It’s amazing how quickly high hopes can come crashing back down to a bitter reality. The Manitoba Moose were humbled by the Iowa Wild in a pair of weekend games in Des Moines, losing 4-1 on Friday night and following it up with an 8-1 loss on Sunday afternoon.
Eric Comrie was the goaltender of record for the Moose in both games, allowing three goals on 26 shots on Friday and five goals on 29 shots on Sunday, before being pulled after the second period. Back-up goalie Ken Appleby didn’t fair any better, allowing three on thirteen shots. Mikhail Berdin is starting the year with the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL, who start their season on the 13th.
Comrie’s (lack of) control of rebounds appeared to be of particular issue, as a number of times his initial save flopped down in front of him, rather than being directed away. He currently sports a 4.87 GAA and a .855 save percentage.
The Moose defence that seemed to be a strength going into the season failed to materialize in the opening weekend. Sami Niku was on the ice for a bunch of goals against, Logan Stanley blocked a shot late in the game on Friday, left the ice in pain and didn’t play on Sunday, and Tucker Poolman...actually, he looked decent.
The Moose were outshot 27 to 22 in the first game, and 42 to 27 in the second. Their power play went 0-for-9 while their penalty kill allowed four goals on 10 chances.
Andrew Hammond, also known as the Hamburglar, stopped 47-of-49 shots on the weekend, and the likes of Mason Appleton, Seth Griffith and Michael Spacek continue to hunt for their first points of the year.
On the positive side of things, two rookies scored their first goals of the year. C.J. Suess and Kristian Reichel were the only Moose to find the back of the net.
One of the things that seemed to plague the Moose was a lack of chemistry. Mason Appleton looked dangerous every time he touched the puck, but was never on the same page as his linemates, who were Seth Griffith and Emile Poirier to start the first game, and Michael Spacek and Nicolas Kerdiles to start the second. Very few practices and no AHL pre-season games definitely didn’t help the preparation on that front.
The Moose return home for their next four games, starting with Rudolfs Balcers and the Belleville Senators on Friday at 7, with another game Saturday at 6. The Senators are 0-1-0-0 to start the year, following a 3-1 loss.