Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 28

The Moose spent last week in the American midwest where they picked up their first win of the season against their former IHL rivals in the Milwaukee Admirals. After a pair of games in Chicago where the Wolves took both games, the Moose were off to play another Central Division opponent in the Charlotte Checkers in their remodeled and somewhat-new Bojangles Coliseum. Being that this was the first home game of the season for the Checkers, the Moose were looking to ruin the weekend with a pair of wins as they tried to climb back up the standings into relevance. The Moose spent the weekend in North Carolina hunting for wins, so let's see how the Herd made out on this southeastern road trip!

Game 10 - At Charlotte

The Moose, sitting at 1-6-1-1 on the season, certainly needed to fare better against their own division if they want to make a push for the Calder Cup Playoffs. The first period went scoreless, but there were chances at both ends as the Checkers outshot the Moose 9-6 in the opening frame. Both Connor Hellebuyck and former Moose netminder Drew MacIntyre were perfect through 20 minutes.

As a side note, the Checkers wore their black alternate jerseys which feature the bear in the logo holding a storm flag in its mouth. That's not what caught my attention, though, despite me hating this black look that the Carolina franchise has for every team under their control. What did catch my attention was the number worn by Drew MacIntyre for the Checkers. MacIntyre wore #35 in the past for the Checkers, but he's wearing #22 this season! Has any other goaltender in the history of the game worn #22? I don't believe so, so good on MacIntyre for having a little bit of fun with his number!

Anyway, onto the second period where the Moose finally broke the deadlock. With a puck loose in the slot area in front of MacIntyre, Jiri Fronk teed a puck up and fired it high over the net as MacIntyre came out to cut off the angle. The puck fell behind the net where Chase De Leo fed an open Austin Brassard who beat a scrambling MacIntyre for his second goal of the season at 18:07 to give the Moose the 1-0 lead.

The Moose would double their lead in the third period when Soctt Kosmachuk blocked a Tyler Ganly point shot and he was off to the races as Ganly couldn't recover in time. Kosmachuk faked forehand before pulling it to the back to get MacIntyre to open up, and he slid the puck between the Charlotte netminder's legs for his first goal of the season and the 2-0 lead at 10:56. The Moose would ice the game at 18:17 when JC Lipon would fire the puck 200-feet into the open net while shorthanded, and the Moose won the first game in the renovated Bojangles Coliseum by a 3-0 tally. Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for the shutout and the win while MacIntyre suffered the loss against his former club. The Moose improve to 2-6-1-1 with the victory.

Game 11 - At Charlotte

Less than 24 hours later, these two teams would meet again in the afternoon at Bojangles Coliseum. Manitoba would find themselves in a hole early thanks to some penalty trouble. With MacWilliam and Olsen both sitting for cross-checking, the Checkers found themselves on a 5-on-3 advantage and they would make the Moose pay. The Checkers would throw the puck around on the power-play before Zach Boychuk fed Derek Ryan cross-crease for his seventh goal of the season and the 1-0 Checkers lead at 4:27 while on the power-play. 1:02 later, it was 2-0 when the Moose watched the Checkers play a little tic-tac-toe, one-touch passing to set up Joakim Nordstrom for his first of the season to end the power-play.

The second period went scoreless, but the third period saw the Moose come to life. More specifically, JC Lipon came to life. Lipon took the Brenden Kichton pass on the half-wall and skated into the top of the face-off circle where he fired a laser of a wrist shot off the bar past a partially-screened Rasmus Tirronen at 3:17 to cut the lead to 2-1. The Moose would find the equalizer at 9:47 while shorthanded when Chase De Leo chipped a puck past a pinching Jake Chelios and streaked up the ice. De Leo spotted Lipon flying up the left side, fed him the puck, and he went high gloves-side on Tirronen to pull the Moose even at 2-2!

The Moose, though, found themselves in penalty trouble late in the game once again, and it cost them just as it did in the first period. With Matt Halischuk watching from the sin bin, Justin Shugg fed Jake Chelios who had skated in from the point, and Chelios buried the puck past Connor Hellebuyck with just 25 seconds to play as the Checkers escaped Sunday afternoon with a 3-2 victory. Tirronen stopped 16 of 18 shots he faced for the win while Hellebuyck stopped 37 of 40 shots he saw in the loss. Manitoba falls to 2-7-1-1 on the season after this setback.

The Infirmary

The list of injuries is getting longer. Captain John Albert, defenceman Jay Harrison week to week, and forwards Matt Fraser and Thomas Raffl are all listed as week to week as the Moose look to get some of these key cogs back in the lineup. Defenceman Jan Kostalek is currently day to day, and there's hope he can return for the four-game home stand starting this weekend against the Chicago Wolves.

Up And Down

The Moose got some good news, though, as Patrice Cormier was returned to the Moose by the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. Cormier's a veteran presence that the Moose can use against the Wolves. Cormier has one goal and one assist in nine games with the Herd this season.

Defending The Barn

The Moose welcome the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves to MTS Centre on Thursday and Friday this week. The Wolves currently are sporting a 7-1-0-1 record, and have already beaten the Moose twice this season by scores of 3-1 and 2-0. Pat Cannone leads the team with 12 points and Danny Kristo is right behind him with 11 points. Those two have five goals each to share in the team lead for goal-scoring. Chicago will be without Magnus Paajarvi as he's currently in St. Louis with the Blues, but this Wolves team is a formidable opponent on any night. Jordan Binnington and Pheonix Copley have similar stats in net as Binnington is 4-0-1 with a 2.54 GAA and an .898 save percentage while Copley is 3-1-0 with a 2.49 GAA and a .909 save percentage. Copley, might I add, shut out the Moose in Chicago on November 1.

This week's games will be a major test for this young Moose squad, so we'll see how they did next week on the next edition of Antler Banter!

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!

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