PREVIEW: Time to Rock and RollBy: Colin Peterson | Published: April 12th 2018
With just three games left in the 2017-18 regular season, the Manitoba Moose (40-25-4-4) are in Cleveland where they’ll take on the Monsters (24-39-7-3). While the Moose have clinched a berth in the Calder Cup race, the Central Division is still up for grabs. In fact, there are only three points separating the division’s four post-season bound teams. That means the seeding could change dramatically this weekend, and every game is critical. Tonight’s 6 p.m. (CT) puck drop will be available on TSN 1290 and moosehockey.com/listenlive/.
EDDIE SHORE AWARD
Defenceman Sami Niku has been voted the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenceman. The Haapavesi, Finland native is just the second rookie in the 60-year history of the award to win the honour. Niku is second among AHL defencemen with 53 points (16G, 37A) on the season and features a plus-19 rating in 73 games. Niku was also named to the AHL All-Rookie Team and First AHL All-Star Team.
LOUIS A.R. PIERI AWARD
Head Coach Pascal Vincent has been voted the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach. With three games remaining in the 2017-18 campaign, the Laval, Que. native has guided the Moose to a 20-point improvement over last season. The Moose have mproved their goal differential this season from minus-45 in 2016-17 to plus-51 in 2017-18.
The Moose roster has seen plenty of shuffling in recent days. The team released forward Brett Welychka from his amateur tryout. The London, Ont. native picked up a goal and an assist in eight games. The team also bid good-bye to goaltender Jamie Phillips who has been recalled by the Winnipeg Jets. The Moose also added defenceman Chris Dienes (recall) and forward Matt Ustaski (professional tryout) from the Jacksonville Icemen.
Rookie forward, Michael Spacek has found success against Cleveland this season, scoring six points (3G, 3A) over the last five meetings with the club. The native of Pardubice, Czech Republic enters tonight’s action with a goal in each of the last two games. That follows a strong effort in March when he registered 10 points (5G, 5A) in the most productive month of his season.
PICK YOUR POISON
Brendan Lemieux has consistently found the scoresheet this season, but has been streaky in how he records points. In the last seven Moose games, the second year forward has notched seven assists, but no goals. Before that stretch, Lemieux scored 10 goals in 16 games but did not record an assist. The Denver, CO native has set career highs in all offensive categories this season and maintains a 0.88 points per game pace.
The Moose and Monsters are back at it tomorrow night at 6 p.m. (CT) to finish out the season series between Manitoba and Cleveland. Don’t forget to visit moosehockey.com/tickets/ now to get your playoff tickets