After splitting the first two games of the American Hockey League’s Central Division Semifinal from Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg this past weekend, the Moose took their show on the road to Grand Rapids, for the first of the remaining three games in the best-of-five opening round playoff series.
Manitoba won the opening game of the series Saturday, before being blown out in game two on Sunday afternoon. Along with losing the game, the Moose lost their star AHL Rookie of the Year and leading point scorer Mason Appleton, following a dangerous check to the head by Colin Campbell.
Campbell was handed a one-game suspension for the play. Moose forward Buddy Robinson also sat out his first of two games on the heels of a suspension in game two.
Even without their 22-goal, 66-point man, Manitoba was able to find the net, Wednesday, putting up six goals in a 6-3 victory over Grand Rapids.
With the teams exchanging goals throughout the duration of the game, the Moose were able to put up two goals-per-period, including two empty net markers late in the game. A power play goal from Nic Petan really got the visitors going midway through the first period. Chase de Leo had four points, while Sami Niku and Petan each had two.
Goaltender Eric Comrie bounced back nicely after allowing five goals in game two by shutting the door on 45 Griffins shots, en route to his second victory of the series.
Although the Moose will look to close out the best-of-five with a win Thursday, they will be missing yet another forward, as on Thursday afternoon it was announced that centerman Michael Spacek was assessed a three-game suspension for exiting the penalty box and getting involved in a skirmish midway through the first period of Wednesday’s game.
Now down Appleton, Robinson and Spacek, recent signees and Manitoba products Jordy Stallard and Tanner Kaspick may get the opportunity to draw in to the Moose lineup for game four. Puck drop for Thursday’s game is set for 6:00 P.M. central.
By Carter Brooks
Photo by James Carey Lauder