After falling to the Chicago Wolves on Tuesday night, the Rockford IceHogs are still searching for their first win of the 2020-21 season.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate welcomes the Grand Rapids Griffins to the BMO Harris Bank Center tonight for the first of eight meetings between the two clubs this season. The Detroit Red Wings’ affiliate brings a record of 1-2-0-0 with them to Illinois, fourth-best in the Central Division.
The Griffins are coached by Ben Simon, who spent time as an assistant coach with the IceHogs from 2011-2013 and was an assistant to the Griffins’ Todd Nelson in their Calder Cup win in 2017. Nelson is now an assistant with the Dallas Stars.
On the ice, the Griffins are captained by veteran defenseman Brian Lashoff, a 13-year pro who has over 130 NHL games under his belt. Through three games, Grand Rapids has a goal differential of -2 (6-8) and is led by Riley Barber and Kyle Criscuolo in the scoring department.
Criscuolo, a New Jersey native, has been with a few teams throughout his career. He spent time in the Buffalo, Anaheim, and Philadelphia organizations before coming to Detroit. The Harvard product’s two goals lead the Griffins attack, while his three points are second on the roster.
Barber has also seen time with other clubs around hockey. He came up with the Washington Capitals before his stint within the Canadiens and Penguins systems. As a member of the Red Wings taxi squad in recent weeks, the Pittsburgh native leads the Griffins with four points this year (1G, 3A).
Grand Rapids’ goalies include Kevin Boyle, Pat Nagle, and Kaden Fulcher. Boyle played college hockey at UMass and UMass-Lowell and has compiled an AHL record of 62-38-10. Prior to his time with Detroit, he spent five games in net for the Anaheim Ducks. Nagle has a .929 save percentage this season and has quite the impressive pro record of 201-95-33. Fulcher has one NHL game on his resume and a pro record of 15-9-6.
As far as special teams go, Grand Rapids sits third in the Central Division with a 23% clip on the man advantage but has struggled on the penalty kill. Their 70% kill rate ranks second-worst in the Central and 25th in the league. If the IceHogs power play can regain its momentum, this would be a good time to do so.
Puck drop from BMO Harris Bank Center is at 6:00 PM CT as the IceHogs look for that elusive first win.