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Russo Named to 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Robbie Russo on Wednesday was named to the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities.

In his first pro campaign after a stellar four-year collegiate career at Notre Dame, Russo has tallied five goals and 34 assists (5-34—39) in 65 games for Grand Rapids, while posting a league-leading plus-47 rating that is tied for the highest mark by an AHL player since 1993.

Russo, who has been on the ice for only 28 even-strength goals by the opposition all season, has also contributed offensively, ranking third among AHL rookie defensemen and 11th among all league blueliners in scoring. His 39 points have established a new Griffins record for rookie defensemen while ranking eighth on the team’s all-time rookie scoring list. Russo’s 34 assists are already the most ever by a rookie defenseman, and he is just two shy of tying Gustav Nyquist’s record for assists by a first-year Griffin (36 in 2011-12).

Russo becomes just the third defenseman in franchise history to be named to the All-Rookie Team – joining current teammate Ryan Sproul (2013-14) and Brendan Smith (2010-11) – and the seventh Griffin overall to earn such accolades (Teemu Pulkkinen 2013-14, Gustav Nyquist 2011-12, Justin Abdelkader 2008-09, Jimmy Howard 2005-06). All six previous All-Rookie Team members from the Griffins have gone on to play at least one game in the NHL.

Highlights from Russo’s rookie campaign include: earning the AHL’s Player of the Week honors on Feb. 29 after tallying two goals, five assists (2-5—7) and a plus-8 rating in four games; setting a career high with four points (1-3—4) during a 7-2 victory against Manitoba on March 11; and recording a seven-game assist streak (Dec. 5-19) that fell one game shy of tying the club record.

A 23-year-old native of Westmont, Ill., Russo was originally a fourth-round draft pick (95th overall) by the New York Islanders in 2011 and signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings on Aug. 16, 2015.

Russo will receive a custom-designed crystal award in recognition of his selection to the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team.

The other members of the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team are: goaltender Juuse Saros (Milwaukee Admirals), defenseman Brandon Montour (San Diego Gulls), and forwards Austin Czarnik (Providence Bruins), Mikko Rantanen (San Antonio Rampage) and Frank Vatrano (Providence Bruins).

The playoff-bound Griffins have six games remaining in the regular season and will face off against the Chicago Wolves at Van Andel Arena on Friday at 7 p.m.

Fans can secure their full-season, select-season or group ticket packages by calling (616) 774-4585 ext. 2. Single-game tickets for all home games are now available for purchase at all Star Tickets locations, including The Zone, online through griffinshockey.com, or by phone through Star Tickets at (800) 585-3737.

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