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Calder Cup Champions -'13 '17

Official site of the Grand Rapids Griffins

Starting to Find a Groove

This Week’s Games

GRIFFINS vs. Manitoba Moose // Fri., Feb. 10 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS vs. Manitoba Moose // Sat., Feb. 11 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, 96.1 The Game at 7 p.m. on Saturday

Watch: AHLTV on Friday, WXSP-TV and AHLTV on Saturday

Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Home. Third and fourth of eight meetings overall, third and fourth of four at Van Andel Arena

All-Time Series: 68-38-1-1-9 Overall, 38-16-1-1-6 Home

NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets

Noteworthy: Despite going 2-4-0-2 overall against the Moose a season ago, the Griffins held a 2-1-0-1 record against Manitoba in West Michigan. In the last five years against the Moose at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids is 9-4-0-1 (0.679).

Promotions: $2 beers & hot dogs on Friday presented by MET/MESP, Princess Night presented by Lake Michigan Credit Union on Saturday.

Last Week’s Results
Tue., Jan. 31 // GRIFFINS 2 at Milwaukee 1 // 17-20-2-2 (38 pts., 0.463, 6th Central)
Fri., Feb. 3 // GRIFFINS 6 at Texas 2 // 18-20-2-2 (40 pts., 0.476, 6th Central)
Sat., Feb. 4 // GRIFFINS 4 at Texas 3 (SO) // 19-20-2-2 (42 pts., 0.488, 6th Central)

Last Week’s Notes
Tuesday at Milwaukee (2-1 W) - Elmer Soderblom buried the game-winner in the third period to defeat the Admirals 2-1 at Panther Arena. Soderblom and Joel L’Esperance capitalized on an odd-man rush to allow the Swede to score an empty-net goal with 2:42 remaining in the contest to avenge the Jan. 28 loss against the Admirals. After not tallying a point in his first six games as a Griffin, Soderblom has four in his last two outings (3-1–4). Alex Nedeljkovic was nearly unbeatable in net until Milwaukee tacked on a goal with 2:05 left to prevent the shutout. Recap | Highlights

Friday at Texas (6-2 W) - The Griffins’ penalty kill and power-play units came up big in a 6-2 win against the Stars at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Grand Rapids tallied a pair of man-advantage goals as well as a short-handed score from Cross Hanas. This was the first time since Dec. 22 (8-7 OTW at CHI) that the Griffins have lit the lamp multiple times on the power play. Grand Rapids’ penalty kill went 5-for-5 despite the Stars coming into the contest ranked 10th on the man-advantage in the AHL. Taro Hirose (2-1–3), Matt Luff (0-2–2), Austin Czarnik (0-2–2), Albert Johansson (1-1–2) and Joel L’Esperance (0-2–2) each contributed two or more points. Filip Zadina played the first game of his conditioning stint, registering three shots on goal. Brian Lashoff skated in his 750th pro game and Jakub Vrana recorded his 150th assist as a pro. Recap | Highlights

Saturday at Texas (4-3 SOW) - The Griffins won their 500th road game in franchise history (500-412-12-34-60) and finished its five-game road stand with a 4-1-0-0 record, courtesy of a 4-3 shootout victory over the Stars at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Elmer Soderblom buried the shootout-winner in the third round to keep Grand Rapids unbeaten in its last four contests and to complete the weekend sweep of the division-leading Stars. The Soderblom is currently riding a four-game point streak (4-2–6). Jakub Vrana extended his point spell to four outings (4-2–6) with a pair of goals. In his last seven games, Vrana has eight points (6-2–8) and has rocketed into a tie for seventh place with Danny O’Regan in goals scored by a Griffin this season in just 15 fixtures. Filip Zadina’s third-period score sent the game to overtime, his first tally in the AHL since Jan. 24, 2020 and the first of his conditioning stint. Alex Nedeljkovic bagged 34 saves and is on a three-game win streak (Jan. 31-Feb. 4). Recap | Highlights

I Think I got my Swagger Back: The Griffins are starting to find themselves and are currently on a season-high four-game win streak from Jan. 29-Feb. 4. Grand Rapids also enjoyed a four-game point streak (2-0-1-1) from Jan. 14-21. The last time the Griffins had a four-game win streak was from Dec. 31, 2021-Jan. 7, 2022. Grand Rapids also has points in eight of its last nine contests (6-1-1-1). Since the new year, Grand Rapids has lost in regulation just three times through 14 games (8-3-1-2, 0.679). The Griffins jumped into sixth in the Central Division but are still seven points out of a playoff spot with 29 games left.

