Grand Rapids Griffins | Game Notes: Griffins vs. Stars

Griffins Game #31 * Home Game #15 * AHL Game #497

season series: 1-3-0-0 home series: 0-2-0-0 Street Series: 1-1-0-0
All-Time Series:
36-25-4-4 All Time Home Series: 19-11-1-3 All-Time Road Series: 17-14-3-1

Stars at Griffins
Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four at Van Andel Arena…Texas have accumulated points in all of their last six games (5-0-1-0) against Grand Rapids at Van Andel Arena…last five Seasons that the Stars and Griffins met, Grand Rapids in West Michigan is 8-8-1-1 against Texas and has been beaten 65-64… The home team has scored points in 12 of their last 19 games… In 32 games, Texas are scoring an average of 3.84 goals while conceding an average of 2.69… Texas are 8-0-2-0 in their last 10 games and unbeaten in their last 12 competitions (10-0-2 -0). …The Stars are going 10-4-3-1 …The Stars’ unit with penalty shootouts ranks second on circuit with 88.1%, while their power play ranks 15th with 20.2%… The former Griffin Riley Barber ( 2020-22) signed with the Stars organization during the off-season and currently leads the team with 32 points (19-13-32) in 32 appearances…Joel L’Esperance competed with the Texas Stars from 2017-2022, averaging 136 points in 183 games (80-56-136). Alex Chiasson was with the Stars from 2011–13, scoring 40 points (14-26–40) in 66 competitions.

last time out
The Griffins ended their three-game loss with a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Monsters at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday. Seven Griffins scored, including goals by Joel L’Esperance, Alex Chiasson and Dominik Schein as well as assists from Steven Fighter, Simon Edwinson, Taro Hirose and Austin Czarnik. In his Griffins debut Alex Nedeljkovic made 26 saves from 27 shots in the first game of his fitness schedule. Cross Hanas returned to the roster after missing 12 straight games, and Kampfer bagged his 100th AHL assist in his 300th AHL contest.

Roster Reorganization
– 20 Dec—F. Austin Czarnik reassigned from Detroit; GS Sebastian Cossa reassigned from Toledo by Detroit
– 27 Dec—GS Sebastian Cossa transferred from Detroit to Toledo; F Trenton Bliss reassigned from Grand Rapids
– 28 Dec—F. Jakub Vrana ceded by Detroit with a conditional loan
– 29 Dec—F Cedric Lacroix Assigned to Toledo by Grand Rapids
– January 4—G. Alex Nedeljkovic ceded by Detroit with a conditional loan

This date in Griffins history
2006: Trailing 4-1 in the third quarter, the Griffins scored five power-play goals in the last 20 minutes to give Houston a 6-5 win. Grand Rapids sets a franchise record for goals in a period and sets team marks for power play goals in both a period and a game.

Nothing like some home cooking
The Griffins are in the midst of a seven-game home season high that began Dec. 31 and ends Jan. 14. Grand Rapids started the game stretch with a 4-2 loss to Milwaukee on New Year’s Eve. The Griffins are 6-7-1-0 on home ice while they are 6-10-0-0 away from West Michigan.

Get the boys in shape
Netminder Alex Nedeljkovic was tasked with a condition loan by Detroit on Jan. 4 and made his Griffins debut later that night, amassing 26 saves in a 3-1 win. The only other season in Grand Rapids history that two NHL goalies (Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg) played conditioning stints for the Griffins in 2005-06, as both Chris Osgood (3 GP, 2-1, 3.34 GAA, .882%) and Manny Legace (1 GP, 1-0, 2.00 GAA, .909). %) the Griffins donned Griffin’s wings instead of Detroit’s.

