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Moose expect tough series from rough and tumble Admirals

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It appears the Manitoba Moose are going to have one less thing to worry about as they prepare to face Milwaukee in the opening round of the AHL playoffs.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/05/2022 (275 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It appears the Manitoba Moose are going to have one less thing to worry about as they prepare to face Milwaukee in the opening round of the AHL playoffs.

Connor Ingram, the starting goaltender for the Admirals, is currently up with the parent Nashville Predators as they face the Colorado Avalanche. In fact, he was pressed into duty during Game 1 on Tuesday, with starter Juuse Saros out with injury and backup David Rittich lit up for five first-period goals.

“Yeah, that’s not a bad feeling,” Moose coach Mark Morrison said Wednesday with a smirk. Hey, at this time of year you’ll take any advantage you can get, and this one certainly falls in Manitoba’s favour.

Winnipegger Cody Glass led the Milwaukee Admirals in scoring in the regular season. (Photo by John Russell / NHLI)

Still, Milwaukee will be anything but a pushover. Just like their NHL big brothers, they play a heavy, physical game. And with the first two games in Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday night, Manitoba skaters best keep their heads on a swivel.

“I expect it to be physical. Every game we’ve played against Milwaukee out of the 12 has been physical,” said Morrison. “I feel like the one thing in playoffs is where you can be physical. I watched a few of the NHL games (Tuesday) night and it’s always on the forecheck, that’s where bodies can be eliminated. It’ll be more physical, that’s the way Milwaukee plays and we’ll have to respond.”

Milwaukee’s top scorer is no stranger to hockey fans around here. Winnipegger Cody Glass, who was the first-ever draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights (sixth overall in 2017) is now part of the Nashville organization, where he spent the majority of the year in the AHL. The 23-year-old had 62 points (14 goals, 48 assists) in 66 games. Rocco Grimaldi (52 points in 44 games) is another offensive force with NHL experience, while Cole Schneider racked up 30 goals and 30 assists in 71 games.

“It’s been a grind of a series (against them in the regular-season), and we know they bring a heavy game. They play physical and we’re ready for that,” said defenceman Johnathan Kovacevic. ” It’s going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of energy in their building, and just kind of looking forward to living in the moment and playing a good hockey game.”

Familiarity often breeds contempt, so it shouldn’t take long for the temperature to rise in this series. Manitoba went 7-4-1 in the dozen head-to-head meetings, including 4-1-1 in enemy territory.

“We don’t have a lot of playoff experience in our dressing room. We’ve talked about that and they’re super excited. They’re ready to go,” said Morrison.

Indeed, the majority of the roster have not appeared in AHL playoffs, which have gone dark the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re looking forward to the intensity, the high level of hockey. As far as myself goes I’m the same way. To play in front of crowds, the excitement and playing to win something. Having all that back in hockey feels good,” said Morrison, who is happy his team is starting on the road.

“I always think the away team has a bit of an advantage to start a series. The pressure is on them in their own building to start with, so we’ll see how that works out.”

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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