario, native signed a one-year contract with Detroit on July 28, 2021 and is the midst of his inaugural season with the Griffins.
Huffin’ and Puffin’: So far this season, the Griffins are 1-8-1-1 (0.182) against the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves and second-place Manitoba Moose. However, Grand Rapids is 10-2-2-0 (0.786) against the rest of the AHL.
Fast Starts: On Dec. 4, the Griffins set a season high for goals in a period when they exploded for five tallies in the opening frame against Rockford. After rattling off three first-period goals against Cleveland on Dec. 6, Grand Rapids has now outscored its opponents 10-3 over the opening 20 minutes of its last seven games. The Griffins are 9-4-1-0 (0.714) this season when scoring first and 8-2-0-0 (0.800) when leading after the opening frame. Almost half of Grand Rapids’ goals (29, 39.2%) have come during the first period.
Cris-COOL-o: After being sidelined in the first four games due to an injury, center Kyle Criscuolo has made up for his lost time with 20 points (9-11—20) in 17 contests. The Harvard University graduate logged a two-game point streak (1-1—2) from Oct. 30-31 and surpassed that mark with an active nine-game point streak (7-10—17) from Nov. 20-Jan. 1, which is a new career high for the forward. His active point streak ties for the 17th-longest in Griffins history. Most recently, Riley Barber had a nine-game point streak from Feb. 5-March 11, 2021 that was the longest to ever start a Griffins season or career. If Criscuolo gets a point on Wednesday to extend his streak to 10 games, it would tie for the ninth-longest scoring run in Grand Rapids history and mark the longest since Matt Puempel’s 11-game tear from Oct. 23-Nov. 15, 2019.
High-Flying Hirose: After leading the Griffins in assists a year ago with 23, Taro Hirose has picked off right where he left off as he has bagged 16 helpers in the opening 24 games, which is a team high and tied for ninth in the league. Eight assists have come on the power play, which is tied for seventh in the AHL. Hirose logged his second three-point night (2-1—3) of the season on Jan. 1 against Milwaukee, which tied a career high for the forward. In that same game, he also tied a career-best two goals. Hirose’s 22 points (6-16—22) this season pace the Griffins. He was recalled by Detroit on Dec. 15 and made his NHL season debut on Dec. 18 against the Devils.
Return of Riley: On Dec. 18, Riley Barber became the Griffins’ 188th alumnus to play in the NHL when he made his season debut with Detroit against New Jersey. Although it was a slow start to this year, Barber rattled off a six-game point streak (4-5—9) from Oct. 30-Nov. 13 and is currently in the midst of a five-game stretch (3-3—6) from Dec. 6-Jan. 1. His 19 points (8-11—19) this season are tied for third on the roster while his five power play goals are tied for fourth in the AHL. Barber led the Griffins in goals (20), points (34) and points per game (1.06) a season ago. His scoring pace equaled a 48-goal, 81-point clip in a regular 76-game AHL season. Barber also ranked second in the league for goals, just one shy of Cooper Marody (who played seven more games), and was named a Central Division AHL All-Star. Six game-winning goals tied a career best while his four-game goal streak from Feb. 26 through March 11 also matched a career high. The forward added seven multi-point outings out of 32, including a career-high four points (2-2—4) on May 7 against Chicago. Barber posted a nine-game point streak (8-5—13) from Feb. 5-March 11 that was the longest ever to start a player’s Griffins career as well as the longest from the start of a Griffins season.
AHL Leaderboard Tracker:
Riley Barber—Five power play goals are tied for fourth
Jonatan Berggren—Seven goals are tied for ninth among league rookies, 19 points (7-12—19) are tied for eighth among first-year players
Taro Hirose—16 assists are tied for ninth, eight power play assists are tied for seventh
Ryan Murphy—Five goals are tied for fourth among blueliners, 14 points (5-10—15) are tied for 13th among defensemen
Wyatt Newpower—37 penalty minutes are third among rookies and tied for ninth among league defensemen
Calvin Pickard—2.42 goals against average ranks 12th, 0.928 save percentage places fifth, 1239 minutes and 641 saves both lead the league
Dominik Shine—58 penalty minutes are tied for fourth
Luke Witkowski—47 penalty minutes are tied for third among league blueliners
Riley Barber appeared in his 350th game as a pro on Dec. 31 against Milwaukee and Ryan Murphy skated in his 500th pro game on Jan. 1. Donovan Sebrango scored his first AHL goal on Jan. 1. Other upcoming milestones include:
Turner Elson—Two assists from 100 in the AHL, one goal from 50 as a Griffin, three points from 200 in the AHL
Brian Lashoff—Two assists from 100 as a pro
Brett McKenzie—Three goals from 50 as a pro
Ryan Murphy—Five goals from 50 as a pro
Wyatt Newpower—Three games from 50 as a pro
Dan Renouf—Three games from 300 in the AHL
Luke Witkowski—One point from 50 in the AHL