3 Takeaways From Manitoba Moose Weekend Split vs. Iowa Wild

The Manitoba Moose came into their weekend series against the Iowa Wild as the hottest team in the American Hockey League, holding a record of 4-0-1. Their first outing was rough, as they lost 5-2 and got out-skated for most of the game.

Head coach Mark Morrison told reporters after the game that the Wild were the “fastest team they had played against so far.” And they deserved that praise after the performance they put together on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Related: 5 Observations from the Manitoba Moose’s First 5 Games

The Moose were able to bounce back on Sunday, Oct.30, with a 4-1 win on the back of Cole Maier’s two-goal performance. Here are three takeaways from the weekend split against the Iowa Wild, which saw them leave the weekend with a 5-1-1 record.

Moose’s Special Teams Was Much Improved in Game No. 2

The special teams battle was something that Morrison wanted to see his team improve on in game two, and they did just that. The power play went 1/7 in game one of the doubleheader, and the one goal came during a 5-on-3 opportunity.

This improved tremendously for the Moose in game 2, as Leon Gawanke and Wyatt Bongiovanni both scored power-play goals to put their team ahead. The Gawanke goal provided momentum for the Moose, as Maier scored his second of the game just 15 seconds after that.

Leon Gawanke Manitoba Moose
Leon Gawanke, Manitoba Moose (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Gawanke is starting to find his groove this season, as according to AHL Tracker, he led all Moose defenders in game score (GS) with 1.68 GS on Sunday. Maier was the only skater to beat him, as he recorded a 2.1 GS.

The Wild were able to score two power-play goals in the first game but got shut down completely in the back half of the weekend by a penalty kill that was executed at a much higher level. Iowa forward Sammy Walker got both power-play goals, while the first one proved to be the game-winner.

Moose’s Forward Core Was Able to Thrive Despite Lambert’s Illness

Morrison told reporters on Saturday that the decision to scratch Brad Lambert was not performance related, but rather that the young forward “came down with an illness.” Lambert, or as many refer to as “Lambo,” recorded three points in his first four games with the Moose and was a big part of their offence to start the season.

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Despite his absence, the Moose’s forward group had no issues generating offence. Kevin Stenlund said in the postgame that he “knows the Jets are watching,” as he opened the scoring on Saturday. The “Lunch Pail Line” of Maier, Nicholas Jones, and Evan Polei, known for their penalty-killing abilities and physicality, were able to chip in offensively in the 4-1 win.

Jansen Harkins has been a dominant force for the Moose this season, accounting for five goals and nine points in six games thus far. Mikey Eyssimont is at eight points in seven games, and Declan Chisholm is leading the defence core with seven points.

Ville Heinola has also provided offence from the blue line, with four primary assists to start the season. His third year of development in the AHL is off to a good start alongside Simon Lundmark on the second pairing.

Arvid Holm Came Up Big in a Statement Win

After last week, it looked as though Oskari Salminen was the starting goaltender moving forward. This weekend, Arvid Holm made 33/34 saves en route to his best showing of the season. Through three games, Holm now holds a .927 save percentage and is recording a 1.37 game score per game (GS/G).

So who is the starter moving forward? The answer to that is the “hot hand.” Both goaltenders will play, and whoever continues their success will be rewarded with more playing time. There may not be a firm starter, but they seem to be taking the “1A/1B” approach as most AHL teams do. The scheduling format of the AHL makes it easy for teams to do this, as they regularly play back-to-backs over the weekend.

Arvid Holm Manitoba Moose
Arvid Holm, Manitoba Moose (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The Moose are two games into a six-game home stand and are currently fifth in the AHL standings with a 5-1-1 record. The Texas Stars, who currently sit 10th in the league standings, are the next opponent on the schedule in what will be another two-game series.

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