By Ken Wiebe
The Winnipeg Sun
ECHL All-Star and Bakersfield Condors forward Matt Pope had a difficult decision to make and it’s looking more and more like he made the right one.
Faced with the prospect of returning to the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL for the Kelly Cup playoffs or starting the Calder Cup playoffs as an extra with the Manitoba Moose, the rookie right-winger chose the latter.
His patience was rewarded in Game 4 of the first-round series against the Toronto Marlies as Pope drew into the lineup when the Moose lost three players due to injury.
Pope spent much of his time during the final three games on either the first or second line, then was front and centre as the Moose came back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the Marlies 4-2 and knock them from the Calder Cup playoffs.
Pope cued the comeback, scoring the equalizer at 1:45 of the third period, then assisted on the game-winner by Ray Sawada to cap a night that saw him named first star.
“It’s just a lot of fun and exciting game when I jump in,” said Pope, who wasn’t on Manitoba’s clear-day roster and is only eligible to play when there are any combination of three injuries, call-ups or suspensions. “All I can do is hope to keep going.”