April 17, 2017 6:16 pm

End of season tough for Manitoba Moose veterans

For the first time in his career, Manitoba Moose forward Patrice Cormier played the season on an AHL contract.

Jordan Pearn / Global News

WINNIPEG — With a goal of growth, the Manitoba Moose say they struck success this season.

“I came in wanting my first taste of pro hockey and trying to develop my game,” rookie defenceman Nelson Nogier said. “I think I did a really good job at that.”

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But despite the win, being sent home early still hurts.

“Every year, it doesn’t get easy,” defenceman Kevin Czuczman said. “You go home and reflect.”

For the second straight season, the Moose will miss the playoffs. It’s another year taken away from the fading careers of the team’s seniors.

“It’s difficult especially as an older guy,” forward Darren Kramer said. “Just career sake, it’s important to make the playoffs and get to the post-season.”

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Life with an AHL contract can be tough for veterans. It often means their NHL days are over and those of their career numbered.

“It’s either adapt or die,” captain Patrice Cormier said.

“The quicker you adapt, the quicker you realize what you can bring.”

But it’s not like they aren’t needed. At least a dozen players skated with both the Moose and Winnipeg Jets this year – an achievement not possible without the old pros.

“It’s a huge asset,” head coach Pascal Vincent said. “It’s not something you can look at the stats and say he did this or that. It’s beyond that.”

A skill helping to drive development.

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