Hockey is Back!
This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS vs. San Diego Gulls // Fri., Oct. 14 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS vs. San Diego Gulls // Sat., Oct. 15 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m.
Watch: AHLTV (Free view for opening weekend)
Season Series: First and second of four meetings overall, first and second of two at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 4-2-0-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Home
NHL Affiliation: Anaheim Ducks
Noteworthy: The franchises will meet in West Michigan for the first time since Jan. 25, 2020 when San Diego came away with a 3-1 victory. Grand Rapids holds a 28-12-2-0-0 all-time record (0.690) against Anaheim’s AHL affiliates.
27th Season of Hockey: The Grand Rapids Griffins begin the franchise’s 27th overall season of play, 22nd as a member of the American Hockey League and 21st as the primary affiliate of the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings on Friday evening when they host the San Diego Gulls. This year will mark just the ninth time since the 2004-05 campaign that Grand Rapids will open its season at home. The Griffins have competed in 1,989 games between the IHL and AHL and have amassed a 1,043-730-27-70-119 regular-season record (0.585), to go along with 17 playoff appearances, seven division titles and two Calder Cups (2017, 2013).
Take Me to Your Leader: Ben Simon is the first Griffins head coach to return for a fifth season, passing Curt Fraser (2008-12). Due to the shortened COVID-19 seasons from 2019-21, Simon enters this year 69 games behind Fraser in regular-season games coached, and is currently 31 regular-season wins behind Fraser (146 wins, 4th overall). Entering the 2022-23 season, Simon holds a 116-101-19-11 (0.530) regular-season record with the Griffins and a 2-3 (0.400) mark in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Longest Head/Assistant Coaching Tenures in Griffins History:
|1||Mike Knuble||10||627||AC 2013-23|
|2||Jim Paek||9||708||AC 2005-14|
|3||Ben Simon||8||475||AC 2015-18, HC 2018-23|
|4||Danton Cole||5||372||AC 1999-01, HC 2002-05|
|5||Curtis Hunt||4||328||AC 1996-00|
|Greg Ireland||4||320||AC 2003-05, HC 2004-07|
|Curt Fraser||4||316||HC 2008-12|
|Todd Nelson||4||308||AC 2002-03, HC 2015-18|
|9||Jeff Blashill||3||228||HC 2012-15|
|Bruce Ramsay||3||228||AC 2015-18|
Sustained Success: Since the 2012-13 season, Grand Rapids ranks third in the league in both regular-season wins and points.
Roster Breakdown: Nineteen players (forwards Pontus Andreasson, Jonatan Berggren, Kyle Criscuolo, Austin Czarnik, Cross Hanas, Taro Hirose, Matt Luff, Chase Pearson and Givani Smith; defensemen Simon Edvinsson, Albert Johansson, Steven Kampfer, Jared McIsaac, Wyatt Newpower, Donovan Sebrango and Eemil Viro; goaltenders Victor Brattstrom, Sebastian Cossa and Jussi Olkinuora) on the roster are under contract with the Red Wings, while nine players (forwards Trenton Bliss, Cedric Lacroix, Joel L’Esperance, Dominik Shine, Tyler Spezia, Kirill Tyutyayev and Drew Worrad; defenseman Brian Lashoff; goaltender John Lethemon) are playing on a Griffins contract. Twelve players are Red Wings draft picks (Berggren, Brattstrom, Cossa, Edvinsson, Hanas, Johansson, McIsaac, Pearson, Sebrango, Smith, Tyutyayev, and Viro). Click here to view a more in-depth roster breakdown.
Rookies: The Griffins have nine players who are considered rookies this season including forwards Pontus Andreasson, Trenton Bliss, Cross Hanas, Kirill Tyutyayev and Drew Worrad, defensemen Simon Edvinsson, Albert Johansson and Eemil Viro, and goaltender Sebastian Cossa.
GRG → DRW: Eight former Griffins players begin the season on the Red Wings’ active roster, including Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Hronek, Dylan Larkin, Gustav Lindstrom, Michael Rasmussen, Moritz Seider, Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina.
West to East: Since the Grand Rapids-Detroit affiliation began in 2002-03, 112 Griffins have gone on to play for the Red Wings. In fact, 19 Griffins alumni wore the Winged Wheel during the 2021-22 season.
Home Sweet Home: Under fifth-year head coach Ben Simon, the Griffins will begin a 72-game schedule when they host the San Diego Gulls for Opening Night presented by Huntington Bank. During their last season opener at home, Grand Rapids downed Rockford 6-1 on Oct. 15, 2021, with five Griffins securing multi-point outings. This year will mark just the ninth time since the 2004-05 campaign that Grand Rapids will open its season at home. Since 2004, the Griffins are 5-2-0-1 (0.688) in season openers at Van Andel Arena and have outscored their opponents 27-19. Also since 2004, Grand Rapids is 9-6-2-1 (0.583) in season openers at any venue. The Griffins have won five of the last six home openers.
O Captain! My Captain!: Captain Brian Lashoff’s 580 games played for the Griffins ranks first among active AHL players who have spent their entire AHL career with the same club and fourth in league history among one-team players. Of the players ahead of him on that list, the most recent – and, coincidentally, the record-holder – last played during the 1970-71 season (Bill Needham of the Cleveland Barons, 981 games played). Lashoff overtook Paul Larivee (Providence Reds, 1952-62) for the No. 4 spot on April 6, 2022 against Cleveland and is now 28 games behind No. 3 Howie Yanosik (Hershey Bears, 1957-67). Lashoff is still 75 games away from breaking the Griffins’ all-time regular-season games played record, held by Travis Richards with 655 games (1995-2006).
