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Farm Report: Moose Playoff Push Comes Up Just Short

One win ended up being the margin between the Manitoba Moose and a postseason berth.

Jonathan Kozub/Manitoba Moose

Manitoba Moose 2018-19
39-30-5-2 85 points (.559), 5th in Central Division, 9th Western Conference
Goals for per game: 2.59 (28th)
Goals against per game: 2.88 (10th)
Powerplay: 49-of-294, 16.7% (26th)
Penalty kill: 258-of-313, 82.4% (8th)

Top 3 Goals:
29 - Logan Shaw
16 - Seth Griffith
15 - Mason Appleton
15 - Jansen Harkins

Top 3 Assists:
41 - Seth Griffith
31 - Michael Spacek
23 - Cameron Schilling

Top 3 Points:
57 - Griffith
51 - Shaw
41 - Spacek

Eric Comrie - 25-16-4, .917 Sv %, 2.69 GAA, 2 shutouts
Mikhail Berdin - 12-8-3, .927 Sv %, 2.34 GAA, 2 shutouts
Ken Appleby - 2-6-0, .884 Sv %, 3.92 GAA, 1 shutout

It just wasn’t quite enough. The Manitoba Moose failed to secure an AHL playoff spot, despite a record of 28-14-3-2 since Christmas, when they sat in last place in the AHL.

The final nail in the coffin came on Saturday night playing against the Chicago Wolves, who had already clinched top spot in the Central Division. The Moose fell by a 4-2 score, making the 76th and final game of their schedule irrelevant. They won that one, but as I just said...irrelevant.

The Moose finished one win/two points shy of the post-season. While missing the playoffs is disappointing, it was still a remarkable turnaround for a team that was 11-16-3-0 and crawled back into it. Their home record was seventh best in the AHL, including those early season struggles. But road woes saw them sport the 24th best record when travelling. A power play and offence that refused to ignite was too much to overcome for strong goaltending and penalty killing.

In terms of individual efforts, there were some strong performances during the season. Eric Comrie and (more recently ) Mikhail Berdin played quite well in net, Tucker Poolman and Cameron Schilling were quite strong on defence, and Logan Shaw and Seth Griffith did most of the heavy lifting on offence.

In terms of how Winnipeg Jets prospects did, Griffith had 57 points in 69 games, while Shaw had 51 in 70 games split between Manitoba and San Diego. Griffith is a UFA this summer, while Shaw is an arbitration eligible RFA.

Michael Spacek finished the year with three more points than his 2017-18 total, finishing with 10 goals and 31 assists in 74 games. He recently turned 22, so there’s still time, but he did not take the step forward many expected or hoped for. Spacek has one more year remaining on his entry-level contract.

Mason Appleton got bounced around a bit between the Jets and the Moose, and finished the year with 32 points in 40 games, including eight in his final eight. The 23-year-old also has a year left on his ELC.

Injury and call-ups interrupted the season of Tucker Poolman, but when healthy he was usually one of the best players on the ice. He put up 25 points in 43 games, and was a steady presence defensively.

Cameron Schilling will turn 31 around about when the 2019-20 season will start, but proved both in the AHL and NHL (in four appearances) to be a capable defender. He put up 29 points in his second season with the Moose. he will be a UFA this summer.

Marko Dano put up 30 points in 51 games, and while eligible for arbitration as an RFA, his days with the Jets may be done.

C.J. Suess finished tied for eighth on the team in goals, and hasn’t played for months due to injury. The 25-year-old had five goals in his first six games, but failed to keep the pace up and last played on December 14th.

It took nine games for Logan Stanley to register his first point. While he had a few hot streaks throughout the year, his contributions on either end of the ice were not quite what you would expect from somebody picked in the 1st round of the NHL Entry Draft. Stanley finished with sixth goals, tied for the team lead among defenders, and 22 points (third among defenders behind Schilling and Poolman). The big defender played in 73 games.

Kristian Vesalainen showed flashes of brilliance, between periods of nothing. He had eight points in eight AHL games before leaving for the KHL, and had just five in 14 games upon his return. One of the more curious stats of his was the 31 shots in 22 games, despite frequently getting top six minutes and first power play unit time. He only turns 20 on June 1st, so there’s still a lot of time for development, but he was far from a world beater.

Skyler McKenzie had his first pro season cut short due to injury, after putting up 16 points in 47 games as he bounced in and out of the lineup, playing primarily on the third or fourth lines.

Finally, Johnathan Kovacevic played in the 76th game of the season, his first as a pro, and picked up a goal and an assist for a solid debut.

Last Five Game Scores (Outscored Opponents 15-13)

Saturday, April 6
1 Manitoba Moose vs
0 Stockton Heat

Moose Goal: Stoykewych (5), Griffith (16)
Goalie: Berdin 13/18, Appleby 15/16

Sunday, April 7
2 Manitoba Moose vs
6 Stockton Heat

Moose Goals: Griffith (15), Shaw (26), Appleton (12)
Goalie: Berdin 40/41

Friday, April 12
4 Manitoba Moose @
1 Grand Rapids Griffins

Moose Goals: Appleton (15), Harkins 2 (14), Stanley (6)
Goalie: Comrie 28/29

Saturday, April 13
2 Manitoba Moose @
4 Chicago Wolves

Moose Goals: Schilling (6), Shaw (28)
Goalie: Berdin 18/21

Sunday, April 14
6 Manitoba Moose @
2 Chicago Wolves

Moose Goals: Kovacevic (1), Spacek (10), Shaw (29), Nault (1), Harkins (15), Maier (1)
Goalie: Comrie 14/16