AHL Game Recap: Manitoba Moose vs. Texas Stars | 03/02/2024

Photo via Texas Stars

The Manitoba Moose welcome the Texas Stars for a Saturday matinee game at the Canada Life Centre. The game is the first of a back-to-back weekend series; Saturday, March 2nd’s game is a 2:00 pm CST start, and the following Sunday happens to be the same start time. Back-to-back matinee games in Manitoba for the Moose before they head off on a road trip and won’t be back at the Canada Life Centre until March 19th.

Pre-Game Notes

Manitoba started its top line of Jeffrey Viel – Kristian Reichel – and Parker Ford with the defensive pairing of birthday boy Ville Heinola and Simon Lundmark. Thomas Millic got the nod to start in net for the Moose.

Texas countered with their top line of Matej Blumel – Mavrik Bourque – and Fredrik Karlstrom with the defensive pairing of Derrick Pouliot and Alex Petrovic. Matt Murray got the nod to start in net for the Stars.

Manitoba Dominates Texas in First Period in All Three Zones

Manitoba got off to a hot start as they entertained the Canada Life Centre crowd which was roughly half capacity. The Moose pushed hard offensively rather than starting slow and building momentum. They had all the momentum needed to work with after their last home win.

Kristian Reichel got the scoring party started early for Manitoba with a beautiful one-timer from Parker Ford’s feed right to the slot. The lead wouldn’t last long however as Mavrik Bourque got a great snapshot that cleared past Milic. The game would settle down scoring-wise for the next few minutes, but Manitoba continued to outmuscle Texas in all three zones as the Moose pounded shot after shot on Murray.

While the fans had to wait a little bit longer for a Manitoba goal, and Manitoba’s first power play attempt early in the period was unsuccessful. Alex Petrovic would be called for slashing, and the Moose would make them pay for it. Kyle Capobianco patrolled the blue line for the Moose, but a pass from Axel Jonsson-Fjallby found Capobianco for a great wrist shot from the point.

Manitoba’s lone power-play goal built their momentum and strong play against Texas, and it would ultimately lead to the period ending with the Moose up 2-1. The Moose also outshot the Stars 16-6 after the first period, a strong showing that the Moose definitely needed heading into the playoff push.

Manitoba Continues Momentum, Continues Winning Ways in Second Period

Starting the second period, it was full of energy from Manitoba, but Texas upped their physical game to keep Manitoba’s lethal offense at bay. A great early few chances for Texas were stopped by Thoams Milic, which led to a great change of pace in Manitoba’s favor.

Manitoba would get a test after Nicholas Jones was given a minor penalty for high sticking. Texas continued to rattle shots off on Milic, but the rookie goaltender proved too much for the Stars’ offense. The Moose would kill off Jones’ penalty and would wait a few more minutes before getting their third power play opportunity of the game. Jake Murray was called for tripping, but the Stars were able to keep the Moose at bay.

The Stars continued to rattle off shots, but Milic stayed strong. The Stars kept the shot marker even with the Moose at 8-8 in the second period, but the Moose still led 24-14 in the total shot count.

It wasn’t until late in the frame when Henri Nikkanen would wire home a shot past Matt Murray. The Moose would lead 3-1 and also get a fourth power play opportunity. On the same play as Nikkanen’s goal, Texas was assessed a bench minor for abuse of officials, officially called unsportsmanlike conduct which was served by Chase Wheatcroft. Manitoba’s power play opportunity would last long as Dominic Toninato would be assessed a penalty for roughing. For 33 seconds, there was one less player on the ice for each time. To end the period, the Moose still had 54 seconds on Toninato’s penalty to kill heading into the third.

Third Period

To start the third period, the Moose successfully killed Toninato’s penalty, returning the game to even strength. After a lot of back-and-forth between both teams, Dawson Barteaux would turn the puck over right in front of Thomas Milic and Stars forward Mark Rassell would capitalize on this chance and score. Rassell would fire up above Milic’s blocker to cut Manitoba’s lead down to just one goal.

Not too long after, the Moose and Stars would mix it up in a mad scramble for the puck. Mark Rassell once again found the back of the net to tie the game up. A 3-1 lead gone in just a blink of an eye.

However, Manitoba continued to push back on Texas. Forty-six seconds after Rassell’s second, Parker Ford scored to put the Moose up 4-3 and restore their lead. While it initially looked like Texas was going to challenge for goaltender interference, nothing materialized from their bench. It would take over ten minutes for Manitoba to get their next goal, but Manitoba would rattle home two empty net goals just 39 seconds apart. Reichel scored his second of the game at 17:12 followed by Brad Lambert scoring his first of the game on the empty net.

The Manitoba Moose weren’t done just yet as they looked to make a statement before tomorrow’s rematch with Texas. Nikita Chibrikov scored the game winning goal with 31 seconds left in the game to secure Manitoba’s 7-3 win.

Post Game Statistics

Manitoba would win a crucial Central Division battle against the Texas Stars. Securing two points over the Stars pushes Manitoba to sixth in the Central Division and one point out from fifth place with one game in hand on the Chicago Wolves.

Manitoba improves their win-loss record to 20-28-1 as they continue their playoff push in the later stages of the season.

Texas Stars Stats

Mark Rassell was the only multi-goal scorer with two goals for the Texas Stars. No other Stars player recorded a multi-point game.

Texas Stars goaltender Matthew Murray faced 32 shots and stopped 27.

Manitoba Moose Stats

Kristian Reichel was the only multi-goal scorer with two goals and an assist, totaling three points for the Manitoba Moose.
Kyle Capobianco was the other three-point getter for the Moose, with a goal and two assists.
Parker Ford scored a goal and an assist, while Jeffrey Viel and Dawson Barteaux each had two assists.

Manitoba Moose goaltender Thomas Milic faced 25 shots and stopped 22.

Three Stars

Conrad Jack

Conrad Jack is a lifelong hockey fan who is now actively writing for Inside The Rink covering primarily the Winnipeg Jets and the entire NHL second. He also covers the latest NHL News & Rumors, the NHL Entry Draft, and so much more for Inside The Rink.

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