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Moose pull off late comeback to down Griffins and take a 1-0 series edge

Recap of game 1.

April 21, 2018 – Manitoba Moose vs. Grand Rapids Griffins

In game 1 of their first round playoff series, the Manitoba Moose took on the Grand Rapids Griffins in a matinee affair at Bell-MTS Place. While the Griffins finished only one point ahead of the Moose in the season, the Moose lost the season series, going 2-5-1. The Griffins also have the added distinction of being the defending Calder Cup Champions. On a positive note, the Moose were finally getting healthy, and at just the right time, with top-6 forwards Nic Petan and Patrice Cormier just recently returned from concussions. They also got good news on their blueline, as the Jets’ playoff series win over Minnesota meant that the AHL’s top defenceman, Sami Niku, was available for today’s game. With Michael Hutchinson on emergency recall due to Steve Mason’s latest injury, there was no doubt as to who would start in goal, as Eric Comrie led the Moose onto the ice.


2-De Leo-Sgarbossa-Robinson



Game Recap

First Period

The game got off to a slow start for the Moose, with most of  the action taking place in their end. Things only got worse when Peter Stoykewych took an interference penalty halfway through the period, but the Moose managed to kill it off based on the strong play of Eric Comrie. Far from gaining momentum following the kill, the Griffins continued to pour it on, completely dominating through the first 14 minutes of play, outshooting the Moose 16-2. They finally broke Comrie Off a faceoff, as the Griffins’ top scorer, Ben Street, picked up a puck in the slot off a blocked shot, moved to his left around a screen and beat a surprised Comrie blocker side to put the Griffins up 1-0. For their part, the Moose had just two good chances in the first – both two-on-ones, but in each case, the puck carrier (Lipon and De Leo) wasn’t able to find the open man. The Griffins out-shot the Moose 20-8 in the period, with Eric Comrie the only reason that the Moose were still in the game.

Second Period

The Moose came out stronger in the second – they immediately had a good scoring chance, as defenceman Jan Kostalek jumped into the rush and took a dangerous shot from the slot. Later on, Mike Sgarbossa had a tremendous scoring chance, as he picked up a puck right in front of the net, deked to his left and seemed to have the goaltender beaten, but he just missed the net wide. Moose winger Francis Beauvillier took a boarding penalty to put the Moose shorthanded, but they managed to kill it off easily, as the captain, Patrice Cormier came through on a few faceoff wins, and Comrie remained solid. Despite good pressure in the Griffins’ zone, and a territorial advantage – shots in the second were 16-8 for the Moose – the Griffins held a 1-0 lead after the two periods.

Third Period

The Moose continued to apply pressure on the Griffins, and they finally caught a break when a Jan Kostalek one-timer from the point beat Tom McCollum, tying the game at 1, and giving the Moose life. But with 7:19 left in the third, Turner Elson quieted the crowd, as he took the puck to the bottom of the circle, and from a seemingly bad angle, beat Comrie on a shot that just snuck under the cross-bar. But the Moose responded immediately, as just 31 seconds later, a Cam Schilling point shot bounced off a Griffins defender to knot the score at 2. (Initially the goal was credited to Sgarbossa, but it was later recredited). After a bad giveaway by Cam Schilling in the Griffins zone, the visitors came in 3-on-2, and Matt Ford undressed Jan Kostalek to get in all alone; Ford tried to beat Comrie low glove, but the Moose goaltender quickly flashed the leather to deny him. The Moose got a late powerplay, and with just 1:09 left in the game, Michael Spacek took a back-door, cross-ice feed from Nic Petan and buried a one-timer off the left post to give the Moose a 3-2 lead.

Spacek game winner 9

Photo Credit: Dave Mahussier

The Moose held it together in the final moment and took game 1 of this best of 5 series, 3-2.

Scoring Summary

Official game sheet

Game Notes & Other News

-While they experienced a lot of injuries late in the season, the Moose iced a nearly healthy roster today, with the exception of veteran defenceman, Julian Melchiori, who continues to be out with a concussion.  He did, somewhat unexpectedly, take the pre-game skate with his teammates.

-Eric Comrie was unquestionably the star of today’s game, coming up with one of his best performances of the season to backstop the Moose to victory. He made a few highlight reel saves, including one early in the game with his right pad, and the key glove save late in the third.

-Michael Spacek continues to be they key ingredient on the Moose powerplay, as his one-timer on the left side of the ice won this game with just 1:09 to play. He tied for the team lead in powerplay goals during the season with 10 (along with Sami Niku).

-The Moose take an 1-0 lead in this best-of-5 series, with another home game tomorrow, followed by up to three games in Grand Rapids.

Post-game interviews

Eric Comrie

Cameron Schilling

Coach Vincent

Next Playoff Action

April 22nd at Bell-MTS Place at 2 pm.