WINNIPEG, MB – Just as their big brothers, the Winnipeg Jets, are running on fumes for a playoff spot, the Manitoba Moose are slowly fading out of the picture as the small fumes they have left are disappearing fast with every loss.
Toronto was in town for a two-game set and these two games were huge for the Manitoba Moose to stay in the race.
Sunday afternoon was the first of two and the Moose turned back the clock, wearing retro jersey’s from their first season in 1996, hoping that announced crowd of 8,700 could see some magic of the past against the Marlies. Workhorse goalie Eric Comrie got the nod between the pipes for his 42nd start of the season against Antoine Bibeau who got the start for Toronto.
Things got off to a great start as the Moose opened the scoring with Nelson Nogier finding the twine with a point shot that found it’s way into the net. Moments later the Marlies found the equalizer as Mike Sislo squeezed one past Comrie to tie things up. With the Marlies down a man, Brandon Tanev scored his third of the season converting a nice feed from Brendan Lemieux to give the Moose the lead. Toronto replied quickly again with a goal from Brett Findlay to make it 2-2 after 20 minutes of play.
Things continued to go back and forth as both teams would tally goals in the second period. Kerby Rychel scored for Toronto and Patrice Cormier scored a power play marker for the Moose.
Toronto eventually outscored the Moose in the third as Rychel notched his second of the game and William Wrenn scored as well. Ryan Olsen would keep the Moose alive as he notched his fifth of the season for Manitoba. Manitoba came within inches of tying the game up in the final minute as Brenden Kichton‘s point shot hit the bar and trickled out instead of in.
The Moose would lose a heartbreaker 5-4 in game one.
In the rematch on Tuesday night, it was the same two goalies in the pipes again as Comrie faced Bibeau. It was looking to be another see-saw match-up as both teams exchanged goals in the first period as Rychel notched his 16th to give the Marlies a lead before Lemieux got his 12th, a power play marker to tie things up. With Toronto on the power play, Steve Olesky snuck one by Comrie to put the visitors up. JC Lipon tied things up before the period ended with his eighth of the campaign.
Manitoba fell asleep in the second as Toronto piled on three goals and controlled most of the play. The visitors got goals from Findlay, Brendan Leipsic, and Andrew Campbell. Lipon scored his second of the game and ninth of the season to give the fans something to cheer about late in the period.
In the third period, the Moose used a strong penalty kill to regain momentum but couldn’t find the back of the net on Bibeau. Frederik Gauthier added his second goal of the year to give the Marlies a 6-3 win and a sweep at the MTS Centre.
Manitoba finds themselves 12 points back of the final playoff spot in the West.