One of the Detroit Red Wings’ offseason objectives was to make sure their Grand Rapids Griffins American Hockey League affiliate has the goaltending necessary to create a competitive environment for their top prospects.
Veteran Michael Hutchinson showed Friday the Red Wings are on the right track.
Hutchinson made 40 saves to help the Griffins win their season opener 3-2 over the Colorado Eagles. He will share the net with Red Wings first-round pick Sebastian Cossa. Last season, inconsistency in the net was an issue for the Griffins until Alex Nedeljkovic brought stability to the position.
The Red Wings have three veteran goalies in Detroit (Ville Husso, James Reimer and Alex Lyon). Although the Red Wings never said for sure, the original plan seemed to be Lyon playing in Grand Rapids as the No. 3 goalie. But the Red Wings were concerned that Lyon would be claimed when he went through waivers. That’s why they asked Hutchinson to sign a tryout contract.
The visiting Eagles led 2-1 after two periods, but Taro Hirose tied it for the Griffins just seven seconds into the third and scored the game-winner midway through the period.
— Grand Rapids Griffins (@griffinshockey) October 14, 2023
Colorado couldn’t take advantage of a slow start by the Griffins despite outshooting them 18-4 in the first period. Despite that, Austin Czarnik gave the Griffins a 1-0 lead at the 13:18 mark with assists from Hirose and Simon Edvinsson.
Griffins Rally in Third Period
Colorado took the lead on a power-play goal midway through the second period. Hirose tied it early in the third with assists from Albert Johansson and Czarnik. The Griffins then got the game-winner on the power play at 11:35 with assists from Jonatan Berggren and Elmer Soderblom.
The Griffins were outshot by the Eagles 42-25. Edvinsson had four shots to lead Grand Rapids. Hirose, Hutchinson and Czarnik were the three stars for the Griffins.
It was the first-ever meeting between the teams, who will play for the second time this season tonight in Grand Rapids. They’ll finish the season series with two games at Colorado next weekend.
This and That
Four of the five Swedish prospects (Edvinsson, Johansson, Berggren and Soderblom) got on the scoresheet for the Griffins. Only William Wallinder was held without a point. … It was Johansson’s 200th game for Grand Rapids, while Czarnik notched his 200th assist as a Griffin. … It was the first game for Grand Rapids coach Dan Watson and his coaching staff. It’s the first season in 20 years the Griffins have begun the season with an entirely new coaching staff.