The Manitoba Moose playoff hopes took another hit today when the AHL issued rookie forward Aaron Volpatti a two-game suspension for a crushing hit on Lake Erie’s Ray Macias in a 6-3 Moose loss Thursday night at MTS Centre.
Volpatti had left his feet to ram Macias behind the Lake Erie net midway through the first period, receiving a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct.
The Monsters scored two goals on the ensuing powerplay enroute to victory. Macias left the ice on his own, but did not return and is not expected to dress for Game 5 tonight in Winnipeg.
The Moose trail the best-of-seven North division semifinal 3-1 and could be eliminated with a loss (7:30 p.m.) at the MTS Centre.
"There’s not much you can do," shrugged Moose head coach Claude Noel after the Moose morning skate today, of the Volpatti suspension. "Anytime you leave your feet you’re going to get yourself in trouble. The fact that the guy (Macias) now looks injured that’s going to bring a bigger issue to the table."
Volpatti has earned a reputation for his devastating hits, but has never been suspended.
On a positive note, it appears Moose forward Rick Rypien, who did not dress in Game 4 due to a lower body injury suffered earlier in the series, may suit up for Game 5.
"It’ll be a game-time decision with him," Noel said, of Rypien. "He wasn’t able to go (Thursday) so we thought we’d take the time and hope he’d be able to go. And it looks like he’s okay."
Regardless, the Moose season is on the brink. They’ll not only need to prevail tonight, but sweep the final two games, if necessary, back in Cleveland on Sunday and Tuesday.
"We have to be better," the Manitoba coach said. "I don’t have much time for feeling sorry for ourselves. You just have to plow through. You have to face it head on. Perseverance is key."