Road Trip on Horizon
This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS vs. Milwaukee Admirals // Wed., Oct. 19 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m.
Season Series: First of eight meetings overall, first of four at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 107-74-7-8-8 Overall, 57-35-2-3-3 Home
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: The Griffins had Milwaukee’s number to begin the 2021-22 season series, as Grand Rapids raced out to a 5-1-1-0 mark. However, the Griffins went on to drop the final five meetings against the Admirals and finished last season’s series with a 5-6-1-0 record.
GRIFFINS at Toronto Marlies // Sat., Oct. 22 // 4 p.m. // Coca-Cola Coliseum
GRIFFINS at Toronto Marlies // Sun., Oct. 23 // 4 p.m. // Coca-Cola Coliseum
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 3:45 p.m.
Season Series: First and second of four meetings overall, first and second of two at Coca-Cola Coliseum
All-Time Series: 33-33-4-2 Overall, 14-18-2-1 Road
NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs
Noteworthy: Both Bobby McMann and Alex Steeves return to the Marlies following productive rookie seasons last year. McMann placed fifth among AHL rookies in goals scored with 24. Steeves ranked among the league's rookie leaders in goals (23, T6th), assists (23, T17th) and points (46, 10th).
The Last Czar: Austin Czarnik made his presence known to begin his Grand Rapids career, as the Washington Township, Mich., native, bagged five points (3-2—5) in the first two games of the season. Czarnik notched his fourth AHL hat trick on Saturday, Oct. 15, which marked the earliest recorded by a Griffin to start a season, and it tied for the fastest hat trick to start a Griffin’s career (see chart below). The 29-year-old was named the Howies Hockey Tape/AHL Player of the Week for his efforts and became the first Griffins forward to win the award since Matt Lorito on Nov. 20, 2016.
|Griffins' Game of the Season||Player's Game as a Griffin|
|2nd - Austin Czarnik - 10/15/22 vs. SD||2nd - Austin Czarnik - 10/15/22 vs. SD|
|4th - Jiri Hudler - 10/24/04 at SA||2nd - Tim Skarperud - 3/22/02 at MIL|
4th - Joe Murphy - 10/16/01 at CLE
|4th - Darren McCarty - 2/15/08 vs. LE|
|5th - Matt Lorito - 10/27/17 vs. CHI||4th - Joe Murphy - 10/16/01 at CLE|
|5th - Justin Abdelkader - 10/26/08 vs. NOR||5th - Justin Abdelkader - 10/26/08 vs. NOR|
|7th - Matt Puempel - 10/25/19 vs. MB||8th - Greg Bullock - 2/13/98 at MICH|
|7th - Glen Metropolit - 10/27/97 vs. UT|
Pour Me a Draft: Simon Edvinsson on Friday, Oct. 14 made his North American debut against the San Diego Gulls, collecting an assist in the process. He returned on Saturday with a three-point outing (1-2—3), which included his first AHL goal. Edvinsson tied Moritz Seider as the highest-drafted defenseman (6th overall) to ever play for the Griffins, and tied Seider and Filip Zadina as the fourth-highest drafted player to suit up for Grand Rapids (Jason Spezza No. 2, Darrin Shannon and Stephen Weiss No. 4). Through his first two AHL games, Edvinsson has four points (1-3—4), which is tied for first among rookies.
Michiganders: The Griffins’ roster is comprised of six Michigan natives in Austin Czarnik, Steven Kampfer, Joel L’Esperance, John Lethemon, Dominik Shine and Tyler Spezia. Seven players also played at five different Michigan universities: Michigan (Kampfer), Michigan State (Taro Hirose, Lethemon), Michigan Tech (Trenton Bliss, L’Esperance), Northern Michigan (Shine) and Western Michigan (Drew Worrad).
Goalie Giants: Each of the Griffins’ four goalies is listed at 6-3 or taller: Sebastian Cossa (6-7), Victor Brattstrom (6-5), Jussi Olkinuora (6-3), and John Lethemon (6-3). Cossa is unofficially the tallest player to ever compete for the Griffins, inching out a sextet of 6-6 players headlined by teammate Simon Edvinsson along with Jared Coreau, Francois Leroux, Brad Norton, Michael Rasmussen and Dan Turple. Olkinuora is the fifth player to win an Olympic gold medal (2022/Beijing) before joining the Griffins, joining Slava Butsayev (1992/Unified Team/Albertville), Curtis Joseph (2002/Canada/Salt Lake City), Stefan Liv (2006/Sweden/Turin), and Mikael Samuelsson (2006/Sweden/Turin).
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 the week 67 games behind Fraser in regular-season games coached, and is currently 30 regular-season wins behind Fraser (146 wins, 4th overall). Simon holds a 117-101-19-11 (0.532) 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:
|2||Jim Paek||9||708||AC 2005-14|
|3||Ben Simon||8||477||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|
O Captain! My Captain!: Captain Brian Lashoff’s 582 games played for the Griffins rank 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 26 games behind No. 3 Howie Yanosik (Hershey Bears, 1957-67). Lashoff is still 73 games away from breaking the Griffins’ all-time regular-season games played record, held by Travis Richards with 655 games (1995-2006).
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. L’Esperance has scored a goal in both games to start his Griffins career.
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.
Kyle Criscuolo bagged his 100th point as a Griffin with an assist on Oct. 15 versus San Diego while Cedric Lacroix appeared in his 50th game in the AHL and 200th as a pro.
Austin Czarnik—One goal from 100 as a pro
Albert Johansson—Two games from 150 as a pro
Matt Luff—Four points from 150 as a pro
Ben Simon—One game from 250 as head coach for the Griffins
Tyler Spezia—Four goals from 50 as a pro
Photo by Milwaukee Admirals