The Manitoba Moose finished a 4 game homestand leading into the Christmas break with a 2-game series against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Moose were looking to snap both a 3-game home losing streak and a 3-game losing streak overall.
On Friday, the game started slowly, as both teams seemed to be feeling each other out in the early going. The Griffins would open the scoring, as former 1st round pick Matt Puempel scored his 13th of the season to give Grand Rapids a 1-0 lead. Before the end of the 1st, the Moose would even the game. Felix Girard would make a beautiful pass from behind the Griffins net out to Austin Carroll, who put home his 1st goal as a Moose to tie the score after 1. After a scoreless second period where Eric Comrie kept his team in the game, the Griffins would open the floodgates in the 3rd, scoring 3 time in 2:13. The goals were scored by Dominic Turgeon (his 3rd), Matt Ford (his 6th), and Chris Terry (his league leading 19th). The Moose peppered Griffins goalie Harri Sateri with 18 shots in the 3rd, but could not get close, suffering a 4-1 loss. Eric Comrie started for the Moose, giving up 4 goals on 28 shots in the loss. His record at the Christmas break is 8-9-1, with a 3.14 GAA, and a .908 SV%
On Saturday, the Moose got off to a slower start. After sputtering through an early powerplay, the Moose would concede the opening goal of the game on a powerplay, with Chris Terry scoring his league leading 20th goal of the season on a snapshot to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead. The Moose settled down through the middle of the 1st, but then conceded a second goal with just under 5 minutes to go in the period. Tyler Spezia would walk in on the right side of the Moose zone and let a wrist shot go from just above the faceoff circle that beat Moose starter Ken Appleby to give Grand Rapids a 2-0 lead after 20. The second period would come and go with no scoring. In the 3rd period, the Griffins would extend the lead on the powerplay when Axel Holmstrom scored his 7th of the year to give the Griffins a 3-0 lead. The Moose would put on a push after that goal trying to avoid the shutout. They would finally crack the scoreboard with about 5 minutes to go in the game. Sami Niku would make a beautiful play inside the Griffins blue line, before setting up Peter Stoykewych for his 3rd goal of the season to make it interesting, but that is as close as the Moose would get, suffering a 3-1 loss for their 5th consecutive loss going into the Christmas break.
Michael Spacek, a 4th round pick in 2015, is following up a solid rookie season with another solid season. After putting up 17 goals and 38 points in his rookie season, Spacek has followed that up with 18 points, including 15 assists in 27 games this season. That puts him on pace for 47 points this season. After shooting 15.3% last season, Spacek has a shooting % of just 6.8% so far this season. A regression to the mean should mean an uptick of goals in the second half of the season, which would be fantastic news for a Moose team dying for more scoring.
“Well, yes. The timing is right. We need to reset. We need to evaluate what we have done, all of us, and see what we can improve for after Christmas break. Some guys are supposed to be producing a bit more offensively so, we’re going to take some time to reset, reevaluate and go from there.”
Moose Head Coach Pascal Vincent on the value of the holiday break
This Week’s Key Numbers
3 – The number of goals Peter Stoykewych has scored this season, which leads all Moose defensemen. In comparison, last season Sami Niku lead the Moose defense corps in goals with 16 in 76 games.
1-14-1 – Manitoba’s record when giving up the game’s opening goal this season.
Standings as of December 30, 9:00 AM
The Moose take on the Colorado Eagles for the first time at Bell MTS Place this weekend. This afternoon’s game is a 2:00 PM start, while tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve game is a 4:00 PM start. From there, the Moose head on the road to take on San Antonio on Wednesday, and Texas on Friday and Saturday. All games can be heard on moosehockey.com, or watched with a subscription to AHL TV.