Another Solid Preseason Weekend for Moose
So another preseason home-and-home series for the Halifax Mooseheads, another two dubs. The Moose blewout the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Friday before beating the 4-1 on the road on Saturday.
I attended Friday night’s game at the forum with my Dad. It’s always great when I get to go to games with him. He’s seen a lot of hockey in his life and I always like gettig his impressions of a particular game, team, or player.
In this case, I think he was intrigued to get his first look at Uber-rookie Nathan MacKinnon. His first observation on MacKinnon’s impact? the crowd size for preseason hockey. Another quality crowd came to the Halifax Forum to catch a beam-obstucted view of this talented young team.
And the hometown Moose did not disappoint. Despite giving up the first goal, Halifax displayed an offensive explosion in downing the Titan 10-4.
My Dad was not the only one paying close attention to MacKinnon. Former Moosehead, Garrett Clarke seemed particularly interested in welcoming the rookie to the league. He repeatedly went out of his way to be extra physical with the rook, crossing the line on a few occasions.
While others certainly showed MacKinnon the type of attention he’ll receive from opponents this season, Clarke was the most voracious, one time even running MacKinnon from behind.
Clarke took four minor penalties in the game and Halifax capitalized twice while he was in the box.
With the amount of chippiness in the game, I was rather surprised to see a guy like Luke Warner not get more involved. Warner was (remember that tense) a guy on the forward bubble and his top value to the team would be as a physical presence, not afraid to drop ’em when necessary. Warner was quite vocal in the later stages of the game, but either through lack of opportunity or organization will, nothing came of it.
CULLING THE HERD
Early Monday, Warner, along with Ryan Davis and Brandon Pye were released from the team.
The Moose now have 14 forwards remaining in camp and likely won’t make any further cuts up fron as Alexandre Grenier and Brent Andrews will be attending NHL camps.
The focus should now shift to making some tough decisions on the backend.
Nine defencemen remain in camp, as well as three goalies. One defence will be cut in the near future, while the second and final cut could be delayed by Konrad Albethauser’s participation in the San Jose Sharks’ camp. Sixteen-year-old Brian Lovell, who’s been out with a concussion, is expected back this week, but may be the first odd man out, to leave Mitchell Shewfelt and Josh Desmond battling for the final roster spot.
Lovell, Shewfelt and Desmond may get a bit more time to impress, as offseason acquisition Austin Hardie left Friday night’s game after a hit to the head and is currently listed as day-to-day.
Frederic Piche played the full 60 minutes on Friday and is battling for his major-junior life and the back-up job. Complicating matters for Piche is that he isn’t just competing with rookie netminder Zach Fucale, but also defenceman Jonthan Parisien and forward Travis Randall for the final overager spot.
Fucale has performed well so far in the preseason, and with young team already, GM Cam Russell is probably not as concerned about have an inexperienced back-up. In fact it might be more beneficial to get Fucale some experience now and be better prepared when this club is ready to contend.
Parisien appears to have the inside track on that final OA spot, with Piche and Randall on the outside looking in.
Halifax has the final two preseason games coming up this weekend before they open the season on the road on September 9th. Decisions will likely have to be made by the end of next weekend to give the final roster a week of practice to get set for the regular season.
WHAT THE FRK
Martin Frk must have done some work on his english skills during the offseason. Not only has he seemed more engaged in spekaing with teammates on the ice, on Friday he was penalized and then subsequently tossed from the game for voicing his displeasure with the officaiting.
Maybe he’s not learning the right words. Then, again maybe he is. The knock I’ve heard on Frk is that he isn’t always fully engaged. So far this preseason, he’s been more vocal and I’ve even caught him diving to block shots on the penalty kill. In the preseason!