Fresh off a 42-26-8 regular season that saw the Moose finish third in the Central Division, before falling out of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs in the second round, Manitoba began a new year Friday night in Iowa against the always hungry Wild.
Although beginning the game rather evenly with their season opener host Iowa, the Moose fell flat in the third period, giving up three goals and dropping the first contest of the year 4-1. The teams put together a scoreless opening first period, before each tallying one marker in the second frame. Incredibly, the shots were even through 40 minutes as well.
Jerry Fitzgerald gave the Wild a 1-0 lead midway through the second period, before C.J. answered for Manitoba with just 15 seconds left to play in the frame. Recently demoted defenceman Tucker Poolman and longtime Moose JC Lipon collected the assists on Suess’ first goal of the season.
Unfortunately, that late period marker was the only goal that Manitoba would see enter Iowa’s net Friday. Gifted with a ridiculous seven power plays, the Moose failed to capitalize on any of their opportunities to take the lead, ultimately giving Iowa three goals in three different situations in the third period.
With the Moose on one of their many power plays, Kyle Rau collected a short handed marker for the Wild nine minutes into the final stanza. Then with just three minutes left on the clock, and Peter Stoykewych in the sin bin for slashing, Landon Ferraro doubled his club’s lead over the Moose with a powerful strike on the man advantage. Ryan Murphy sealed the deal with an empty net marker with a little under minutes left to play.
Goaltender Andrew Hammond looked sharp in stopping 21 of Manitoba’s 22 shots in the game, while Eric Comrie struggled in the third period, giving up three goals on 26 total Iowa shots. Sami Niku (-3), Seth Griffith (-3), Mason Appleton (-2) and Michael Spacek (-2) will look to rebound from their disappointing first outing of the season.
The Moose and Wild do battle in a rematch from Wells Fargo Arena Sunday afternoon. Puck drop is set for 3:15 P.M. Sunday. The game can be seen live for free on AHL TV.