Salmon Kings Play Under Watchful Eye Of Moose

By Cleve Dheensaw
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005

VICTORIA, British Columbia – The Moose is loose in Victoria. He’s watching the Salmon splash by, and is digging their swimming style.

“We like the way this relationship is going,” said Craig Heisinger, GM of the Manitoba Moose, referring to the Vancouver Canucks’ minor-pro system, which includes the Moose in the American Hockey League and the Victoria Salmon Kings in the ECHL.

Heisinger watched Victoria win its third consecutive game, and fourth in five games, when the Salmon Kings defeated the Pacific Division-leading Fresno Falcons 6-3 on Thursday night at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. The Salmon Kings (4-4-1) and Falcons (6-2) meet again Saturday at 7 p.m. at SOFMC.

Heisinger flew back to Winnipeg for Friday’s and Saturday’s Moose games against the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears at the MTS Centre, but will fly back to Victoria in time to watch the Salmon Kings and Falcons polish off their three-game ECHL set with an afternoon matinee Sunday.

It’s a life of grinding travel, but it’s the one those in the hockey business have picked out for themselves.

“You have to get to know the players in the ECHL,” said Heisinger, of the demands of his position in the AHL.

With the Canucks thin on defence and drawing on the Moose, the Moose have been drawing on the ‘E’ and currently have five ECHLers up playing in Manitoba, including Salmon Kings blueliners Shaun Heshka and Phil Cole, the latter who just got the word yesterday. So there’s too much personal incentive for any player to rest on three-game-streak laurels in the Salmon camp.

Canucks-contracted goaltender Julien Ellis, looking to impress Heisinger and Vancouver pro scouts, has been exceptional in three games with Victoria since being sent down from the Moose.

“I’m here to learn and work hard,” said the rookie pro, out of the Quebec Major Junior League.

“It’s faster than junior and the shots come much quicker.”

The hard work part is what Salmon Kings head coach Tony MacAulay likes to hear.

“It’s how we come out and react [tonight],” said MacAulay, adding nobody at this level can become complacent just because of three wins in succession.

“Our league is too good and fast for that. We have to keep working hard.”

And none of the players are forgetting: He’s not Ali G, but Craig H will be back In Da House tonight.