PREVIEW: Game 5, Showdown with the GriffinsBy: Colin Peterson | Published: April 30th 2018
The Manitoba Moose (2-2) and Grand Rapids Griffins (2-2) will finish off the Central Division Semi-Finals tonight at Van Andel Arena. The Moose dropped a 3-0 decision to Grand Rapids in Game 4 on Thursday, tying the series and leading to tonight’s finale. Manitoba welcomes their leading goal-scorer from the regular season, with Buddy Robinson having served his two-game suspension. You can tune in to TSN 1290 and/or moosehockey.com/listenlive/ for the 6:00 p.m. (CT) puck drop.
WINNER TAKES ALL
The last time the Moose organization was involved in a decisive Game 5 or 7 was in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins as the St. John’s IceCaps. The IceCaps claimed a 3-2 victory on May 12/12 to move on to the Conference Finals. Eddie Pasquale picked up the victory in net and Aaron Gagnon scored the game-winner.
The Moose get a big boost to their lineup as forward Buddy Robinson is eligible to return following his two-game suspension. The Bellmawr, N.J. native led the Moose with 25 goals during the regular season and finished third on the Moose with 53 points. Both marks were career highs. Robinson did not register a point in the first two games of the series, but tallied nine points (4G, 5A) in 15 games in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs with the San Jose Barracuda on their way to the Western Conference Finals.
TURNING IT UP IN GRAND RAPIDS
Eric Comrie has been tough to beat in Grand Rapids this series. In two games at Van Andel Arena, Comrie turned away 66 of 71 shots for a 0.930 SV%. In the two games, Comrie posted a 2.56 GAA to help the Moose to a split of last week’s contests. It’s a notable improvement from the regular season when Comrie posted a 4.38 GAA and 0.857 SV% in three games at Grand Rapids.
Scoring the first goal in the first four games of the series yielded mixed results for the Moose and Griffins. In Winnipeg, the Griffins opened the scoring in Game 1, only to fall 3-2 to the Moose. In Game 2, Manitoba scored first and lost 5-1. When the series shifted to Grand Rapids, the trend changed. Not only did the team that scored first win, they were able to build up 2-0 leads. The Moose scored the first two goals in Game 3 on the way to a 6-3 victory. The Griffins scored the first two goals in Game 4 and staved off elimination with a 3-0 win. During the regular season, the Moose had a 29-11-2-2 record when scoring first, while Grand Rapids went 26-10-0-3.
The winner of today’s Game 5 will move one step closer to the Calder Cup when they take on the Rockford IceHogs in the Central Division Finals. Follow the Moose at moosehockey.com/.