Moose fall to IceHogs in opener

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For the better part of Saturday’s home-opener, the Manitoba Moose looked primed to start their season on a high note.

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For the better part of Saturday’s home-opener, the Manitoba Moose looked primed to start their season on a high note.

But a lowly third period proved the difference, as the Moose surrendered four goals over the 20-minute stretch, en route to falling 5-4 in overtime to the Rockford IceHogs at Canada Life Centre.

“I thought we had a strong first period. We played how we were supposed to play,” Moose head coach Mark Morrison said after the game.

Kristian Reichel tries to get the puck past Rockford's Arvid Soderblom. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

“We put pucks in behind and I thought we got in on the forecheck. I thought we had the control of the game, for sure, in the first period. We had puck control in the offensive zone for most of it. How did I like the second period? Not as much. Too many giveaways for me and just weren’t sharp with the puck. That carried over into the third. But it is the first game, and it is a new group and it’s new lines, so we’ll be patient.”

The Moose led 1-0 through 20 minutes after defenceman Leon Gawanke scored 2:54 into the game. Manitoba dictated the pace through the frame, outshooting the IceHogs 15-6.

They weren’t nearly as dominant in the second, though, with Rockford stealing back momentum as they peppered Moose goalie Arvid Holm with 19 shots in the period. Still, it was the Moose that took full advantage of their chances, adding goals from forwards Daniel Torgersson and Chaz Lucius to take a 3-0 edge into the third.

“Obviously we wanted to win, and I thought we came out pretty good (in the third period),” said Lucius, who was playing in his first professional game since being selected by the Jets 18th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. “But unfortunately, I don’t exactly know what happened. Tomorrow will be a meeting on it on what went wrong. They scored a couple quick ones on us, and it didn’t really go well for us from that point on.”

The comeback by the IceHogs began just 1:24 into the third period, when Luke Philp one-timed a Nicolas Beaudin cross-ice pass to cut the lead to 3-1. The Moose lead was cut to one goal six minutes later, after David Gust beat Holm with a wrist shot high glove.

The IceHogs would tie the game less than a minute later. Lukas Reichel drove up the right boards before cutting to the net and slipping a shot past Holm.

Mikey Eyssimont got two assists on Saturday. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

“There were too many giveaways,” Morrison said when asked what lessons his team should take from the third period. “We gave them too many opportunities where pucks are on our sticks and we’re giving it away instead of making a safe play off the wall, trying to beat one or two guys when it’s clearly a one-on-two or one-on-three.” Manitoba regained the lead seconds later when Kristian Reichel, a cousin of Lukas Reichel, fired a shot off Rockford defender Adam Clendening’s right skate and behind goalie Arvid Soderblom. The goal was assisted by Henri Hikkanen and Torgersson, who, along with Mikey Eyssimont (two assists), finished with a team-high two points.

But with the goalie pulled, Rockford evened the game 4-4. Reichel’s wrist shot was redirected by Philp for his second of the game.

There was some controversy prior to overtime, as Manitoba appeared to take the lead with 1:30 remaining in the third. Defenceman Ville Heinola wired a shot that beat Soderblom and hit the inside crossbar, but it was waved off by the official and with no official review allowed, forced a sudden death 3-on-3 overtime.

“The puck crossed the line, I just don’t think they could see it,” Morrison said. “We’ve looked at it here and it crossed the line.” The IceHogs would seal the game 1:38 into the extra frame. Brett Seney scored the goal, in what looked like an eerily similar play to the Heinola goal that was called off.

The Moose won’t have long to lick their wounds. They’re back at it this afternoon with a rematch against Rockford.

Mikey Eyssimont can't put it past Rockford goalie Arvid Soderblom. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

Jeff.Hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

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