The Manitoba Moose opened up the home portion of the 2018-19 season last weekend with a pair of games against the Belleville Senators, the top affiliate of the Ottawa Senators. After losing their first two games of the season by a combined score of 12-2 in Iowa, the Moose were hoping that returning home would allow them to pick up their first win of the season.
On Friday, the Moose would pick up their first win of the year, with a 2-1 win. 2018 AHL All-Star Mason Appleton scored the game winning goal on a third period powerplay, while newcomer Seth Griffith scored his first goal of the season and added one assist. After a rough opening weekend in Iowa, Eric Comrie picked up his first win of the season, stopping 30 of 31 shots in the victory. The Moose penalty kill, which struggled on the opening weekend of the season, responded well by going a perfect 6/6 on the kill.
On Saturday, the Moose looked to complete the sweep of the weekend series, but their performance looked more like the opening weekend. A dominant performance by Belleville led to a 6-2 loss. CJ Suess scored both goals for the Moose on the night, running his total to 3 in the first 4 games of the season. Making his first start in Manitoba, goalie Ken Appleby gave up 6 goals on 34 shots. However, Appleby did not get much help from the team in front of him, as 3 of the 6 goals were either deflections or odd-man chances in front of the Moose net. Top prospect goalie Filip Gustavsson, acquired from Pittsburgh in the Derick Brassard trade, stopped 33 of 35 shots for his first win of the year for Belleville.
CJ Suess, a 2014 5th round pick by the Jets, has gotten off to a flying start for the Moose. After appearing in 6 regular season and 3 playoff games last season, Suess (formerly CJ Franklin) has recorded 3 goals in his first 4 games of this season, needing just 7 shots to score those 3 goals. Last season, Suess was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in NCAA hockey, recording 22 goals and 43 points in 40 games for Minnesota State Mankato. His shooting percentage this year may not be sustainable, but Suess has been the best player for the Moose in the early going, and has all the makings of another late round steal for the Jets.
“Tonight we were forcing plays. We were a bit late in our coverage, not running our routes. Part of it is understanding the system. Once you start doing it once, or twice, or three times, we should move to the next level and the next step. We’ll go back to the foundation, and it’s running our routes, the simple ones, and staying on the puck.”
Moose coach Pascal Vincent after Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Belleville
15-3: The combined score for opponents against the Moose in the 2nd and 3rd periods through 4 games. Their -12 goal differential is the worst in the league, and only 2 teams (San Diego and Grand Rapids) have scored fewer 3rd period goals than Manitoba’s 2.
Standings as of October 18, 5:30 PM
The Moose finish a four game homestand with a pair of games this weekend against the San Antonio Rampage (top affiliate of the St Louis Blues). Tonight’s game goes at 7:00 PM and can be heard on TSN 1290, while Sunday’s game goes at 2:00 PM and can be heard on moosehockey.com.