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River City Moose Report (Black Aces Edition)

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Eddie Lack is one of the 5 "Black Aces" called up from the Manitoba Moose this week following his brilliant rookie season.
Eddie Lack is one of the 5 "Black Aces" called up from the Manitoba Moose this week following his brilliant rookie season.

The Manitoba Moose are done for the year, following last Monday's heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to the Hamilton Bulldogs in Triple-Overtime of Game 7.  The Moose had managed to come back from a 3-1 series deficit in Round 1 against the Lake Erie Monsters, and despite winning Game 6 on the road they couldn't duplicate the magic versus Hamilton as Winnipeg's own Dustin Boyd put one by Eddie Lack 6 seconds into the third overtime period.  It was definitely a tough way to lose, but overall it was a pretty successful season for the Moose on a number of levels.  Look for a season recap in the coming weeks.

Until then, though, the Moose and Canucks have managed to make some news.  While most of the Moose roster are busy shining up their clubs and filling their golf bags with Titleist's, a few members of the club will have to wait before they can hit the links.  Mike Gillis announced on Friday that 5 players have been recalled from Manitoba to add to the practice squad.  The 5 "Black Aces" are goaltender Eddie Lack, defenseman Chris Tanev, and forwards Sergei Shirokov, Aaron Volpatti and Alex Bolduc.  Let's have a look at these 5 players, plus a few players who didn't get the nod.

Eddie Lack

(AHL) 2010-11 Reg. Season Stats   53 GP / 28-21-4 / 2.26 GAA / 0.926 S% / 5 SO
(AHL) 2010-11 Playoff Stats   12 GP / 6-5 / 1.99 GAA / 0.932 S% / 2 SO


What a debut for rookie sensation Eddie Lack.  "The Stork" was the regular season MVP for the team, was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team, and then decided to amp it up even further in the playoffs.  The above stats are pretty impressive, but consider this:  In the 5 elimination games that the Moose faced, Lack went 4-1 with a 0.976 save percentage, a 0.80 GAA and 2 shutouts.  Talk about clutch.  It is also impossible to hang the Game 7 loss on Lack either - he stopped 55 of 57 shots in the Triple-Overtime thriller.  This kid is for real, and I think he could replace Cory Schneider as early as next year if in fact the Canucks decide to deal Cory.

Chris Tanev

(NHL) 2010-11 Reg. Season Stats   29 GP  0G  1A  0+/-  0PIM
(AHL) 2010-11 Reg. Season Stats   39GP  1G  8A  +5  16PIM
(AHL) 2010-11 Playoff Stats   14GP  1G  2A  +7  4PIM

We all witnessed how seamlessly Tanev stepped into our lineup earlier this year when our blueline was absolutely decimated.  The 21-year-old rookie has literally come out of nowhere to become what I consider to be our best prospect on defense.  Not bad for an unheralded free-agent signing who played at the Rochester Institute of Technology for one season before turning pro.  I think that Tanev may already have a spot on the Canucks blueline next year, and he played great for the Moose in the playoffs.  Tanev could prove to be another diamond in the rough.

Sergei Shirokov

(NHL) 2010-11 Reg. Season Stats   2 GP  1G  0A  +1  0PIM
(AHL) 2010-11 Reg. Season Stats   76GP  22G  36A  +7  51PIM
(AHL) 2010-11 Playoff Stats   14GP  7G  3A  0+/-  4PIM

Sergei led the Moose in scoring during this years regular season with 58 points in 76 games played.  He also scored his first NHL goal this past season in Colorado during a brief call-up.  Playing on the top unit for most of the season alongside Marco Rosa, Sergei really hit is stride in the playoffs.  He set a Moose playoff record by contributing a point in seven straight post-season games, which was every game in the first round victory over Lake Erie.  The Moose were hardly an offensive juggernaut this year, but Sergei led the way and showed his scoring prowess often.

Aaron Volpatti

(NHL) 2010-11 Reg. Season Stats   15 GP  1G  1A  -1  16PIM
(AHL) 2010-11 Reg. Season Stats   53GP  2G  9A  -7  74PIM
(AHL) 2010-11 Playoff Stats   12GP  1G  2A  0+/-  36PIM

Volpatti is an absolute wrecking ball out on the ice.  During his 15-game stint with the Canucks we all saw how physical of a game he plays.  However, he was even more physical with the Moose just because he saw more ice time.  I always noticed him out there throwing his weight around, and he ended up 3rd on the Moose in penalty minutes during the regular season.  However, he did manage to get himself suspended for 2 games during the opening round, and the Monsters scored twice on the 5-minute penalty in the Game 4 loss.  If he can control his aggression in the future, Volpatti can definitely fill a void on the 4th line.

Alex Bolduc

(NHL) 2010-11 Reg. Season Stats   24 GP  2G  2A  +1  21PIM
(AHL) 2010-11 Reg. Season Stats   26GP  6G  9A  +4  28PIM
(AHL) 2010-11 Playoff Stats   14GP  4G  0A  -2  20PIM

Bolduc spent some of the season up, some of the season down and some of the season on the shelf.  However, as his numbers above show he can contribute positively to the lineup while adding some bonus offense.  His playoff stats may not jump off the screen, but 2 of his goals were game-winners, including the series-clincher against Lake Erie, and 2 were of the short-handed variety.  If he can stay healthy, which unfortunately is a big if, Bolduc can play a role in the bottom-6 quite effectively.

While the above 5 players are practicing with the team in Rogers Arena, some other players are noticeable in their absence.  Two of the better players for the Moose all season were Marco Rosa and Mark Flood, but as they are not Canucks property it makes sense that they were not called up.  However, I can see both guys getting a look this offseason.

Youngsters Bill Sweatt and Jordan Schroeder both struggled at times this year, and did not get the call up to the Canucks.  While Sweatt finished second in team scoring with 46 points in 80 games, he only scored 1 goal in the playoffs.  Schroeder struggled all season long, scoring only 10 goals and finishing seventh in team scoring with 28 points.  He also only scored 1 goal in the playoffs, but did play better in the second round.  Perhaps some rest and relaxation over the summer will help the two rookies.

Injuries are the reason for the other players not getting called up.  Ryan Parent didn't dress in the playoffs due back issues.  Guillaume Desbiens played most of the post-season with a broken finger, but also hurt himself in the final game due to a knee injury.  Rick Rypien played well in the playoffs, but a knee injury kept him out of the last few games and it has been reported that he had minor surgery shortly after the team was eliminated.

Personally, I'm surprised that Mario Bliznak and Kevin Connauton didn't get called up, and I couldn't find an injury report for them that would suggest they were hurt.  However, since it is unlikely for any of the 5 "Black Aces" to see any playoff action other then from the press box, I suppose it doesn't really matter.  But I do think it is important for these youngsters to come up and see exactly what the playoffs in the NHL look like firsthand, as this is bonus time for them.  And who knows - maybe some of these guys will be in the lineup next season and this is an early audition.