May 212011
 

From Robin Short of The Telegram in St. John’s, Newfoundland:

Six years after the Maple Leafs played their final American Hockey League game in St. John’s, the league is returning to the city for the 2011-12 hockey season.

The Telegram can confirm an announcement outlining the relocation of the Manitoba Moose franchise to Mile One Centre is set for 1 o’clock next Friday afternoon.

Ironically, the Maple Leafs franchise, which lasted 14 years at Memorial Stadium and Mile One, played its final game in Winnipeg on April 30, 2005, when the Moose eliminated St. John’s from the Calder Cup playoffs.

Sources indicate this transaction has been ongoing for some time, but has been contingent upon Winnipeg landing an NHL franchise.

At first glance, this seems like a logistical nightmare considering the Canucks are 4 1/2 time zones away, but wait, there’s more:

Since 2001-02, when the Moose joined the AHL after five years in the old International Hockey League, Manitoba has been the primary farm team of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. However, with the transfer of the Atlanta franchise to Winnipeg, the new St. John’s club will be the farm team of the fledgling Winnipeg franchise, with the Canucks looking elsewhere for an AHL partner.

The Thrashers’ AHL affiliate had been the Chicago Wolves. Because Chicago owns the AHL franchise and not Atlanta, the minor league club is not part of the NHL transaction leaving the Wolves to find an NHL partner.

That partner could be the Canucks.

Wouldn’t that be something if the Canucks’ minor-league affiliate was based in Chicago? In a way, that’s almost as odd as the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate being based in Canucks country.

More to follow.

Nov 302010
 

Watching the Manitoba Moose play the Abbotsford Heat this past weekend, I can’t help but think how far along the Canucks’ farm team has come in the last couple of years.

To recap, the Moose played a pair of back-to-back, weekend games against the Heat. They lost the game 2-1 in the shootout on Friday night, and won 3-1 on Saturday night. In both nights, the Moose dictated the play and the Heat kept it close largely because of their goaltender, Leland Irving.

Probably the most noticeable improvement is in the number of higher-level prospects on the team. This weekend, the Moose’s first line consisted of Cody Hodgson, Sergei Shirokov and Bill Sweatt. By the third period on Saturday, Jordan Schroeder had replaced Shirokov on this line. While the jury is still out on the speedy and skilled Sweatt, Shirokov has already had a cup of tea on the Canucks’ top two lines, and Hodgson and Schroeder are expected to get there at some point soon in their careers. (As a point of comparison, when I went to watch the Moose in Winnipeg last season, Marco Rosa centered the first line. And if I remember correctly, Mark Cullen centered the first line the year before that.) Hodgson, in particular, was by far the best forward on the ice. I think I share most Canucks fans’ sentiments when I say it’s only a matter of time before he makes it to the big show.

On defense, Kevin Connauton is continuing to develop and Lee Sweatt looks capable of playing the pro game despite his small stature. As a side note, Chris Tanev wasn’t as prominent this weekend as he was in Canucks training camp, but after just 19 games, it’s too early to label him as anything.

My point in all this is that, for the first time in a few years, there appears to be some legitimate NHL prospects on the farm. And top end prospects too. Certainly, it’s a far cry from the days when Jason Jaffray was expected to be able to play on Markus Naslund’s line.

In a tweet, Mike Gillis himself indicated how pleased he was with the kids’ development on the farm.

Watched Moose game this wknd. Pleased with how our young players played, style of play the coaches utilized and number of canucks fans.

The last notable group of prospects to make the jump from the Moose to the Canucks included the likes of Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa, Edler and Hansen. If this keeps up, maybe it won’t be too long, maybe in a couple of years, until the next group, this time including Hodgson, Schroeder, Sweatt, Sweatt, Connauton and Tanev make the jump as well.

Nov 042010
 

On Saturday, November 27, a group of over 30 of us are heading to the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre to watch the Manitoba Moose play the Abbotsford Heat. Together with Justine Galo, who gives you the “View from a Broad” over at Canucks Corner, we’re giving away two tickets for you to join us and cheer on the baby Canucks as they take on the baby Flames.

Here’s how you can enter:

1) The Canucks have some of the best prospects they’ve had in years. For one entry to win these tickets, tell us who your favourite Canucks prospect is and why in the comments section below.

