Wednesday 6 April 2016

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 49

The Moose are closing out the season in the best way that they can as they've picked up some crucial wins down the stretch to hurt other teams' chances. There's nothing better than playing the role of spoiler if your own playoff dreams have been dashed, and the Moose have been in the spoiler role since some time around Christmas. However, with every team that plays the Moose seemingly looking for points to climb the standings and get a better seeding in the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs, the wins the Moose are picking up now have more significance to them. Considering the amount of player movement seen at the AHL level with the NHL's Winnipeg Jets suffering through a pile of injuries, the fact that the revolving door roster is winning games is a testament to the heart of the current Moose squad! In saying that, let's get into Antler Banter for another week!

The Games

The Moose rolled into Des Moines, Iowa to finish off the season series with another struggling AHL team in the the Iowa Wild. Wednesday night's game saw Connor Hellebuyck in net for the Moose while Steve Michalek defended the twine for Iowa. Brenden Kichton scored his tenth goal of the season 6:24 into the second period to put the Moose up 1-0. Darik Angeli first goal of the season would make it 2-0 just 2:54 into the final frame before Zac Dalpe cut into the lead. Patrice Cormier would restore the two-goal lead on the power-play with his 14th of the season at 14:32, but Iowa rallied back as Chase Lang made it 3-2 with 1:32 to play. Hellebuyck, though, would shut the door the rest of the way as the Moose held on for the 3-2 victory! Hellebuyck stopped 31 shots in the win while Michalek took the loss. With the win, the Moose improve to 23-37-4-5 on the season!

The Moose and Wild would tangle again on April Fool's Day, and Dan DeSalvo put the visitors up 1-0 just 18 seconds into the game with his third goal of the season. Iowa would rattle off three-straight goals before the third period started for the 3-1 lead as they outshot the Moose badly, but Patrice Cormier would score 27 seconds into the final frame on the power-play to give him 15 goals on the season. Manitoba was once again outshot badly in this period, and the empty-net goal scored against the Herd would see the Moose fall by a 4-2 score. Leland Irving picked up the win while Connor Hellebuyck suffered the loss despite making 35 saves. With the setback, the Moose fall to 23-38-4-5.

The Moose would return home after their 1-1 road trip to square off with the Central Division-leading Milwaukee Admirals on Tuesday. Milwaukee scored a pair of goals in the second period for the 2-0 lead, but the Moose cut into that lead when Brandon Denham scored his first AHL goal on the power-play at 3:42. Unfortunately, the Admirals added another goal before Chase De Leo made it a 3-2 game at 18:13 with his 17th goal. An empty net goal by the Admirals would ice the game, however, as the Moose fell 4-2 to Milwaukee. Juuse Saros picked up the win while Connor Hellebuyck took the loss after stopping 24 of 27 shots he faced. The Moose drop to 23-39-4-5 on the season after the loss.

The Moose are currently battling the Admirals again at the time of writing, and we'll update that game next week on Antler Banter!

More Moves

On Wednesday, the Jets re-assigned Chase De Leo back to the Moose after his second recall in less than a week. He has yet to record a point in the two NHL games he's played, but he's a big part of this Moose squad.

On Thursday, the Moose re-assigned goaltender Jussi Olkinuora back to the ECHL's Tulsa Oilers. Olkinuora didn't see any action in his recall. He'll go back to Tulsa where he's 9-8-2 on the season.

On Saturday, the Moose made a pile of moves. Forward Brant Harris was released from his PTO. Harris played 11 games with the Moose, recording one helper. He'll make his way back to the ECHL's Florida Everblades.

They also released forward Darik Angeli from his PTO. Angeli had a goal and two assists in ten games with the Moose, and it appeared he was starting to find his groove. He'll most likely head back to the ECHL's Manchester Monarchs.

The Moose also set defenceman Jordon Southorn free from his PTO. Southorn played in two games but did not record a point. He'll head back to the ECHL's Fort Wayne Komets from Winnipeg.

The Moose then went out and signed Jansen Harkins to an ATO. Harkins had 24 goals and 33 assists for the WHL's Prince George Cougars this season before his team was eliminated from the WHL Playoffs. He was a second-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2015, and he should bring a little youthful exuberance to the Moose lineup.

On Monday, the Jets recalled defenceman and leading scorer Brenden Kichton from the Moose. Kichton has ten goals and 28 assists in 65 games with the Moose, and is still looking to appear in his first NHL game. There's a chance he'll get to do that this week with the Jets!

The Jets also announced that they assigned forward Brendan Lemieux to the Moose after the Windsor Spitfires were eliminated from the OHL Playoffs. Lemieux racked up 32 goals and 30 assists in just 45 games in the OHL, and he should add a little scoring and grit to the Moose lineup for the remainder of the season.

On Tuesday, the Moose announced that they had released forward Justin Breton from his PTO. Breton played in two games and recorded no points in those games. He'll go back to the ECHL's Alaska Aces after his brief stint in Manitoba.

Almost Done

The Moose, as mentioned above, are playing the Milwaukee Admirals tonight which I'll cover next week. The Moose will then welcome the Rockford IceHogs to MTS Centre on Saturday and Sunday. The IceHogs clinched a playoff berth tonight with their win over the Charlotte Checkers, so they'll be playing for positioning. As of writing, the IceHogs, the Lake Erie Monsters, and the Grand Rapids Griffins all have 88 points, so these games will be important to the IceHogs.

Manitoba, by all accounts, can play a major spoiler role if they can win one or both games, so they'll need to be up to the task when the IceHogs roll into town this weekend!

Plan Accordingly

The April 9 game against the IceHogs is another bobblehead game! If you're looking to get tickets, I suggest getting them quickly as bobblehead games are always popular. The rumour du jour is that your bobblehead will be Josh Morrissey! Morrissey hasn't had a Bobby Orr-like season, but he was named as the Moose winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year for his outstanding contributions to the Manitoba community! Morrissey has been an excellent addition to the Moose this year, so get out and get yourself a Josh Morrissey bobblehead this weekend!

April 10 is another big day as the Moose are holding their Fan Appreciation Day on this date! There are always a ton of giveaways at the Fan Appreciation Day and, if the trend holds true, there will be jerseys given away off the backs of the Moose players! If you can't get down on Saturday for a bobblehead, Sunday is just as good a day for prizes!

After tonight's game, there are four games and two weeks left on the Antler Banter season! It's almost over, fans. And then the fun begins for next season as everyone reloads! Let's see if the Moose can get to 25 wins on the season by winning two of their last five games!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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