Matt Pope went from the press box to the top line in less than 24 hours.
When Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel went to shake things up after a 2-1 loss to the Syracuse Crunch on March 24, Pope found himself skating with Jason Krog and Jason Jaffray.
The trio found some nice chemistry during the past three games and the move paid immediate dividends as the Moose won all three.
"It's been a rush," said Pope, who had 30 goals and 63 points with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL and also appeared in four games with the Binghamton Senators of the AHL before signing a pro tryout offer with the Moose on March 17. "It's been exciting and it's hard trying to keep up with everything. I came here and didn't know what to expect. I got brought in after the clear-day roster, so I didn't know if I would be in or out (of the lineup).
"Luckily there has been some opportunities. I've had a chance to go in and so far, we've been clicking really well and seem to be getting a lot of chances."
Pope wasn't a big-time goal scorer in college (he had 33 goals and 71 points during four seasons with the Bemidji State Beavers of the NCAA), but he's blossomed during his first pro campaign.
"It's a different game than college and it's more suited to what I like to play," said Pope. "In Bakersfield, I had a little more time to make plays and found myself with a lot more room out there."
The compliments have been flowing since Pope's arrival, including this doozy from Jaffray.
"He kind of reminds me of a young Lee Goren," said Jaffray, referring to the Winnipegger who produced 80 goals and 170 points in 193 games with the Moose over three seasons in antlers. "He's a big, right-handed shot that likes to hold onto the puck. He's good one-on-one. He's got patience around the net.
"I don't know, he's got that quiet confidence to him. I remember coming into the AHL myself and I wasn't as confident as he is."
Arniel's hunch is looking good so far.
"He's got good hockey skills, good hockey awareness and he has a nose for the net," said Arniel. "He's learning the pace of the AHL and he has some ECHL habits we're trying to polish off but he knows that when those two (Krog and Jaffray) have the puck, to go find a hole and get himself near the front of the net.
"He's not one of these guys you have to push and prod to go to certain areas on the ice. He knows where to get to. He is a goal scorer and knows what areas to hang out in. He's catching on to how we play and how he has to play without the puck. Offensively, he's pretty crafty and he knows what to do."
HOOF PRINTS: Krog is hobbling a bit with a sore foot after blocking a shot in Sunday's win over the Hamilton Bulldogs, but plans to be in the lineup on Friday when the Moose host the Toronto Marlies. "It should be fine," said Krog. "It's better today than yesterday and it seems like there is progress. There's nothing broken or anything and that's the main thing I was concerned about." The Moose announced the signing of D Yann Sauve and D Taylor Ellington to amateur tryout offers. Sauve, a second round choice (41st overall) of the Vancouver Canucks in the 20008 NHL Entry Draft, had five goals and 30 points in 61 games with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, while Ellington, a second round choice of the Canucks (33rd overall in 2007), had six goals and 32 points in 69 games with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League.