WINNIPEG – The Manitoba Moose finally solved the Lake Erie Monsters and salvaged their season high eight game homestand with a 4-0 victory on Wednesday at MTS Centre.
The Moose ended a three game losing streak and concluded the lengthy home stretch by garnering seven of a possible 16 points at home. It was also the Moose first win of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets top affiliate after dropping the first five meetings against Lake Erie.
“The complete game that we played tonight it builds confidence with the group.” Moose head coach Keith McCambridge said. “We obviously had a good feeling about the way they played for that full game tonight and then you build into a lengthy road trip. So the key is to make sure we build off it, we learn from some of the mistakes that happened but there was lot more things on the positive side than the negative.”
Chase De Leo scored twice in the Moose triumph. JC Lipon and Jiri Fronk also scored for Manitoba while goalie Eric Comrie bounced back after getting pulled last game. He stopped all 24 shots for his first career AHL shutout.
“I think it’s really big for our confidence.” Comrie said. “I mean we’re a young team but today we played like an older veteran team. We played really solid. I mean we started with defense first and made it really easy for me. Those guys went out there and really did a really good job defensively and it showed in the end.”
It was a much different Moose team on Wednesday compared to the one that showed up on Monday when the Monsters dismantled the Moose 7-3. After the last game McCambridge had a lengthy talk with his players and it obviously paid dividends.
“Last game Keith came into the lockeroom after,” De Leo said. “Didn’t get mad at us or anything, just kinda sat us down and kinda told us what we needed to fix and what we needed to be better at. I think that really sparked our group and made us come together and we know we have to battle together. We’re not going to get out of this individually. So I thought we played a good team game tonight.”
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Neither team had many quality scoring chances in the first period but with 11.3 seconds left in the opening stanza the Moose scored the games first goal. Initially Patrice Cormier was denied in the slot but Lipon grabbed the loose puck, swooped around the net and tucked it in on the wraparound. Lipon’s eighth goal of the season was assisted by Cormier and Paul Postma. The shots were 10 apiece in the period.
Less than five minutes into the second frame the Moose powerplay went to work. Lipon looked back to Austen Brassard in the high slot. His shot was stopped by Brad Thiessen but De Leo pounced on the rebound and scored his 10th goal of the campaign. The Moose were ahead by a pair.
With just over 13 minutes to go in the second period Lipon and Dillon Heatherington squared off behind the Monsters net. Lipon landed the bigger blows but he appeared to hit his head on the ice as the two tumbled down. The fight gave Lipon the Gordie Howe hat trick. (Goal, Assist, Fight)
Only moments after the faceoff Jan Kostalek set up De Leo who buried the one timer for his second of the night and 11th goal of the season. Andrew MacWilliam had the other assist to give the Moose a comfortable three goal cushion.
Manitoba removed any doubt with exactly seven minutes left in regulation. Nic Petan found Fronk in front of the goal and he danced past Thiessen and deposited the backhand for a pretty goal. It was Fronk’s fourth tally of the season. The Moose outshot the Monsters 32-24.
In his second game with the Moose since getting sent down by the Jets Postma recorded one assist and he was a plus-1 with a game high six shots on goal.
Thomas Raffl, Jay Harrison, Brennan Serville, Kelly Zajac and Peter Stoykewych were all scratched.
After their longest homestand of the season the Moose now embark on their longest road trip of the campaign. The eight game, 15 day road trek starts Saturday against the Charlotte Checkers.
WATCH: Moose head coach Keith McCambridge, Chase De Leo and Eric Comrie react following the Moose 4-0 shutout victory