O captain! My captain!
captain Brian Lahoff played his 600th game as a Griffin and in the AHL on Saturday, December 10 in Hartford. Lashoff’s 605 games for the Griffins ranks first among active AHL players who spent their entire AHL career with the same club and is third among single-team players in league history. Of those players ahead of him on this list, the youngest – and coincidentally the record holder – last played in the 1970-71 season (Bill Needham of the Cleveland Barons, 981 games played). Lashoff tied Howie Yanosik (Hershey Bears, 1957-67) against 3rd-ranked Milwaukee on December 31, 2022 and is now 148 games behind Arnie Kullman (Hershey Bears, 1948-60) in 2nd place. Lashoff is 50 games away from to break the Griffins’ all-time regular season record held by Travis Richards with 655 games (1995-2006). On Wednesday, Lashoff was named one of the two playing captains for the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic, becoming only the fifth Griffin to be selected as a playing captain.

Just keep it close
The Griffins got off to a rocky start to the season, but they excelled at winning close games. In fact, Grand Rapids is 7-0-1-0 (.938) in games to be decided by one goal and 4-0-1-0 (.900) in overtime contests. In comparison, the Griffins are only 5-17-0-0 (.227) in games decided by two or more goals. In the 2021-22 season, the Griffins finished with a 13-7-6-2 (.607) mark in games decided by a goal.

Welcomed offensive production
Wednesday December 7th Veteran Alex Chiasson made his Griffins debut against the Iowa Wild and collected two assists. Chiasson followed that performance with two more points (1-1-2) on December 9 in Springfield. In eight games, the 10-year-old pro has eight points (5-3-8) and a plus-one rating. Chiasson has two points in three of the eight competitions. In chunks of 10 seasons in the NHL, Chiasson has 224 points (114-110-224) and 353 penalty minutes in 631 games. The Griffins signed a pro tryout on November 26 in Montreal, Quebec.

history was made
On Thursday, December 22, the Griffins made a wonderful four-goal comeback to defeat the Chicago Wolves 8-7 in overtime. Trailing 6-2 after the first period, Grand Rapids bounced back with two goals in the second and three in the third before Austin Czarnik scored the game-winner just 16 seconds into overtime. This marked the Griffins’ first four-goal comeback in franchise history. The Detroit Red Wings also made a comeback for the ages on Wednesday, December 28, when they also came back from a four-goal deficit. After the Pittsburgh Penguins scored four goals in the opening stanza, the Red Wings stormed back with two goals each in the last two halves. Defenseman Jake Walman played the role of hero 2-13 into overtime and Detroit drove away with a 5-4 win. This was the biggest comeback win for Detroit since 1984 and only the fourth in franchise history.

power struggle
After starting the season with a 29.3% power play conversion rate in the first nine games of the year, the Griffins have been struggling lately. Grand Rapids has a 4-for-29 man advantage in their last nine games and has had just seven power-play goals in their last 14 games (7-for-57, 12.3%). The Griffins rank 17th in the AHL on powerplay with a conversion rate of 19.7%.

The Griffins averaged just 2.75 goals per game and surrendered 3.16 in the 2021-22 season. However, Grand Rapids is averaging 2.87 goals and conceding 4.00 this season. A total of seven or more goals have been scored in fifteen of the 30 games played so far, with ten of those competitions scoring eight or more goals. The Griffins rank 29th on the circuit with 120 clean sheets, while their 86 clean sheets share 25th in the AHL.

AHL leaderboard tracker
Pontus Andreasson
—Four power play goals ranks seventh among rookies

Austin Czarnik—Three game-winning goals tie for seventh place

Taro Hirose– 21 assists are shared for 13th place, 13 power play assists are shared for fifth place

Joel L’Esperance—Seven power play goals are in sixth place

Steven Fighter
scored his 100th AHL assist on January 4 in his 300th AHL game against Cleveland. Simon Edwinson ran in his 100th game as a pro on December 31 against Milwaukee.

Austin Czarnik—Two games from 400 as a pro

Joel L’Esperance—Three goals out of 100 as a pro

Dominik Schein—Two assists from 50 as a pro, as Griffins, and in the AHL

Tyler Spezia—Two goals out of 50 as a pro

Jacob Vrana—Two goals from 150 as a pro, three assists from 150 as a pro

Photo by Mark Newman/Griffins