With the Winnipeg Jets calling up Tucker Poolman, and bringing Eric Comrie along for a European vacation, two of best players on the Manitoba Moose were out of the lineup this past weekend when they played the Milwaukee Admirals followed by the Rockford Icehogs.
Luke Green made his season debut for Manitoba, while Logan Stanley took Poolman’s spot on the top defensive pairing, with Sami Niku sliding over to the right side. Michael Spacek returned to the lineup after missing last weekend’s games with a family matter back home in the Czech Republic.
Ken Appleby got the start in goal on Saturday in Milwaukee, and was tested early and often in the contest.
Milwaukee put up 17 shots compared to Manitoba’s eight in the first period, and opened the scoring when Matt Donovan blasted a one-timed slap shot from the slot 4:05 into the game. Just less than two minutes later, the Admirals extended their lead to two when Donovan slid a backdoor pass to Emil Pettersson, who was able to elude Logan Stanley’s stick check to make it 2-0, which is how it was after the first period. The Moose took four minor penalties during the frame, but managed to kill off all four chances.
The Admirals increased their lead in the second, when Jarred Tinordi skated behind the Moose net and found Jeremy Gregoire in the slot, who one timed a shot past Appleby 8:48 into the second. Milwaukee outshot Manitoba 14 to nine in the second.
The Moose ended the shutout bid of Admiral goalie Tim McCollum 1:59 into the third, when Felipe Girard won a faceoff, Skyler McKenzie swooped in to grab the puck and immediately shot. The big body of Ryan White provided a screen that meant McCollum never saw the puck until it was already in. The Admirals regained their three goal cushion on a goal very similar to the third goal they scored, with Eeli Tolvanen skating behind the net before passing out to a trailing Anthony Richard for a one-timer in the slot, as Milwaukee took advantage of a sloppy Manitoba line change.
With more than four minutes to go in the third, Moose head coach Pascal Vincent rolled the dice and pulled Appleby for the extra attacker. However, nothing came of it on either side, and the game finished 4-1 for Milwaukee. The shots at the end of the game were 41 for Milwaukee to 24 for the Moose. Milwaukee was 0-for-5 on the power play while manitoba was 0-for-4.
The next day, the Moose travelled to take on the Rockford Icehogs. Mikhail Berdin got his first AHL start in this one. Dennis Everberg returned to the lineup after missing a game due to injury.
The goaltending was the story throughout much of this contest, with berdin and counterpart Collin Delia doing their best to negate chances from both sides. Each side had a power play in the first period, but nothing came of the opportunities and it was scoreless after one with 13 shots a piece.
The Moose broke the goose egg a little over halfway through the game, with a terrific forecheck as Skyler McKenzie and Felipe Girard chased down a long stretch pass from captain Pete Stoykewych to negate an icing, with Girard getting the puck to McKenzie behind the net, who then found a trailing Tye McGinn in the slot to open the scoring.
Before the period was out, Cameron Schilling got caught on a pinch, resulting in a two-on-one, with Niku back, and Kristian Vesalainen in chase. Tyler Sikura chose to shoot, which Berdin kicked straight to Andrew Campbell, who scored despite Vesalainen’s efforts.
The game stayed even throughout regulation and into overtime. The biggest chance of the extra frame came when Gustav Forsling took a penalty for water skiing Everberg. The Moose may not have even had a shot on the power play, despite constant possession, and the game was settled in a shootout. Rockford elected to shoot first.
Rockford - Victor Ejdsell - Saved
Manitoba - Mason Appleton - Saved
Rockford - Anthony Louis - Saved
Manitoba -Seth Griffith - Goal (nice slow approach, deking around a poke check and backhanding the puck in)
Rockford - Dylan Sikura - Saved
Moose win! Mikhail Berdin stopped 35 of 36 shots, plus all three shootout attempts to win in his AHL debut.
The Moose currently sit at 4-4-0-0 on the year.
I don’t like the plus/minus stat very much, as it can be quite deceptive, but Sami Niku is sitting at -6 this year. Only 19 other players of the 816 players to have seen ice in the AHL this year have a worse number than that. Niku has three assists and no goals in eight games, and it is not surprising the the Jets elected to call up Poolman over him.
Mason Appleton’s four-game point scoring streak came to an end on Saturday, despite eight shots on goal in the two games. He’ll get a chance to start a new streak tonight, when the Moose once again visit Milwaukee as they search for redemption. Game starts at 7:00 pm CDT, and you can listen to it on TSN1290 or watch on AHLTV.