Don’t look now, but the Manitoba Moose are sitting in first place within the all-new Canadian Division of the American Hockey League.
Overcoming a difficult start that saw the club lose its first two games, despite leading both games after one period, Manitoba has rebounded for four-straight victories, with two coming at home against the always difficult Toronto Marlies, and the next two on the road in Laval against the Rocket.
Led by forward Nathan Todd and goaltender Mikhail Berdin, the Moose took care of business in the club’s first two games against Laval, besting the home team 7-4 through six-and-a-half periods of action. Requiring overtime on Monday to get by the Rocket 3-2 on a nice setup pass from Cole Perfetti to Ville Heinola for the game-winner, Manitoba sealed the deal on Wednesday with three goals in the third period, including a Todd empty-netter, reducing the risk of a late-game equalizer from the opponents this time around.
Todd, who put up two goals and three points on Wednesday for the first time in his AHL career, is currently on a five-game point-scoring streak, to which he has four goals and seven points.
“We came back in the third with tons of confidence,” Moose head coach Pascal Vincent said following the win on Wednesday. “We say all the time ‘stay in the fight’ and they did. Just a few adjustments in between periods and they applied it. They’re working together and being vocal on the bench. At the end of the day when you do it right and you win games it just reinforces that the process is right.”
Berdin, who earned his fourth-straight wins after back-to-back season-opening losses, was spectacular once again. Turning aside 29 of 31 shots, he has now stopped 149 of 156 pucks he has faced in the past four games, for a .955 save percentage.
Although not atop the league standings, Manitoba does currently sit first in the Canadian Division. With teams not all playing the same number of games this year, the standings will be determined by points percentage, as opposed to total points amassed. The Moose own a .667 points percentage, just above Laval and Toronto.
Next up is the continuation of the four-game mini series with the Rocket, as Manitoba looks to continue its winning ways on the road. The Moose will face off against Laval on Friday evening at 6:00 PM central. The two teams then conclude their set with a 3:00 PM matchup on Saturday.