Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 22

We're 22 weeks into the return of the Manitoba Moose to the province's capital, and today's Antler Banter might have the most Moose news since the team's return! Players have been sent down to the Moose, we have a few signings in Tulsa, and there's an actual team being put together for the new Moose's first season back in Winnipeg. Opening night is a week away and the Moose will set foot on MTS Centre ice on October 15 for their home opener. In other words, the AHL season is right around the corner, and we have lots to discuss in today's entry! Without further adieu, let's put hooves to ground and get this edition of Antler Banter rolling!

Moose Get Players

The Winnipeg Jets pared down their roster on Monday by sending fourteen players to Moose camp. Those fourteen had few surprises in the list as John Albert, Joel Armia, Eric Comrie, Patrice Cormier, Chase De Leo, Matt Fraser, Matt Halischuk, Brenden Kichton, Scott Kosmachuk, Jan Kostalek, Andrew MacWilliam, Julian Melchiori, Josh Morrissey, and Ryan Olsen were all sent down the hallway at MTS Centre to the Moose dressing room. They join Jimmy Lodge, Axel Blomqvist, Ben Walker, Austen Brassard, Brennan Serville, Aaron Harstad, Peter Stoykewych, and Jussi Olkinuora who had already been re-assigned to the Moose.

The Invitees

We already know that David Leggio is in Moose camp on a PTO, but there are eight other players who are attending camp on PTOs as well. They are Mathieu Brodeur, Jiri Fronk, Mathieu Gagnon, Brant Harris, Darren Kramer, Kellan Lain, Brendan O'Donnell, and Brock Trotter.

Trotter is an interesting case as he was always a thorn in the sides of the Moose players when he was with the Hamilton Bulldogs. He comes to the Moose after spending last season in the KHL with both Zagreb Medvescak and Dynamo Moscow. It will be interesting to see how Trotter does, but fans of the old Moose will certainly appreciate seeing him in Moose colours as opposed to the opposition's colours.

The Stopper

The Jets announced today that Connor Hellebuyck was re-assigned to the Moose. Hellebuyck had an outstanding season in the AHL last season, so getting him back is certainly good news for the Moose. Hellebuyck finished last season with a 28-22-5 record on a 2.58 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

He only saw action in two preseason games for the Jets, but there's no question that the Moose need some strong goaltending behind their young lineup. If Hellebuyck can recreate that same magic he had last season, expect him to be a fan favorite along the status as Cory Schneider and Johan Hedberg.

Tickets Please

The Moose announced that single-game tickets for all 38 home games go on sale on October 2. What they didn't tell everyone at the outset is that there's a price increase for single-game tickets which seems a little shady when you consider that those who bought mini-packs and season tickets sitting beside you kept more money in their pockets.

According to the Moose press release, "Single game tickets are priced at $25.50, $30.50, and $35.50, a total cost which includes all taxes and agency fees. Fans still currently have the opportunity to save $10.50 per ticket across all price categories by purchasing Full Season Seats and Mini Packs". While I appreciate the economics lesson from the Moose in terms of spending money to save money in buying season tickets and mini-packs, it appears that those who want to walk up and buy tickets because they have a night free to see the Moose had better bring some extra cash with them.

Tulsa Gets Deeper

On Wednesday, The Tulsa Oilers, ECHL affiliate of the Moose and Jets, announced today they had signed forwards Brandon Wong, Brian Nugent, and Igor Vladykovskii to contracts for the upcoming season. Wong and Nugent have previous ECHL experience on their resum├ęs while Vladykovskii comes to North America after having played for Dynamo St. Petersburg in the MHL, Russia's major junior league.

Wong played with the Evansville Icemen and the South Carolina Stingrays last season, tallying 20 goals and 33 assists in 69 games between the two teams before helping the Stingrays advance to the Kelly Cup Final where they lost in seven games. Nugent played 55 games with the Cincinnati Cyclones last season where he recorded 5 goals and 12 assists. Wong and Nugent actually grew up together in Vancouver, BC, so there's hope that they can find some chemistry with the Oilers this season. Vladykovskii played with the Springfield Jr. Blues in the North American Hockey League in 2013-14 where recorded three goals and two assists in 31 games. He was actually selected by the OHL's Erie Otters as a 19 year-old in the import draft, but opted to return home to Russia.

On Tuesday, the Oilers announced they had signed defenseman Sean Erickson and goaltender Andy Iles. Erickson has played the four seasons in Tulsa in the past and returned last season. In seven pro seasons, he's recorded 57 goals and 152 assists in 385 games and looks to be an offensive catalyst from the blue line. Iles spent last season with his bags packed as he spent time with the Alaska Aces, Florida Everblades, and Tulsa Oilers. He posted a 2.98 goals against average and a 15-6-2 record in 23 appearances with the Everblades last year before being acquired by Tulsa.

Training camp opened for the Moose on Tuesday at MTS IcePlex, so we're not far off for the AHL's return to Winnipeg. Personally, I'm thinking the Moose will have a solid season in front of ravenous fans, so get out and get your (price-increased) tickets on Friday for any of the 38 home dates the Moose play at MTS Centre!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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