PREVIEW: Looking for an Edge in Game TwoBy: Colin Peterson | Published: April 22nd 2018
The Manitoba Moose (1-0) took Game 1 of the Central Division Semi-Finals against the Grand Rapids Griffins (0-1) yesterday. The Moose are hunting a 2-0 series lead this afternoon at Bell MTS Place. Rookie Michael Spacek scored yesterday’s game winner while Cameron Schilling (1G, 1A) and Chase De Leo (2A) each had two points. Tickets are still available for the 2 p.m. (CT) puck drop in downtown Winnipeg, just head to moosehockey.com/tickets/.
Goaltender Eric Comrie was named the first star of yesterday’s matchup. The third-year pro made his Calder Cup Playoffs debut by turning aside 19 first period shots, the second-most he has faced in a period this season and most in an opening frame. He went on to make 34 saves on 36 shots (0.944 SV%). The Edmonton, Alta. native led the Moose with 34 appearances during the regular season, earning 18 wins along the way. Comrie’s previous playoff action came in 2015 when he was backstopping the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League.
A total of 12 Moose players made their Calder Cup Playoffs debuts in yesterday’s matchup. Five of those players picked up points in their first playoff games, meaning all but two players who recorded points for the Moose yesterday were in their debuts. Those point-getters were led by Chase De Leo who tallied two assists in the win. Despite it being his professional playoff debut, De Leo is no stranger to playoff hockey, having played 81 playoff games with the Portland Winterhawks in junior.
Coming back to win yesterday bucked a 22-game trend for the Moose this campaign. Despite winning 42 games in the regular season, the Moose were one of two AHL teams to not win a game when trailing after two periods of play. Manitoba posted a record of 0-18-2-2 until yesterday’s playoff victory. Conversely, Grand Rapids posted a 32-5-0-3 record when leading after 40 minutes during the regular season.
CZECH IT OUT
The Moose roster features two players hailing from the Czech Republic and they both struck for goals in yesterday’s game. Michael Spacek factored in with the game-winning power play goal and Jan Kostalek opened the scoring for Manitoba. Kostalek has been red-hot from the defensive side of the puck, tallying six goals in his last 12 games. The Prague native had tallied four goals in the 138 regular season games before his run. Spacek’s power play goal doesn’t come as a surprise after the rookie tied for the Moose lead with 10 during the season.
The series shifts to Grand Rapids for the next three games, starting with the third battle between Manitoba and the Griffins on Wednesday, April 25. You can cheer on the Moose with the #LetLoose hashtag and follow all the coverage on moosehockey.com/. Listen in to the action at moosehockey.com/listenlive/ and on TSN 1290 starting at 5:45 p.m. CT.