It was the morning after the raucous night before and all the talk at the MTS Centre this morning was about what's to come in the much-anticipated rematch tonight.
The Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies, who played a wild and fight-filled affair last night, will take to the ice again this evening at 7:30 p.m. for what promises to be a dramatic Round 2.
The biggest crowd of the season, fuelled by the Santa Claus Parade this afternoon, is expected and there will be enough hard feelings in the building to fill whatever empty seats there might be after a 5-1 Moose victory last night that saw the home side win the battle to put the puck in the net but pay a stiff price from a bigger, stronger and more physical Marlies club in a game that saw a total of 112 minutes in penalties handed out, including 12 fighting majors.
The Moose took the brunt of the punishment, while snapping a five-game losing streak with a long-awaited offensive explosion against a Toronto club with whom the Moose have a long and bitter rivalry.
Moose head coach Scott Arniel said he felt his team did the best under the circumstances.
"I'll tell you flat out — they're a lot tougher team than we are," Arniel said following practice this morning. "It's easy to say you're going to pile in there. Would you pile in on some of those guys?
"We have people who will stick up for each other but it also comes to the point where they have nine, ten guys who are legitimate heavyweights and we're running with about three."
You can make that two tonight. Moose tough guy Matt McCue will sit out at least tonight with what's suspected to be a consussion — the result of a charge in the third period.
Arniel was hopeful of a return to calm for tonight's game.
"We've had this crap with Toronto before. We just hope the referees call it accordingly. We're desperate to win hockey games.
"I think we'll recognize we were successful last night and why would we change that tonight... We'll let them go to the box and try to take advantage of them running around."
After losing five straight and finally getting some offensive momentum rolling last night, Moose defenseman Nolan Baumgartner said his club's attention will be on the hockey, not the fighting, tonight. "We need to win some games. We're not worried about vengeance or getting revenge."