AHL Central News: Standings Tighten Up After Exciting Week

The AHL’s Central Division was expected to be one of the most competitive in the league and it has not disappointed. After a week which saw five games needing overtime, you can now throw a blanket over three-quarters of the division. There is just a six-point difference between first and sixth place with only four of those teams moving on to the postseason.

Admirals March Their Way Back into First

The Milwaukee Admirals (16-9-4-1) are back atop the Central Division after spending the last two weeks in second place. They earned five out of a possible six points last week to jump ahead of the of Iowa Wild for first place.

On Thursday, top prospect Eeli Tolvanen was reassigned to Milwaukee by the Nashville Predators as Kyle Turris returned from injured reserve. He had a goal and an assist in his first four NHL games.

Related: Tolvanen Regulation Right Move by Predators

The Admirals began their week hosting the Grand Rapids Griffins. Tom McCullom got the nod against his former team. He played for the Griffins from 2009 to 2015 and again last season. He is the franchise’s all-time goaltender leader in wins, games played and saves. He made 26 saves in a 5-2 Milwaukee win and earned the game’s first star.

Tom McCollum
Tom McCullom (Ross Bonander/THW)

Nick Baptiste was the first of five different Admirals to light the lamp as he tied the game a 1-1 early in the second period. Seconds after Tanner Jeannot won a spirited fight over Dominic Shine, Brian Cooper found Garrett Ross wide open in front of the net where he gave the Admirals a 2-1 lead. After the Griffins tied the game midway through the second period, Emil Pettersson gave the home team a 3-2 lead with the eventual game-winning goal before the intermission.

Connor Brickley and Justin Kirkland both added insurance goals to complete the scoring in the third period. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak home losing streak versus Grand Rapids. This was their first win over the Griffins at Panther Arena since March 9, 2017.

The Admirals were back on home ice Friday night hosting the Texas Stars in front of the season’s biggest crowd of over 9,300 fans. Anthony Richard started his big night by giving Milwaukee an early 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the game. He got to a loose puck in the left circle and fired it over goaltender Landon Bow.

The 1-0 score held up until Freddy Allard doubled the lead, with less than three minutes left in the second period, as his shot from the top of right circle banked off the post and went in. The Stars were able to force overtime with a pair of goals less than two minutes apart late in regulation.

Richard notched his second goal of the game just 21 seconds into overtime to send the big crowd home happy. Defenseman Matt Donovan found Richard with a drop pass and he was able to squeeze the puck under Bow’s arm for the game-winner. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak against Texas.

The Admirals closed out the week on Saturday night in Grand Rapids with a rematch with the Griffins. Despite being held to a season-low 16 shots on goal, they were able to still get four pucks past Hari Sateri to earn a point in a 5-4 shootout loss.

Milwaukee got off to a fast start and quickly jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Jarred Tinordi finished off a rush with his second goal of the season just one minute into the game. Pettersson doubled the lead at 2:27 by shooting through the five-hole from the left circle. The Griffins answered with a pair of power-play goals to tie the game up before the end of the first period.

Pettersson scored a second goal to give the Admirals a 3-2 lead less than two minutes into the second period. Jeannot forced a turnover at the blue line and found Pettersson all alone in front of the net for an easy tap-in goal. Later in the period, while on a 5-on-3 advantage, Richard snapped a shot from the right circle past Sateri to give the Admirals a 4-2 lead.

Grand Rapids got a goal a minute into the third period and then tied the game with just 1:17 left in regulation. After a scoreless overtime period, Dominic Turgeon scored the only goal of the shootout to earn the extra point for the home team.

Player of the Week: The Admirals had one of their best offensive weeks of the season with eight different players scoring a goal and 17 registering at least one point. Of the lot, Anthony Richard led the way with three goals and six points. He now leads the team with 11 goals and his tied with Matt Donavan for team-lead in points with 19.

The Week Ahead: Wednesday, Dec. 19 @ Rockford; Saturday, Dec. 22 vs Chicago

Wild Trending the Wrong Way as Struggles Continue

The Iowa Wild (14-7-4-3) have fallen two points behind the Admirals after picking up just one point in three games. The Wild defense struggled all week long as they gave up 14 goals in their trio of contests.

Before the team took to the road, the Minnesota Wild recalled forward Luke Kunin. The 2016 first-round pick has eight goals and 15 points in 21 AHL games this season. This is his second stint in the NHL after playing 19 games with Minnesota last season.

