In a jam-packed weekend of junior and semi-pro hockey, the Grand Rapids Griffins undoubtedly came out as winners.
The team was able to overcome its early-season woes and string together a three-game winning streak heading into weekend tilts against quality opponents in the Rockford Ice Hogs (NHL affiliate:Chicago) and the Peoria Rivermen (NHL affiliate: St. Louis). The team won on the road in Houston and then against the Texas Stars. The team had a rare Wednesday matinee game and defeated the Milwaukee Admirals (NHL affiliate: Nashville).
The Detroit Red Wings' best prospects also put up a successful effort this weekend. Some are struggling to find a rhythm, while others are continuing to contribute for their respective teams.
Here is a quick look at some of the team's best prospects:
Tomas Tatar, Left Wing/Grand Rapids Griffins: Much hype has been surrounding Gustav Nyquist and his torrid start to the season. Yet left wing Tomas Tatar has quietly provided a scoring attack alongside Nyquist. Tatar added an assist in Wednesday's 4-2 matinee game against the Milwaukee Admirals. He also chipped in with two assists in Saturday's win against the Texas Stars.
It's most certainly encouraging seeing the production out of Tatar, a prospect who is expecting to once and for all crack an NHL lineup after four years in GR.
Phillipe Hudon, Right Wing/Victoriaville Tigres: If you are looking for a gritty two-way forward who isn't afraid to drop the gloves, Phillipe Hudon might be your player. Drafted 145th overall in 2011, Hudon has been a vital piece on both sides of the ice for Victoriaville this season. Through 16 games, Hudon has three goals and four assists.
This past weekend, he added a goal but also dropped the gloves on Friday against Julien Leduc of Val D'Or Foreurs. Watching this late-round draft pick develop could mean huge things for the Red Wings.
Tomas Jurco, Right Wing/Grand Rapids Griffins: In his first season of AHL hockey, the transition has not been as smooth as expected for Jurco. Yes, we're only 11 games into the season and he only has a goal and an assist, but there is little panic that has set in. Jurco went pointless this weekend, but still promises to dazzle fans with his shootout moves and also his quick wrist shot. It will take some time for this prospect to settle in to his new home.
Jurco will get a huge test this weekend from Rockford and Peoria.
Teemu Pulkkinen, Right Wing/Jokerit Helsinki (Finland): Much was expected of Teemu Pulkkinen offensively when he came back to play for Jokerit in the SM-liiga of Finland. Unfortunately for Teemu, he has not been able to find a groove on the ice. Jokerit has signed many NHL players like Erik Karlsson, Valtteri Filppula, and Jarkko Ruutu due to the NHL lockout.
So far in 18 games, Teemu only has two goals and three assists. Like the case with Jurco, Pulkkinen will need a few more games to really get back to offensive prowess.
Joakim Andersson, Center/Grand Rapids Griffins: As the No. 2 center behind Nyquist, Joakim Andersson has developed his game in terms of offense during the 2012-2013 season. He tacked on a goal and three assists during the four-game stretch this weekend. He now has eight points in 11 games and hopes to carry on with that momentum for the rest of the season.
Brendan Smith, Defenseman/Grand Rapids Griffins: The pressure has never been greater on Brendan Smith to become the successor on the blue line to Nicklas Lidstrom. And so far, he has been able to show some consistency. So far, he has had five points in 11 games. Though the points aren't where many expected, Smith has played a very well-rounded defensive effort and is clearly the leader on the young and untested Griffins back end.
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