Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 47

We're starting to see the Winnipeg Jets call on their farm club to provide some seasoned kids to fill out a lineup in the NHL with both the NHL and AHL seasons winding down. Neither Winnipeg-based club will be participating in a post-season, so these call-ups by the Jets are a preview of what they have down on the farm. If someone makes an impact like Joel Armia did earlier this season, the Moose can pride themselves on getting another kid into the NHL. If a player is returned, it's a chance for that player to use what he learned in the NHL and work on aspects of his game in the AHL. There are a couple of weeks left in the NHL season, so everyone is looking to leave a good impact on the NHL club before summer hits!

The Games

It's all about the shutouts this week. Like your local Tim Hortons, there are all sorts of doughnuts on display this week.

Friday night saw the Moose visit Quicken Loans Arena for a game against the Lake Erie Monsters. After having been stomped by the Grand Rapids Griffins a week earlier, the Moose needed a strong game against the Monsters. Dan DeSalvo got the Moose started in the right way when he scored 6:23 into the game. Brenden Kichton scored late in the second period to put the Moose up 2-0. Darren Kramer and Julian Melchiori added goals in the third period, and Connor Hellebuyck was perfect on this night as the Moose downed the Monsters by a 4-0 score. Hellebuyck made 36 saves in the shutout win while Joonas Korpisalo, fresh off being returned by the Columbus Blue Jackets, was responsible for three goals on 22 shots. With the victory, the Moose improve to 19-35-4-5 on the campaign!

Saturday night's game was entirely the opposite as the Monsters and Moose met up again. Alex Broadhurst scored late in the period on a power-play to give the home squad a 1-0 lead. Josh Anderson, Mark Cundari, and Broadhurst added second period goals as the Monsters took a commanding 4-0 lead through 40 minutes. Lukas Sedlak would add a fifth goal midway through the third period, and the Monsters handed the Moose a shutout loss with the 5-0 score. Anton Forsberg picked up the win on a 19-save effort while Eric Comrie allowed five goals on 40 shots. Yikes. The Moose fall to 19-36-4-5 after the loss.

The Moose returned home on Monday to host the Stockton Heat. All the scoring came in the middle frame as Brenden Kichton book-ended goals around a Darren Kramer marker. Those three goals would be more than enough, though, as Connor Hellebuyck pitched back-to-back shutouts in the 3-0 win. Hellebuyck stopped all 23 shots he faced while Kevin Poulin took the loss after making 28 stops. The Moose hit the 20-win mark with the victory as they improve to 20-36-4-5!

Wednesday saw the second game of the two-game set against the Heat take place at MTS Centre. Jake Baker, whose skill and ability I've been touting for the last couple of weeks, scored his first AHL goal on the power-play midway through the first period to put the Moose up 1-0. Darren Kramer, who has been on fire lately, added a second goal and John Albert also scored in the second period as the Moose jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Cue the comeback, though, as Mitchell Heard and Kenny Agostino scored 1:27 apart to make it a 3-2 game! The Moose would lock things down in the final ten minutes as they protected the 3-2 victory! Connor Hellebuyck made 19 saves in the win while Kevin Poulin suffered his second-straight loss. If you're keeping track at home, Connor Hellebuyck's shutout streak lasted for 169:34! With the win, the Moose improve to 21-36-4-5!

Coming And Going

After the Jake Baker sign-release-sign-release-sign saga, let's hope the Moose can find a little stability on the roster in the last two weeks of the season.

On Thursday, the Jets recalled forward Nic Petan to the big club. Petan has adjusted well to life in the AHL where he's picked up nine goals and 23 assists in 47 games after the Jets returned him earlier in the season. They'll expect the same energy and scoring in his second stint with the Jets this season.

The Moose also returned defenceman Julian Melchiori to the Moose on Thursday. Melchiori only played against Vancouver in his recall, so he'll be expected to pick up where he left off with the Moose. In 62 games, the hard-nosed defender has three goals and four assists.

Sunday saw Chase De Leo get the call from the Jets. De Leo leads the Moose in scoring with 33 points on the strength of 16 goals and 17 assists, and he'll be expected to bring the scoring to the Jets lineup. It will be his first appearance in the regular season for De Leo, so this will be a big moment for him!

To make up for Petan and De Leo playing in the NHL, the Moose recalled Ben Walker from the ECHL's Tulsa Oilers. Walker has seven goals and four assists in 26 games with the Oilers, and he'll be needed to do some scoring with a large portion of the Moose offence in the NHL. He has no points in four AHL games with the Moose this season thus far.

On Tuesday, the Moose recalled Julian Melchiori after revealing that Toby Enstrom will finish the season on the sidelines after having knee surgery done. Here's hoping Melchiori can have a big impact in these last few games and really give the Jets something to think about for next season.

And to cover all of their bases, the Moose announced a pair of signings today. They brought in Justin Breton on a PTO. Breton played in 63 games with the ECHL's Alaska Aces this season, recording 22 goals and 16 assists. He's a second-year pro after spending last season on the Alaska roster where he had ten goals and ten assists in 50 games. If he can score goals at the AHL level, he'll be a valuable addition to this Moose roster.

The Moose also signed defenceman Tyson Wilson to an amateur tryout contract. Wilson spent the last five years at Robert Morris University where he served as captain in the last season. In 38 games this year, he picked up a pair of goals and 25 assists. In 145 NCAA games, Wilson has 11 goals and 69 assists to his name. If he can generate a little offence from the blue line, the Moose may have found an excellent undrafted defenceman!

Up Next

The Moose will welcome the Charlotte Checkers to town on the weekend. The Moose are 2-3-1 against their Central Division foes, and trail the Checkers by 22 points in the standings. In other words, the Moose get a chance to play spoiler this weekend while looking to jump ahead of the Iowa Wild as the cellar dwellers in the AHL. Charlotte is trying to hunt down the Lake Erie Monsters in the standings, and a win or two against the North Carolina AHL club would make things a lot harder for them to make the playoffs!

There are only a few more editions of Antler Banter to go as the AHL season comes to a close in a couple of weeks. See you next week for more Manitoba Moose recaps and news!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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