March 3, 2018 – Manitoba Moose vs. Iowa Wild
The Moose took on Minnesota’s farm club, the Iowa Wild at Bell-MTS Place. With the Moose going 3-5-2 in their last ten, and strong runs from the Toronto Marlies and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Moose have dropped to 3rd overall in the AHL, though they still hold down 1st in the Central Division, and the Western Conference. But with Nic Petan and Tucker Poolman back with the Moose, and all the goaltenders in the organization healthy, the club was looking to re-establish themselves as the top dog in the AHL. Steve Mason – down on a conditioning stint following his 2nd concussion this season – got the start in goal for the Moose.
The Moose came out strong in this game, out-shooting the Wild 9-1 in the first half of the period, and getting on the board twice. Michael Spacek scored his team-leading 8th powerplay goal of the season on his patented one-timer from the point to get the Moose on the board. Just one minute later, Brendan Lemieux picked up a loose puck near the Wild blueline, drove the net and cut across the crease on the backhand before sliding the puck home. The Moose easily killed off penalties to Kirill Gotovets and Nic Petan in the latter half of the first, and took a two-goal lead into the second.
The Moose got an early powerplay in the second, and while they weren’t able to score, they showed how just how dangerous they can be. The best chances came from the unit of Petan-Cormier-Appleton up front, and Spacek and Poolman on the point. In comparison to their parent club, Petan worked as the quarterback on the right half-wall (ala Blake Wheeler), Appleton camped out in the slot (Scheifele), with Cormier down low (Stastny, most recently), Poolman, the right point (Byfuglien), and Michael Spacek – the triggerman at the left point (Laine). The Wild managed to get on the board 6 minutes into the second – after Steve Mason saved a one-timer from the point, the rebound came to Wild forward Pat Cannone, and he swiped at the puck just enough to slide it past Mason. However, immediately following the Wild goal, the Moose gained possession in the Iowa end and Tucker Poolman made a nice play, escaping his defender and driving down low before spotting Michael Spacek in his office at the left faceoff dot, where he buried to restore the Moose 2-goal lead. A few minutes later, the Moose scored a beautiful short-handed goal through some fine work by the penalty killing tandem of J.C Lipon and Cam MacLise – MacLise put the puck off the boards to Lipon to create a fast break, MacLise then broke to the net and Lipon fed him a perfect pass back-door which MacLise tapped in past Niklas Svedberg to extend the Moose lead to 3. Shots after the second period were 23-10 Moose.
The Wild opened the third period on the powerplay – a remnant of a 2nd period slashing call on Nic Petan – and scored just 29 seconds into the 3rd when a Zach Mitchell shot through traffic beat Steve Mason to the blocker side. The Wild then went right back to the powerplay after Petan took a tripping minor, but the Moose were able to kill it off. The Wild managed to get within 1 when Cal O’Reilly got open in front of the net and roofed a quick wrister high glove. Halfway through the period the Wild completed the comeback, when a favourable bounce put the puck on the stick of Sam Anas at the side of the net, and he quickly popped the puck upstairs to tie things up at 4.
Overtime was a see-saw affair, as it normally is in 3-on-3 play. Mason Appleton and Nic Petan had a great chances at one end, while the Wild countered with two good shots from the slot. Chase De Leo had two fantastic chances, getting in behind the Wild defence and trying to slide a backhander low on both occassions. He drew a penalty on the second chance and the Moose had 1:53 of 4-on-3. After a minute of the powerplay, it became a 5-on-3 advantage after Patrice Cormier took a high-stick in the face. With just 9 seconds left in the game, a Brendan Lemieux one-timer through traffic bulged twine to give the Moose a 5-4 win.
Game Notes & Other News
-Steve Mason looked very composed early in this game, not facing a lot of shots but moving efficiently in his crease. He allowed three goals in the third period to allow Iowa to tie the game, though you couldn’t blame him on any particular goal. He was solid in OT to keep the Wild at bay.
-Brendan Lemieux scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season, giving him 10 goals in his last 10 games. He scored early in the first, and then ended this game in OT on a rocket of a one-timer. He has continually shown an ability to drive wide on defenders this season and cut to the net for great scoring chances, just like the one he scored on tonight. He also kept his nose clean, staying out of the box tonight.
-Tucker Poolman played one of his best games for the Moose tonight. He played in every situation and was noticeable on the penalty kill, breaking up plays with his stick, and involved in the offence with 2 assists, including a nice play in the offensive zone to set up Spacek for the 3rd Moose goal.
-Michael Spacek scored his 8th powerplay goal of the season using his patented one-timer from the left point. He’s almost Laine-like from that spot, as nearly all 8 (if not all 8) of his powerplay goals have come from a roughly 15-foot area on exactly the same type of shot – a low one-timer on the blocker side. Considering he was billed as more of a patient, playmaking forward – which he also has the skill and vision to be – his productivity on the powerplay has been eye-opening.
-Sami Niku had a few dangerous sequences, creating chances as usual with his speed and some elusive puck handling. There simply aren’t many players at this level who can contain him once he gets moving, and he only needs a handful of steps to get up to full speed. He’s playing big minutes at even-strength and on the powerplay, and has no trouble containing AHL forwards down low in the defensive zone. The question that remains is whether he has the strength to do so at the NHL level.
-Nic Petan made a lot happen offensively, creating chances with his speed, vision and puck handling. He also took three minor penalties, helping the Wild narrow the score, and had a few sequences where he held onto the puck a bit too long instead of making the simple play. That’s something he can usually get away with at this level, but there’s less room for error at the next level.
-Mason Appleton had a quiet game tonight. He had at least one good from the slot on the powerplay, but wasn’t able to get a great shot off, and ultimately didn’t create much offence in tonight’s game. He continues to lead the Moose in scoring with 51 points in 57 games, and recently set the team record for rookie scoring.
G Steve Mason
D Tucker Poolman
C Michael Spacek
Coach Pascal Vincent
Next Game Action
March 4th at Bell-MTS Place vs. the Iowa Wild at 2 pm.