PREVIEW: The Condors Fly InBy: Colin Peterson | Published: April 6th 2018
The Manitoba Moose (39-24-4-4) will finish off their regular season home schedule with a weekend series against the Bakersfield Condors (29-24-9-1), starting at Bell MTS Place tonight. The Moose split a pair of games in Bakersfield earlier this season with Cameron Schilling scoring in each contest. The second of those goals was the overtime winner in a 2-1 victory on Nov. 4. The playoff matchups in the Central Division are still unclear with five games remaining, so there’s a lot to gain with a Moose victory. Tickets are still available for tonight’s 7 p.m. (CT) puck drop at moosehockey.com/tickets/.
MAKING THEIR MARK
Forward Mason Appleton and defenceman Sami Niku were honoured by the league this week for their accomplishments this season. The pair were named to both the All-Rookie Team and the First All-Star Team. Appleton and Niku are the first rookie teammates named to the First All-Star Team since the 1988-89 season. Niku is just the fifth rookie defenceman named to the First All-Star Team since 1975. Both selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Appleton was the 168th overall pick and Niku was the 198th overall selection.
BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE
It wasn’t just Manitoba’s standout rookies earning recognition this week as goaltender Michael Hutchinson captured a slot on the AHL Second All- Star Team. Hutchinson is 15-5-4 on the season with a 2.21 goals-against average and a 0.933 save percentage and one shutout in 24 appearances. The Barrie, Ont. native’s best segment of the season came from Oct. 21 – Dec. 22, Hutchinson posted a 12-0-2 record, and earning CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month honours in both November and December.
RACK ‘EM UP
Brody Sutter comes into the matchup with some momentum. The Viking, Alta. product has a goal in each of his last three games. The streak matches the longest run of Sutter’s career. Possibly fueling his increased productivity is a stretch of eight straight games recording at least two shots on goal. During his goal-streak, Sutter has tallied 13 shots on goal.
The Moose can clinch their first playoff spot since 2013-14 this weekend under a few different scenarios. Manitoba needs a combined three points from Moose wins or Milwaukee losses to book a spot in the post-season. Moose wins over the Condors tonight and Sunday would do the trick. With a win tonight, the Moose could also clinch on Saturday with a Milwaukee loss. If Manitoba earns one point tonight, a regulation loss by the Admirals on Saturday would lock in a spot. Should the Moose lose both games this weekend, they can still clinch with a Milwaukee regulation loss combined with a regulation or extra time loss on Saturday/Sunday.
Manitoba’s final regular season home game on Sunday (Nov. 8) will also be Fan Appreciation Day. To get tickets for the 2 p.m. (CT) puck drop head to moosehockey.com/tickets/.