May 9, 2005
Not saying anythingMoose coach won't give Amerks any ammunition
By KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun
Randy Carlyle wasn't about to take the bait.
Providing bulletin-board material for the opposition just isn't his style.
With the Manitoba Moose and Rochester Americans tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven American Hockey League North Division final heading into tonight's game at the MTS Centre, the head coach was asked by a TV reporter if his team had the regular season champions right where they want them going into Game 3?
"I'm not going to say we've got anybody where we want them," said Carlyle. "They're a first place hockey club and there's lots of hockey left to be played.
"For anyone to suggest that we have them where we want them would be very, very foolish."
That may be true but the Moose are obviously far better off after earning a 1-0 shutout on Friday night on the heels of a third-period collapse in the series opener than they would have been returning home facing a 2-0 deficit.
The pressure was on Manitoba to respond in Game 2 and now Rochester finds itself in an unfamiliar position. After winning their first five games of Calder Cup playoffs, including four third-period rallies, the Americans face their first big test of responding to some adversity.
The next three games are slated for the MTS Centre, where the Moose won three consecutive games to eliminate the St. John's Maple Leafs.
The last time the Moose found themselves in a 1-1 situation and returning home, they scored four times in the opening 13 minutes and cruised to a 6-1 triumph.
Expect things to be a lot tighter tonight.
"I don't think the games are going to change, they're all going to be low-scoring games," said Moose captain Nolan Baumgartner. "Both teams know how to play defence. We're both evenly matched."
One of the biggest things fans will notice in this series is the pace of play as both teams have been aggressive on the forecheck thus far.
"We played St. John's five games and it was a different way they played," said Baumgartner. "I don't think those games were anywhere close to being the same pace but we expected that. This is the best team in the league we're playing. They've got guys that can score and guys that are fast, but we can play that game."
Good starts have been key for the Moose in each of their five post-season victories and they'll be looking to fly out of the gates tonight.
"It's definitely huge to get a big start, to get after them and stay after them," said Moose forward Lee Goren, who shares the team scoring lead with linemate Jeff Heerema.
One of the concerns for the Moose has been the power play, which is 0-for-9 in the first two games after producing three game-winning goals in the first round.
"We've got to find a way to get our power play providing us with some offence," said Carlyle.
MOOSE TRACKS: Prior to Game 2, the Americans had not been shut out since Oct. 26. Americans head coach Randy Cunneyworth is hoping to welcome rookie winger Thomas Vanek back to the lineup tonight. Vanek, who had 42 goals and 68 points during the regular season, missed the past two games with a groin injury. Vanek had two goals, both of them game-winners, and five points in the opening round series with the Hamilton Bulldogs. ... Despite winning five of six playoff games thus far, the Americans haven't spent much time playing with the lead. Rochester Democrat & Chronicle beat writer Kevin Oklobzija has determined that in 360 minutes of play, the Americans have held the lead for 74 minutes and 40 seconds and trailed for 147 minutes and 57 seconds. ... The Chicago Wolves lead the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 2-0 in the West Division final ... As of yesterday afternoon, 5,800 tickets had been sold for tonight's game.