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Grand Rapids Griffins 2021-22 Season in Review

May 5, 2022 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Grand Rapids Griffins News Release

Grand Rapids Griffins discuss strategy
Grand Rapids Griffins discuss strategy
(Grand Rapids Griffins, Credit: Mark Newman/Griffins)

Chapter 26: Despite this being the Grand Rapids Griffins' 26th overall season, they celebrated as if it were the franchise's 25th-anniversary season due to the 2020-21 COVID campaign being held mostly without fans. This was also the Griffins' 21st campaign as a member of the American Hockey League and their 20th as the primary affiliate of the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. Grand Rapids concluded with a 33-35-6-2 record (0.487), including 17-16-4-1 at Van Andel Arena and 16-19-2-1 on foreign ice, and a seventh-place finish in the Central Division. Grand Rapids has competed in 1,989 regular season games between the International Hockey League and the AHL since 1996-97 and totaled a 1043-730-27-70-119 (0.579) ledger to go along with seven division titles, 17 playoff appearances and two Calder Cups (2017, 2013).

Simon Says: Named the 11th head coach in franchise history on June 5, 2018, Ben Simon concluded his fourth season as bench boss and seventh season with the Griffins. He served the first three seasons as an assistant under Todd Nelson, now an assistant coach with the NHL's Dallas Stars. Appearing in 21 games and scoring nine points (4-5-9) with the Griffins in 2006-07, Simon is the third former Griffins player to serve as head coach, joining Nelson and Danton Cole. On Dec. 21, 2021, Simon made his NHL coaching debut when he was called up to the Red Wings to man the bench alongside Grand Rapids assistant coach Todd Krygier, helping lead Detroit to a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils. He became the sixth coach in franchise history to reach 100 wins with the Griffins on Feb. 10, 2022 versus Iowa. Simon also collected his 200th victory as a pro head coach on April 20 against Rockford.

Follow The Leaders:

Points: Jonatan Berggren (21-43-64)

Goals: Riley Barber (28)

Assists: Berggren (43)

PIM: Dominik Shine (141)

Plus-Minus: Dan Renouf (+14)

Goaltender Wins: Calvin Pickard (21)

Goals Against Average: Pickard (2.58)

Save Percentage: Pickard (0.918)

All Good Things Must End: The Griffins finished the 2021-22 campaign in seventh place in the Central Division standings with a 33-35-6-2 (0.487) mark. The top five teams from the division qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs, with the top three receiving a first-round bye. The Griffins were eliminated from playoff contention when Texas defeated Iowa on April 23. The contest on April 24 in Chicago was the first game the Griffins played after being eliminated from playoff contention since April 15, 2012. Grand Rapids appeared in the last seven Calder Cup Playoffs, dating back to the 2012-13 season when it lifted the cup for the first time. During this playoff stretch, the Griffins went 52-31-3-0 (0.598) and outscored their opponents 282-233. In addition, Grand Rapids went 12-5 in playoff series since 2013 with two Calder Cups. Excluding the NHL lockout season of 2004-05, and the 2019-21 COVID seasons, this is the first time since Grand Rapids' inception that neither the Griffins nor the Red Wings qualified for the playoffs. This is the first season since the 2009-10 campaign that the Griffins finished below the 0.500 mark.

Rewrite the History Books: Jonatan Berggren on April 24 became the first rookie in Griffins history to record 60 points when he bagged two assists in the outing. With those two points, Berggren passed Teemu Pulkkinen (2013-14) for the Griffins' rookie single-season scoring title. Berggren finished the season with 26 points (7-19-26) in his last 18 games, including a season-high 11-game point streak (6-13-19) to close out the year. The Uppsala, Sweden, native paced the Griffins and ranked second among rookies with his 64 points, while his 43 assists were tied for first in the league among first-year players. Berggren was also second among rookies with seven game-winning goals. His 43 assists are the most by a rookie in a Griffins uniform while his 21 goals are tied for sixth among Griffin rookies. Berggren became the first rookie to ever lead the Griffins in assists, and the third to pace the team in either points (Teemu Pulkkinen 59 in 2013-14, Gustav Nyquist 58 (tied) in 2011-12) or game-winning goals (Landon Ferraro 4 in 2011-12 and Petr Schastlivy 6 in 1999-00). His seven game-winning goals and three overtime tallies were both franchise records for a rookie. Berggren was named the AHL Rookie of the Month in April and joined Justin Abdelkader (Oct. 2008) and Tomas Kopecky (Feb. 2003) as the only three Griffins to achieve this award. The rookie recorded 20 points (6-14-20) in 14 contests in April.

Career Years: Fourteen Griffins set personal AHL career highs this season:

Patrick Curry: 29 games played, 2 assists

Josh Dickinson: 48 games played, 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points, 20 penalty minutes

Turner Elson: 73 games played, 21 goals, 24 assists, 45 points

Taro Hirose: 59 games played, 15 goals, 38 assists, 53 points

Jon Martin: 60 games played

Jared McIsaac: 70 games played, 5 goals, 19 assists, 24 points, 34 penalty minutes

Ryan Murphy: 11 goals, 29 points

Wyatt Newpower: 55 games played, 54 penalty minutes

Chase Pearson: 8 goals, 18 penalty minutes

Calvin Pickard: 16 consecutive games played, 12 consecutive starts

Donovan Sebrango: 65 games played, 1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points, 23 penalty minutes

