Playoff hockey in Winnipeg in May? It's a reality for the first time in two years.
After wrapping up the North Division semifinal on Friday night, the Manitoba Moose are ready to take on the Rochester Americans in the next round of the American Hockey League's Calder Cup playoffs.
The North Division final opens up Wednesday at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena, with Game 2 set for Friday night.
The series shifts to the MTS Centre in Winnipeg for Games 3 (Monday, May 9), 4 (Wednesday, May 11) and 5 (Friday, May 13), if necessary.
Games 6 (Sunday, May 15) and Game 7 (Tuesday, May 17) are slated for Blue Cross Arena.
The Americans won the AHL regular season title by racking up 112 points, which was 14 more than the Moose.
However, the two teams split the season series 2-2 as each team took five of a possible eight points.
The Moose beat the Americans twice at Blue Cross Arena during the regular season, 7-2 on Oct. 15 and 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 29.
The Americans bounced back to sweep the Moose at the MTS Centre in March, winning 5-4 on March 5 and 5-4 in overtime on March 6.
"It's going to be exciting to go back there, we match up well," said Moose goalie Wade Flaherty. "They've got some great goaltending in (Ryan) Miller, he was the goalie of the year. They've got a veteran defence and with their forwards, (captain) Chris Taylor immediately comes to mind. He does what Peter Sarno does for us on the power play."
One other noteworthy item about March 6 was Moose sniper Jason King sustained a concussion in that contest and hasn't played since.
However, King said he made some progress during the past week. He skated with the team several times, but has yet to participate in contact drills. If he doesn't suffer any setbacks this week, there is an outside chance King could see action at some point in this series.
The Moose were given yesterday off, but return to the ice this morning, when preparations for the Rochester series will begin in earnest.
The Americans swept the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-0 to advance to the North Division final.