Moose face tough test with Texas Titans

JACKSON, Wyo. — The Jackson Hole Moose will face their toughest test of the season this weekend and they’ll have to do it without one of their top scorers.

Drew Akins will be unavailable this weekend after a hard hit in Saturday’s game with Bozeman has put the talented forward into post-concussion protocol and care. His loss forces coach Howie Carruth to juggle the first two lines a bit. Newcomer Jason Reese gets the call up to the top line to play with AJ Sanders and Tom Hartnett.

Steady franchise goaltender Nick Krauss, who missed last weekend’s games with a foot injury, is a game-time decision, according to Carruth. If he can’t go, cage duties fall to Will Murphy.

Jackson’s defense corps has never looked better.

With the return of Sage Welch from injury, the starting six are solid and well-balanced. Welch, along with Sam Barrett and the emerging Miller Resor, are dependable stay-at-home guys. Resor, in particular, has brought grit and physicality to the Moose rearguards. Nate Goss-Woliner is a classic two-way defenseman who can be paired with anyone. Brad Improta and Kristian Ophus are the offensive-minded puck rushers who also take care of business in their own end.

Jackson will need all that and more as they face the Texas Titans this weekend. Texas is an immensely talented Senior A team boasting a roster peppered with players who have professional hockey experience.

And they bring a relentless offensive attack. In one of their dual 5-4 losses to the Sun Valley Suns the weekend of December 6-7, Texas managed a whopping 60 shots on goal.

“They’re good. They’re the real deal,” Carruth said after watching them practice in Jackson this morning. “They have a goalie who was a 4-year collegiate starter at Ohio State. And then there’s [Rob] Schremp who has a slick pair of hands.”

Fans will be treated to an NHLer who played for the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders in a pro career that ran from 2006-2011. The talented forward was a first-round draft pick of the Oilers in 2004. Schremp’s career never took off like some had predicted, but his stick-handling skills on breakaways made him the stuff of legend on ESPN highlight reels.

“It won’t be easy,” Carruth said, of facing the Titans, “but the ice is always tilted in our direction at home. We have the best home fans in the history of Senior A hockey.”

Texas Titans vs. Jackson Hole Moose. Snow King Sports and Event Center. Music by Mustard Tiger beginning at 7 p.m. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night.

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