2) For a second entry to win these tickets, tweet the following:

I entered to win 2 tickets to the Manitoba Moose vs Abbotsford Heat game from @canuckshockey. http://ow.ly/3437f RT to enter!

Entry deadline is Tuesday, November 9 at 4:30 PM. We’ll draw the winner at 7:00 PM after the Canucks/Habs game.

Let’s go Moose!

Oct 122010
 

When the Manitoba Moose come to town in November to play against the Abbotsford Heat, I want to get a group of people to head out to Abbotsford and watch the Canucks prospects hard at work. A group of us went last year and we had a great time. The games against the Moose games are one of the few that the Heat sell out all season.

Manitoba Moose Line Up Pre-Game at the Blue Line

When we went last year, the crowd was a solid 50-50 split of Moose and Heat fans. Every time we started a “Go Moose Go” chant it was countered by a “Go Heat Go” chant. The game was a blast – there’s nothing quite the same as watching the prospects give it their all to get noticed by the big team.

When: Saturday, November 27th (there’s no Canucks game that night) – 7pm
Where: Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Center
What: Manitoba Moose vs Abbotsford Heat
Tickets: Tickets are $20 each if we get a group of 10 or more people. We’ll be in the Orange Section. We’ll be sitting together and making sure that Canucks Nation is well represented at the game.

Last year we carpooled and groups of us headed out. You can drive to Abbotsford on your own, or let us know if you’d like to organize a carpool. If anyone’s up for it, we can also meet up and get together for a group dinner at the restaurant across from the arena. Because it’s the weekend, there should be plenty of time for us to head out to Abbotsford before the game.

Are you in? Send me an email at [email protected] and we can reserve a spot for you.

Jun 152010
 

The search for Scott Arniel’s replacement as head coach of the Manitoba Moose appears close to being concluded. From Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province):

Claude Noel could succeed Scott Arniel as head coach of the Manitoba Moose, The Province has learned.

The Vancouver Canucks have interviewed Noel to fill their AHL affiliate vacancy after the interim Columbus Blue Jackets bench boss was replaced by Arniel on June 8. Noel has a year left on his contract, but has an out-clause if he joins another organization.

“He’s a very well thought of guy in the industry, has a terrific record and takes a great deal of pride in the teaching component and preparation component to get [players] into the NHL,” said Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, who will interview other candidates and could reach a final decision within a week.

I’m trying to think if there’s ever been another instance when one organization’s minor-league head coach switched positions with another organization’s head coach (albeit Noel was only Columbus’ head coach on an interim basis), but am drawing a blank. Interesting swap anyway if Noel does indeed come on board.

Jun 082010
 

According to Aaron Portzline (Columbus Dispatch), the Columbus Blue Jackets have hired Manitoba Moose coach Scott Arniel as their new head coach.

After a two-month search that included one public rejection, the Blue Jackets have hired Scott Arniel to be their coach, The Dispatch has learned via multiple NHL sources.

Arniel, who has coached the AHL’s Manitoba Moose the last four seasons, will be introduced at a news conference at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Neither Arniel nor Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson would comment when contacted by The Dispatch.

Arniel is the third straight Moose head coach to make the move to the NHL. The others, of course, are Randy Carlyle (Anaheim) and Alain Vigneault (Vancouver).

Apr 252010
 

I’m going to make this short and sweet because this is it! As a fan every time I have seen Nycholat this year he has given up more goals than I can shake a goal stick at! To me losing him to the Canucks is better for the Moose as seen in the last game with a victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Having said that, let’s move on to tonight’s game 6 of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs…

In a nutshell here is how I see it:

Moose must play not the first 40 minutes but more important than anything, the last 10 minutes. This Bulldogs team loves the comeback. They are not only a strong team but a very potent team when they are down. If the Moose have a 2 goal lead, which is always the worst lead in hockey, then they better go for 3 and not sit back. Cory Schneider is a strong goalie but he cannot score goals. The Moose have done this before and they can do it again. Beat the DOGS!

Other factors that come to mind even though he was not picked as a star (still confused over that one), Desbiens who is a rock for this team has to keep his run and gun pace. In the stands we thought he was done for sure last game after crashing into the boards but came back to throw 2 more pucks into the net for the Moose victory. He is 200% heart!

