Appleton shows up big-time in Moose victory over Rocket
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/11/2017 (1896 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Mason Appleton knows the odds. There aren’t a lot of sixth-round picks who become regulars in the National Hockey League.
But the 21-year-old right-winger from Green Bay, Wis., seems determined to prove any doubters wrong as he continues to tear up the American Hockey League in his rookie season.
Appleton had a monster game on Sunday afternoon at Bell MTS Place, scoring twice and adding a pair of assists to lead the Manitoba Moose to a 5-2 victory over the Laval Rocket, the farm team of the Montreal Canadiens.
Appleton — chosen by the Winnipeg Jets with the 168th-overall selection in the 2015 draft — is up to five goals and 12 assists in his first 18 professional games after finishing up a fine collegiate career with Michigan State University. That puts him in a tie for 13th in the AHL in scoring, and third in the league among rookies.
“Regardless of the score, I’ve got to play to my strengths and play my game of hockey. It was good to get the win, obviously, and to play a complete game,” a modest Appleton said following his best offensive game so far. “There’s just times you get those bounces and you get lucky like that, but it comes from doing the right things — it’s good karma.”
The Moose are now 11-5-2 on the season, having won three straight and seven of their past eight games. They’ve also collected points in 11 of their last 13 games (9-2-2).
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I just knew I had a good summer of hard work, and then came into the season in as best shape as possible, and from there, just work as hard as I can and do the things I can to get into the lineup and establish myself as the forward I am,” Appleton said of his first-year expectations.
Moose captain Patrice Cormier, who had two assists on Sunday, including one on Appleton’s first goal, was quick to dish out praise.
“Confidence is high, obviously. Four points tonight, but the next game, he’s going to play the same way. Maybe he doesn’t get a point, but he’s always good on the walls, neutral zone, always does the right play, if the guy’s open he gives it, if not the puck’s deep, forechecks hard. Been a great teammate also. Nothing but positive from that guy,” Cormier said.
Manitoba fell behind early on Sunday, as Laval’s Yannick Veilleux ripped a shot past Michael Hutchinson just 33 seconds into the game.
“We can laugh about it now, but it was like, ‘Uh oh,’” Cormier said of the start. “But you could kind of tell after the shift after, everybody had legs, the bench was good. We just grinded them out, the way we forecheck, the way we break out the pucks, we can be a frustrating team to play against. And that’s what we did.”
Appleton tied it with just over five minutes left in the period, redirecting a pass by linemate Francis Beauvillier on a play started by Cormier.
Rookie Michael Spacek put the Moose ahead early in the second period, scoring his first professional goal. After Daniel Carr tied it on a Laval power play, the Moose exploded for three goals before the middle frame was over.
Appleton got his second of the game, this time on the power play. And then Chase De Leo knocked home a rebound for his third of the season. Buddy Robinson capped off a great 20 minutes by scoring on a three-on-one rush with less than a second remaining in the period. Robinson now has seven goals on the year.
‘There’s just times you get those bounces and you get lucky like that…’– Mason Appleton
Hutchinson finished the day with 27 saves on 29 shots, improving his record to 5-1-1 through seven starts.
“Our team is pretty confident right now,” said coach Pascal Vincent, who mixed his lines around to start the game despite the recent run of success. He said it’s part of trying to find the best fit for the many pieces within the organization.
Vincent said he didn’t put any expectations on Appleton coming into the season — but he is certainly impressed by what he’s seen.
Vincent has used him in multiple roles including on the power play and penalty kill.
“He’s playing big, he’s moving his feet, he’s respecting the game, he’s respecting the way he’s playing the game. He’s using his skills really good,” Vincent said. “It’s what we do here. We’re giving people opportunities to play their game. And a guy like Mason has taken advantage of the whole thing.”
Manitoba will look to sweep its four-game homestand when it hosts Laval again on Tuesday night.
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.
Updated on Sunday, November 19, 2017 11:27 PM CST: Story edited