Luke Kunin
Luke Kunin (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

The Wild’s week in Texas started on Wednesday night in Cedar Park against the Stars. Iowa has been very good at scoring the first goal for much of the season and that trend continued just over two minutes into the game. Will Bitten threw the puck in front of the net where fellow rookie Gerry Fitzgerald grabbed the rebound and put it home for his team-high 10th goal of the season.

Texas knotted up the game before the end of the first period. Colton Beck’s eighth goal of the season gave the Wild a 2-1 lead 5:28 into the second period. Beck jumped off the bench, quickly joined the rush and then beat netminder Landon Bow to the top right corner of the net.

Things would go downhill for Iowa after this as they gave up four straight goals to fall behind 5-2. Midway through the third period, Dmitry Sokolov cut the deficit to two by firing a shot through a screen for his third goal in the last two games. Texas added a late empty net goal to cap off the scoring.

The Wild would try to shake off the loss with back-to-back games in San Antonio against the Rampage. Things did not start well on Friday as the Wild found themselves down 2-0 early after the Rampage got a pair of pucks past goaltender C.J. Motte just 29 seconds apart.

Gerry Mayhew finally got the Wild on the board at 18:28 of the second period as his long-range shot somehow found its way into the Rampage net. Beck tied the game early in the third period with his second goal in as many nights. Brennan Menell’s shot hit off of Landon Ferraro and Beck was able to bat the puck out of mid-air and in behind netminder Ville Husso.

Justin Kloos gave the Wild their first lead of the night with less than six minutes remaining in regulation. Veteran Matt Read found Kloos with a cross-ice pass and he slammed home a quick one-timer for his seventh goal of the year. The lead was not meant to last as San Antonio drew even just 39 seconds later.

After a scoreless overtime, Sokolov scored in the second round of the shootout to even things up. However, Motte allowed a second goal in the third round to give the Ramage the win.

The rematch with the Rampage on Sunday did not fare much better for the Wild. San Antonio opened up a 2-0 lead and looked like they would take it into the second intermission, but Gerry Mayhew scored with just 0.4 seconds left in the middle period.

The Rampage would score the next three goals, all on the power play, to open up a 5-2 lead. Mayhew set up the Wild’s last goal of the day in the final minute of the play by setting up a one-timer by Read. In the end, the Wild gave up four power play goals, which tied the franchise record for the most in a single game. Iowa will return to Des Moines to begin a season-high five-game homestand.

Player of the Week: It was quite obvious that the Wild are hurting without leading scorer Cal O’Reilly, who missed all three games due to injury. Only five players managed to register multiple points last week. Matt Read and Gerry Mayhew led the way with three points. Read gets the nod because he finished the week with two goals and an assist, all coming in San Antonio.

The Week Ahead: Friday, Dec. 21 vs Stockton; Saturday, Dec. 22 vs Stockton

Griffins Hang on to Third After Crazy Week

The Grand Rapids Griffins (15-10-2-2) had quite the eventful week and even had a chance overtake Iowa for second place. However, a very shorthanded team could not close out and they remain in third place, one point behind the Wild and just one point ahead of the Chicago Wolves.

The Griffins began their busy four-game week with a trip back to Milwaukee to take on the Admirals. For the second straight game, the Griffins allowed three unanswered goals in a 5-2 defeat, just like they did the previous Saturday night versus the Iowa Wild.

Turner Elson’s ninth goal of the season broke a scoreless tie midway through the first period as he redirected a shot from Chris Terry over the shoulder of goaltender Tom McCollum. The Admirals responded with a pair of goals in the first 5:24 of the second period to open up a 2-1 lead.

Matt Puempel tied the game with a power-play goal less than three minutes later by beating McCollum with a wrist shot from the left circle. Milwaukee would go on to score the next three goals with one before the end of the second period and two more in the final frame. The loss gave the Griffins just one point on their three-game road trip as they limped back home to the Van Andel Arena.

They would begin their stretch of three games in three days over the weekend without their leading scorer, defenseman Filip Hronek. The 21-year-old blueliner was recalled by the Detroit Red Wings on Friday morning after they learned that Mike Green will be out for the next three to five weeks. Brian Lashoff was reassigned to the Griffins in a corresponding move.

The Griffins began their busy weekend hosting the Rockford IceHogs on Friday night. The road team jumped out to a two-goal lead by the end of the first period, but special teams got the home squad back in the game.

