GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Grand Rapids Griffins are coming off a week where they could have made up some ground in the Central Division. Instead, the defending Calder Cup Champions went 1-1-1 but did end the week on a high note by beating the Chicago Wolves on Saturday night. Going into this weekend, their record currently sits at 9-10-3.
The Griffins finished the month of November with a record of 5-5-1. Todd Nelson collected his 100th win as the Griffins head coach thanks to the win on Saturday night. The Griffins will be back in action Friday night welcoming the Rockford IceHogs to the Van Andel Arena for the first time this season. Grand Rapids will be in Rockford for a rematch the following night. The Griffins have made two trips to Rockford this season losing one game in a shootout. The second loss came from a third period collapse by allowing the Hogs to score three unanswered goals leading to a 4-3 loss for the Griffins.
Over the last couple of seasons, the Griffins have pretty much had their way with the Texas Stars. Going into Wednesday’s game, the Griffins has won 12 of the previous 15 games against the Stars dating back to the 2011-2012 regular season. These two teams went head to head in the 2014 playoffs with Texas winning the series in six games and eventually winning the Calder Cup.
Unfortunately, that level of dominance would not continue last week when Texas came to town. Grand Rapids was seemingly overmatched on Wednesday evening dropping the game 5-2 even though they had scored the games first goal and were tied at two goals apiece at one point. Texas came out hot in the third period scoring three unanswered goals.
On Friday night, Grand Rapids came out of the gate swinging and had a 3-1 lead after the opening period. They were dominating every part of the game. However, the Stars scored the game-tying goal with just under six seconds to go in the third period and would eventually win the game in a shootout. Mike McKenna was in net for Texas. Griffins fans should recognize that name because he was the goalie for the Syracuse Crunch during last season’s Calder Cup Final. On this night, however, McKenna got the last laugh earning the victory.
Matt Puempel and Eric Tangradi led the way for the Griffins during November. Both players had similar stat lines, scoring 10 points (4-6-10). Dominik Shine had the first multi-point game of his professional career collecting two assists.
Evgeny Svechnikov continues to struggle. The second-year pro has just four points (2-2-4) and a -4 rating so far this season through 17 games played. He missed the first five games with a neck injury.
The Griffins will open up a home-and-home set with the Rockford IceHogs tonight, with puck drop scheduled for 7 P.M. They will then be in Rockford the following night. The Griffins are 0-1-1 so far against Rockford this season. The ‘Hogs currently hold a record of 13-9-1 (27 points) which is good for second place in the Central Division.
Grand Rapids will conclude their three-in-three weekend slate when they travel to Iowa on Sunday to take on the Wild. It will be the second time this season the Wild and Griffins will play each other with Iowa winning the first game 4-2 back on November 17.
Earlier this week, the Detroit Red Wings reassigned defenseman Vili Saarijarvi from the Toledo Walleye to the Griffins. The Griffins also recalled forward Mike Borkowski.