The Manitoba Moose returned after a four-year absence to the AHL and faced a former rival the Toronto Marlies at the Ricoh Coliseum in downtown Toronto. Things heated up as these two although different personal from the last game this one got intense fast.
The Marlies notched 3 goals in the 2nd period and added an empty netter late for a 5-3 win.
The Moose got goals from Brenden Kichton and a pair from NHL vet Jay Harrison who was recently waived by the Winnipeg Jets as they have a very crowded strong blue line.
The Marlies got goals from William Nylander, Byron Froese, Andrew Campbell, Josh Leivo, Sam Carrick.
This was a spirited affair as both teams have some gritty physical guys and this game even had a dust up as soon to be Moose fan favorite JC Lipon who was a final cut by the Jets dropped the mitts with Matt Frattin of the Marlies in a pretty good light weight tilt. Frattin took exception to being drilled with a head shot from Moose defence man Julian Melchiori and ended up facing Lipon who took the decision.
Connor Hellebuyck was sharp in between the pipes making 29 saves off 33 Toronto shots but is tagged with the loss for Manitoba.
Antoine Bibeau made 21 saves for the win including a couple big ones before the Marlies got the empty netter for the win.
These two teams will meet up again for an afternoon affair on Saturday.
The Moose have some strong veteran players with NHL experience including forward Matt Halischuk and defence man Jay Harrison both were playing Winnipeg last season but were victims of the numbers game this year as well as the young prospects are making there marks up in Winnipeg to start the year.
Andrew MacWilliam has some NHL games under his belt as well. But this Moose team will have a lot of young Jets prospects playing in the same rink as the big boys a great asset for the Winnipeg Jets having there farm club in the same city. The Moose will feature some young studs as well including Chase De Leo and Joel Armia along with former first rounder Josh Morrissey who is getting groomed before becoming a big piece on the Jets back end. This team also has some toughness with AHL PIM leader Darren Kramer who just signed a contract.
They also will have to strong young goaltenders with Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie. They will be in tough in the newly aligned Central Division but should stay in contention for one of the final playoff spots or surprise and be one of the teams to beat in the Western Conference. One thing for sure Winnipeg fans will be happy to see there future Jets playing in Winnipeg.
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