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Prospect news: Sulak posts assist in Finnish Liiga; Griffins’ weekly press release

Of prospect-related note:

In the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo won 33% of his faceoffs in 9:12 of ice time as Jukurit won 3-2 in overtime over TPS Turku;

Libor Sulak had an assist and 4 shots, playing 25:20 in the Lahti Pelicans' 3-2 OT loss to Tappara;

In the WHL, later this evening, Dennis Cholowski's Prince George Cougars will take on the Kootenay Ice;

And in the AHL, here's the Grand Rapids Griffins' weekly press release:


This Week’s Games

Rockford IceHogs at GRIFFINS // Fri., Dec. 8 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs // Sat., Dec. 9 // 7 p.m. EST // BMO Harris Bank Center
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. both nights
Watch: AHLLive.com  
Season Series: 0-0-0-0 Home, 0-1-0-2 Road, 0-1-0-2 Overall. Fourth and fifth of 10 meetings overall, first of five at Van Andel Arena, fourth of five at the BMO Harris Bank Center
All-Time Series: 23-9-1-2 Home, 13-18-2-5 Road, 36-27-3-7 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks
Noteworthy: Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Grand Rapids is 17-3-1-1 (0.818) in 22 regular season games against Rockford at Van Andel Arena.

GRIFFINS at Iowa Wild // Sun., Dec. 10 // 6 p.m. EST // Wells Fargo Arena
WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 5:35 p.m.
Watch: AHLLive.com  
Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Road, 0-1-0-0 Overall. Second of 10 meetings overall, second of five at Wells Fargo Arena
All-Time Series: 12-4-0-0 Road, 23-7-0-1 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild
Noteworthy: After winning the first eight all-time meetings between the teams at Wells Fargo Arena, the Griffins are now 4-4-0-0 in their last eight games at Iowa.

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Nov. 29    Texas Stars 5 at GRIFFINS 2    8-10-0-2 (18 points, 6th Central)
Fri., Dec. 1    Texas Stars 5 at GRIFFINS 4 SO    8-10-0-3 (19 points, 6th)
Sat., Dec. 2    GRIFFINS 5 at Chicago Wolves 2    9-10-0-3 (21 points, 5th)

Opening Faceoff: The defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins earned three out of a possible six points last week and place fifth in the Central Division with a 9-10-0-3 (0.477) record. This week, the Griffins face a three-games-in-three-nights stretch beginning Friday against Rockford.

Follow the Leaders:
Matt Puempel (8-12—20)
Goals: Puempel, Turner Elson (8)
Assists: Puempel (12)
PIM: Dylan McIlrath (44)
Plus-Minus: Elson (+6)
Goaltender Wins: Jared Coreau (6)
Goals Against Average: Coreau (2.94)
Save Percentage: Coreau (0.904)

Last Week’s Notes: The Griffins finished November with a 5-5-0-1 record following Wednesday’s 5-2 loss against Texas…Eric Tangradi (4-6—10) and Matt Puempel (4-6—10) tied for the team lead with 10 points apiece in 11 games during the month…On Friday against Texas, the Stars scored the game-tying goal with six seconds remaining in regulation and went on to defeat the Griffins, 5-4, in a shootout…Texas’ Roope Hintz delivered the deciding goal in the shootout, the only player on either team to score…Grand Rapids is 0-3 in shootouts this season and 96-104 all time…The Griffins snapped their five-game winless streak with a 5-2 win at Chicago on Saturday…Rookie Dominik Shine recorded his first career multi-point game behind two assists…Brian Lashoff took part in his first AHL fight since Jan. 19, 2013…Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, Grand Rapids is 16-4-1-0 (0.786) against Chicago, including an 8-2-0-0 (0.800) mark at Allstate Arena…Matt Lorito (4-1—5) and Matt Puempel (1-4—5) lead the Griffins in scoring against the Wolves this season.

13th Annual Sled Hockey Game Tonight: The Griffins and Grand Rapids Sled Wings will face off in their 13th annual sled hockey game at Griff’s IceHouse at Belknap Park (30 Coldbrook St. NE), with the two sled hockey teams being comprised of players from both the Griffins and the Sled Wings junior team. The doors will open at 5 p.m. Prior to the game, fans can try out a sled on the ice for a minimum $1 donation (5-6:15 p.m.) and get autographs from their favorite Griffins players (5:45-6:15 p.m.). The 6:30 p.m. game will consist of two 20-minute periods with a running clock. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5 per person or $20 per family, while children 2 and younger are free. All proceeds from the evening will benefit the Sled Wings program and the Griffins Youth Foundation.

