PREVIEW: Fan Appreciation Day
It’s Fan Appreciation Day at Bell MTS Place, and the Manitoba Moose (40-24-4-4) play their final regular season home game this afternoon against the Bakersfield Condors (29-25-9-1). Fans will be seeing the Moose again soon, though, as Manitoba officially clinched a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs last night. With one more week to go in the regular season, post-season positioning in the Central Division is still up for grabs. For tickets to today’s 2 p.m. (CT) game visit moosehockey.com/tickets/.
With Chicago’s 5-1 win over Milwaukee last night, the Moose have clinched a playoff berth for the first time since the 2013-14 season when the franchise was based in St. John’s. Still to be decided is which spot the Moose will occupy in the bracket. Manitoba currently sits second in the division.
SEND IN THE HATS!
JC Lipon recorded his second hat-trick of the season, and his career, on Friday. Lipon is the first Moose player to record two hat-tricks in a season since Jason Jaffray in the 2007-08 season. The Regina, SK native has scored a career-high 17 goals on the campaign, fifth on the Moose. One of his three goals on Friday went down as the game-winner, pulling Lipon into a tie with Mason Appleton for the team lead with six game winning goals.
WIN NUMBER 40
With their victory on Friday, the Moose became the first Central Division team to win 40 games this season. It’s the first time the Moose have reached the 40-win mark since the 2013-14 season when the franchise was in St. John’s. Manitoba has 23 wins on the road and 17 victories on home ice.
The Moose got some reinforcements from the Winnipeg Jets as the big club reassigned defenceman Sami Niku and goaltender Eric Comrie to the team. Niku made his NHL debut while on recall, scoring a goal in his first game. The Finnish defender is tied for the AHL lead in points among defencemen with 52 points (15G, 37A) in 72 games. Comrie holds a 17-11-3 record along with a 2.56 GAA, 0.918 SV% and two shutouts in 31 games played.
Manitoba has enjoyed plenty of success this season against teams with Canadian NHL affiliates. Coming into tonight’s final game against a Canadian affiliate (BAK-EDM), the Moose feature a 13-4-1-1 record against those affiliates. Manitoba has four wins against Laval (MTL), three against Stockton (CGY), and a pair of wins against Bakersfield, Toronto (TOR) and Belleville (OTT).
The Moose head to Cleveland next week for a two-game series against the Monsters. The first of those matchups is Thursday (April 12), at 6 p.m. (CT). Don’t forget, Manitoba Moose playoff tickets are now on sale. It’s time to #LetLoose!