The Manitoba Moose battled right to the bitter end in the first game in their new surroundings, but had to settle for a single point.
The Moose were beaten 6-5 in overtime by the Stockton Heat on Monday in their first game at the Bell MTS Iceplex to start off a 17-game homestand.
With the goalie pulled, the Moose scored with just 1:23 left in regulation to force overtime, only to lose just 34 seconds into the extra period when Glenn Gawdin converted on a 2-on-1 to give the Heat their sixth straight victory.
The two teams combined for a five-goal second period as the Moose came back to tie the game three different times, but they never held a lead.
“In the third period, I felt we got a little bit not as assertive as we were in the first two periods with the puck,” Moose head coach Pascal Vincent said. “We had a lot of chances through the first two periods, and in the third, I felt we ran out of a little bit of gas. But they kept pushing, and got a point out of it.”
The AHL’s scoring leader Nathan Todd scored two more goals, and added one assist. C.J. Suess recorded a goal and an assist, while Haralds Egle, and Jeff Malott had the other tallies for Manitoba. Malott now has six goals in just 11 games in his first year as a pro.
Martin Pospisil, Emilio Pettersen, Alex Petrovic, Mark Simpson, and Matthew Phillips scored the other markers for Stockton.
The Moose outshot Stockton 32-14 over the first two periods, but the shots were 16-7 in the Heat’s favour in the final 20 minutes.
“Overall I thought we played pretty well,” Suess said. “5-on-5, I think we controlled a good amount of the play, and we were getting opportunities in their end. Ultimately, I think the penalty kill wasn’t our best game, but 5-on-5, I thought we were pretty good tonight.”
The Heat scored three powerplay goals on six opportunities with the man advantage, including a go ahead goal in the third period after Declan Chisholm was assessed a double minor penalty for high sticking.
The loss ends a brief two-game win streak for the Moose. The Heat lead the Canadian Division with six wins and two losses.
After starting the season at Bell MTS Place, the Moose will play their final 17 home games at the Iceplex over a two month stretch with no road contests.
“It’s a little bit different,” said Todd. “But we practice here a lot, so I’d say, I think we were pretty comfortable out there. I think it showed tonight too. We came out flying.”
The Moose have been bitten by the injury bug in recent games. Tyler Graovac, Kristian Reichel, Kristian Vesalainen and Leon Gawanke were among the players who were out of the lineup with injuries.
Forward Victor Hadfield made his professional debut for Manitoba.
Mikhail Berdin made 25 saves and recorded one assist between the pipes for the Moose. Artyom Zagidulin made 33 stops for the Heat.
Former Moose captain Peter Stoykewych served as one of the linesman.
The Moose and Heat continue a stretch of four consecutive meetings with the rematch on Wednesday starting at 6:00 pm at the Iceplex.