American Hockey League

Griffith taking his best shots

The best advice often comes courtesy of a phone call from Wallaceburg, Ont., right-winger Seth Griffith’s hometown.

It’s his dad, Brian, who watches all of his games online. His father’s mantra is usually the same, imploring his 27-year-old son to be more of a scorer and less of a distributer.

“I still get heck from my dad all the time to shoot the puck,” says Griffith with a grin. “And people here, too.”

Prior to his seventh season as a pro, Griffifth, who joined the Moose a season ago, decided to take the suggestions to heart and worked diligently to improve his strength and shot.

Bumping his shots per game average from 1.72 per game in his first season with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose to 1.78 per game so far in 2019-20 has been modest, but the real boon has come with his shooting percentage — jumping from 13.4 to a 27.3 per cent success rate at mid-season, which would be a career best.

“Whoever he plays with, he’s been successful,” says Moose head coach Pascal Vincent. “Everybody wants to score goals and everybody wants to be used on the power play — to produce consistently that’s a lot of pressure on the player. You need to have real good reads and real good skills in order to do that consistently. Our power play is in the top 10, he’s on a line that’s consistently producing, these are the expectations on him and he’s been consistent in that regard.”

Griffith’s production, with 18 goals and 32 points in 37 games to lead the Moose entering Monday’s home date with the Belleville Senators, has him on pace to challenge a career best of 24 goals and 77 points in 57 games established in 2015-16 with the Providence Bruins.

“I’m definitely shooting more,” says Griffith, who has spent the bulk of the season developing a nice chemistry with linemates C.J. Suess and Andrei Chibisov. “That’s one of the things that I’ve lacked in the last few years, passing up opportunities to shoot the puck. It’s never a bad thing when you shoot the puck.”

So far, Griffith’s outstanding year hasn’t resulted in a callup to the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. While Moose teammates Suess, Logan Shaw, Joona Luoto, Michael Spacek, Mason Appleton and Jansen Harkins have enjoyed time or are currently with the big club, Griffith hasn’t had a sniff of a promotion. But he isn’t complaining.

“It’s tough sometimes, but at the same time you’ve gotta know your position down here,” said Griffith, who has 79 NHL games on his resume but hasn’t played above the AHL level since suiting up for the Buffalo Sabres on March 17, 2018.

“I’m a top-six forward in this league and essentially, if a top-six forward goes down up there, that’s when my opportunity’s gonna come. Everybody works hard, everybody’s deserving of a call-up. At the end of the day, I still want to play in the NHL — that’s my end goal — I’m just trying to work hard every day to achieve that.”

Griffith understands his 5-9, 193-pound frame isn’t well-suited to a bottom-six role with the Jets.

“If I’m playing on a third or fourth line in the NHL, I’m not effective,” said Griffith. “That’s the difference between up there and down here, right? I can do things down here that I can get away with but when you get called up and are expected to play on the third or fourth line, it’s a totally different game for me.”

Vincent puts Griffith in a class with foundation players such as Shaw and goaltender Eric Comrie.

“Those kind of guys — they’re so low maintainence and they’re always positive,” says Vincent. “It’s about today and he’s got this maturity in how he approaches this whole thing. I’m here today, I’m going to give my best, (they are) real good teammates… What he does really well is he knows when he doesn’t play well. He’s got some quiet confidence… When he’s not happy, you know it but it’s always respectful. But to his credit, he’s been really positive and never once has he talked about, ‘Hey, when’s my chance?'”

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

Read full biography

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