Oldies but Goodies: The Griffins’ roster features five veterans including forwards Kyle Criscuolo, Austin Czarnik and Dominik Shine, and defensemen Steven Kampfer and Brian Lashoff. A player receives veteran status if he has competed in at least 260 games in the NHL, AHL or overseas. Lashoff leads all veterans on the team with 719 career-games played in the NHL and AHL, including 580 with Grand Rapids, which ranks first among active players who have spent their entire AHL career with the same club and fourth all-time in league history among one-team players. Kampfer has appeared in 551 outings, which ranks second on the roster while Czarnik places third with 369 contests.
Joined Forces: Joel L’Esperance signed a two-year deal with the Griffins this past offseason after being a menace to Grand Rapids for the past four seasons with the Texas Stars. In the past four campaigns against the Griffins, L’Esperance has amassed 18 points (11-7—18) and an even plus-minus rating in 21 games. His stat line against Grand Rapids becomes even more impressive if you take out L’Esperance’s 2017-18 rookie season when he played just two games against the Griffins and totaled zero points. Throughout the last three years against the Griffins from 2018-22, the Brighton, Mich., native has accumulated 18 points (11-7—18) in just 19 appearances to go along with 10 penalty minutes and a plus-one rating.
How Swede It Is: The Detroit Red Wings have a rich tradition of possessing some of the top talent to come out of Sweden, such as Niklas Kronwall and Nicklas Lidstrom, and more recently Lucas Raymond. This year is no different, as the NHL franchise has sent down a handful of Swedes to the Griffins. In fact, five players hail from Sweden, including Pontus Andreasson, Jonatan Berggren, Victor Brattstrom, Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson. Grand Rapids also features one Russian, Kirill Tyutyayev, and two Finnish players in Jussi Olkinuora and Eemil Viro.
San Diego Notes: First and second of four meetings overall, first and second of two at Van Andel Arena...The clubs are meeting in West Michigan for the first time since Jan. 25, 2020 (3-1 L)…Grand Rapids holds a 28-12-2-0-0 all-time record (0.690) against Anaheim’s AHL affiliates, including 22-10-2-0-0 against the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, 2-0-0-0 against the Iowa Chops and 4-2-0-0 against San Diego…San Diego made the postseason a year ago after taking seventh place in the Pacific Division with a 28-33-4-3 record (0.463) but was swept 2-0 in the first round against the Ontario Reign…Last season, San Diego goaltender Lukas Dostal tied for second among rookies with a 2.60 GAA and placed third with a 0.916 SV%...The Griffins are 14-17-2-3 (0.458) all-time against current Pacific-Division foes in the regular season, including 6-9-1-2 (0.417) on the road...Grand Rapids is 12-14-2-3 (0.468) against current California teams...Grand Rapids will play four games against the Pacific this season, all against the Gulls...San Diego’s 4-2 win on Oct. 10, 2015 against Grand Rapids came during its AHL debut…Grand Rapids will visit San Diego for a pair of contests on Nov. 18-19 at Pechanga Arena.
Griffins in the NHL: Nineteen former Griffins can be found on the season-opening rosters of nine NHL teams, along with three other players currently designated as injured or non-roster. The group includes five members of the Griffins’ 2013 Calder Cup team and four players from their 2017 championship squad, including each year’s playoff MVP.
|Team||Player(s) (Calder Cup Winning Season)|
|Boston||Tomas Nosek (2017)|
|Buffalo||Riley Sheahan (2013; INJ)|
|Chicago||Andreas Athanasiou, Petr Mrazek (2013)|
|Colorado||Darren Helm (NR)|
|Columbus||Gustav Nyquist (2013)|
|Dallas||Luke Glendening (2013)|
|Detroit||Seth Barton (NR), Tyler Bertuzzi (MVP 2017), Filip Hronek (2017), Dylan Larkin, Gustav Lindstrom, Michael Rasmussen, Moritz Seider, Joe Veleno, Filip Zadina|
|New Jersey||Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar (MVP 2013)|
|San Jose||Evgeny Scechnikov (2017)|
|Washington||Nick Jensen, Anthony Mantha|
Familiar Faces in Different Places: A number of key contributors to last season’s 33-win team now find themselves with new clubs for the upcoming season.
- Riley Barber: Paced the team with 28 goals and tied for second in the AHL with 15 power-play goals; Signed a one-year contract with Dallas (NHL) on July 14;
- Turner Elson: Finished with career-high numbers in games played (73), goals (21), assists (24) and points (45); Signed a two-year contract with the New York Rangers on July 14;
- Ryan Murphy: Concluded the season with 11 goals and 29 points, which were both career bests; Signed a one-year contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL/Russia) on June 29;
- Calvin Pickard: Set a new career high when he appeared in 16 consecutive games and 12 straight starts; Ended the year with 21 wins, a 2.58 goals against average and a 0.918 save percentage; Signed a two-year contract with Edmonton (NHL) on July 13;
- Dan Renouf: Paced the team with a plus-14 rating; Appeared in four games with Detroit; Finished with 14 points (3-11—14) and 53 penalty minutes with Grand Rapids; Signed a two-year contract with Boston on July 13.