Griffins Take On IceHogs and Bears
This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs // Fri., Oct. 20 // 8 p.m. EDT // BMO Harris Bank Center
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AMat 7:35 p.m.
Season Series: First of 10 meetings overall, first of five at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
All-Time Series: 13-17-2-3 Road, 36-26-3-5 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks
Noteworthy: Grand Rapids finished 7-3 against Rockford last season, including a 3-2 record in Illinois.
Hershey Bears at GRIFFINS // Sat., Oct. 21 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: First of two meetings overall, first and last at Van Andel Arena.
All-Time Series: 3-0-0-0 Home, 6-0-0-0 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals
Noteworthy: Hershey’s visit marks the Bears’ first trip to West Michigan in nearly 12 years (Dec. 22, 2005).
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Oct. 13 GRIFFINS 7 at San Jose Barracuda 3 2-1-0-0 (4 points, 3rd Central)
Sat., Oct. 14 GRIFFINS 0 at Stockton Heat 4 2-2-0-0 (4 points, T3rd)
Off and Running: The defending Calder Cup champion Griffins are 2-2-0-0 to begin the 2017-18 campaign following last weekend’s road split in California. In a rematch of the 2017 Western Conference Finals, Grand Rapids defeated the San Jose Barracuda last Friday by a 7-3 margin, marking the most goals scored by the Griffins in a road contest since Dec. 15, 2016. The Griffins were shut out the next night at Stockton, as Heat netminder David Rittich accumulated 36 saves. This weekend, Grand Rapids travels to Rockford on Friday for its first Central Division road game of the season before welcoming the Atlantic Division’s Hershey Bears to Van Andel Arena on Saturday.
Follow the Leaders:
Points: Turner Elson (3-4—7)
Goals: Elson, Dominic Turgeon (3)
Assists: Colin Campbell (5)
PIM: Dan Renouf (15)
Plus-Minus: Campbell, Turgeon (+4)
Goaltender Wins: Jared Coreau (2)
Goals Against Average: Coreau (2.48)
Save Percentage: Coreau (0.917)
Saturday Promotions: The first 2,500 fans will receive a Griffins oven mitt, courtesy of Centennial Securities.
Hurricane Relief Donations: The Griffins and The Salvation Army are teaming up to collect monetary donations that will support the victims of recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate. For every $10 increment that’s donated online through Friday, Oct. 20, the donor will receive two Upper Level Faceoff tickets (limit eight tickets/$40 in donations) to this Saturday’s game against Hershey. All donations will go to The Salvation Army’s hurricane relief efforts. To make a donation or for more information, please click here.
Tip-A-Griffin Returns Tonight: The Griffins’ popular Tip-A-Griffin fundraiser returns for its 11th edition tonight from 6-8 p.m., when team players, coaches and hockey staff will trade in their jerseys for aprons to help serve and wait tables at all five Uccello’s Ristorante locations in West Michigan.
Borkowski Assigned: The Griffins on Tuesday assigned center Mike Borkowski to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Borkowski had not seen action in any of Grand Rapids’ four games this season. Borkowski skated in 51 games with the Griffins in 2016-17, his first full professional season, and contributed five points (3-2—5), a plus-one rating and two penalty minutes. The 25-year-old appeared in one postseason contest and helped the Griffins win the Calder Cup.
Last Weekend’s Notes: Grand Rapids improved to 14-6-2-0 (0.682) in road openers with last Friday’s victory at San Jose…Grand Rapids’ 7-3 win at San Jose marked its first regular season regulation win in the state of California since Oct. 16, 1999, when the Griffins competed in the International Hockey League…The Griffins’ games at San Jose and Stockton marked their 12th and 13th-ever games in California, including playoffs…Corey Elkins’ goal at 10:46 of the first period at San Jose marked his first AHL goal since Oct. 19, 2012 when he was a member of the Norfolk Admirals...Elkins played in 223 games with Helsinki in Finland from 2012-17...Axel Holmstrom assisted on Grand Rapids’ first two goals last Friday to notch his first multi-assist game in the AHL…Matt Carey, who was signed by Grand Rapids to a professional tryout on Oct. 5, potted his first goal in a Griffins uniform at 12:31 of the second period last Friday...Grand Rapids was shut out last Saturday at Stockton, the first time the Griffins have been held off the scoreboard since April 8, 2017.
Good Start: The line of Turner Elson, Colin Campbell and Dominic Turgeon continues to produce offensively through the season’s first four games as the trio ranks first, second and third, respectively, on the Griffins in scoring. The three have combined to score 18 of the team’s 39 total points. Elson, a fifth-year pro signed as a free agent by Detroit in July, ties for third in the AHL with seven points (3-4—7) and has found the scoresheet in three of four games. His two goals last Friday at San Jose were his most in a single game since Nov. 14, 2015. Campbell leads the team with five assists and places second with six points (1-5—6). Second-year pro Turgeon established a new career high with three points in last Friday’s victory, including his first pro multi-goal game. His five points (3-2—5) rank third on the team.
