After an 11-month layoff, the Manitoba Moose are set to open their 2021 campaign at Bell MTS Place, welcoming the Toronto Marlies to town.
The first of four straight games between the two clubs is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m.
“They’re tired of practicing and I understand. We’ve been practicing for a long time so now it’s time to play,” says head coach Pascal Vincent.
The Moose will host the Marlies on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.
“We have 16 first-year players in the lineup so it’s going to be interesting,” said Vincent.
“It’s going to be a lot of evaluation and we’ll see what happens, but it’s about time. It’s been a long year and we’re all excited to play a game.”
Toronto and Manitoba met four times throughout the course of last year’s shortened season. The Marlies won all four meetings, outscoring the Moose 15-5.
“It’s going to come at us quick,” said defenceman Johnathan Kovacevic.
“Four games in five nights after not having played for 11 months is going to be a lot of hockey and something that we’re looking forward to, but we might not necessarily be used to it.”
They’ll hit road for four games against the Laval Rocket beginning Monday, Feb. 22.
“There’s almost guaranteed to be some bad blood by the end of it, playing a team four times in five days and playing them a lot throughout the year,” Kovacevic continued.
It’s unclear how many games the Moose will play this season with some American teams playing a 24-game season, while others play in as many as 40 games.
After returning from next week’s Quebec road trip, the team plans on playing the remainder of their schedule at the Bell MTS Iceplex.
Manitoba was sitting in last place among the AHL’s Central Division when the 2019-20 season was paused amid the pandemic with a record of 27-33-1.
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