JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Jackson Hole Moose broke out new uniforms this past weekend and looked like a different team. Not that they were bad in the season opener Nov. 3-4, but the Moose found another gear last weekend, dumping on the Vail Yeti in successive blowout wins.
Wearing new hometown black sweaters trimmed in red, the Moose enjoyed balanced scoring—and plenty of it—charging out to early leads in both contests with the Yeti and never looking back. Finals were Moose 10, Yeti 1 on Friday. Saturday, the Moose prevailed 11-4.
Was it the return of puck-rushing defenseman Brad Improta, who missed all of last season and the first two Moose games this year? Was it two more weeks of practice under their belt? Was it an opponent not quite ready for their first two games of the year?
What has been a continuing theme now for the Moose is offense. The hometowners managed 21 goals in two games this past weekend. They are now averaging an astounding 9.25 goals a game. That pace can’t continue. Or can it? One positive trend is there is not any one go-to guy or line. The Moose are spreading it around on the stat sheet—18 players have at least one point this season.
There are the usual suspects, sure. Winger Drew Akens is off to a blistering start with 13 points (8G, 5A), followed closely by Kevin Sunde (3G, 9A), and last season’s point leader AJ Sanders (3G, 8A). And none of those players leads the team in goals. That would be Alex Dewitz, who’s potted 5 already.
The defense corps has looked very good. The return of Improta gives the Moose another breakout option when trying to exit their own zone. Chase Wharton and Nate Goss-Woliner are very good two-way defenseman. Sam Barrett has quietly anchored the blue line as a stay-at-home d-man who may not light up the scoresheet but he’s rarely out of position or beaten one-on-one.
And then there’s newcomer Dan Dupont. The collegiate blue-chipper is beginning to show why pro scouts were high on him not very long ago. The smooth-skating defenseman is never flustered, sees the ice well, and is almost always on the tape with his passes whether they are the subtle five-footers or two-line stretch passes that open up the ice.
Goaltender Nick Krauss was sharp Friday night. He didn’t see a lot of rubber as the Moose were on the attack often, but he managed to stay engaged and demoralize the Yeti when they did find time and space to get a shot off.
Backup goalie Wilson Murphy was in the net Saturday. He made stops when he needed to, never allowing Vail to feel like they could climb back in that contest.
The Moose will take Thanksgiving weekend off before hitting the road for a rematch with Vail in their building on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The next homestand for Jackson Hole is December 14-15 against the Sun Valley Suns.
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