This is the first appearance of the Manitoba Moose on the Milwaukee Admirals 2016-17 schedule. It’s also going to mark one of my favorite things in hockey. For the first time during an Admirals game at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena tonight we will hear -both- the United States and Canadian anthems. All you could possibly hope for after that is for the game to go the way of the two teams parent clubs last night.
The Moose arrive to Milwaukee with a blissfully average record of 7-7-1-1 (16 points, 0.500 points percentage). Unlike the Admirals the Moose were inactive last night. Their last games came at home on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Iowa Wild. They lost both of those contests and only scored a single goal from 56 shots.
I do ponder how the game that proceeded the two games against Iowa actually played into the performance. The Moose were the opponents to the Tucson Roadrunners when their captain Craig Cunningham collapsed on the ice during the pre-game singing of the national anthem. The Moose were sightseers to that frightening scene and that game was effectively canceled on the night and postponed to be played at a later date. The Roadrunners subsequently cancelled their Tuesday and Wednesday games against the San Diego Gulls. They are expected to play their first game since that incident took place tonight at home in what should be an emotional game against the Stockton Heat.
While it didn’t happen to the Moose – that incident shook everyone in the hockey community. I’d imagine being there for when that happened would be a difficult thing to process. Not too unlike when the Admirals were guests to the Grand Rapids Griffins a season ago when Alden Hirschfeld collapsed on the Griffins bench and suffered a seizure shortly after finishing a shift. It takes some time to let something like that fade on the mind whether you knew the player personally or not. The Moose in their games against the Wild may have still been going through some of the motions. This road trip to Milwaukee might serve them well.
The leading scorer for the Moose at the moment is first-year pro Jack Roslovic who has 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) from 16 games. The 19-year old who was drafted in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2015 NHL Draft is their lone player at the double-digit plateau in points. The Admirals have four.
The good news for them is that they happen to have a version of Matt White on their team by the name of Quinton Howden. Both haven’t played the full allotment of games for their respective teams but both lead their teams in goal scoring with 7 goals. White does have a slight edge as a point per game player at the moment to Howden’s 0.75 point per game average.
A glaring stat for the Moose happens to come in the form of their 255 penalty minutes. There is a good reason for this, too. Remember that new AHL fighting policy that came up this Summer? Cool. Me too. Now somebody tell the Manitoba Moose that because they are current tied with three other teams for fourth most fighting majors (11) in the AHL this season. The only teams who have more are: Albany Devils have a league high 17 fighting majors taken so far while the Hershey Bears and Ontario Reign are tied with 12 fighting majors. The Admirals have only taken 4 fighting majors all season and the only teams who’ve taken fewer than that are the Charlotte Checkers and Griffins who both have had just 3 fights all season.
If anything the good news is that there isn’t a soon to be red flag yet for the Moose. The most fighting majors accumulated to date by a single player on their roster stands at 2 fighting majors and is shared by Patrice Cormier, Darren Kramer, and J.C. Lipon. Beyond that? Sparkling. Only five other players have dropped the gloves for the Moose. So, this game should be 100% civil… ignore the photo used above.
In net the Moose have a young up and comer as well as someone who has been there and done that. Eric Comrie was someone that really impressed me in net for the Moose every chance I got to watch him play. He ended up shouldering a massive work load a season ago but that can now be shared because he is partnered with Ondrej Pavelec.
To this point Comrie has been the much better option of the two. He has a 2.31 goals against average and 0.925 save percentage compared to Pavelec’s 3.62 goals against average and 0.899 save percentage. With such a healthy bit of rest since their last game either could start tonight. As for the Admirals? It might be interesting in the back of a two-in-two if the rotate Marek Mazanec out after last night’s wild game and gave Jonas Gunnarsson another go. It might make someone in Nashville wearing a suit frown but it also might be a smart move to play the Swede.
Expectations for tonight’s game? Do you feel like last night’s grinding effort will comeback to bite the Milwaukee Admirals tonight against a fresh Manitoba Moose team? Would you consider rotating Mazanec and Gunnarsson for the sake of rest or play Mazanec until Nashville sees that he’s back on the horse again?
Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.