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Moose finish off Griffins, move to conference finals


MANITOBA 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2

Manitoba completed a quick march through the North Division Finals on Wednesday with a 3-2 road win over Grand Rapids at Van Andel Arena.

Mark Cullen tallied a goal and an assist on the power play for the Moose, who swept the Griffins and advance to take on either Houston or Milwaukee in the Western Conference Finals. The Aeros currently hold a 2-1 lead in the West Division Finals series.

Manitoba earned its first best-of-7 series sweep in franchise history and extended its team-record postseason winning streak to seven games. The Moose, who will appear in the conference finals for the first time since 2005, have not lost since dropping a 2-1 decision to Toronto in Game 3 of the division semifinals.

The Griffins drew first blood on Wednesday when defenseman Jakub Kindl bagged a shorthanded goal at 14:33 of the opening period. Darren Haydar picked up an assist for his first point of the series, and Garrett Stafford earned the other helper.

Manitoba then responded with three consecutive goals. Jason Krog converted on the power play just 1:15 after Kindl’s tally, and Guillaume Desbiens made it a 2-1 game at even strength 1:19 into the second stanza.

Cullen, who had assisted on Krog’s power play score, extended the advantage to 3-1 with another man advantage marker nearly five minutes later, at 6:15.

With its season on the line, Grand Rapids poured on the pressure in the third period and wound up with a 16-4 edge in shots during the stanza. But the Griffins could only get one more puck past Moose goaltender Cory Schneider, that off the stick of Jamie Tardif at the 13-minute mark.

Schneider finished with 30 saves to pick up the win for Manitoba, improving to 8-2 in the postseason.

Grand Rapids suffered its third postseason series sweep since 2004.

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. N3-Grand Rapids Griffins
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Game 1 – Fri., May 1 – MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1
Game 3 – Mon., May 4 – Manitoba 3, GRAND RAPIDS 1
Game 4 – Wed., May 6 – Manitoba 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2