The Manitoba Moose finished a 4 game Central Division homestand with a rematch of last year’s playoffs this past weekend against the Grand Rapids Griffins. With both teams starting to heat up after slow starts and the Central Division tightening up, points against a division rival are always critical, and these 4 would be no exception.
On Thursday, the Moose got off to a decent start, thanks in large part to Eric Comrie, who made 13 saves in the opening stanza. After Comrie spent most of the 1st keeping the Moose in the game, the Moose would take the lead late in the period. Logan Stanley took a pass from JC Lipon and hammered it past Griffins starter Patrik Rybar for his 1st professional goal. In the 2nd, the Moose picked up where they left off, until they ended up shorthanded just under 8 minutes into the period. On that powerplay, 2016 2nd round pick Filip Hronek scored his 1st of the season on a point shot that beat Comrie to tie the game at 1. The score would remain tied until the midway point of the 3rd. A bouncing puck in the Moose zone would find the stick of Chris Terry, who knocked it past Comrie in the Moose net to give the Griffins a 2-1 lead. Just over 3 minutes later, Terry would feed former 1st round pick Matt Puempel, who would rip a shot past the Moose netminder to make it 3-1. Coach Pascal Vincent would pull Comrie very early to try and close the gap, but Terry would complete a 3-point period with an empty netter to lead Grand Rapids to a 4-1 win. Comrie was a bright spot for the Moose, making 35 saves in a losing effort.
On Saturday, the Moose turned back the clock, wearing jerseys from the 2008-2011 Moose to take on their archrivals. In the 1st period, the Moose, despite getting outshot 15-12, dominated the period on the scoreboard. Skyler McKenzie would open the scoring just over 6 minutes into the period, taking a nice pass from Felix Girard and beating Griffins starter Harri Sateri to give the Moose the lead. They would extend the lead just over 6 minutes later. Off a Griffins turnover, the puck found Kristian Veselainen in the slot, who ripped a shot past Sateri to give the Moose a 2-0 lead. Just 42 seconds later, Jansen Harkins would make it 3-0 off a nice passing play from JC Lipon and Seth Griffith. That score would hold until late in the 2nd period, when the Moose 3rd line would connect, with Alexis D’Aoust scoring his 1st AHL goal from Poirier and Spacek to make it 4-0 Manitoba after 2. After Chris Terry scored his 3rd goal of the weekend early in the 3rd to give the Griffins some life, the Moose would retake a 4-goal lead on a strange goal. The puck would find Mason Appleton below the goal line, and he would throw the puck on net, finding a way to beat Sateri for his team leading 7th of the year. Just over 3 minutes later, Appleton and Veselainen would connect again, leading to Veselainen’s 2nd goal of the night, making it 6-1 Manitoba. The Griffins would get one back late in the 3rd, but the Moose rolled to a 6-2 win. Eric Comrie was a star in this game, stopping 38 of 40 shots for the win.
Mason Appleton, a 6th round pick in 2015, continues to have a great sophomore season in the AHL. Appleton had 1 goal and 2 assists this weekend, and now has 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in his last 8 games. In 89 AHL games, Appleton now has 80 points (29 goals, 51 assists), and looks like he will be another late round gem for the Jets.
“I thought everyone played well from the net out, [Comrie] obviously made some big saves to preserve that lead and we were able to capitalize on our chances.”
Moose captain Peter Stoykewych on the team play in Saturday’s win.
This Week’s Key Numbers
30 – The number of saves goalie Eric Comrie has made in 5 straight starts. Comrie has a .923 SV%, good for 4th in the AHL, and has gone 4-1 in those 5 starts. He also became the 1st goalie in Moose/IceCaps franchise history to make 4000 career saves.
-35 – Manitoba’s shot differential in the 1st period this season (132-167). That has them tied with Ontario for last in the AHL. Only Ontario and San Diego give up more shots per game than the Moose this season.
Standings as of November 12, 9:00 PM
The Moose head out on a 4 game Central Division road trip this week. The trip starts this morning in San Antonio (10:30 AM CST, TSN 1290), before the Moose head to Austin on Wednesday to face the Stars (7:00 PM, moosehockey.com). From there, the Moose head North to Grand Rapids for a rematch with the Griffins on Saturday (6:00 PM, TSN 1290), before the road trip ends with a game in Chicago against the Wolves on Sunday (3:00 PM, moosehockey.com). All games can be watched with a web subscription on AHL.TV.