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GRIFFINS HOST THREE PIVOTAL DIVISION MATCHUPS

This Week’s Games
Iowa Wild at GRIFFINS // Wed., March 14 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Iowa Wild at GRIFFINS // Sat., March 17 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday, ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday
Watch: AHLLive.com
Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Home, 4-2-0-0 Overall. Seventh and eighth of 10 meetings overall, fourth and fifth of five at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 14-3-0-1 Home, 27-8-0-1 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild
Noteworthy: Grand Rapids has won four straight in the series and three of those four victories have come in a shootout.

Rockford IceHogs at GRIFFINS // Fri., March 16 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.
Watch: AHLLive.com
Season Series: 3-1-0-0 Home, 3-3-0-3 Overall. Tenth of 10 meetings overall, fifth of five at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 26-10-1-2 Home, 39-29-3-8 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks
Noteworthy: The Griffins have won seven of the last eight meetings on home ice.

Last Week’s Results
Sat., March 10    GRIFFINS 1 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2    31-22-1-6 (69 pts, 4th Central Division)
Sun., March 11    GRIFFINS 3 at Hershey Bears 0        32-22-1-6 (71 pts, 4th)       

Listen here to Joe Hicketts' Tuesday interview on West Michigan's Morning News (WOOD Radio)

Opening Faceoff: The Grand Rapids Griffins split their pair of games in Pennsylvania last weekend, falling 2-1 to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday and winning 3-0 at Hershey on Sunday. Grand Rapids is 22-7-0-3 in its last 32 games and currently holds down the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. The Griffins return to Van Andel Arena for three crucial divisional games this week, as they host the third-place Iowa Wild on Wednesday and Saturday and the fifth-place Rockford IceHogs on Friday.

Follow the Leaders:
Points: Matt Puempel (20-29—49), Ben Street (14-35—49)
Goals: Eric Tangradi (25)
Assists: Street (35)
PIM: Dylan McIlrath (96)
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:
Saturday at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: Grand Rapids played at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the first time since March 25, 2009…Adam Johnson’s tally at the 12:25 mark of the first period marked the seventh shorthanded goal the Griffins have allowed this season...Ben Street scored the game-tying goal at 7:58 of the third period...Kevin Czuczman potted the game-winner with 8:35 remaining in regulation...The Griffins outshot the Penguins 33-24...Grand Rapids saw both its four-game road winning and eight-game road point streaks come to an end, as the Griffins suffered their first regulation loss on the road since Jan. 6 at Chicago...The Griffins have lost three in a row in regulation for the first time since Dec. 8-10.
Sunday at Hershey: The Griffins made their first visit to Hershey since Feb. 26, 2006…Grand Rapids is 7-1 all time against the Bears, including 4-0 on the road…Tom McCollum stopped all 21 shots he faced and recorded his first shutout of the season…McCollum’s eighth career shutout as a Griffin moved him past Petr Mrazek and into sole possession of sixth place on the franchise’s all-time list…Ben Street lit the lamp twice for his third multi-goal game of the season…Matthew Ford potted his 21st goal of the campaign at 12:16 of the first period.

This Week’s Promotions: Wednesday against Iowa will be a Winning Wednesday presented by Farm Bureau Insurance. Every time the Griffins win at home on Wednesday, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next Wednesday game. All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ win against the Tucson Roadrunners on Feb. 28 can redeem their ticket stub to a free ticket to this game. Baseball will be the theme of the night on Friday against Rockford as the Griffins team up with the West Michigan Whitecaps to present Whitecaps Night. The Griffins will wear Whitecaps-inspired jerseys, in addition to stirrup-styled socks, blue gloves and blue pant shells. On Saturday against Iowa, the first 2,500 fans will receive a Brian Lashoff bobblehead, courtesy of Michigan Office Solutions.

Whoa, Nelly: Head coach Todd Nelson holds a 299-186-15-46 (0.603) record as an AHL head coach and needs one more victory to become the 20th head coach in the 82-year history of the AHL to reach 300. Milestones already 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.

Esposito Assigned: The Griffins yesterday assigned forward Luke Esposito to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Esposito has spent time between Toledo and Grand Rapids during his rookie season. The 24-year-old has scored five points (2-3—5) in 13 games with the playoff-bound Walleye. In 17 appearances with the Griffins, Esposito posts two assists.

