June 7, 2023

The Manitoba Moose just wrapped up another up-and-down series against the Texas Stars, dropping the first game 4-1 and then bouncing back in the next game with a 2-1 overtime win. Oskari Salminen stole the show in game two with a 32-save performance in which he made multiple “grade-A” saves, including a 2-on-0 in overtime to keep the game tied.

Related: 5 Observations from the Manitoba Moose’s First 5 Games

Their strong play to start the season has them in second place in the central division, behind only the Milwaukee Admirals. They also rank sixth in the American Hockey League (AHL) with a .722 points percentage. Alex Limoges led the way on Sunday with two goals, including the overtime winner.

Oskari Salminen Played 5/6 Periods & Looked “Fantastic”

After the game, Salminen’s teammates and coaches had high praises for the 23-year-old goaltender. He made 18/19 saves in relief of Arvid Holm in the first game and started the second game looking “fantastic”, according to coach Nolan Baumgartner.

He currently ranks sixth in the AHL with a .928 save percentage and fifth league-wide in goals-against average with a 1.93 mark. He has consistently been one of the best goalies in the league this season and would provide a huge boost to this team’s season-long outlook if he can keep it up.

FUNday overtime win for the #MBMoose!! Here are the highlights featuring Oskari Salminen and Alex Limoges leading the way!
#GoMooseGo https://t.co/OciExCvtZr

He told reporters after the game that he “pumped himself up” in preparation for this game, and it showed. According to AHLtracker.com, he ranks seventh in game score (GS) amongst all goalies with a 5.85 GS. The Moose have not seen goaltending like this since Connor Hellebuyck played for them in 2015-16.

Moose Top Line Came to Play in 2-1 Overtime Win

The top line of Mikey Eyssimont, Limoges, and Chaz Lucius dominated and was the teams’ main source of offence in the overtime win. Eyssimont got an incredible assist on the game-winning goal on Sunday, Nov.6, which improved the team’s record to 6-2-1 to start the new season.

The Moose have been rotating their forwards in and out of the lineup, which has made it hard for certain combinations to establish chemistry. That top line has played extremely well together in the limited action we’ve seen, and they should continue to serve as the top line until further notice.

Eyssimont leads the team with nine points in nine games, and second on the team is his linemate Limoges. Despite only playing six games, he’s recorded seven points in what has been a hot start to the 2022-23 season. Jansen Harkins was the leading scorer before being called up to play with the Winnipeg Jets, but it seems the offence will be able to score regardless.

Improving in “Game 2” is Becoming a Theme

In all three of their home “series”, the Moose have dropped the first game and adjusted to win the second. The Rockford IceHogs, the Iowa Wild, and the Texas Stars all got the early jump and won the first game of the two-game battles.

Is this a good thing? On one hand, they are making all the right adjustments for the second game and can execute them at a high enough level to win. On the other hand, starting each series 0-1 is a major concern, especially on home ice. They have yet another two-game home series this week against the Calgary Wranglers, set to battle on Nov. 11 and 13. The Moose will look to have a strong performance in game one of that series, something that has eluded them so far this season.

There is a lot to be excited about for the future of this team. They have shown they can provide elite goaltending, a defence core that has established itself as one of the best in the AHL, and a forward core that will continue to improve as Brad Lambert and Lucius continue to develop.

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