Tower of Terror: The 6-foot-8 Elmer Soderblom was held off the scoresheet in his first six AHL games but has exploded for six points (4-2—6) in his previous four appearances from Jan. 29-Feb. 4. The Gothenburg, Sweden, native had a three-game goal streak from Jan. 29-Feb. 3, which tied for the longest run on the team this season. The rookie has also skated in 21 games with the Red Wings this season, compiling eight points (5-3—8) and eight penalty minutes.

Vroom Vroom: After being held off the scoresheet in the first four games of his Griffins career, Jakub Vrana is starting to find the back of the net. Vrana is currently riding a four-game point streak (4-2—6) from Jan. 29-Feb. 4. He recorded a season-high two goals in his last outing on Feb. 4 at the Texas Stars. The veteran also has points in six of his last seven appearances (6-2—8). Since being assigned to the Griffins on Dec. 28, Vrana has nine points (6-3—9) in 15 games.

Starting to Find a Groove: After going 0-for-21 on the power play from Jan. 7-21, the Griffins are starting to find a rhythm on the man-advantage. Grand Rapids has recorded a power-play goal in each of its previous three games (4-for-8, 50.0%), which is the first three-game stretch of goals since Nov. 16-19. Since Jan. 28, the Griffins are 5-for-13 (38.5%) on the power play and are now tied for 23rd in the AHL with a conversion rate of 18.1%. The penalty kill has also been much improved, killing off nine straight penalties in three games. The Griffins are 25-for-29 (86.2%) on the PK since Jan. 14 and place 24th on the circuit at 77.9%.

Alexander The Great: Netminder Alex Nedeljkovic has been a welcomed addition to the Griffins roster, as the goaltender was assigned by Detroit on Jan. 4. Nedeljkovic is on a three-game win streak, which is tied for the longest run by a Griffins goaltender this campaign. Through 12 outings, Nedeljkovic has a 7-3-2 record with one shutout along with a 2.40 goals against average and a 0.921 save percentage. On Jan. 14, Nedeljkovic posted a 27-save shutout against the Chicago Wolves, his first in the AHL since Feb. 7, 2020 against Hartford (17 saves). On Jan. 11, Nedeljkovic recorded his fourth assist and fifth point of his AHL career, which was his first AHL point since Jan. 19, 2020.

Back With Authority: Matt Luff returned to the lineup on Jan. 28 for Grand Rapids, tallying an assist at Milwaukee in his first game since sustaining an injury with the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 8 and his first contest with the Griffins since Oct. 23. Luff has yet to record a goal since his return but has five assists in five games. The Windsor, Ontario, native has been held off the scoresheet just twice with the Griffins and has 12 points (3-9—12) in 10 appearances this season.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity, Jig: The Griffins concluded their five-game road trip last week with a 4-1-0-0 (0.800) record, which included their 500th road win in franchise history on Feb. 4 at the Texas Stars (500-412-12-34-60). Grand Rapids also finished a stretch of seven out of eight games on the road from Jan. 16-Feb. 4 with a 5-1-1-1 (0.750) mark. The Griffins are now on a four-game home stand and will also play nine of their next 11 contests in friendly confines from Feb. 10-March 4. Grand Rapids is 8-9-2-1 (0.475) at home this season and 11-11-0-1 (0.500) on the road.

Just Keep it Close: The Griffins have had an up-and-down start to the season, but they have excelled at winning close games. In fact, Grand Rapids is 10-0-2-2 (0.857) in games decided by one goal and 4-0-2-0 (0.833) in overtime contests. In comparison, the Griffins are just 9-20-0-0 (0.310) in games decided by two or more tallies. In the 2021-22 season, the Griffins finished with a 13-7-6-2 (0.607) mark in games decided by one goal.

AHL Leaderboard Tracker:
Austin Czarnik
—Five game-winning goals are tied for second, three short-handed goals are tied for first
Simon Edvinsson
—15 assists rank sixth among rookie defensemen, 18 points are tied for sixth among rookie defensemen
Taro Hirose—14 power-play assists are tied for ninth
Joel L’Esperance
—Eight power-play goals are tied for seventh, 142 shots rank fifth

Brian Lashoff
appeared in his 750th game as a pro on Feb. 3 at Texas and Jakub Vrana registered his 150th assist as a pro. Vrana skated in his 100th AHL game on Jan. 29 at Chicago and bagged his 300th pro point in the process (151-149—300). Austin Czarnik recorded his 300th pro point with an assist on Jan. 28 at Milwaukee.
Simon Edvinsson
—Three points from 50 as a pro
Albert Johansson—One assist from 50 as a pro
Steven Kampfer—Two assists from 150 as a pro
Joel L’Esperance
—One goal from 100 as a pro
Chase Pearson
—Two assists from 50 as a pro, in the AHL and as a Griffin
Dominik Shine
—One assist from 50 as a pro, as a Griffin and in the AHL

Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins

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