Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 18

The Moose chatter is back for another week, and we have an actual Manitoba Moose story to talk about on Antler Banter this week! For a team that keeps its cards as close to its chest as possible, it's nice to get a snippet of news once in a while. It's getting to be a quieter time in hockey with teams finalizing rosters and setting themselves up for training camps and rookie camps, but there are still a few stories coming out the American Hockey League to give us a full roundup here on Antler Banter. There was a re-signing, a retirement, a ridiculous goal scored by a former Moose player, and a few free agent signings. We're off and running through all of these stories on today's edition of Antler Banter!

Another Netminder

The Winnipeg Jets announced that free agent goaltender David Leggio has been given a professional tryout contract with the team for the upcoming training camp. Leggio played 28 AHL games last season with Bridgeport and Portland with the majority of those games spent in Bridgeport. He posted an 8-15-1 record with a 3.17 GAA and an .885 save percentage. Not quite the numbers that Leggio has posted in previous AHL seasons, but the goaltender has a pile of experience and will probably be looking at grabbing one of the spots with the Moose.

And that leads to a major quandary. The IceCaps saw Connor Hellebuyck grab the starter's role last season in his breakout campaign as he was named to the AHL All-Star Game behind a non-playoff team. Hellebuyck will definitely be with the Moose this season after another strong showing at the IIHF World Championships last season. The Moose also were expecting Eric Comrie to push for a spot with the Moose after having another successful season in the WHL. Comrie was rewarded with a position on Canada's World Junior team last season after his hard work, and the Moose and Jets expect him to continue to improve.

There's a third player who has already been signed - Jussi Olkinuora. Olkinuora signed early with the Moose, and there was hope that the big Finnish goaltender could push Comrie for time in the blue paint in Manitoba. He had an outstanding season with the ECHL's Ontario Reign last year, going 27-9-6 in 43 appearances with a 2.41 GAA and a .916 save percentage.

So why bring in Leggio if there's already competition? Would Leggio accept a goaltending position with Tulsa in the ECHL? I'm thinking he'd probably make the leap to Europe if he didn't make the AHL squad in Winnipeg. Or does Winnipeg want to have Leggio as Hellebuyck's backup while relegating Comrie to the Tulsa Oilers for more playing time? If so, what happens with Olkinuora who was making good progress in his career at the ECHL level?

Pushing younger goalies down the depth chart isn't really a good developmental plan, and the Moose have said they were focusing on development this season. I'm not sure that bringing Leggio in to compete for a job helps Comrie or Olkinuora at this point. If Leggio rediscovers his form that made him dangerous in Rochester and Hershey, though, no one will complain about have two elite AHL goalies.

Walking Away

Veteran defenceman Drew Bagnall is hanging up the skates in retirement. The eight-year pro announced on Monday to Democrat & Chronicle’s Kevin Oklobzija that he's "looking for a big-boy job in the real world" after spending time in Manchester, Houston, and Rochester in the AHL and two games with the Minnesota Wild in the NHL. The Oakbank, Manitoba product was a warrior on the ice, captaining his St. Lawrence University team in the ECAC, the Monarchs in the 2009-10 season, the Aeros in the 2012-13 season, and the Americans the past two seasons.

Goaltender Mike McKenna hit Twitter with a funny Bagnall story upon hearing that he was retiring.
The 31 year-old Bagnall found new responsibilities this summer as well. His son was born May 13, 2015, so he'll be changing diapers and up for midnight feedings! Shoulder injuries have slowed the old-school defender, and it appears that he's not going to let them ruin his future. Congratulations, Drew Bagnall, on a fantastic career, and best of luck as you look for that "big-boy job in the real world"! Might there be an appearance on The Hockey Show in the future?

Colby Geno-WOW

Antler Banter always likes to throw in Manitoba mentions and blasts from the past, and today is no exception. Morden, Manitoba's Colby Genoway played the MJHL's Winkler Flyers, the University of North Dakota, and the Manitoba Moose as he made his way from the amateur ranks into the professional hockey world. Having watch Colby play, I can certainly say that he was always a solid scoring threat and had great hands to compliment his smooth skating.

Genoway played in Switzerland the last few years and has landed in Medvescak Zagreb in the KHL this season. Tuesday night saw Medvescak Zagreb and Metallurg Novokuznetsk tied through regulation so it was off to the shootout to decide the game. And that's where Colby Genoway lit up the highlight reel.
That Datsyuk-ian move is ridiculous! Goaltender Filip Novotný has little chance to make the stop once he pushed to his left, but Genoway made it look way too easy. The funny thing is that there's a back story to this goal. Jeff Veillette of The Faceoff Circle writes, "Novokuznetsk starter Andrei Kareyev took an unfortunate shot to the face late in overtime, meaning that the team had to switch goalies in anticipation for the shootout. Genoway’s goal certainly warmed him up, though he probably brought him down a few notches at the same time."

Yeah, I'd say being on the receiving end of a filthy goal like that would bring anyone down a few notches. Congratulations to Colby Genoway on catching the world's attention with that incredible game-winning and shootout-winning goal!

Rosie's Back

The AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms announced on Monday that they had re-signed veteran forward Jay Rosehill to a one-year deal. Rosehill returns after a five-goal, seven-assist, 219-penalty-minute season for another season with the Flyers' affiliate.

The eleven-year veteran has played 117 NHL games with the Maple Leafs and Flyers in the NHL and 425 AHL games with Lehigh Valley, Norfolk, Toronto and Springfield. The rugged winger won't bring much scoring to the table, but he's an aggressive checking forward who isn't afraid to lay the body on someone along the boards. Expect Rosehill to be a leader on the ice for the Phantoms this season.

Dowell Returns

Veteran forward Jake Dowell is returning to his roots for this upcoming season. The former Chicago Blackhawks draft pick was signed by the Rockford IceHogs on Monday to a one-year deal. The 30 year-old had five goals and ten assists in 76 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs last season after spending time in Iowa in the previous two seasons where he was named the 2013-14 recipient of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.

Dowell has been around the AHL, skating in 381 games with Norfolk, Rockford previously, Houston, Iowa and Hamilton. He also has 157 NHL games under his belt with Chicago, Dallas, and Minnesota. The winger solidifies the IceHogs' lineup with a veteran presence who can score timely goals and provide quality leadership.

California Dreaming

While there haven't been any teams specifically pushing outdoor games yet, the AHL has announced that there will officially be an outdoor game this year in Sacramento. Yes, that's California. On December 18, the Bakersfield Condors and Stockton Heat will meet at Raley Field in West Sacramento for their regular season AHL tilt.

"This event will be a special showcase for our Pacific Division in its inaugural season," said David Andrews, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer. "We look forward to this celebration of hockey outdoors and to sharing the experience with the terrific hockey fans in Northern California."

Hey, it worked in Los Angeles and San Jose. Why not Sacramento too?

So there are the AHL stories from this past week. Do you agree with the Jets' move in bringing in Leggio? How do you see the depth chart playing out with Leggio in the mix? All of these questions will be answered by October, but let's hear your thoughts in the comments!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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