Real honest to goodness hockey is almost here! The Red Wings start their season tonight, and so the Griffins! Let's take a look at the when and where, and lines we'll probably see new Griffins Coach Todd Nelson ice.
When: 10PM EST
Where: Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield CA
How to Listen: Wood Radio 106.9 FM
The Griffins start their 20th franchise season on the road with a 2 game West Coast trip against 2 new AHL teams, tonight night against the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers) and Saturday night against the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks). Here's what the Griffins roster looks like.
|8||Anthony Mantha||LW||9/16/1994||6' 4"||214 lbs||L||Longueuil, Quebec|
|9||Mark Zengerle||RW||5/12/1989||5' 10"||185 lbs||R||Rochester, New York|
|10||Jeff Hoggan||LW||2/1/1978||6' 1"||190 lbs||L||Hope, British Columbia|
|11||Andreas Athanasiou||C||8/6/1994||6' 2"||200 lbs||L||London, Ontario|
|13||Marek Tvrdon||LW||1/31/1993||6' 2"||217 lbs||L||Nitra, Slovakia|
|15||Mitch Callahan||RW||8/17/1991||6' 0"||195 lbs||R||Whittier, California|
|19||Tomas Nosek||C||9/1/1992||6' 2"||210 lbs||L||Pardubice, Czech Republic|
|21||Andy Miele||C||4/15/1988||5' 8"||175 lbs||L||Detroit, Michigan|
|22||Louis-Marc Aubry||C||11/11/1991||6' 4"||213 lbs||L||Arthabaska, Quebec|
|23||Triston Grant(inj)||LW||2/2/1984||6' 1"||221 lbs||L||Neepawa, Manitoba|
|26||Eric Tangradi||LW||2/10/1989||6' 4"||221 lbs||L||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|27||Martin Frk||RW||10/5/1993||6' 0"||194 lbs||R||Pelhrimov, Czech Republic|
|37||Zach Nastasiuk||RW||3/30/1995||6' 2"||202 lbs||R||Barrie, Ontario|
|39||Tyler Bertuzzi||LW||2/24/1995||6' 1"||190 lbs||L||Sudbury, Ontario|
|44||Joel Rechlicz(susp)||RW||6/14/1987||6' 4"||220 lbs||R||Brookfield, Wisconsin|
|45||Colin Campbell||RW||4/17/1991||6' 1"||206 lbs||R||Toronto, Ontario|
|2||Scott Czarnowczan||D||5/29/1991||5' 11"||185 lbs||L||Macomb, Michigan|
|4||Nathan Paetsch||D||3/30/1983||6' 1"||195 lbs||L||LeRoy, Saskatchewan|
|5||Robbie Russo||D||2/15/1993||6' 0"||191 lbs||R||Westmont, Ill.|
|7||Ryan Sproul||D||1/13/1993||6' 3"||205 lbs||R||Mississauga, Ontario|
|14||Nick Jensen||D||9/21/1990||6' 0"||200 lbs||R||Rogers, Minnesota|
|16||Xavier Ouellet||D||7/29/1993||6' 0"||200 lbs||L||Bayonne, France|
|18||Brian Lashoff||D||7/16/1990||6' 3"||221 lbs||L||Albany, New York|
|42||Richard Nedomlel||D||7/1/1993||6' 5"||230 lbs||L||Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic|
|49||Matt Corrente||D||3/17/1988||6' 0"||205 lbs||R||Mississauga, Ontario|
|30||Tom McCollum||G||12/7/1989||6' 2"||215 lbs||L||Cambria, New York|
|31||Jared Coreau||G||11/5/1991||6' 5"||235 lbs||L||Perth, Ontario|
Noted facepuncher Joel Rechlicz is with the team on a PTO, but got suspended for 3 games for charging in the preseason so he'll sit out. Triston Grant is back with the Griffins after a year with the Milwaukee Admirals, and he's taken back #23, so Andreas Athanasiou will wear #11 this year (yuck).
Coach Nelson shared his planned top 2 lines, and I know he plans to use Nosek and Aubry as centers and Nastasiuk as a winger, so the red players I'm certain of, and the rest will be some combination of the the remaining players. Sadly, we won't get to see the BAM (Bertuzzi - Athanasiou - Mantha) line... yet.
|Mitch Callahan||Andreas Athanasiou||Anthony Mantha|
|Tyler Bertuzzi||Andy Miele||Mark Zengerle|
|Zach Nastasiuk||Tomas Nosek||Jeff Hoggan|
|Eric Tangradi||Louis-Marc Aubry||Colin Campbell|
|Marek Tvrdon||Martin Frk|
With both his facepunchers out (Grant injured and Rechlicz suspended, Nelson will want at least one tough guy/fighter in the lineup, so one of Campbell or Tangradi will most likely be in the lineup.
On Defense Nelson could go with lefty-righty pairings if he wants to, since he has 3 righty's on the roster. Matt Corrente, Richard Nedomlel, and Scott Czarnowczan are the top candidates for healthy scratches. We could see these D pairings, and that's a very good defense corps.
|Xavier Ouellet||Nick Jensen|
|Robbie Russo||Nathan Paetsch|
|Brian Lashoff||Ryan Sproul|
Tommy McCollum is likely to get the start, but with the back to backs and Coreau showing last year he can play very well, I'd like to see Jared get a game in as well.
Coach Nelson will no doubt take some time to feel his lines and pairings out, and my do some experimentation with the bottom 6 forwards to find the right fit. One thing fans will notice right away is that Nelson has a different philosophy than Jeff Blashill when it comes to the need for AHL tough guys. While Blashill was focused on skilled players and emphasizing the fast paced, high skill game the entire team played, Nelson is determined to have at least one prototypical AHL fighter on the team, saying "We don't want to go into a situation where guys are hearing footsteps. We want to make sure our guys can just play." That's why Triston Grant was brought back into the organization, and why Joel Rechlicz was signed to a PTO while Grant is out with an upper body injury.
Tyler Bertuzzi and Zach Nastasiuk start their first pro season after joining the Griffins in the playoffs last Spring. Robbie Russo enters his first pro season after leaving college, and Richard Nedomlel and Scott Czarnowczan will try to crack a very solid Griffins defense. Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, and Tomas Nosek all come into their second pro seasons healthy after each missing chunks of last season with injuries; Athanasiou with a broken jaw, Mantha with a broken leg, and Nosek with a severely cut hand. Looking at the point per game pace those three had last year, and anticipating each of them to be even better this season and hopefully play more games, they could kill it.
There are a half dozen players on the Griffins roster who are currently knocking on the Wings door, or will be next year and that makes for a stacked, deep AHL roster. Just look at that top 6 and D corps up above! This is going to be a very exciting season for the Griffins and they already look poised to be a dominant teamv.
It all starts tonight.