Preview: Bring on the GriffinsBy: Colin Peterson | Published: December 21st 2018
Dec. 21, 2018 vs GRAND RAPIDS RAPIDS
The Manitoba Moose (11-14-2-0) try to even their season series with Grand Rapids Griffins (15-11-2-2) tonight at Bell MTS Place (7 p.m. CT). The Central Division rivals always put on a show, so head to moosehockey.com/tickets/ and see it live.
So far in 2018-19, the Moose and Griffins split a back-to-back at Bell MTS Place in early November. Grand Rapids pulled off an overtime victory at home on Nov. 17. Chris Terry assisted on the OT winner and has been a thorn in Manitoba’s side this season, collecting five points (4G, 1A) in the three meetings.
Grand Rapids has had an up and down season so far; starting off slow, racking up wins in November, then going 1-4-2-0 in its last seven games.
The Moose have struggled lately as well, trying to survive a shocking amount of injuries in the month of December. The roster will likely be without the services of forwards Seth Griffith, C.J. Suess, JC Lipon, Skyler McKenzie, Emile Poirier, and Ryan White as well as defencemen Tucker Poolman and Luke Green.
Assistant Coach Marty Johnston spoke about what some of the players coming in to fill those holes will be asked to do.
“I think the key is we’re not trying to replace those players. Those players are very good players in their own right and the guys that are coming in have to play our system and fit the role that they’re comfortable with.”
With Sami Niku and Cameron Schilling back from their time with the Jets, the defence is a little more settled than the forwards. Johnston says that depth will be something the team leans on.
“We’re really happy with our defensive core, and they’re the backbone of our team along with [goaltender Eric Comrie] who’s done an outstanding job all year. Most teams like to build from the back end out and we feel really confident with the group that we have out there.”
Around practice this week, talk has been about increasing the team’s shot totals. Forward Cam Maclise was with the Moose throughout last season and addressed the different strategies between the different rosters.
“You could argue last year we had a little more high-end skill, maybe a few more flashy plays, but I think this year it’s just going to be simple. We talked about it today, we need to have more shots on net. Least goals in the league, and our shot totals aren’t where they want to be. So I think that’s the focus for us, is just getting pucks to the net and finding way to get goals.”
Tomorrow’s rematch with the Griffins (2 p.m. CT) is also the final game before the holiday break for the Moose. There will be a snowglobe giveaway for the first 3,000 fans through the doors and a chance to take photos with Santa on the concourse. If you can’t make it down to Bell MTS Place, both games will be available on moosehockey.com/listenlive/, the Moose App, and AHLTV. Fans can also tune in to Saturday’s matchup on TSN 1290.