Home Sweet Home: Grand Rapids plays seven home games in the month of March, its most in the third month of the calendar since 2011.

Taking the Reigns: Since Jared Coreau was recalled by Detroit on Feb. 20, Tom McCollum is 3-3-0 with a 2.05 GAA, a 0.925 save percentage and one shutout in six appearances. McCollum, who became Grand Rapids’ all-time winningest goaltender on Feb. 2, also shows an 8-4 mark in his last 12 appearances to go along with a 2.19 GAA and a 0.926 save percentage in that span.

Tangoal: Eric Tangradi ties for fourth in the league with 25 goals. The ninth-year pro has surpassed the 20-goal plateau for the second time in his AHL career and is just three shy of matching his career high of 28 set in 2015-16 with Grand Rapids. Since Jan. 1, Tangradi paces the league with 16 goals, while his 26 points in 27 GP in that span tie for fifth. 

Special Teams: The Griffins’ power play is 7-for-27 (25.9%) over the last eight games and places third in the AHL with a season percentage of 20.9%. Matt Lorito leads the team with 22 power play points (7-15—22), followed by Matt Puempel (7-12—19), Matthew Ford (12-5—17) and Ben Street (4-13—17). Ford’s 12 PPGs rank second in the league.

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).

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 are second in the AHL and tie for the seventh most in a single season in franchise history.

Hot Street: Including last Sunday’s two-goal output, Ben Street has points in four of the last five games, totaling six points (4-2—6) in the stretch. In the last 22 games, the eighth-year pro has produced 23 points (9-14—23) and a plus-12 rating. His team-high 35 assists tie for eighth in the AHL.

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 29 points (2nd), eight goals (T3rd), 21 assists (3rd) and a plus-20 rating (2nd).

Puemped Up: First-year Griffin and fifth-year pro Matt Puempel has notched five points (1-4—5) in his first five games back in the lineup after missing six due to injury. He’s tallied 19 points (7-12—19) in his last 16 contests. Acquired by the Red Wings via trade on Oct. 21, Puempel has not gone more than three consecutive games in a Griffins uniform without recording a point.

On the Road: The Griffins had their eight-game road point streak snapped in last Saturday’s loss but are 8-1-0-1 in their last 10 games on foreign ice and 11-2-0-2 in their last 15.

0 to 100: Ben Street registered a goal and an assist on Feb. 28 to mark his 100th career point as a Griffin. He did so in 116 games, which ranks as the 10th fastest in franchise history to reach the century mark. Matt Lorito (99 points in 114 GP) is also approaching his 100th career point. Thirty-seven players in team history have achieved 100 or more points and below is the top 10 quickest to 100.

Rank Games Player Date Reached 100 Points
1 81 Michel Picard 4/12/1997
2 87 Kip Miller 1/27/2005
3 97 Jeff Nelson 12/21/2003
4 98 Donald MacLean 3/25/2006
5 102 Gustav Nyquist 1/17/2013
6 103 Derek King 2/14/2001
7 107 Slava Butsayev 1/19/2001
8 108 Teemu Pulkkinen 1/23/2015
9 109 Andy Miele 1/20/2016
10 116 Ben Street 2/28/2018


Svechnikov in Detroit: Recalled by the Red Wings last Thursday, second-year pro Evgeny Svechnikov made his season debut with the club later that night in a 4-0 loss to Vegas at Little Caesars Arena. Svechnikov has skated in three games with the Wings this season, showing two PIM and two shots while averaging 7:15 of ice time.

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.

Macho Man Debuts: Reassigned by the Red Wings to Grand Rapids from Toledo on Feb. 20, goaltender Matej Machovsky is 1-1-0 in three appearances with the Griffins and posts a 2.67 GAA and a 0.904 save percentage. Making his first career AHL start on Feb. 25 against Iowa, Machovsky stopped 26-of-28 shots and all three of the Wild’s shootout attempts to earn his first victory. The 24-year-old is skating in his first professional season in North America and also shows an 11-9-1 record, a 2.02 GAA and a 0.933 save percentage in 21 appearances with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Machovsky played the previous four seasons for Plzen HC in the Czech Extraliga.

