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Farm Report: The Iceman Cometh

Fresh off of a call-up from the ECHL, Mikhail Berdin performed very well in his AHL stint.

Manitoba Moose goalie Mikhail Berdin during game action on Friday, November 2, 2018 against the Chicago Wolves.
Jonathan Kozub/Manitoba Moose

Manitoba Moose 2018-19
6-5-0-0 12 points, 5th in Central Division
Goals for per game: 2.45 (28th)
Goals against per game: 3.36 (15th)
Powerplay: 7-of-43, 16.3% (21st)
Penalty kill: 40-of-52, 76.9% (21st)

Top 3 Goals:
6 - Mason Appleton
6 - C.J. Suess
4 - Seth Griffith

Top 3 Assists:
5 - Appleton
5 - Griffith
5 - Cameron Schilling

Top 3 Points:
11 - Appleton
9 - Griffith
7 - Suess

Since the last Farm Report, the Manitoba Moose went 2-1-0, beating the Milwaukee Admirals on the road before splitting a pair of home games against the Chicago Wolves.

The Moose have struggled to find the back of the net this year, as depth scoring has been non-existent. Mason Appleton and C.J. Suess lead the team with six goals each, and Seth Griffith has four. But after that, only J.C. Lipon (2) has more than one, with eight others sitting on a lone tally this year, as the Moose sit 28th in goals for per game. In eight of their 11 games so far, the Moose have scored two or fewer goals.

Luckily for the Moose, they have received good goaltending from Eric Comrie, and more recently Mikhail Berdin. With Comrie off with the Winnipeg Jets for the Global Series, Berdin was called up from the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen to step between the pipes. Berdin played in three games before being returned to the Icemen yesterday, posting a 3-0-0 record with a 1.92 goals against average and a .941 save percentage, and has yet to lose a game since turning pro, with a 3-0-0 record, 1.98 GAA and .934 save percentage with Jacksonville.

Kristian Vesalainen of the Manitoba Moose skates against the San Antonio Rampage on October 19, 2018 at Bell MTS Place.
Jonathan Kozub/Manitoba Moose

Kristian Vesalainen has missed the last three games recovering from an upper-body injury picked up on October 28th against Rockford, but reports indicate he’ll be good to go by Thursday’s game against the Grand Rapid Griffins.

Logan Stanley has been playing on the top defensive pairing for the last five games since Tucker Poolman was called up. Stanley still awaits his first pro point eight games into his career.

Sami Niku slid over to the right side of the top pairing after Poolman left. Niku was a healthy scratch on Saturday because of a violation of team rules. This came on the heels of one of the better goals I’ve seen this year.

While this goal highlights Niku’s offensive capabilities, his defensive game still needs work, even at the AHL level. When Poolman got the call over Niku to go with the Jets to Finland, it was likely due to Poolman’s sound defensive play this year.

The Moose play a pair of games against the Grand Rapids Griffins this week, first on Thursday and then on Saturday before heading out on a four game road trip.

Game Recaps
Tuesday, October 30
Moose 2-1 (OT) Milwaukee Admirals

Sami Niku opened the scoring about halfway through the game with the terrific goal that made all the highlight reels. A few minutes later, Nicholas Baptiste responds for Milwaukee and the game stays that way until overtime.

In the extra frame, the three-man line of Appleton, Michael Spacek and Niku put on a show. After a near miss from Spacek, the trio retreated advanced to rear (aka the neutral zone). Niku dropped the puck off to Appleton, who flew into the Griffins zone on the right wing, circling behind the net and then back out to the point, before cycling down low again, feigning a shot and passing back to Niku at the point. Niku then skated down low before backhanding a pass off the boards behind the net to Appleton on the left half-wall. Appleton then skated to the left point where he dropped the pass for Spacek. Spacek brought the puck into the left (when facing the net) circle, faked a shot, bringing all three Griffins players into a small triangle in the slot, looking at Spacek. In the meantime, Appleton has moved into the opposite circle, wide open. Spacek switches to backhand and fires off a pass that catches all four Griffins, including goalie Tom McCollum who had committed to a shot, off-guard. Appleton one-times the offering into the yawning cage to win it.

Mikhail Berdin stopped 29 of 30 shots faced.

Friday, November 2
Moose 5-4 Chicago Wolves

A rare five-spot from the Moose was led by Seth Griffith with a goal and three helpers, along with Luke Green scoring his first goal as a pro. Michael Spacek also picked up his first goal of the season in this one, as the Moose opened up a 5-2 lead in the third period, only for it to erode to a one goal margin before the final horn sounded.

Berdin stopped 32 of 36.

Friday, November 3
Moose 1-4 Chicago Wolves

Again, the Wolves scored four times, but this time the Moose responded with only one of their own. Oscar Dansk stopped 29 of 30 for Chicago, while Ken Appleby allowed four on 28 shots for Manitoba. Seth Griffith had the lone goal for the home team.