After being robbed by goaltender Colin Delia numerous times, the Griffins finally got one past him on their 20th shot. While on a power play, Terry scored his league-leading 17th goal of the year and 200th of his AHL career with a blistering slap shot from the right point.

Elson tied the game with his third shorthanded goal of the season with just six seconds remaining in the second period. The game slowed down during the final 20 as the two teams combined for just 10 shots. The IceHogs scored midway through overtime to secure the extra point.

Turner Elson Grand Rapids Griffins
Turner Elson (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Admirals returned to Grand Rapids for a rematch on Saturday night. The Griffins were able to grind out a 5-4 shootout win, but it would turn out to be a very costly one. In addition to Puempel getting ejected, Elson and Filip Zadina were both lost to injuries.

The Admirals jumped out to an early 2-0 lead by scoring on their first two shots of the game. Later in the opening period, while on the power play, defenseman Trevor Hamilton scored his first career AHL goal from the top of the left circle. Zadina tied the game with a power play tally of his own just 1:20 later.

Milwaukee regained the lead early in the second period. They went ahead 4-2 thanks to a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes after Puempel was given a match penalty for a check to the head of Alexander Carrier and Colin Campbell picked up an interference penalty. It was during the extended penalty kill when Elson was injured blocking a shot.

During the first shift of the third period, Zadina limped off the ice and did not return. Being down three forwards did not deter the Griffins from coming back to tie the game. Dylan Sadowy scored off a faceoff win just 1:01 into the final frame to draw Grand Rapids to within one.

With the goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Joe Hicketts’ shot from the point hit some traffic in front and got in behind McCullon to even things up with just 1:17 left in regulation. The goals by Sadowy and Hicketts were the first of the season for both players.

In the shootout, Sateri stopped all three shots he saw before Dominic Turgeon scored in the third round to earn the extra point.

By the time the Griffins got to Rockford for Sunday’s meeting with the IceHogs, their roster had been depleted. Due to injuries, suspension and a recent call-up, the Griffins were without five of their top six scorers. They recalled Bryan Moore from the ECHL and signed Tyler Spezia to a professional tryout (PTO) to try to fill in the holes up front.

The Griffins dominated much of the night but could not figure out goaltender Colin Delia. The game headed into the third period still deadlocked at zero. The IceHogs scored on the power play midway through the frame and added an insurance goal about six minutes later.

Terry scored the only goal of the night with a one-timer from the right circle with 10 seconds left in regulation, but it was too little, too late. Patrik Rybar made 27 saves, but with all the missing bodies and being the third game in three days, it wasn’t enough for a victory.

Player of the Week: The Griffins offense had been rolling of late, but it cooled off with nine goals in four games last week. Axel Holmstrom ended up picking up an assist on four of those nine goals. Not bad for a guy who entered the week with four assists in his previous 24 games. And in case you are wondering, Axel is not related to former Red Wings great Tomas Holmstrom.

The Week Ahead: Wednesday, Dec. 19 vs Cleveland; Friday, Dec. 21 @ Manitoba; Saturday, Dec. 22 @ Manitoba

Wolves Stay Hot with Weekend Sweep

The Chicago Wolves (15-9-2-1) rebounded nicely from their five-game losing streak by winning three in a row two weeks ago. They continued their success by sweeping a weekend series versus the Tucson Roadrunners to hang on to fourth place and inch closer to the top of the division.

Saturday night was the Wolves first home game since Dec. 2 and they gave their fans a reason to smile on their way out of the Allstate Arena with a 4-2 win.  Defenseman Nic Hague opened the scoring on a late first-period power play. Hague scored his fifth goal in the last four games by beating goaltender Hunter Miska with a backhand shot from the right circle.

Just over a minute after the Roadrunners tied the game, the Wolves regained a 2-1 with just over two minutes left in the opening period. Zac Leslie found Keegan Kolesar wide open at the left faceoff dot where he buried home a one-timer.

The 2-1 lead held up through a scoreless second period before the Wolves struck again on the power in the third period. Brandon Pirri drew two defenders before passing to Brooks Macek who found a wide-open Daniel Carr at the right side of the ice for an easy one-timer.

Tucson cut the lead to one about three minutes later, but Pirri iced the game with his 14th goal of the season with less than five minutes remaining. He had so much time and space he was able to get Miska to go down before flipping the puck over him. Oscar Dansk made 28 saves to pick up the win.

