Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 23/4/2010 (4033 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba Moose GM Craig Heisinger has made many, many savvy player moves since he took over as GM of the AHL team in 2002.
The Marty Murray-for-Peter Olvecky trade wasn't looking like one of them. Until Friday night.
With the Moose facing playoff elimination at the MTS Centre Friday, Olvecky stopped lumbering and slumbering and started scoring the way the Moose hoped he would when they traded away Murray, a popular Manitoba-born centre, to the Milwaukee Admirals last month in exchange for the 24-year-old Slovak.
Olvecky, who had just one goal in 12 games since joining the Moose, scored twice in Game 5 Friday night as the Moose defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-2 to trim the Bulldogs' series lead to 3-2 and send the series back to Hamilton for Game 6 on Sunday night.
Olvecky, a veteran of 32 NHL games and more than 300 in the AHL, used his size in the first period to station himself in front of the Hamilton net and shovel a rebound over Hamilton netminder Cedrick Desjardins to make the score 1-0.
And then, with the Moose under siege for most of the second period, Olvecky poked a hole in the Hamilton balloon with just 43 seconds left in the period, streaking in on the left side and converting a brilliant cross-ice pass from linemate Dan Sexton over Desjardins.
"Those were two big goals," said Moose head coach Scott Arniel, "and they really got them back on their heels."
Indeed, the second Olvecky goal in particular took the bite out of Hamilton, who emerged from the dressing room for the third period and promptly gave up a nifty three-way passing play that saw Mike Keane send the puck cross ice to Yan Stastny, who found Aaron Volpatti heading for the net, firing past Desjardins to make the score 3-0 after just 42 seconds.
But just when it seemed like the series was headed for its third blowout in five games, Hamilton battled back with goals at 4:45 (Andre Benoit's errant point shot was redirected off Matt Clark of the Moose) and at 11:08 when Ryan White won the battle in front of the Moose net, screening Schneider as a David Desharnais shot got past him.
With the Moose again under siege, Manitoba's leading scorer this series, Guillaume Desbiens, got free behind the Hamilton defence and slid the puck five-hole on Desjardins to finally extinguish the threat for good at 14:19.
Desbiens added the empty-netter, his third goal and eighth point of the series, to seal the deal.
While Olvecky's two goals lit the fire Friday night, it was Moose netminder Cory Schneider who set the stage for his teammate's offensive heroics.
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Schneider turned away 28 of 30 shots and the shots he did face, especially early, required the kind of stand-on-your-head saves that the Moose are going to need still more of if they're going to rally in this series from being down 3-1.
"I was a little disappointed the last game slipped away and I felt kind of responsible," Schneider said of the soft goal he gave up in Game 4 that led to a 5-4 double overtime win for Hamilton. "I wanted to be better tonight and help steal one."
The Moose will fly to Hamilton today, but will not practise. They will take the morning skate at Copps Coliseum Sunday morning in advance of Game 6 Sunday night. Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher said he didn't feel his team played terribly defensively. "To me, the whole game was that we allowed only (22) shots to the opponent in their own barn. It's not like we opened up the play and gave a million chances.
"But every time they got one, they capitalized on it and that's a tribute to them, fighting for their lives. It's got to be like that for us, going back home."
Paul Wiecek Reporter (retired)
Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.