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Moose dropping like flies

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SAN ANTONIO — Teammates can’t believe their bad luck. Fans will no doubt be feeling shortchanged. The Vancouver Canucks will be more than disappointed about more interruptions to the development of young prospects.

But in revealing that young Manitoba Moose stars Cody Hodgson and Jordan Schroeder are likely lost to the team for six weeks, give or take, Moose GM Craig Heisinger gave only the impression of more water off a duck’s back.

Heisinger is the GM of an AHL team that used more than 50 players in each of the last two seasons. One would think that kind of transaction overload would cause a twitch.

Wrong.

"The week’s been no different than any other year," Heisinger said Saturday night while he watched his roster-depleted team lost 5-4 in a shootout to the conference-leading San Antonio Rampage. "There are always challenges and you’ve always got to find your way through it."

It’s been short and intense this week that way.

Hodgson went down at Thursday’s practice in Oklahoma City, felled by a sloppy high stick from teammate Lee Sweatt. Canucks GM Mike Gillis told reporters in Vancouver on Saturday that Hodgson would undergo surgery on his orbital bone in Winnipeg.

Schroeder was on the wrong side of a pileup less than seven minutes into Friday’s game in the Oklahoma capital, was helped off and didn’t return. He’s got a high-ankle sprain and the recovery period for that is normally six to eight weeks.

Winger Kevin Clark is already out with an upper-body injury and rookie forward Stefan Schneider has missed two games because of back spasms this week.

"You can come up with all the old clichés you want but it is what it is, to quote the great Alain Vigneault," Heisinger shrugged on Saturday. "There are opportunities for other guys. You’ve got to step up and find your way through.

"Every team in hockey, whether it’s the NHL or the AHL, has challenges with injuries. The AHL has challenges with call-ups, too, but so do the teams in the ECHL. We have to find our way through it and get better."

The Moose have been selling hard their young talent this season, but their GM said that’s the least of their worries.

"I don’t think it has to do with prospects, from our perspective," he said. "It’s about players. They’re people. It’s unfortunate when you lose guys. Now maybe we’ll have to change our style of play — it hasn’t been working that well for us anyway."

Heisinger, again, appears to have landed assets to shore up the forward roster. He has signed Francis Lemieux and Garth Murray, and called up Josh Aspenlind. All were playing in the ECHL.

"The personnel coming in don’t have as much skill as Cody or Jordan," Heisinger said. "They’re just different types of players. "Guys like Garth and Josh and even Francis, these guys are all bona fide AHL players, have played in the league full-time in the last few years."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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