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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Scouting the Manitoba Moose

It wouldn’t be the Manitoba Moose without Jimmy Roy. A professional AHLer, Jimmy is back, still hoping, perhaps, for that crack at the big game. Known as an agitator and as “Mr. May,” Roy joins a Moose team that is full of younger players and a few old friends.

The Moose have said they plan on being fast and pursuing the puck this year. As a result of that, and the changes caused by the end of the lock-out, lots of young players and a few older pros are playing. It looks like they mean to season their young team with the experienced players, especially between the pipes. Here’s the down and dirty. They look strong in the pipes, but inexperienced on defense. They may be relying to much on older players for their offence.

The Moose are rebuilding their their defense line this year. Two go-to guys on d are gone and six younger men, some from last year, are two years or less from juniors or college. They are D man Kevin Bieksa, two years out of Bowling Green, and expected NHL Canucks pick was injured in pre-season play when a intra-squad game tangle-up sprained his ankle.

D man Tomas Mojzis two years out of the Seattle Thunderbirds WHL has been a disappointment for the club. There is a report on the Moose board that he was injured in play on Wednesday against the Knights. D man Brett Skinner, fresh out of the University of Denver. D man Prestin Ryan, two years with the Crunch and prior to that with the University of Maine. He had 161 Pims with the Crunch last season.

Defense man Nathan McIver from the Toronto St. Michael's Majors joins this year. And, James DeMone from the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns joins defense this year.

Mike Keane, hasn’t played in the minor leagues since 1988. He apparently didn’t play at all last year, but two years ago played 64 games in Vancouver, scoring 8 goals and 17 assists. A reporter, at his first drill in 17 months, said Keane was ready to go. Keane will be challenged, by the new rules, but said he is ready to go. Keane is a Manitoba guy and a fan favorite.

Three veterans of the ice are wearing a rack, Josh Green returns, the NHL vet had good numbers with several NHL teams in the past few years, but at 38 may be considered to old for the big game. He will be a continuing threat with good numbers (more than 21 goals last year with the Moose, plus 19 assists.)

Jason Jaffray is on a Professional try out with the Moose. Last year he earned 14 goals in 44 AHL games, plus 6 goals in 23 ECHL games. Or 20 goals plus 16 assists in 67 games.

Craig Darby, 33, has played up and down the IHL, the AHL and for the Canadiens and New Jersey.

Jozef Balej’s trade for Fedor Fedorov has been praised by Moose fans, who think the Czech will allow greater club house cohesion this year. Coming out of the Portland Winter Hawks WHL in 2002, he joined the Hamilton Bulldogs. He played 17 games in the big circus, had 42 points with Hartford last season.

Another face from the past, “Flats” Wade Flaherty is returning in goal. Flats is now 37, and will be important in any Moose run for the Calder Cup as he has loads of experience. Last year he had a 2.33 GA, which is an improvement on his AHL career. In Milwaukee, during their Calder Cup victory, he had a 2.18 GA. He’s never been fun to face and will make it a tough team to beat again.

He is backed by a goalie from the Brandon Wheat Kings, Robert McVicar. McVicar ended his time with the juniors with a 2.7 GA in 2003.

My favorite for Ritalin poster child, is Rick Rypien. Rypien. An agitator and fiesty addition to last year’s line-up is back. It’s hard to believe, after the effect he had in the previous season that he spent most of last year in the WHL at Regina Pats. Here’s a great pix of him in a fight with Ole-Kristian Tollefsen Despite all the press and hoopla, he scored no points in post season, but did collect 40 Pims. I hope he’s adoptable, because his style of play is being forced out by enforcement of the rules.

There are lots of people out of the juniors and college on offence. Some making the second trip with the Moose this winter. They include Mike Brown, a local from Northbrook, IL, he played with the University of Michigan last year. Jesse Shultz, of the Kelowna Rockets, returns. Shultz scored 24 points last regular season, plus 5 in post-season play. Marc-Andre Bernier comes up from the Halifax Mooseheads this year. He scored 50 points in 67 games there last year. Brandon Nolan, of the Oshawa Generals, returns to his 2nd season with the Moose. Maxime Fortunus returns to the Moose for a 2nd season, he had played minors with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar (the Vikings).

Brett Lysak played the 2004-5 season in the DEL (German Elite League) Frankfort Iserlohn (Lions), where he collected 18 points. At Lowell, in 2004 he collected 35 points. Alexandre Burrows, named the 2004-5 team’s hardest working player, returns again. He collected 26 points last season in the AHL, plus six in the ECHL, he also had 3 post season points.

A recent addition to the D line is Jason Doig, 28. The Moose signed Doig to a professional try out contract early this month. He brings some needed experience from the NHL, although he took last year off. His previous NHL experience was with the Capitals in 2003-4. Sven Butenschon fills out the D men ranks. He comes with big game resume, 132 NHL games. Last season he played for the DEL Mannheim Adler (Eagles). He is 29.

The Moose will be ending a five game opening road trip. They’ll have been in Milwaukee on Friday. As I write this, they’ve lost two to the Rivermen, by one goal each. But defeated Omaha by one goal.


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