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Griffins Host Admirals in Home Opener, Travel to IceHogs

October 9, 2019 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Grand Rapids Griffins News Release

Grand Rapids Griffins huddle on the ice
Grand Rapids Griffins huddle on the ice
(Grand Rapids Griffins, Credit: Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves)

This Week's Games

GRIFFINS vs. Milwaukee Admirals // Fri., Oct. 11 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.

Watch: AHLTV

Season Series: First of 10 meetings overall, first of five at Van Andel Arena

All-Time Series: 53-30-2-2-3 Home, 98-64-7-7-8 Overall

NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators

Noteworthy: Grand Rapids finished 6-3-0-1 against the Admirals last season.

GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs // Sat., Oct. 12 // 7 p.m. EDT // BMO Harris Bank Center

Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m.

Watch: AHLTV

Season Series: First of 10 meetings overall, first of five at the BMO Harris Bank Center

All-Time Series: 14-21-4-6 Road, 43-32-7-8 Overall

NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks

Noteworthy: Grand Rapids' all-time leading postseason scorer, Derek King is in his first full season as head coach of the IceHogs.

Last Week's Results

Sat., Oct. 5 GRIFFINS 8 at Chicago Wolves 5 1-0-0-0 (2 pts., T1st Central Division)

24th Season Underway: The Grand Rapids Griffins began their 24th overall season of play with an 8-5 victory at the defending Western Conference champion Chicago Wolves last Saturday. Grand Rapids returns to Van Andel Arena to host another longtime rival in the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday before heading back to Illinois to battle the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday. Four of the Griffins' first five games come on foreign ice before they wrap up the month with four consecutive home contests.

Getting Offensive: Grand Rapids' eight goals in its season-opening victory at Chicago tied for the team's most in a season opener (8-1 W, Oct. 4, 2013 at Rochester) and was its first eight-goal game since an 8-4 win at Cleveland on Nov. 4, 2018. The Griffins finished 3-for-5 on the power play and seven players logged multi-point outings, including Matt Ford's career-high-tying four-point (2-2-4) night.

Last Week's Notes:

Saturday at Chicago - Grand Rapids' eight goals were its most against Chicago since tallying seven in a 7-1 matinee win at Allstate Arena on Dec. 15, 2016...The Griffins snapped a four-game regular season losing streak to the Wolves...A number of players made either their pro, AHL or Griffins debut, including Gustav Lindstrom (AHL), Oliwer Kaski (AHL), Gregor MacLeod (pro), Ryan Kuffner (AHL), Moritz Seider (AHL), Joe Veleno (pro) and Calvin Pickard (Griffins)...Kaski picked up his first AHL goal while Kuffner netted his first pro goal and Seider tallied an assist for his initial AHL point...Grand Rapids improved to 14-7-2-1 (0.674) all time in season openers and 15-7-2-0 (0.667) in road openers.

Recap | Highlights

Home Openers: The Griffins have sold out 23 consecutive home openers and post a 13-9-0-1 record (0.587) in those games. Grand Rapids has hosted Milwaukee in its home opener four times previously (2013, 2012, 2005, 1999) and shows a 2-2 record.

Flashback Friday: The last time the Griffins hosted a home opener on Oct. 11 came in 1996, the team's first year of existence. With a sellout crowd in attendance for the first-ever game at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins fell by a 3-1 score to the defending Eastern Conference playoff champion Orlando Solar Bears. Darin Smith scored the first Griffins goal in the new facility, converting in the second period against Allan Bester.

Capacity Crowds: With a capacity crowd of 10,834 expected for Friday's home opener, it will mark the 182nd overall regular season sellout of Van Andel Arena. The Griffins show a 98-65-1-2-15 all-time record (0.591) in sold-out home games, having won seven of their last nine.

Griffins in General: Grand Rapids is in the franchise's 24th overall season of play, 19th as a member of the American Hockey League and 18th as the primary affiliate of the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings...Grand Rapids is 966-656-27-58-112 (0.585) in the regular season since 1996-97 to go along with 17 playoff appearances, seven division titles and two Calder Cups (2017, 2013)...The Griffins have earned 40 or more wins and accumulated 90 or more points in six of the last seven seasons...Grand Rapids has qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs in a franchise-record seven consecutive seasons and advanced to at least the second round on five occasions...The Griffins' 8-5 season-opening win at Chicago marked the club's 750th win in the AHL...Grand Rapids' 306 regular season wins since the 2012-13 campaign rank second behind only Toronto's 318 and the Griffins' 663 points in that span are third, trailing Toronto (689) and Providence (664)...Since the affiliation began in 2002-03, 89 Griffins have gone on to play for the Red Wings...In fact, 27 Griffins alumni wore the Winged Wheel during the 2018-19 season.

Model Year: Matthew Ford began his 12th-year pro with a career-high-tying four points (2-2-4) on Saturday. The fourth-year Griffin had reached the four-point total three times previously and most recently as a member of the Oklahoma City Barons on April 11, 2015 at Chicago. Ford also became the fourth Griffin since 2005-06 to notch four or more points in a season opener, joining Turner Elson (1-3-4 vs. Manitoba on Oct. 6, 2017), Kent McDonell (0-4-4 vs. Milwaukee on Oct. 8, 2005) and Jiri Hudler (2-2-4 vs. Milwaukee on Oct. 8, 2005). Grand Rapids' active leader in goals scored with 49, Ford needs two more to reach 200 in the AHL.