The Wolves rolled to their fifth straight win with a 5-1 victory over the Roadrunners the next afternoon. Pirri stayed red-hot with the opening goal in the first period. Curtis McKenzie won a puck battle behind the net and got it out front to Pirri who beat Merrick Madsen to the glove side. Pirri doubled the lead midway through the second period after T.J. Tynan forced a turnover and sent him in all alone.

Tynan forced the third Wolves goal in the opening seconds of the second period. This time he picked off a pass just inside the blue line and banked a shot off the right post for his fifth goal of the season. Carr made it 4-0 midway through the third period by finishing off a give-and-go play with Marco Roy.

Tuscon spoiled Max Lagace’s shutout bid with a late power play goal. Zach Whitecloud finished off the scoring with a 4-on-4 goal in the game’s final minutes.

Player of the Week: There are many reasons why the Wolves have won five in a row and the play of Brandon Pirri has been a huge part of it. He had three goals and an assist over the weekend. During the Wolves last five games, he has six goals and 12 points.

“His statistics are a reflection of how hard he’s competing every night,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson after Sunday’s win. “He has taken the leadership role and he really wants to evolve that part of his game. That’s about coming to work every day, whether it’s in practices or a game.”

The Week Ahead: Friday, Dec. 21 vs Rockford; Saturday, Dec. 22 @ Milwaukee

IceHogs Grind Out Five Points to Keep Pace

The Rockford IceHogs (13-10-2-4) were in need of a big week and that is exactly what they got to remain in fifth place, just one point out of a playoff spot. Even though they played far from their best hockey of the season, the IceHogs were still able to grab five out of a possible six points.

Before they took to the ice, the IceHogs lost two of their top players as forward Dylan Sikura and defenseman Carl Dahlstrom were recalled by the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. Alexandre Fortin and Jan Rutta came back in corresponding moves.

A busy weekend began on the road with a Friday night tilt at the Grand Rapids Griffins. The IceHogs grabbed a 1-0 just over three minutes into the game to set the tone. Jordan Schroeder sped into the zone along the left boards and sent the puck into the slot where Luke Johnson redirected past the blocker of goaltender Patrik Rybar.

The IceHogs power play cashed in to double the lead about 10 minutes later. The top unit made a series of great passes that ended with Victor Ejdsell finding Jacob Nilsson wide open at the right dot where he fired a one-timer just under the crossbar.

The Griffins fought back with a power-play goal midway through the second period and a shorthanded tally in the final seconds of the frame. After a scoreless third period, Johnson struck again halfway through overtime by roofing a shot from the high slot. The win ended the IceHogs five-game losing streak in Grand Rapids and it was just their second win in their last 11 trips to the Van Andel Arena.

Before the IceHogs returned to home ice to host the Texas Stars on Saturday, they released forward Hunter Fejes from his PTO. He did not register a point in his seven games with the team.

Anton Forsberg made a season-high 49 saves against the Stars, but that was only good enough for one point in a 3-2 overtime loss. After Texas jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the second period, Jordan Schroeder tied the game with just four seconds left in the frame. Schroeder got to the net, while on the power play, to put home a rebound off an Anthony Louis shot.

With Dahlstrom in Chicago, Lucas Carlsson stepped up in the offensive zone to give the IceHogs a 2-1 lead eight minutes into the third period by scoring from the slot after a nice passing play by Fortin and Johnson. The Stars tied the game less than three minutes later to send the IceHogs to overtime for the second time in as many nights.

The Stars would win just over a minute over into the extra time after Forsberg gave up a rebound and could not stop the second chance. Forsberg’s 49 saves were the second most saves made by any goaltender in the AHL this season.

The IceHogs had no time to sulk over the loss as the Griffins were in town for a rematch very next afternoon. Colin Delia made life miserable for Grand Rapids for the second time in three days. He made 37 saves in a 2-1 victory over a shorthanded team.

The game headed into the third period with no score thanks to the play of Delia. Carlsson broke the ice at the 11:31 mark while on the power play by creeping down to the front of the net and putting a loose puck in behind Rybar. Carlsson played a big role in the eventual gaming winning goal over seven minutes later. Schroeder got to the front of the net to deposit at rebound off a Carlsson shot from the point to give the IceHogs a 2-0 lead.

Jordan Schroeder
Jordan Schroeder (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

The Griffins spoiled Delia’s bid for his first shutout of the season by scoring with just 10 seconds left on the night. The performance raised Delia’s save percentage (save %) to .933, the best among all AHL goaltenders.

