The Manitoba Moose have been eliminated from the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Playoffs.
On Sunday afternoon, the hometown team fell short in its bid for a late-game comeback, dropping the all-decisive final game of the best-of-five series 2-1 to the Milwaukee Admirals in front of nearly 6,000 fans at Canada Life Centre.
“There’s nothing really to say,” team captain Jimmy Oligny said post-game. “We’re very proud of the effort the guys put in this year. It wasn’t only in the playoffs, we battled all year. We won some games the ugly way a couple times.”
Despite an onslaught of chances in the second half of the game, Manitoba was unable to rally back to tie the score. Falling behind early did not help the matter, as the Moose had an extremely difficult time trying to beat goaltender Connor Ingram – who gave up seven goals to Manitoba just two nights prior.
Having spent a good chunk of time with the Nashville Predators during the team’s stretch run, and even seeing action in playoff games against the powerful Colorado Avalanche, Ingram was back to his typical self in Sunday’s matinee.
Manitoba outshot Milwaukee 24-8 over the final two periods of play, but just couldn’t find a way to put the puck past Ingram. He ended the game with 27 saves on 28 total shots faced, allowing just a Morgan Barron power play strike in the early stages of the second period. For Barron, it was his fourth-straight game with a goal, albeit in a losing effort.
Juuso Parssinen opened the scoring for the visitors with just under seven minutes to play in the first period. Milwaukee put up 13 shots to Manitoba’s four in the first 20 minutes of the game, but the Moose responded heavily for the final 40.
The Admirals then got another tally just 1:30 into the middle stanza, with Tommy Novak capitalizing on a Milwaukee man advantage. Luke Johnson felt the guilt of his holding minor as the Admiral players fist bumped on their way to the bench.
Barron’s power play marker just three minutes later lessened the load for Manitoba, but sadly, it was the final goal of the game, despite a full 35 minutes of hockey left on the slate.
Ingram was sensational in the stretch run, doing most of his work in the final stages. The Moose could not score on a third period power play, nor with Mikhail Berdin on the bench for the extra attacker in the game’s final two minutes.
Berdin turned aside 19 of the 21 pucks he faced, and will be taking the loss all the way back home to Russia for the summer.
“The new guys that are going to come in next year, they know that once they put on that jersey they gotta work. They gotta follow the group,” Oligny added. “There wasn’t one single guy that was only reliaying on skill. Everyboyd was working from the fiurst line to fourth and all three pairings. I’m very proud of everybody and how we battled all year.”
Luke Johnson and Ville Heinola had the assists on Barron’s fourth of the playoffs, while Heinola led all players with six shots on net.