Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 41

The Moose left California behind after going winless in eight tries in the Golden State. They got knocked around by a couple of teams, but managed to pick up three points after dropping games in overtime and the shootout. Unfortunately, those three points didn't save the Moose from the bottom of the standings as they now sit 30th out of 30 teams in the American Hockey League. Things can't get any lower for the Moose in theory, but the Toronto Marlies and Texas Stars were heading to Winnipeg for a pair of two-game sets. The Moose would have to find ways to grab points if they hoped to climb out of the cellar in the AHL, but it would be a tough task against the best team in the AHL and the second-best team in the Pacific Division.

Toronto Is Good

The highest scoring team pulled no punches on February 4 as the Marlies beat up on the lowly Moose. TJ Brennan scored on the power-play at 7:54 of the first period before the floodgates opened in the second period. Mark Arcobello scored at 4:18, Nikita Soshnikov made it 3-0 at 11:11, Arcobello added his 20th of the season at 12:57, and Kasperi Kapanen put Toronto up 5-0 as the Marlies held a commanding lead through two periods of play.

Nic Petan and Jiri Fronk would beat Antoine Bibeau to make it 5-2, but the Moose would give up a shorthanded empty-netter to Zach Hyman at 18:40 to give Toronto the 6-2 victory. Bibeau made 23 stops in the win while Eric Comrie lasted just 32:57 after surrendering four goals on 21 shots. Jussi Olkinuora stopped seven of eight shots in his relief. The Moose fall to 11-26-3-4 on the season after this loss.

Manitoba Shows Up

After a day off, these two teams would meet again at MTS Centre on February 6 and this game had a much different feel to it. Toronto would lead 2-1 after the first period, but Manitoba would rally after trailing 3-1 in the second to make it a 3-3 game after 40 minutes. The two teams would trade a pair of goals in the third period to send this game to overtime tied at 5-5. Manitoba earned its first point against Toronto this season, and they would take the second point after Nic Petan beat Garret Sparks at 4:10 to give the Moose the 6-5 overtime victory! Eric Comrie stopped 38 shots in the win while Sparks took the overtime loss. With the victory, the Moose move to 12-26-3-4 on the season. It should be noted that JC Lipon had a five-point night in the victory as well!

Penalties Cost Moose

The Texas Stars rolled into town on February 9, and it appeared that the Moose were in line for their second two-game win streak of the season until late in the third period. With the Moose up 2-1, Josh Morrissey was whistled for tripping at 17:01 for tripping. A late power-play shouldn't cause too much concern, but Patrice Cormier fired the puck over the glass in the Moose zone at 17:21 and the Moose found themselves killing a 5-on-3. Ten seconds after Cormier sat down, Brett Ritchie scored to even the game at 2-2. And with 47 seconds to play and eight seconds left on Cormier's penalty, Jason Dickinson found the back of the net to make it a 3-2 Stars game. They would play out the last minute with no changes as the Texas Stars snatched two points from the jaws of defeat thanks to the Moose hanging out in the sin bin. Maxime Lagace stopped 27 shots in the win while Eric Comrie deserved better after making 30 saves. The loss sets the Moose back with a 12-27-3-4 record.

Tulsa Time

Brennan Serville was returned to the ECHL's Tulsa Oilers on Tuesday. He has played in three games with the Moose, picking up four penalty minutes. The 22 year-old would be better served playing in the ECHL rather than sitting in the press box, and it appears the Moose agree with that assessment.

The Next Week

The Moose have a return date with the Texas Stars tonight after giving the game away on Tuesday. There's hope that they'll play a little smarter tonight and actually earn the victory, but the Stars are a quality team. The Moose will have to be ready to go at puck drop if they hope to capture the points up for grabs tonight.

From there, it's a pair of weekend afternoon games against the Chicago Wolves who have kicked the hell out of the Moose all season as well. If Manitoba can take a game off the Marlies, they can do the same to the Wolves, but there are no shortcuts. They need to be ready and they need to be prepared to bleed and sacrifice if they want to beat these veteran-laden teams. It'll be two tough games against the Wolves, but the Moose have to believe in themselves first.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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