Up and Down: With a 0.500 record through four games, take a look at how the statistics compare between the Griffins’ two wins and two losses. All four games have been decided by at least three goals.
GF GA PP% PK% SF SA
W (2) 6.00 2.50 37.50% 100.00% 24.50 29.00
L (2) 1.00 5.50 14.29% 80.00% 37.00 35.00
On the Power Play: A season after leading the AHL with a franchise-record 24.4% efficiency on the power play, Grand Rapids has started the new campaign 4-for-15 (26.7%) on the man advantage to rank ninth in the league.
All Square After Four: Grand Rapids has started a season 2-2-0-0 for the third time in franchise history (2011-12, 1997-98). The last time the Griffins held a regular season mark below 0.500 was the morning of Nov. 28, 2015, when Grand Rapids was 7-8-0-1 before knocking off Lake Erie that night in overtime to improve to 8-8-0-1.
Helmer’s Return: 2017 AHL Hall of Fame inductee and former Griffin Bryan Helmer, who serves as Hershey’s vice president of hockey operations, returns to Van Andel Arena on Saturday. Helmer played in every game during his two-year stay in Grand Rapids from 2004-06, compiling 81 points (19-62—81) in 160 games. He was named the Griffins’ Man of the Year and an AHL Second Team All-Star in 2005-06 while helping the Griffins capture that season’s regular season championship. During his 20-year pro career that concluded in 2013, Helmer won three Calder Cups, including in 1995 with Albany and in 2009 and 2010 with Hershey. Helmer ranks first in AHL history with 159 Calder Cup Playoff games played and his regular season totals of 1,117 games played, 435 assists and 564 points are each the most by a defenseman in the 82-year history of the league, and only two players have appeared in more regular season contests.
Back on Schedule: Hershey’s visit on Saturday will mark the Bears’ first trip to West Michigan in nearly 12 years (Dec. 22, 2005). The last time Hershey played at Van Andel Arena, the Bears’ current vice president of hockey operations, Bryan Helmer, was in his second and final season patrolling Grand Rapids’ blue line. Grand Rapids is a perfect 6-0 all time against Hershey as the two clubs played home-and-home sets in the 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2005-06 seasons. The only other opponent the Griffins can claim an all-time unblemished record against is the Iowa Chops, who Grand Rapids finished 2-0 head-to-head during the Chops’ lone year of existence in 2008-09. Grand Rapids will make the return trip to Pennsylvania on March 11, in what will be the Griffins’ first trip to Hershey since Feb. 26, 2006.
Hershey Notes: Now in its 80th season, Hershey began play in the AHL in 1938-39 and is the oldest franchise on the circuit…The Bears have made 23 appearances in the Calder Cup Finals, including their most recent in 2016 against champion Lake Erie, and have won 11 Calder Cups…Hershey advanced to the Atlantic Division Finals last season but were ousted by the Providence Bruins in seven games…The Bears are still searching for their first win this season, showing a 0-2-0-1 mark through three games…Hershey’s game at Grand Rapids is the middle of a three-games-in-three-nights tour through the Central Division as the Bears are at Milwaukee on Friday and at Rockford on Sunday.
Rockford Notes: Rockford is 2-1-0-0 to begin the season and are led in scoring by rookie Matthew Highmore (3-2—5)…Former Griffin Tomas Jurco has four points (1-3—4) in three games with the IceHogs…Jurco appeared in 113 games with the Griffins from 2012-14 and 2015-17, totaling 71 points (33-38—71), a plus-20 rating and 46 PIIM…Jurco added 21 points (13-8—21) in 32 Calder Cup Playoff games and helped Grand Rapids win the 2013 Calder Cup…Jurco appeared in 159 games with the Detroit Red Wings from 2013-17 and tallied 39 points (15-24—39) before being traded to the Blackhawks organization in February 2017…Thirty-two-year-old Jeremy Colliton is in his first season behind Rockford’s bench after serving as the head coach the previous four seasons for Mora IK in Sweden…The Griffins finished 7-3 against Rockford in 2016-17, outscoring the IceHogs 35-18…Ben Street (5-4—9) and Eric Tangradi (2-7—9) are the Griffins’ top returning scorers from last year’s season series and led Grand Rapids with nine points apiece.
Championship Effects: Since 2001-02, the year Grand Rapids joined the AHL, nine Calder Cup champions have gone on to qualify for the postseason in the following season, including the Griffins, who reached the conference semifinals in 2014 after winning the franchise’s first championship in 2013. Only one team in this 16-year span has repeated as champions (Hershey in 2009 and 2010).
Walleye Report: Under second-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye are 1-1-0-0 to begin the new season. Kyle Bonis (2-0—2) and Griffins-contracted Kevin Tansey (0-2—2) tie for the team lead with two points apiece. Griffins-contracted goaltender Pat Nagle has appeared in both games and is 1-0-0 with a 1.89 goals against average and a 0.921 save percentage.