Manitoba Moose use Bulldogs as stepping stone to first place in AHL

The hard-charging Manitoba Moose trampled the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-2 on Thursday night and grabbed a share of first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division.

Manitoba’s home win over their division rivals left them tied with Rochester Americans, who they beat in back-to-back games last week. Rochester, however, has six games in hand. It was the fourth straight win for the Moose.

Hamilton remains in third place, two points ahead of Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins and Bulldogs will play a back-to-back set on Jan. 19-20 in Hamilton when Hamilton finishes its current road trip.

The Bulldogs and Moose go at it again tonight in Winnipeg before Hamilton travels to Chicago to play the Wolves on Saturday night and then go to Omaha for a Jan. 16 game.

Thursday night, Manitoba jumped to a 3-0 lead with goals from Brandon Reid, Jason Jaffray, and Nathan Smith before Hamilton replied. Michael Lambert narrowed the count to 3-1 at 3:16 of the third period.

But Shaun Heshka restored the three-goal cushion nine minutes later.

Duncan Milroy’s team-leading 17th goal of the season, and a powerplay marker, at 14:08 completed the scoring. Milroy also assisted on Lambert’s goal. Ryan O’Byrne picked up assists on both Hamilton goals. It was his first AHL multi-point game.

Hamilton netminder Jaroslav Halak stopped 21 of the 25 shots he faced and Moose goaltender Drew McIntyre made 23 saves.