Josh Green said on Thursday that the time to end the series was now. He wasn't interested in going back to Rochester, N.Y.
Green made sure the Manitoba Moose left nothing to chance, firing a natural hat trick in the second period to propel the home side to an exhilarating 5-2 victory over the Rochester Americans last night to win the American Hockey League North Division final 4-1 before a complete sellout crowd of 15,015 at the MTS Centre.
The win gives the Moose their first division title since joining the AHL for the 2001-02 season.
After winning three consecutive one-goal games, the Moose came up with a huge effort in Game 5. They were so strong that the Americans were held to just three shots in the final period.
"We're doing it the old-fashioned way, we earned it," said Moose head coach Randy Carlyle.
Manitoba advances to the Western Conference final against the Chicago Wolves, who won the West Division final last night with a 4-1 win over the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. The series is expected to start on Wednesday or Thursday at Allstate Arena. Tickets for games at the MTS Centre go on sale today at noon.
Discipline was a factor early for the Moose as they took the first two minor penalties of the game.
The Americans power play struck on the second opportunity as David Cullen pounded home a slapper from the slot at 4:08. It was the third consecutive game the Americans scored first and temporarily quieted the raucous crowd.
Jesse Schultz evened the score at 7:30, converting a nifty pass by Jeff Heerema just one second after a Moose power play had expired.
Paul Gaustad got the Americans back on top late in the first, accepting a one-handed pass from Cullen in the slot and slipping a backhand through the legs of Moose goalie Wade Flaherty at 16:28.
That's when Green took matters into his own hands.
His first marker came 61 seconds into the second period. Danny Groulx showed great patience before finding Green all alone in the slot on a Moose play.
Green scored his second of the game 18 seconds later, planting himself in front of the goal and redirecting a point shot from Kent Huskins home at 1:19.
Clinging to the one-goal lead, the Moose penalty killers were forced to kill off a two-man disadvantage that lasted 52 seconds.
"It gave us life," said Carlyle.
"If there was a turning point in the game, you could define it there."
Green, who was signed to a pro tryout offer by the Moose on Oct. 12, completed the second period flurry by blasting a long slapper past Ryan Miller at 11:30.
"It's great because my parents were in the building," said Green, who notched his first professional hat trick.
"It was special to have them here."
Winnipegger Lee Goren, with his ninth of the playoffs, rounded out the scoring at 7:51 of the third, driving the net and stuffing the puck under Miller.
"It's very disappointing. I feel for these guys," said Americans coach Randy Cunneyworth.
"We put so much into the year, it shows everything has to fall into place to be successful. It's way too short a run for sure.
"It's about sticking together and they've got that team mojo going and that's hard to combat."