With hockey pucks clanking off the boards and hockey players skating around, the Grand Rapids Griffins were starting practice as the first snow of the season blanketed the ground outside.
In the first session of practice, a much more casual portion, the Griffins were working on skating drills and passing. Four players and two coaches gathered around the center-ice circle at Griff’s IceHouse and worked on one-time passes, passing by touching the puck just one time.
Brian Lashoff’s first experience as a Grand Rapids Griffin was taking in a game from the seats at Van Andel Arena in 2008. Back then just an 18-year-old, wide-eyed kid out of Albany, New York.
Lashoff had just been signed by the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent and assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. In checking out the Griffins as they played against the Toronto Marlies, Lashoff could see the passion the city had for its American Hockey League team.
Wednesday games for the Grand Rapids Griffins aren’t usually well-attended, unless the team is playing stellar hockey, in the playoffs, or if an NHL star is on a rehab stint.
No, Wednesday’s game between the Griffins and Rockford IceHogs at Van Andel Arena wasn’t a sellout. An average crowd for Wednesdays, some say. A solid attendance number of 6,474 was reported by the team as the Griffins fell to the IceHogs, 5-1, in a Central Division matchup in the American Hockey League.