The Moose began their final homestand of the season with 4 games against teams firmly in playoff battles in the Western Conference. With the Chicago Wolves closing fast in the Central Division standings, these games would be crucial to try and clinch a division title for the first time in Moose 2.0 history.
The homestand began last Thursday against the Stockton Heat, top affiliate of the Calgary Flames. The Heat are in a battle with the Texas Stars for the 4th and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. The Moose were held off the scoresheet in the first period, but scored 3 unanswered goals in the 2nd period and never looked back, leading to a 4-1 win. Jan Kostalek scored his 4th goal of the year and 3rd in the last 6 games, JC Lipon picked up his 14th, Nic Petan added his 15th, and Buddy Robinson scored his team leading 25th goal of the year into an empty net to salt away the victory. Mason Appleton added 2 assists in the game, while Jamie Phillips allowed just 1 goal on 22 shots for the win.
Two nights later, the Moose looked to complete the four game season series sweep against the Heat. The Moose had won the first three matchups by a combined score of 12-3, but the fourth meeting would be different. Despite putting up 30 shots for a second straight night, Heat goalie and Flames prospect Jon Gillies stonewalled the Moose on this night, handing the Moose a 3-1 loss. Sami Niku scored his 14th of the season early in the 3rd period to give the Moose hope, but Gillies held firm the rest of the way. Jamie Phillips had a good performance at the other end, giving up just 2 goals on 33 shots, which would be good enough to win most nights.
On Monday, the Moose welcomed a potential first round playoff opponent in the Rockford Icehogs, top affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite outshooting the Icehogs and having 5 powerplay opportunities, the Moose were shut down offensively for a second consecutive game, this time by Blackhawks prospect Collin Delia in a 4-2 loss. Delia made 32 saves in the game, only being beaten by Mason Appleton (his 20th goal), and Jan Kostalek (his 5th). With his 20th goal of the season, Appleton became the first Moose 2.0 player to cross the 60-point plateau, and the first Moose player to do it since Jason Krog in 2008-09. Jamie Phillips struggled, giving up 4 goals on 29 shots in the loss.
The Moose looked to win the season series in the final head-to-head meeting on Wednesday night against the Icehogs. The Moose got off to a better start in this game, opening the scoring through Chase De Leo’s 11th goal of the season. However, 3 Icehogs goals in the final 9:22 of the first period turned the tide of the game, and Chris DiDomenico’s goal at 4:31 of the 2nd period would turn out to be the game winner in a 4-3 loss. Cam Schilling scored his 6th of the season late in the 2nd, and Brody Sutter added his 5th of the year late in the 3rd to make it interesting. The Moose bolstered their lineup with the return of Brendan Lemieux from injury, and Lemieux did not skip a beat with 2 assists in his return to the lineup. The Moose also got Michael Hutchinson back from the Jets, and he had a rough night, giving up 4 goals on 28 shots in his first AHL start since January 27th at Laval.
They Said It
“Obviously it’s tough when bounces aren’t going your way. I believe you create your own luck, and if you’re moving your feet and you’re working hard then usually the bounces go in your favour. I don’t think we had a great effort tonight, and I think that we’re fine, we gotta relax here. There’s time to turn things around going into playoffs.”
Moose forward Chase De Leo after Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to Rockford
News and Notes
- The Jets signed 2014 5th round pick CJ Seuss to an entry level contract on Sunday, and Seuss made his debut with the Moose on Wednesday night against Rockford. Seuss had a monster year with Minnesota State University – Mankato in the NCAA. In 40 games, Seuss scored 22 goals and 43 points, leading to him being named a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in NCAA Hockey.
- The Manitoba Moose Hockey Club announced this week that Darren Kramer is the team’s nominee for the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as the AHL Man of the Year. This award is selected by the individual teams for outstanding contributions to the local community and charitable organizations during the 2017-18 season.
- On Thursday, the Moose signed defenseman Justin Woods to a PTO. A native of Fairbanks, Alaska, the 24-year-old defenseman just completed his 4th season at the University of Alaska– Fairbanks, where as the captain of the team, Woods tallied 9 goals and 20 points in 36 games. Following the conclusion of his college season, Woods joined the Jacksonville Icemen, where he has 3 goals and 7 points in 8 games so far.
As of March 29th, 2018
The Playoff Race
Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot: 5
This week’s Schedule
CHI: 3/31 vs TEX, 4/3 vs MIL, 4/6 at IA, 4/7 vs MIL
MTB: 3/30 vs TOR, 3/31 vs TOR, 4/6 vs BAK, 4/8 vs BAK
GR: 3/30 vs SJ, 3/31 at MIL, 4/6 at TUC, 4/7 at TUC
RFD: 3/31 vs SJ, 4/4 at SA, 4/6 at TEX, 4/7 at TEX
IA: 3/30 vs TUC, 3/31 vs TUC, 4/3 vs CLE, 4/6 vs CHI, 4/8 at MIL
MIL: 3/30 vs TEX, 3/31 vs GR, 4/3 at CHI, 4/4 vs CLE, 4/7 at CHI, 4/8 vs IA
The Moose play their final 4 home games of the regular season over the next week. It starts with a pair against the league leading Toronto Marlies, tonight at 7:00 PM and tomorrow at 2:00 PM. Next weekend, the Moose finish the home calendar with a pair of games against the Bakersfield Condors, next Friday at 7:00 PM and next Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM. All four games are available at moosehockey.com, while all but tomorrow’s game against Toronto can be heard on TSN 1290 with Mitch Peacock doing the play-by-play.