The Manitoba Moose picked the right time to start winning.
The Moose, who finished 9th in the Eastern Conference, 4th in the Northern division with a 37-33-8-2 record, opened the playoffs with a qualifying 2-1 win over the Portland Pirates in the best-of-three series. Manitoba got the first win in Portland with a score of 4-1. Pat Kavanagh scored twice and Tyler Moss made 29 saves. In game 2, Colin Forbes notched a goal and assisted on the game-winner as Portland tied the series with a 4-2 victory despite Manitoba outshooting Portland 40-29. Then it was back to Winnipeg for game 3. Pat Kavanagh and Jason King scored a pair each and Ryan Ready had a goal and 2 assists as Manitoba advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3 win.
Then it was off to Providence for the quarterfinals. The Eastern Conference 2nd ranked Bruins looked like the odds-on favorites with a roster including future NHLers like Shoane Morrison and Ivan Huml and former NHLers such as Jeff Jillson. In game 1, the Moose won 2-1 to take the first game of the Best-of-5 despite a 39 save performance from Bruin Andrew Raycroft. Zenith Komarniski scored the winner for the Moose. In game 2, Manitoba took a 2-0 series lead thanks to Justin Kurtz game-winner. Tyler Moss was injured in the game while he and Maple Leaf prospect Mike Minard combined for 23 saves in a 1-0 win. In game 3 in Manitoba, Andrew Raycroft rebounded to make 41 stops and Zdenek Kutlak scored the winner for Providence as they avoided being swept. The next game, the Moose advanced to the semifinals thanks to a Tyler Bouck late 3rd period goal. The Moose moved on to face Hamilton in the semifinals.
It was going to be tough for the Moose heading in against Hamilton Bulldogs, the top team in the AHL, without starter Tyler Moss. But in game 1, replacement Mike Minard stepped up with 31 saves and the Moose shocked AHL fans with a 2-1 victory. Nathan Smith scored the game winner. But in game 2, Hamilton showed why they where the best team in the AHL with a 5-2 win to tie the Best-of-7 at one apiece. Ty Conklin made 37 saves for the Bulldogs as the series moved to Winnipeg for games 3, 4 and 5.
In Game 3, Hamilton won thanks to Jani Rita’s game-winner in Double OT. Moose captain Brain Chapman was upset because Jason Ward “ran” Tyler Moss on the goal. Referee Jay Sharrers allowed the goal and the Moose certainly weren’t happy. Moss said on the post-game show, “It’s disappointing to end a great game like that. I thought I played well enough and the team played well enough to win and to end the game like that is…disappointing.” he said, making 49 saves and being the game’s #1 star.
Hamilton didn’t stop there as they upped their series lead to 3-1 with 6-2 win over Manitoba thanks to Bill Lindsay’s hat trick. In game 5, Patrick Kavanagh scored twice (again) for a 3-1 victory. Then in game 6, Patrick Kavanagh scored the game winner to force a game 7. Kavanagh is tied for the AHL playoff scoring lead with 7 goals and 4 assists for 11 points in 13 games.
It’s down to a one game series now. The game will be played Sunday May 11th in Hamilton (1:00 ET) at Copps Coliseum, and will be televised live across Canada on Rogers Sportsnet. The winner will move on to the Calder Cup Finals and meet either Grand Rapids or Houston.
Baumgartner and Reid reassigned to Manitoba
After helping the Vancouver Canucks to the Western Conference Semifinals, forward Brandon Reid and defenseman Nolan Baumgartner are heading back to Winnipeg.
Reid and Baumgartner, who finished 1st and 5th in Moose scoring respectively during the regular season, give the Moose much greater firepower for the final game.
Both saw playing time for Vancouver in the playoffs.
Baumgartner recorded a goal, a pair of assists and a +4 rating in eight NHL regular season games for Vancouver. He also played in Vancouver’s final two post-season games, averaging 11:06 in icetime per game. Reid recorded 2 goals and 3 assists in 7 regular season NHL games, and played in nine of Vancouver’s 14 playoff games, averaging 9:36 in icetime per game.
Reid will join Patrick Kavanagh, Chris Nilisen, John Craighead up front, giving the Moose offense more depth. Baumgartner will play with Brain Champan and Justin Kurtz as the Moose top 3 defensemen, and will help improve a horrible Moose power play.
Both will join the Moose Sunday in Hamilton.
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