This Week’s Promotions: On Friday against Rockford, fans can enjoy $2 beers and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. Friday is also Salute to Heroes Night presented by JR Automation.

Rockford Notes: Two of the three matchups this season have resulted in a Rockford shootout victory…Friday’s game at Van Andel Arena will be the fourth meeting of the year, but first in West Michigan…Eric Tangradi leads the Griffins with four points (3-1—4) in three games versus the ‘Hogs this season…Ville Pokka leads all Rockford scorers in the season series with four points (0-4—4)…Grand Rapids is 13-for-18 (72.2%) on the penalty kill against the IceHogs, against the rest of the league the Griffins are 77-for-90 (85.6%)…Five of Rockford’s 14 power play goals on the season have come against the Griffins…Goaltender Jean-Francois Berube, who ranks in the league’s top 20 in wins (6), goals against average (2.54) and save percentage (0.913), is currently on recall with the Blackhawks…After the IceHogs joined the AHL in 2007-08, Grand Rapids posted a 2-7-2-2 record (0.308) in its first 13 games at Rockford through 2011-12...Since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Griffins are 11-11-0-3 (0.500) in 25 games at Rockford...In that same time frame, Grand Rapids is 17-3-1-1 (0.818) in 22 regular-season games against Rockford at Van Andel Arena...Former Griffin and 2013 Calder Cup champion Tomas Jurco has 15 points (7-8—15) in 23 games with Rockford but has been held off the scoresheet in three games against Grand Rapids…Jurco played in 113 games with the Griffins over parts of four seasons (2012-14, 2015-17) and tallied 71 points (33-38—71)...Former Griffins Derek King and Sheldon Brookbank serve as assistant coaches on Jeremy Colliton’s staff...King, who played in Grand Rapids from 1999-01 and 2002-04, is the franchise’s all-time leading playoff scorer (16-25—41) and ranks fifth in regular season points (73-130—203)...Brookbank skated in 75 games with the Griffins from 2001-03, scoring 14 points (2-12—14) and adding 160 PIM. 

Iowa Notes: After winning the first eight all-time meetings between the teams at Wells Fargo Arena, the Griffins are now 4-4-0-0 in their last eight games at Iowa…In the first meeting of the season on Nov. 17 in Iowa, Grand Rapids lost 4-2 with Turner Elson and Tyler Bertuzzi accounting for the Griffins’ goals and former Griffin Landon Ferraro scoring the game-winner…Six of the last nine games between the teams have been decided by one goal, including one in overtime and two in a shootout…Former Griffin Landon Ferraro signed a free-agent deal with the Minnesota Wild last summer and has spent time with both the organization’s NHL and AHL teams already this season…A second-round draft selection by Detroit in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Ferraro tallied 140 points (75-65—140) in 270 games with the Griffins over parts of five seasons (2009-10; 2011-15) and ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders with 75 goals (T6th), seven shorthanded goals (T2nd) and 12 game-winning goals (T6th)…He added 19 points (6-13—19) in 33 playoff games and helped Grand Rapids win the 2013 Calder Cup…Iowa is celebrating its fifth season as an AHL franchise…Over its first four seasons in the AHL, Iowa has seen 32 of its players also skate for the parent club in Minnesota…Derek Lalonde is in his second season at the helm of the Wild after spending the previous two years as head coach of the Toledo Walleye, the ECHL affiliate of the Red Wings and Griffins.

Getting Wild: Over the course of its history, Grand Rapids has shown great success playing on the road against AHL teams from Iowa, combining to post a 16-6-0-1 record (0.717) versus the Iowa Chops (1-0), Iowa Stars (3-2-0-1) and Iowa Wild (12-4). In 16 lifetime meetings between the Wild and Griffins at Wells Fargo Arena, Grand Rapids is outscoring Iowa 51-38.

‘Tis the Season: Grand Rapids has not suffered a regulation loss at home in December since Dec. 5, 2014 against Oklahoma City, going 12-0-1-3 in its last 16 games on home ice during the last month on the calendar. Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, the Griffins are 19-4-1-1 in the month of December, including a 10-0-0-1 mark at Van Andel Arena.

Repeat Opponents: Last Saturday’s game at Chicago marked the first of 28 straight games the Griffins will play against Central Division foes. Under third-year head coach Todd Nelson, the Griffins are 82-42-2-6 (0.652) against the Central and hold a +96 scoring margin in those 132 games.

