March 28, 2018 – Manitoba Moose vs. Rockford Ice Hogs
Following the team’s 4-2 loss to the Ice Hogs on Monday night, the Moose received good news on the injury front with the returns of Nic Petan and Brendan Lemieux. They also were given a top-flight goaltender, as the Jets re-assigned Michael Hutchinson, along with an injection of youth, signing 24-year-old NCAA standout, C.J Suess. (A 5th round pick in the 2014 draft). Michael Hutchinson got the start in goal as the 39-21-8 Moose looked to snap a two-game losing streak.
The first half of the first period was uneventful, until just under 9 minutes in – the Moose generated good pressure in the Hogs’ end and Chase De Leo deflected a a point shot in the slot which fooled Jeff Glass and gave the home side a 1-0 lead. But only minutes later, following a Brody Sutter puck-over-glass penalty, Ice Hogs defenceman, Adam Clendening wristed a point shot which got through traffic and hit the cross bar; the referee immediately signaled no-goal, but Tyler Sikura was johnny on the spot and banged home the rebound to tie things at 1. Late in the first, the Hogs established pressure in the Moose zone and scored a very strange goal – the puck was centred to the slot, and the puck bounced off the stick of a falling Tanner Kero, went just over Hutchinson’s head, and then fell onto his back and squirted over the line. Then, under a minute later, star AHL defender, Adam Clendening jumped into the rush, came in 2-on-1, and beat Hutchinson on a slap shot blocker side. The visitors were a better team throughout the period, out-shooting the Moose 16-7, and taking a 3-1 lead to the first intermission.
The second period started off similar to the first – a bit disjointed – that was until the Hogs put together their fourth goal of the game. The visitors broke in 3-on-2 and spread the defence out, with the left defender Schilling committing wide to his left and leaving an attacking forward wide open in the slot; the Ice Hogs’ forward – Chris Didomenico – came right down main street and sniped high blocker on Hutchinson. 4-1 Ice Hogs. The Moose didn’t put up much of a fight initially, with just 9 shots though the first 30 minutes of play, but it’s tough to generate any offence when you’re taking penalties, and they took three in the second period alone. The attack finally came to life late in the second, when Brendan Lemieux found Cam Schilling in the slot, and Schilling buried high blocker side to get the Moose within 2. The second period ended with shots at 6-5 for the Moose.
Early in the third, the Ice Hogs looked to pad their lead, hitting the post on a nice backhand shot from the slot – the 3rd time in this game that Hutchinson was beaten blocker side. The puck barely stayed out, and the Moose stayed within two. They almost got within a goal when Michael Spacek spotted Peter Stoykewych streaking to the net, and he deflected Spacek’s pass off the right pad of Glass and just out. Buddy Robinson took a roughing penalty halfway through the third, and after the Moose killed it off, he came out of the box like a house on fire, almost getting a breakaway, then recovering the puck in the slot and just missing the net wide. The Moose continued to press, and with 3:05 left in the third, Brody Sutter picked up a rebound off a Brendan Lemieux shot and beat Glass to make it a 4-3 game. With about a minute left, Mason Appleton came down the right wing with speed and cut to the net unchallenged; he tried to beat Glass 5-hole, but was turned away. That’s as close as the Moose would get, as they weren’t able to establish in the offensive zone in the final minute of play.
Official game sheet link
Game Notes & Other News
-Despite the returns of Petan & Lemieux, the Moose are still missing a few key players up the middle in captain Patrice Cormier, top-6 centre Mike Sgarbossa, and of course, star centre Jack Roslovic (Jets). This would normally be an opportunity for young centre Jansen Harkins to move up in the lineup, but he’s also sidelined due to mono
-With the Moose down by two goals after the first, the coach changed his defensive pairings, putting Niku and Schilling together to help generate offence. Initially, the play backfired, as the pair had a defensive breakdown 5 minutes into the second, allowing the 4th goal, but Schilling got that goal back late in the second.
-C.J Suess – pronounced “cease” – played his first pro game following a 4-year career at Minnesota State University – Mankato where he amassed 127 points in 157 games, including 22 goals and 21 assists in 40 games this past season. He played 4th line minutes in his debut, demonstrating good speed and tenacity on the forecheck, as well as the backcheck. He didn’t have a lot of time with the puck on his stick, but in a few instances, he appeared sure-handed, and was able to make good decisions with any hesitation. He had a nice deflection in the slot in the second which almost gave him his first AHL goal, along with a chance at a rebound early in the third which he wasn’t able to get a handle on. Overall, a strong debut.
-Brendan Lemieux was the most dangerous Moose forward tonight. He created a great chance in the second with a nice burst of speed off the faceoff, circling to the left faceoff dot and ripping a shot off the cross-bar. He then assisted on the Schilling goal to make it 4-2, and the Sutter goal which made it 4-3.
-Following a mediocre showing on Monday night, Sami Niku had another rough game tonight, as he was on the ice for two of the three even strength goals against, and didn’t generate the type of offence that we’ve become accustomed to. He did get an assist on the Schilling goal, but it was a secondary assist.
-The talented line of Appleton, Petan and Spacek were non-factors for the first 40 minutes of this game, but began to create a number of chances in the third period. Petan was the main creator, weaving through the neutral zone and creating space for the others, but Spacek also showed off his creative instincts in creating chances for Stoykewych and Appleton.
– The Moose had been a top the central division for 133 straight days according to AHL PR but have slipped to 2nd with the Wolves passing them this evening.
“If you turn pucks over, what you’re really doing is back skating yourself.” – #MBMoose Head Coach Pascal Vincent talked about the little mistakes that cost his team the against the IceHogs #GoMooseGo
— Manitoba Moose (@ManitobaMoose) March 29, 2018
Next Game Action
March 30th at Bell-MTS Place, versus the Toronto Marlies.