Player of the Week: Lucas Carlsson and Jordan Schroeder did their best to win this honor, but nobody was more valuable than Colin Delia. He stopped 63 of the 66 shots he saw in his two victories over the Griffins. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford suffered another concussion on Sunday night and Delia earned the call-up to Chicago.

The Week Ahead: Wednesday, Dec. 19 vs Milwaukee; Friday, Dec. 21 @ Chicago

Stars Inch Their Way Closer to a Playoff Spot

The Texas Stars (14-9-2-1) continued their upward trend in the Central Division standings. With a five-point week, the Stars remain in sixth place but they are now just two points out of the all-important fourth and final playoff spot. They are six points behind the first-place Admirals.

The Stars hosted the Iowa Wild for their only home game of the week on Wednesday night. They extended their winning streak to four games with a come-from-behind 6-3 victory. After the Wild jumped out to an early lead, Michael Mersch redirected a Roope Hintz shot to even things up while on a late first-period power play.

Erik Condra responded to an early Wild second-period goal by getting to his own rebound to tie the game at 2-2. The goal extended Condra’s personal point streak to 11 games, tying a franchise record. Before the second intermission, Colton Hargrove forced a turnover then set up Colin Markison’s third goal of the season to give the Stars their first lead of the game. The assist was the 100th point Hargrove’s AHL career.

Texas took advantage of multiple Iowa penalties to take control of the game in the third period. Adam Masherin scored his 11th goal of the year while on a 5-on-3 advantage. Less than two minutes later, Mersch lit the lamp for the second time while on another power play. Iowa cut the lead to two with a 5-on-3 goal of their own before Condra capped off the scoring with a late empty net goal.

Before the Stars took to the road, winger Denis Gurianov was recalled by the Dallas Stars for his second stint with the big club. He was tied for fourth in the AHL and second on the team with 28 points at the time of the move.

They opened their three-game road trip in Milwaukee on Friday night, a team they have earned seven out of a possible eight points against already this season. The Admirals held a 2-0 advantage heading into the third period and things were beginning to look bleak for the Stars. Then, at the 13:21 mark, Joel L’Esperance rocketed a one-timer, off a feed from Ben Gleason, into the Admirals net to cut the deficit in half.

The goal lit a fire under the Stars and they continued to pressure the home team. Less than two minutes later, Justin Dowling tied the game by getting his shot from the slot just under the crossbar. Goaltender Landon Bow had to make a couple of big saves in the final minute of regulation, but he gave up a goal just 21 seconds into overtime.

Justin Dowling (Ross Bonander / THW)
Justin Dowling (Ross Bonander / THW)

The Stars concluded the week in western Illinois with a Saturday night tilt against the IceHogs. They got 52 shots on goal, but netminder Anton Forsberg somehow got the game to overtime before the Stars won 3-2.

Condra opened the scoring with a power-play goal early in the second period by finishing off a great passing play with Dowling and Travis Morin. Unfortunately, Rockford was able to even things up with a power-play goal of their own with just four seconds remaining the sandwich frame.

Three minutes after Rockford took the lead in the third period, the Stars responded to force overtime. L’esperance fired a puck over Anton Forsberg’s glove hand for his 14th goal of the season, which leads all AHL rookies. In overtime, Nicholas Caamano drove hard to the net and was denied, but Mascherin was able to put the rebound into the net for the win.

Player of the Week: Two Stars were able to score three points last week; Roope Hintz and three assists and Erik Condra had three goals. Condra continues to be a great asset for the Stars. He is seventh in the league in goals and third in points. When he has been on his game, the Stars usually win.

The Week Ahead: Friday, Dec. 21 vs San Antonio; Saturday, Dec. 22 @ San Antonio

Rampage No Longer in Last Place

The San Antonio Rampage (12-15-1-0) won both of their games over the Wild last week to finally crawl out of the cellar. With their four points, they have jumped over the Manitoba Moose for seventh place in the Central Division. They have plenty of work to do as they are still eight points out of a playoff spot.

The team got some good news as they learned that forward Jordan Kyrou was reassigned to San Antonio by the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. He had 15 points in 14 games before his second stint with the Blues last week. Kyrou was a big factor in both wins over the weekend.