Back Up, Terr: The Griffins' leading scorer a season ago with 61 points (29-32-61) in 69 games, Chris Terry picked up where he left off by tallying three points (1-2-3) in the season opener. Three points are a career high in a season debut for Terry.

First Things First: Grand Rapids' roster currently features four recent Detroit first-round draft picks (Moritz Seider 2019, Filip Zadina 2018, Joe Veleno 2018, Michael Rasmussen 2017). Four of the Red Wings' last six first rounders are on the west side of the state, with the exceptions being Dennis Cholowski (2016), who made Detroit's roster following training camp, and Evgeny Svechnikov (2016), who was recalled on Monday. From 2002-15, the Griffins had only seven Detroit first rounders total suit up for them: Jakub Kindl (2005-11; 14-15), Niklas Kronwall (2003-06), Dylan Larkin (2015 playoffs only), Anthony Mantha (2014-15), Tom McCollum (2009-15), Riley Sheahan (2011-14) and Brendan Smith (2010-13). The Griffins' opening night lineup had five Detroit first rounders in it, far surpassing the previous record of two. The Griffins had never seen more than three Red Wings first rounders suit up for the club at any point in the same season until this year. Adding in Matt Puempel (24th overall by Ottawa in 2011) and Dylan McIlrath (10th overall by the New York Rangers in 2010), Grand Rapids' roster boasts six former first-round draft selections.

Apple Seider: Defenseman Moritz Seider recorded an assist in his North American pro debut with the Griffins last Saturday and, as the sixth overall pick in last June's draft, has tied Filip Zadina as the highest Red Wings draft selection ever to suit up for Grand Rapids. A native of Zell, Germany, Seider won the Deutsch Eishockey Liga's Rookie of the Year award last season after posting six points (2-4-6) in 29 games with Adler Mannheim as a 17-year-old.

Roster Breakdown: Eighteen players (forwards Turner Elson, Ryan Kuffner, Matt Puempel, Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith, Chris Terry, Dominic Turgeon, Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina; defensemen Joe Hicketts, Oliwer Kaski, Brian Lashoff, Gustav Lindstrom, Dylan McIlrath, Vili Saarijarvi and Moritz Seider; goaltenders Filip Larsson and Calvin Pickard) on the roster are under contract with the Red Wings, while six players (forwards Matthew Ford, Troy Loggins, Jarid Lukosevicius, Gregor MacLeod and Dominik Shine; defenseman Alec McCrea) are playing on a Griffins contract. Nine players are Red Wings draft picks (Larsson, Lindstrom, Rasmussen, Saarijarvi, Seider, Smith, Turgeon, Veleno and Zadina).

Rookies: The Griffins have nine players who are considered rookies this season including defensemen Gustav Lindstrom, Alec McCrea and Moritz Seider, forwards Ryan Kuffner, Troy Loggins, Jarid Lukosevicius, Gregor MacLeod and Joe Veleno, and goaltender Filip Larsson.

Simon Says: Ben Simon, 41, is in his second season as Grand Rapids' head coach. In his first year, he guided the Griffins to a 38-27-7-4 record (87 points, 0.572) and a fourth-place finish in the Central Division while becoming the eighth head coach in franchise history to lead the Griffins to the postseason during his first full season behind the bench. Simon served as an assistant coach in Grand Rapids from 2015-18 under Todd Nelson and helped the franchise win its second Calder Cup in 2017. He is the fourth former Griffins assistant to then become the head coach. Appearing in 21 games and scoring nine points (4-5-9) with the Griffins in 2006-07 as part of an 11-year professional playing career, Simon is the third former Griffins player to serve as Grand Rapids' head coach, joining Nelson and Danton Cole (2002-05).

Milwaukee Notes: In 2018-19, the Griffins finished 3-1-0-1 against the Admirals at Van Andel Arena and 6-3-0-1 overall, outscoring Milwaukee 25-24...Among returning players, Matt Puempel (6-3-9 in 9 GP), Turner Elson (2-4-6 in 10 GP) and Matthew Ford (1-5-6 in 9 GP) led the Griffins in scoring in 2018-19 vs. Milwaukee...Since the 2013-14 campaign, the Griffins are 39-18-2-1 against the Admirals, including 20-8-1-1 at home and 19-10-1-0 away...With a rivalry dating to 1996 in the International Hockey League, the Griffins have faced the Admirals more than any other opponent in team history as the two clubs will meet for the 185th time in the regular season on Friday...Head coach Ben Simon skated in 18 games with the Admirals during the 2003-04 campaign and finished with four points (1-3-4)...Grand Rapids' first two home games will come against Milwaukee as the Admirals return to the Van on Oct. 23.

Rockford Notes: The Griffins finished 3-3-4-0 against Rockford last season and seven of the 10 meetings were decided by one goal...Matt Puempel led the Griffins in the 2018-19 season series with six points (3-3-6) in eight games...Grand Rapids has owned the IceHogs at Van Andel Arena, showing a 29-11-3-2 record but Rockford has returned the favor in the Land of Lincoln as the Griffins are 14-21-4-6 at the BMO Harris Bank Center...Grand Rapids has points in six of its last 11 games at Rockford (1-5-2-3)...Former Griffin Derek King is in his first full season as head coach of the IceHogs...King played in Grand Rapids from 1999-01 and 2002-04 and is the franchise's all-time leading playoff scorer (16-25-41) and ranks fifth in regular season points (73-130-203)...King and Ben Simonwere both assistants with the Toronto Marlies in 2014-15.

Images from this story

Grand Rapids Griffins huddle on the ice
Grand Rapids Griffins huddle on the ice

(Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves)

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