Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Gutsy Moose continue to play hard, despite player shortage

The Manitoba Moose are finding that their character players aren't going to let them feel sorry for themselves in the short term. With the Vancouver Canucks suffering a bout of injuries the Moose have seen their roster depleted by call ups, as Brendan Reid the team's top scorer has been the latest to be summoned to the big show.

For Manitoba that meant that the grunt players are expected to step up now, and last night they did just that. With Fedor Federov and Tyler Bouck joining Reid in Vancouver, the Moose find three of their top scorers not around at the moment, so it's the grinders who go to work.

Last night's game against the River Rats of Albany may not go down as a poetic vision of hockey, and the Moose probably didn't deserve the result as they played to a tie. Ugly hockey is probably an appropriate description of the pace of the game, with the Moose taking the lead early in the third period. Albany came back to tie it later in the third and that's the way the game ended.

It was Manitoba's third unbeaten game and moves them to within four points of playoff spot in the AHL, all the more impressive considering the constant shuffle of players between the Peg and Vancouver. Stan Smyl probably won't tell them just yet, but he has to be a bit proud of the way his team has knuckled down to the job at hand, not made any excuses and kept at it. If for no other reason than that, the Moose deserve to make the AHL playoffs.

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