Wearing their “Ugly Sweater” jerseys, the Rampage jumped out to a 2-0 just over four minutes into Friday night’s contest with the Wild. Nikita Soshnikov opened the scoring with a one-timer from the high slot. 29 seconds later, Trevor Smith fired a wrist shot into the Iowa net to finish off a 3-on-2 rush. It was Smith’s second goal in as many games after missing the previous eight games with an injury.

Iowa fought back to tie the game early in the third period. They took a 3-2 lead at 14:17 of the final frame, but the Rampage had a quick response. Just 39 seconds later, Soshnikov answered with his second goal of the night. Kyrou was tripped up but was still able to find Soshnikov at the right side of the night for his third assist of the night.

The game went to a shootout after neither side could score in overtime. Austin Poganski scored in the first round and was followed by a Kyrou goal in the third round to win it. Both Poganski and Kyrou are now 2-for-2 in shootout attempts this season.

It was more of the same for Kryou and the Rampage in their rematch of with the Wild on Sunday. Kryou notched his second straight three-point game while San Antonio scored four power-play goals after going their last six games without one.

Klim Kostin opened the scoring on a late first-period power play. Zach Sanford, who was playing in his first AHL game since Oct. 13, found Kostin in front where he was able to flip the rebound off his initial shot over goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen.

Kostin picked up the primary assist on Chris Thorburn’s second-period goal which doubled the Rampage lead. The Wild got on the board, while on a 5-on-3 advantage with just 0.4 seconds left in the second period.

The Rampage scored three more power play goals in the third period in a span of just 3:54. Kyrou picked up the first one with a one-timer from the slot for his sixth goal of the season. Just over three minutes later, Sanford got to rebound, while on a 5-on-3 advantage, to increase the lead to 4-1. Mitch Reinke added the fifth and final goal on the same power play as he was set up by Kyrou. The Wild added a meaningless goal in the final minute of play to finish off the scoring.

Player of the Week: For the second time in the last three weeks, this honor goes to Jordan Kyrou. After a week-long stint with the Blues, Kyrou picked up right where he left off with back-to-back three-point games over the weekend. He has points in six straight AHL games, tying Mitch Reinke for the longest such streak by a Rampage player this season. He has five goals and 13 points during his streak. He leads the team with 16 points despite only playing in 16 of their 28 games.

The Week Ahead: Friday, Dec. 21 @ Texas; Saturday, Dec 22 vs Texas

The Moose Hit Rock Bottom

The Manitoba Moose (11-14-2-0) have nowhere to go but up as a pointless week has them down to eighth place in the Central Division. They have scored the fewest goals in the division while giving up the most, which is not a recipe for success.

After a two-week road trip through California, the Moose returned home for a weekend series with the Toronto Marlies. The reigning Calder Cup champions were not gracious guests as they beat up on the Moose, outscoring them 12-3 over two games.

Friday night’s game marked the team’s first home game since Nov. 24 and the Moose gave their fans very little to cheer for in a 7-2 loss. The Marlies put the pressure on early and often. They took a 2-0 lead and a 19-7 shot advantage into the first intermission. They added a third goal in the opening minute of the second period.

Michael Spacek got the Moose on the board just a couple of minutes later with a snapshot from the slot while on the power play. The Marlies responded with a fourth before the Moose struck again on the power play late in the period. Defenseman Sami Niku, who was just reassigned Friday morning, picked up his second point of the night with his second AHL goal on the season.

Sami Niku
Sami Niku (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The Marlies added three more goals in the third period and finished the night with 45 shots on goal.

“The goals against were misreads.  Bad pinches, not coming back on the defensive side, misreads defensively.  I felt we didn’t connect defensively either,” said head coach Pascal Vincent. “So there was a lot to learn about our team today.”

The next night was not much better for the Moose as they were beaten 5-1. The Moose’s penalty kill unit gave three goals while they went 0-for-6 on the power play. Mikhail Berdin gave up five goals on 27 shots.

However, there were two bright spots for the Moose on Saturday. The first being Spacek’s second goal of the weekend early in the third period. The other was the 2,930 stuffed animals donated by fans during the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss, setting a franchise record.

Player of the Week: It wasn’t hard to find someone who stuck out on a team that scored just three goals. Michael Spacek scored two of those goals and picked up an assist on the third. He is on a five-game point streak with two goals and eight points during that span. He leads the team with 15 assists and 18 points.

The Week Ahead: Friday, Dec. 21 vs Grand Rapids; Saturday, Dec. 22 vs Grand Rapids