Milestones:
Robbie Russo – four points to reach 100 as a pro
Ben Street – five points to reach 400 as a pro
Turner Elson – two points to reach 100 as a pro
Eric Tangradi – one goal to reach 150 as a pro
Matt Lorito – one point to reach 100 as a Griffin and two games to reach 200 as a pro
Matt Puempel – four games to reach 300 as a pro

Iowa Notes: The Griffins and Wild will meet four times in an 11-day span (March 14-24)…Grand Rapids has won four straight in the series…Three of those four victories have come in a shootout…The Griffins are 12-1-0-1 in the last 14 meetings against the Wild at Van Andel Arena…11 of the last 14 games have been decided by one goal…In the last meeting on Feb. 25, Matej Machovsky stopped 26 shots and all three of Iowa’s attempts in the shootout to earn his first AHL victory in his first start…Tom McCollum had his shutout bid spoiled with three seconds remaining in a 2-1 win at Van Andel Arena on Feb. 24… On Dec. 22 at Iowa, Ford scored the game-tying goal with 1:47 left in regulation and the Griffins went on to win in an eight-round shootout…On Dec. 13 in West Michigan, the Griffins rallied from a 3-0 second-period deficit and won 4-3 in a shootout…Grand Rapids holds a +56 combined shot margin against the Wild in six games this season…Iowa is celebrating its fifth season as an AHL franchise and is currently in position for its first postseason appearance…Matt Lorito (3-1—4), Matthew Ford (2-2—4), Ben Street (2-2—4) and Eric Tangradi (0-4—4) all tie for the team lead with four points in the season series. 

Iowa Connections: Former Griffin and 2013 Calder Cup champion Landon Ferraro has 23 points (11-12—23) in 43 games with Iowa and one goal in two games with Minnesota this season…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)...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.

Rockford Notes: Grand Rapids has won three straight against Rockford after a seven-game losing streak (0-4-0-3 from April 1-Dec. 23, 2017)…The Griffins have won seven of the last eight meetings on home ice…Since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Griffins are 20-4-1-1 (0.808) against the ‘Hogs at the Van…Eric Tangradi has a team-high 11 points (5-6—11 in 9 GP) and a plus-eight rating in the season series…In 24 games against the IceHogs as a member of the Griffins, Tangradi has 26 points (10-16—26) and plus-17 rating…Ben Street has 17 points (7-10—17) in 18 games facing Rockford in a Grand Rapids uniform while Matt Lorito has 14 points (5-9—14) in 14 games…The Griffins allowed a season-low 17 shots in the last meeting on Jan. 27…Grand Rapids is 4-for-11 (36.4%) on the power play in the last three games against Rockford.

Rockford Connections: Former Griffins Derek King and Sheldon Brookbank serve as assistant coaches on Jeremy Colliton’s staff...King, who played in Grand Rapids from 1999-01 and 2002-04, is the franchise’s all-time leading playoff scorer (16-25—41) and ranks fifth in regular season points (73-130—203)...Brookbank skated in 75 games with the Griffins from 2001-03, scoring 14 points (2-12—14) and adding 160 PIM.    

Up and Down: With a 32-22-1-6 record through 61 games, take a look at how the statistics compare between the Griffins’ 32 wins and 29 (including overtime and shootout) losses.

  GF GA PP% PK% SF SA
W (32) 4.31 2.06 27.61% 88.71% 32.53 29.84
L (29) 1.72 3.69 13.27% 78.36% 32.52 30.10


Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play back-to-back games a total of 24 times this season. Grand Rapids has won six of the last nine on the first night and four of the last six 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 9 10 3.37 3.11 25.00% 84.21% 30.89 29.58
Second Night 8 11 2.53 3.00 19.12% 80.72% 31.00 30.84
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 89 points (42-15-3-2). Tyler Barnes (16-27—43) and Griffins-contracted Mike Borkowski (17-26—43) tie for the team lead in scoring.  Griffins-contracted and 2018 ECHL All-Star Pat Nagle leads the league with 30 victories (30-4-4) while his 2.20 GAA and 0.920 save percentage both tie for fifth.