Current Streaks:
Tyler Bertuzzi - three-game point streak (2-1—3)
Matt Puempel - three-game point streak and two-game goal streak (2-2—4)
Matt Lorito - two-game point streak and two-game assist streak (1-2—3)
Dominic Turgeon - two-game assist streak (0-2—-2)
Corey Elkins - two-game point streak (1-1—2)
Matthew Ford - two-game goal streak (2-0—2)

Puemped Up: Matt Puempel, who was acquired by the Red Wings organization in a trade on Oct. 21, has scored 17 points (7-10—17) in 16 appearances with the Griffins and leads the team with a 1.06 points per game average. Puempel has accumulated four points (2-2—4) during his three-game point streak and has totaled six multi-point outings with Grand Rapids.

Whoa, Nelly: Todd Nelson became the fifth coach in franchise history to tally 100 wins following last Saturday’s 5-2 victory at Chicago. Nelson, now in his third season in Grand Rapids, is 100-63-2-9 (0.606) with the Griffins. On Nov. 11 at Texas, Nelson, who is in his seventh season as an AHL bench boss, became the fifth active AHL head coach to coach in 500 or more games.

It Takes Two to Tango: Third-year Griffin Eric Tangradi tied with Matt Puempel for the team scoring lead in the month of November with 10 points. Tangradi, a ninth-year pro, registered a goal and an assist last Saturday, his fifth multi-point game of the season.

Milestones: Several Griffins reached career benchmarks recently, including Matthew Ford (played in 550th AHL game on Dec. 1 vs. Texas), Matt Lorito (scored 50th AHL goal on Dec. 2 at Chicago) and Robbie Russo (played in 150th AHL game on Dec. 1 vs. Texas), while several others are approaching milestones, including Corey Elkins (99 AHL points, 98 pro goals and 195 AHL games), Turner Elson (197 AHL games and 96 pro points), Dylan McIlrath (247 AHL games), Dan Renouf (96 pro games and 95 AHL games), Ben Street (447 pro games), Evgeny Svechnikov (96 pro games) and Eric Tangradi (148 games as a Griffin).

Goalie Leaders: Eighth-year Griffin Tom McCollum and fifth-year Griffin Jared Coreau both rank in the top five in several categories in Grand Rapids’ all-time goaltending record book.

Games Played  Minutes  Wins  Saves
1. Tom McCollum (236)  1. Tom McCollum (13300:22)  1. Joey MacDonald (109)  1. Tom McCollum (5923)
2. Joey MacDonald (210)  2. Joey MacDonald (11784:31)  2. Tom McCollum (106)  2. Joey MacDonald (5362)
3. Jimmy Howard (190)  3. Jimmy Howard (10886:40)  3. Jimmy Howard (93)  3. Jimmy Howard (4941)
4. Jared Coreau (124)  4. Jared Coreau (7155:46)  4. Jared Coreau (70)  4. Jared Coreau (3301)

Up and Down: With a 9-10-0-3 record through 22 games, take a look at how the statistics compare between the Griffins’ nine wins and 13 (including overtime and shootout) losses. Fifteen of the 22 games have been decided by two or more goals. Grand Rapids has scored five or more goals in eight of its nine victories.

 GF  GA  PP%  PK%  SF  SA
W (9)
  5.33  2.44  32.00%  90.48%  33.44  31.22
L (13)  1.69  3.77  8.00%  78.79%  32.15  31.38

Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play back-to-back games a total of 24 times this season. Grand Rapids will play its first of four three-in-threes this weekend. Compare the statistics for when Grand Rapids has played on consecutive nights:

W  L (incl. OT, SO)  GF  GA  PP%  PK%  SF  SA
First Night
  3  4  3.71  3.14  22.22%  81.48%  31.57  31.57
Second Night  2  5  2.71  3.57  18.18%  78.38%  30.43  34.00
Third Night  0  0  0.00  0.00  0.00%  0.00%  0.00  0.00

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 repeated as champions (Hershey in 2009 and 2010).

Walleye Report: Under second-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye are on a four-game point streak (3-0-0-1) and post the third-best record in the league with a 14-4-2-1 (31 points) mark. Christian Hilbrich (10-9—19) and Griffins-contracted Mike Borkowski (7-11—18) pace the team in scoring. Griffins-contracted goaltender Pat Nagle was named the ECHL Goalie of the Month for November after compiling a 7-1-1 record, a 2.66 goals against average and a 0.907 save percentage in nine games during the month. Nagle was also named the ECHL’s Goaltender of the Week for Oct. 30-Nov. 5. He currently leads the league with 12 wins (12-1-2-0) while tying for sixth with a 2.36 goals against average and tying for 11th with a 0.916 save percentage.

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.