Schroeder, Keane and Sexton all come off a 2 point night heading into game 5 and are starting to become the go-to-guys for the series.

The last thing I see from my vantage point is a weak Cedric Desjardins when it comes to the short side glove. 5 goals have come from that angle and when he lets a bad one in, he seems to let the next one in just as easy. Traffic as always will help keep him from seeing the puck and a must in tonight’s game 6! Good luck to the Manitoba Moose tonight!

That’s your quickie from the crease for now!

Until next time www.twitter.com/winnipegmac is where you can get the updates on the score!

Jimmy Mac

Apr 162010
 

There are games that you play in hockey that no matter what you do right the outcome doesn’t fall your way. That’s what happened last night for the Manitoba Moose in Game 1 vs the Hamilton Bulldogs. Cedric Desjardins decided that he would like a shutout for his first ever Calder Cup playoff game and he did just that in a 2-0 victory last night, stopping all 21 shots the Moose threw at him.

The Moose did pretty much what they needed to do against the powerful Bulldogs, including keeping them to 18 shots which is a great key to keeping those Dogs to a minimum of scoring opportunities. Second thing was a perfect 7-out-of-7 on the PK. They had some solid goaltending from Cory Schneider and the defense did a pretty good job keeping the Hamilton top line off the score sheet. A sneaky one-timer beat Schneider late in the third to seal the deal for the Bulldogs but it is only game one. As always in any playoff picture it comes down to goaltending and in order for the Manitoba Moose to get past this first round they will have to get in front and  ”entertain” Cedric  little more than game one. If ya can’t see it, ya ain’t gonna stop it!

That’s your quickie from the crease for now. Until next time…

Jimmy Mac

[You can also follow Jimmy Mac on his Twitter account: http://www.twitter.com/winnipegmac.]

Apr 102010
 

That’s pretty much the story of tonight’s game between the Manitoba Moose and the the Peoria Rivermen.

With a 3-2 victory tonight, the Moose grab 2 valuable points in the playoff picture. Actually it was Cory Schneider who swiped the the 2 points for Manitoba. Yan Stastny started it off in the first period throwing a puck short side shelf on the Peoria goaltender followed by a lucky break when Jordan Schoeder banked a shot off the D man Nate Guenin to give the Moose a 2-zip lead. The Rivermen paddled back for 2 goals but Mario Bliznak was able to poke one last hole in the boat boys hopes thanks to our Captain Mike Keane and his always never give up efforts to get the puck out to Bliznak. 

After that the goaltending of Cory Schneider took over. The second period ended with Peoria leading the shot count 26-18; the Rivermen then peppered another 18 on Schneider in the third period and ended the game with a crazy 44-23 shot advantage. In the final minutes of the game, Schneider threw out the left leg off a lightning faceoff shot, and with 1:56 left, his cobra-like glove shot up and all but took the wind from the Rivermen sails.

Game two goes tomorrow night here in the ‘Peg where the Moose look to take 4 points from the weekend! That’s your quickie from the crease from Winnipeg.

Until next time….

Jimmy Mac (twitter.com/winnipegmac)

Apr 082010
 

So here it is in a nutshell … As it stands now the Manitoba Moose will either play the Rochester Americans or the Hamilton Bulldogs depending on this weekend. If the Moose finish in third place – which is still possible – the Moose will play the second place Americans.

This weekend, we see the Peoria Rivermen, looking for a little revenge from earlier this year where the Moose lost both games of a two-game battle. Historically, the Moose have a pretty good home record against the St. Louis Blues affiliate; and two wins over them will help them pick up points and catch up to the Abbotsford Heat.

The Moose will continue to look to Marco Rosa and Sergei Shirokov for offense, and to Cory Schneider to add to his team record-breaking season. (Cory Schneider’s 33 wins is a franchise record, breaking his 28 wins from last season.) Hopefully Schneider shows some more great goaltending this weekend and in the second season no matter who the Moose take on in the first round!

One thing we’re looking forward to is the return of Cody Hodgson after his junior season in Brampton ended earlier this week. Would be nice to see him along side Jordan Schroeder who has given fans something to look forward to in such a short period of time. That’s your quickie from the crease for today!

Until next time, Go GREEN!

Jimmy Mac

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