📝 by Andrew Streitel | AHL On The Beat
Some players fly under the radar with their ability to pass the puck at a high level rather than light the lamp.
Taro Hirose is one of those players you may not notice on the ice scoring goals, but he has a massive impact on the success of the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Coming from Calgary, Alberta, Hirose found a new home in the state of Michigan after earning a scholarship at Michigan State University. Hirose blossomed under head coach Danton Cole and became the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year in 2018-19, in addition to being named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and earning a spot on the First All-American Team.
“It was one of those seasons when you get into a rhythm. I was playing with some really good players in [Patrick] Khodorenko and [Mitchell] Lewandowski, and as a line we were really clicking,” explained Hirose. “It was special to play with those guys and all the guys on that team were fun to be around and play with. The atmosphere was great for us and that led to everything else.”
Hirose’s play during his junior season at Michigan State turned some heads in the professional world, including that of former Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. Detroit signed Hirose after the 2018-19 collegiate season and he made his NHL debut a week later in Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers, collecting an assist in the process.
It may have been a precursor to his career, as the left winger went on to record a helper in each of his first five NHL games.
“I met with a couple teams, but Detroit really seemed that they wanted me and wanted me to play in the NHL right away. So, that was an option I really could not pass up,” said Hirose. “It was definitely a whirlwind; you are taking tests, going to classes, and then all of a sudden you are traveling to New York to play at Madison Square Garden. That was a crazy week after college, but it was a good experience for me.”
Hirose finished his busy 2018-19 campaign with seven points in 10 outings with the Red Wings and 50 points in 36 games at MSU, which ranked first in the NCAA. From that point on, Hirose became an important piece to Detroit’s organization and found a home in Grand Rapids with the Griffins.
Hirose has had at least 22 assists in each AHL season in his career and has ranked in the top three for assists on the Griffins roster in all four campaigns. This season, the 26-year-old places first on the team with…
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