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The Monday Manitoba Moose Report

Catch up with all the latest Manitoba Moose news.

Kick start your week with the Monday Manitoba Moose Report, which fills you in on the latest news about the Jets AHL farm club.

Moose Week-in-Review

With the call-ups of Scott Kosmachuk and J.C Lipon, and injuries to Josh Morrissey, John Albert, and Thomas Raffl – who is out for the year – the Moose took a pounding this week, losing all 4 games.  The first series was at home against the Iowa Wild, where the Moose lost game one, 2-1 and then game two, 4-2. The best Moose performances came from Nic Petan – who scored in the second game, and was flying in both – and Eric Comrie, who started game 1, and entered game 2 in relief, stopping a total of 50 of the 52 shots he faced.

Petan with the puck

The Moose then took to the road on the weekend, and played one of the AHL’s powerhouses – the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit’s farm club). The Griffins rank second in the Western Conference, and third overall in the AHL, and with the Moose lineup depleted, they took full advantage, out-scoring Manitoba 12-3 in the two-game set. Connor Hellebuyck allowed 7 goals in a 7-2 loss on Friday, while Eric Comrie allowed four the next night, with the Moose losing 5-1. One bright note for the Moose is recent ECHL call-up, Dan DeSalvo, who now has a point in each of his first 3 AHL games.

Despite the team sitting in last place overall, with no shot at getting into the playoffs, there is no shortage of things to keep everyone motivated. The AHL being what it is – a developmental league which grooms future NHL’ers – players like Nic Petan, Chase De Leo, Connor Hellebuyck, and Eric Comrie are all pushing to get their opportunity in the NHL. Meanwhile, Austen Brassard, John Albert, Patrice Cormier, Julian Melchiori, Andrew MacWilliam, and Brenden Kichton are all in contract years, and are hoping to get lock down another contract, with as much *guaranteed money as possible.

*Most AHL players sign contracts with NHL teams, which pay them different amounts depending on whether they play in the NHL or the AHL. This is called a “two-way” contract. I.e, $65,000 AHL salary, $710,000 NHL salary. Veteran AHL players tend to get more guaranteed money, i.e, the AHL (base) salary is higher. Also, every NHL rookie signs an “entry-level” contract, which is automatically a two-way deal.

Kosmachuk Making his Mark with the Big Club

Scott Kosmachuk made an impact for the Jets in his third NHL game, with a primary assist on Adam Lowry’s game winning goal. Kosmachuk made a nice saucer pass over to Lowry, who sniped past Semeon Varlamov about halfway through the third to give the Jets their first third period comeback win of the season. Kosmachuk also made a nice foray into the offensive zone earlier in the game, showing glimpses of the speed and skill which has been on frequent display for the Moose over the past 20 games.

After a strong junior career, including a final season which saw him post 101 points with Guelph of the OHL, consistency has eluded Kosmachuk at the pro level. But in recent months, Kosmachuk has started to come on, scoring 8 goals in the past 20 games, and showing great chemistry with slick playmaker, Nic Petan. There’s no question that Kosmachuk has some of the skills needed to play at the next level – he has a great shot, soft hands, and nice creativity – but his challenge will be to gain the speed and strength, and improve his decision making with and without the puck. Keith McCambridge was asked earlier this season about which area Kosmachuk needed to work on most – he summed it up very simply: “puck management”.

NCAA Prospects Update

For a statistical update on all of the top prospects not playing with the Moose, check out last week’s post

Left winger, Kyle Connor had 4 goals in his last two games of the regular season, and sits at 30 goals and 61 points in just 34 games. Not only is he leading the NCAA in both goals and points, but he has a (slightly) higher points-per-game average than Jack Eichel did last season, giving him the best Freshman season in terms of points-per-game since Paul Kariya in 1993. His Michigan Wolverines are ranked 6th in the nation, and are the highest scoring team in all of US College hockey.

Connor also gave an interview this past week on Hustler and Lawless, and gave a very interesting answer when discussing the possibility of him turning pro this spring: “I’ll leave it in the hands of Winnipeg, and if they think I’m ready, then that’s a conversation that I’ll have with my parents and my family, and coach [Red] Berenson.”

Catch the full interview here (starting at 1:18:45)

Forward Jack Roslovic was named to the *NCHC All-Rookie Team after leading his team in scoring in his freshman year at the University of Miami (Ohio). Unfortunately his team did not qualify for the NCAA playoff elimination series, so his 2016 season is over. Roslovic should return to Miami next season, and may be an option for the 2017, US World Junior team.

(Note: The NCHC is but one division in US College hockey, which includes 8 North-Western teams, including the top ranked team in the nation, the University of North Dakota).

Winger Erik Foley scored a goal in his second last game, wrapping up a nice freshman season. Playing on a deep Providence squad, he had a slow start to the year statistically – managing just 3 points in his first 10 games. However, he finished the year in impressive fashion, with 8 points in his last 9 games. His team ranks fourth in the nation, and is looking to repeat as National Champions.

Goaltender Jamie Phillips won each of his games this past weekend for Michigan Tech, finishing up his senior season with a record of 23-7-5, a GAA of 2.00, and a save % of .921. His team will head into the post-season as an underdog, ranked 15th of the 16 teams.

Defenceman Tucker Poolman is finishing his Sophomore year at North Dakota with 22 points in 34 games. A big, rangy defenceman with a booming shot from the point, Poolman is old for a College Sophomore (he turns 23 this year), and as a result, many are speculating that he may turn pro after the NCAA playoffs. UND ranks first in the nation, and is hoping to challenge for a spot in the Frozen Four (final 4) tournament.