PREVIEW: Willing to get Wild
The Manitoba Moose (25-7-3-2) renew their rivalry with the Iowa Wild (16-12-6-3) this afternoon at 2pm (CST). This weekend’s matchups will be games four and five of the season series between Manitoba and Iowa. So far, the Moose have won two of three meetings, after narrowly edging the Wild 4-3 last week (Jan. 6) in Iowa. Michael Spacek led the charge in that game, notching both an assist and the game-winning goal. For tickets to today’s action, go to moosehockey.com/tickets/.
Today’s game is the 38th on the campaign, the halfway mark in the AHL the team will finish with the best first half of a season in franchise history. Their previous best was in 2004-05 when after 40 games, they were 27-10-1-2, a 0.713 win-percentage. For good measure, the 2004-05 Moose were 25-10-1-2 after 38 games.
TIED UP, UP TOP
With an assist in his last game, rookie Mason Appleton (12G, 23A) is now tied with Jack Roslovic (15G, 20A) for the team lead with 35 points. The Green Bay, WI native is also tied with Nick Merkley (18G, 17A) for the AHL rookie lead. Of Appleton’s 12 goals, five came on the power play, which is tied for the most on the Moose with fellow rookie Sami Niku. The first-year forward is currently on a three-game point streak with four assists in that span.
ONE FOR THE BOOKS
Buddy Robinson scored the lone goal against Grand Rapids on Wednesday night, his 17th of the season. Robinson leads the team in goals, and has now matched his career high. Robinson also had 17 goals last season in 66 games between the Binghamton Senators and San Jose Barracuda.
The Moose are the only team in the league with top five power play and penalty kill units. They are second in both categories, scoring on 22.4% of their man advantages, and shutting down 87.9% of opponent’s power plays. The penalty kill has been integral to Manitoba’s success who have been shorthanded 173 times this season, the seventh most in the AHL.
AHL All-Star goaltender, Michael Hutchinson, was recalled by the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, and in a corresponding move Jamie Phillips was reassigned to the Moose from Jacksonville of the ECHL. Phillips has played in one game for Manitoba this season, a 6-1 December 10th win over Milwaukee in which he stopped 32 of 33 shots.
The Moose and Wild continue their weekend series tomorrow afternoon at 2pm (CST) with the annual Polar Bear Jersey Day. The players will sport a unique jersey that will be auctioned off after the game, with proceeds benefitting the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s Polar Bear Rescue Team. You can still get tickets at moosehockey.com/tickets/.