Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Big guns finally start firing

Krog, Grabner and Hodgson get their groove back -- just in time

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HERSHEY, Pa. -- There's an old expression about bringing a knife to a gunfight and how the fella with the blade will always come up short against the dude with the heater.

The Manitoba Moose were clearly on the short end of the arms race in Games 3 and 4 of this Calder Cup Final, but finally figured out where they'd stashed their weapons and opened fire in a wild Game 5, earning themselves a 3-2 win that extended their season for at least one more night.

The Moose got goals from their most talented offensive players as Michael Grabner, Cody Hodgson and Jason Krog broke out of slumps to give their team a win and send this series back to Winnipeg for a Game 6 on Friday night.

Krog, Manitoba's leading scorer throughout the regular season and playoffs, had been nullified in the first two games played in Hershey before finding his stride midway through the last game in the Bears' den.

"Every game seems different as to what the referees are letting go and this was just an old-fashioned anything-goes hockey game. There were big hits both ways and it was nice that we were able to grind out the win," said Krog, who scored an empty-net goal late in the third that stood up as the winner and assisted on the Grabner goal that gave the Moose a 1-0 lead midway through the second period. "It doesn't matter who produces. We've had our chances and obviously I expect a lot out of myself."

Manitoba coach Scott Arniel had been waiting for this trio to get going.

"It's no secret. Hershey is teeing off on those guys every chance they get. It's either bail or hang in there and play through it. These guys aren't effective if they don't move their feet, but one thing about them, if you give them a chance it's going in the net," said Arniel. "It is what it is. Those guys are our best players and you need them to be big in big games. They found a way."

The Moose went ahead 2-1 on Hodgson's goal and then Krog made it 3-1 when the Bears pulled goalie Michael Neuvirth for an extra attacker.

"I thought we were still short-handed. I looked up and saw the empty net and I just took a shot. I can't get one past the goalie so it was just nice to get one."

Krog now has eight goals and 15 assists in the playoffs and for one night at least managed to find a way to escape the shackles the Bears had placed on him while taking a 3-1 series lead.

"They came out with a huge push in the beginning and we kind of sat back and let them take it to us. When we got the puck, they were there," said Krog. "It was hard to get space. Finally we started to get some pucks deep and worked them for a bit.

"When you can do that they can get a little tired and that allowed us to get some opportunities. You have to get ugly goals against this guy or you have to make perfect shots."

Moose captain Mike Keane pointed at the success of Krog and Grabner in particular as a key to his team's success.

"They've been our best players all year. You have to have your best playing their best. They need a good supporting cast of people to help them but Jason and Michael played very well and we need that," said Keane.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 10, 2009 C4

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