Dominik Shine: 17 goals, 15 assists, 32 points, 141 penalty minutes

Tyler Spezia: 74 games played, 13 goals, 22 assists, 35 points, 24 penalty minutes

Dennis Yan: 56 games played

On a Scale of 1-10: Eight Griffins ranked among the AHL's individual leaders during the regular season:

Riley Barber: 15 PPG (T2nd)

Jonatan Berggren: 64 points (T12th, 2nd among rookies), 43 assists (T9th, T1st among rookies), 21 goals (T8th among rookies), 7 GWG (T6th, 2nd among rookies), 6 PPG (T12th among rookies), 15 PPA (T5th among rookies), 3 OTG (T1st, 1st among rookies), 3 unassisted goals (T5th, T1st among rookies)

Victor Brattstrom: 0.867 shootout save percentage (5th)

Turner Elson: 3 overtime goals (T1st)

Taro Hirose: 38 assists (T17th), 18 PPA (T16th)

Jared McIsaac: 24 points (T9th among rookie defensemen), 19 assists (T9th among rookie defensemen), 5 goals (T12th among rookie defensemen)

Ryan Murphy: 11 goals (T4th among defensemen), 5 PPG (T3rd among defensemen)

Calvin Pickard: 2.58 GAA (13th), 0.918 SV% (11th), 21 wins (T9th), 2534:30 minutes (5th), 43 GP (7th)

Dominik Shine: 141 penalty minutes (T2nd), 3 shorthanded goals (T8th)

Season for the Books: Six Griffins compiled statistics that ranked among the team's top 10 for a single season:

Riley Barber: 15 power play goals (T3rd)

Jonatan Berggren: 43 assists (1st among rookies), 64 points (1st among rookies), 21 goals (T6th among rookies), 7 game-winning goals (T5th), 3 overtime goals (T1st)

Victor Brattstrom: 0.867 shootout save percentage (3rd)

Turner Elson: 3 overtime goals (T1st)

Calvin Pickard: 1,221 saves (10th)

Dominik Shine: 3 shorthanded goals (T5th)

Climbing Up the Leaderboard: Six Griffins have now either moved up or cracked the franchise's all-time regular-season leaderboard:

Riley Barber: 23 power-play goals (T9th), 0.151 shooting percentage (10th)

Jonatan Berggren: 3 overtime goals (T3rd)

Victor Brattstrom: 0.867 shootout save percentage (2nd)

Turner Elson: 3 overtime goals (T3rd), 7 unassisted goals (T6th), 6 shorthanded goals (T5th)

Brian Lashoff: 580 games played (2nd), 682 shots (8th), 3 overtime goals (T3rd)

Calvin Pickard: 79 games played (10th among goalies), 4667:56 minutes (10th), 39 wins (10th), 4 shutouts (T10th), 2,165 saves (7th)

Streaky Good: This is the second season in franchise history that Griffins players have had at least three scoring streaks of 10 games or longer. Riley Barber (18-8-26, 17 GP), Jonatan Berggren (6-13-19, 11 GP) and Kyle Criscuolo (7-11-18, 10 GP) all reached the 10-game plateau this year. The record of four players was set back during the 2005-06 campaign. Barber's 17-game streak tied for the longest run in the AHL over the last five season with Ontario's Mike Amadio in 2017-18. His 17-game streak is one of only four streaks of 17 games or more over the last 14 seasons, and is tied for the fifth-longest streak over the last 16 seasons. The longest AHL point streaks since 2006-07 (last 16 seasons) are listed below:

The Roaring 20s: Riley Barber (28), Jonatan Berggren (21) and Turner Elson (21) became the first three Griffins teammates with 20-plus goals each since Eric Tangradi (31), Matt Lorito (23), Matthew Ford (22), Matt Puempel (22) and Ben Street (21) in 2017-18.

Going with the Flow: It was a busy season for head coach Ben Simon and general manager Shawn Horcoff, as players on professional tryouts were plentiful for the Griffins this year. Twelve PTO skaters saw action this season for Grand Rapids and totaled 174 games played; both numbers surpassed any full season since Simon joined the team as an assistant coach in 2015-16. The previous high under Simon was five PTO skaters and 23 games played during the 2018-19 season. On average, 12.7% of the Griffins' lineup were tryout players this campaign. Grand Rapids played in just eight games without a PTO or ATO player in the lineup. The team also played short of the regular 20 players five times, including one game short four players - a 5-4 win over Milwaukee on New Year's Eve - two games short two players and two games short one player.

Immortalized Forever: Michel Picard's #7 and Jeff Hoggan's #10 were raised to the Van Andel Arena rafters this season, joining Travis Richards' #24 as the only three jerseys to be retired by the Griffins. Picard played 363 games over six seasons with Grand Rapids (1996-99; 02-04) and still ranks as the Griffins' all-time leader with 158 goals, 222 assists, 380 points, 40 power play goals and 26 game-winning tallies. Hoggan was the longest-tenured captain in franchise history (2012-16) and helped set the recent culture for Griffins hockey, finishing with an 8-3 playoff-series record and one Calder Cup title (2013).

Friendly Confines: With back-to-back sellout crowds to end the campaign, the Griffins averaged 7,029 fans per game, which ranked third in the league. This marked the 13th straight season that Grand Rapids has averaged 7,000-plus fans per contest (excluding the 2020-21 COVID season).

Images from this story

Grand Rapids Griffins discuss strategy
Grand Rapids Griffins discuss strategy

(Mark Newman/Griffins)

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