Moose seal the deal

Dispose of pesky Marlies in 6, now it's on to AHL North Division final


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Their finishing kick has sent the Manitoba Moose into the next round.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/04/2009 (5034 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Their finishing kick has sent the Manitoba Moose into the next round.

The Moose completed the job against the Toronto Marlies Saturday night at the MTS Centre with three third-period goals for a 4-2 victory, winning the best-of-seven playoff series in six games.

Manitoba won the final three games of the series by outscoring Toronto 8-0 in the final period of those games.

"I think it has a lot to do with our conditioning," said Moose centre Mark Cullen, whose line was responsible for turning a 2-1 deficit after two into a 3-2 lead before seven minutes had gone by in the third. "Guys get better as the game goes on.

"And it says a lot about our depth. We can play three and four lines the whole game. We don’t really need to shorten the bench."

Matt Pope and Ray Sawada scored those key goals, jolting the crowd of 10,947 into a frenzy for the final 20 minutes. Guillaume Desbiens’ third goal of the series with 4:14 left was the dagger in the Marlies.

"We talked and just wanted to do the same things we were doing because we were dominating the scoring chances and getting more shots," Pope said about the locker-room mood at the second intermission. "There was no press to get things done. We just knew it was going to come."

Manitoba awaits the winner of the Grand Rapids-Hamilton series, which continues tonight in Hamilton with Grand Rapids ahead 3-2. The next round will start here Friday.

The Marlies, who were ahead in the series 2-1, made a switch in goal to Adam Munro for Saturday’s Game 6 but coach Greg Gilbert said it shouldn’t have been a surprise.

"It was no decision really," Gilbert said. "It wasn’t tough. It looked like they were starting to get to (Justin) Pogge and some goals that were getting in shouldn’t have. Munro stepped in and did a helluva a job for us. He gave us a chance to win."

The Moose were outshooting Toronto 22-10 after two periods but goals by Tim Stapleton and Alex Foster had things looking good for the visitors.

"It says a lot about our group; people that know how to win, and they don’t get rattled and they stayed with it and continued with the game plan," said Moose coach Scott Arniel. "If you pressure teams as much as we do and like we did in this series, if you keep doing those things, sooner or later it’ll pay off.

"In Games 4, 5 and 6, those goals finally went in from all the opportunities we created."

That the Moose didn’t leave the surge until late in the third did plenty for their confidence and the fans’, Cullen said.

"Oh, that was really nice," Cullen said. "The early goal (Pope’s, at 1:45) helped us a lot because the fans got into it and they were really loud. We fed off that; it was perfect."

"After the second period, I’m sure everybody was thinking there, ‘Oh, no, Game 7, Game 7,’ but we really talked about being relaxed and going out to play in that third period," Arniel added. "Toronto gave us a heck of a battle. They were hard to play against, extremely physical and we had some guys that took a real beating over the course of six games.

"I don’t imagine the next series will be any easier but in the same sense, it was a tough team that had played very, very well for the last month of the year. Greg Gilbert did a great job of making it tough for us every night."

The Marlies won the final six regular-season games against Manitoba, including three late ones to squeeze into the playoffs. But they had a tougher time with the Moose in the post-season when Manitoba’s urgency — waning earlier because a playoff spot had long been clinched — returned.

"I think the team that was more consistent in their detail won the series," Gilbert said. "Our details were off and on and they capitalized. We battled them hard but I don’t think we played our best hockey. You play that way and you’re not going to win hockey games and they’re moving on for a reason."

— with a file from Gary Lawless



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