Once again, the kids proved they are all right.
Down a goal and unable to get anything started offensively, the Manitoba Moose found their sparkplugs in the form of youngsters Alexandre Burrows, Brandon Nolan and Jesse Schultz in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Edmonton Road Runners yesterday.
When the Columbia Connection put the Moose on the board near the end of the second period, they not only gave their club some momentum, they ensured themselves a regular shift for the rest of the game.
Head coach Randy Carlyle showed more confidence in the trio as the game went on, letting the kids do their thing behind the Edmonton net -- crashing into bodies and making life miserable for the Road Runners defencemen.
"They provided us with a level of energy and scored a big goal and really gave us a chance (to win)," Carlyle said. "They were the catalyst for (yesterday's) effort."
Not known as a banger, Nolan has always been blessed with soft hands. But he knows Carlyle will not hesitate if he thinks the line isn't carrying the weight a fourth line should.
"(Carlyle) just wants energy," he said after scoring his third goal of the season. "Just to get some hits and hopefully try to cause some havoc for other teams down low. We've been doing a pretty good job, but there's always room for improvement. It feels good. We're just working hard and trying to get some good bounces."
While Burrows, who plays centre on the unit, has put up the higher numbers of the three (five goals, 13 points), he's also the one most willing to dance when asked by the opposition.
It's just another way he's trying fire his team up.
"I don't know why, it's just kind of worked out that way," Burrows said. "I guess it's just a little spark for the team sometimes and if it happens, it happens. If I'm in a position where I have to drop the gloves with someone, I will.
"I've always tried to be a hard-working player, so being a little more physical isn't anything new," he added. "(The line) is not counted on for offence for this team.
"We need to make things happen other ways."
CENTURY OF SIN: With his fight in the first period, tough guy Wade Brookbank became the first Moose player to break the 100-minute penalty barrier. His 103 penalty minutes is well short of Binghamton Senators enforcer Brian McGrattan and his league-leading 261 PIM, though.
MINARD SAVES: The Manitoba Moose organization isn't only deep in the net at the AHL level.
Columbia Inferno goaltender Mike Minard was named the ECHL's top goaltender for the month of December. Minard was unbeaten (9-0-0), adding a shutout, a goals-against average of 1.65 and a save percentage of .936 as Columbia went 9-2-0 to close out 2004.
Minard splits Inferno goaltending duties with Rob McVicar, who has played for the Moose this season.