Veteran headmaster Moe Mantha delivered a strong but simple message to his Michigan Warriors before the start of the North American Hockey League playoffs.
The 53-year old Mantha, who patrolled National Hockey League bluelines for more than 670 games and has since spent 20 years coaching in the American Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and now the NAHL, wanted to make sure his second-place Warriors understood the challenge of playing the third-seeded Janesville Jets in the opening round of the North Division playoffs.
“I pointed out that Janesville was the hottest team in our division down the stretch and they had taken it to us a few times so we needed to be disciplined and focused if we were going to beat them,” said Mantha, while guesting on Tuesday’s Hockey North Show that I host on ESPN 1400 Radio.
“I told the guys that we might have home-ice advantage but let’s not forget that Janesville has come into our barn and beat us more than once,” Mantha continued. “I just reminded them what we have to do to win games.”
The Warriors apparently got Mantha’s message.
Playing on the home ice of Perani Arena and Event Centre in Flint, the Warriors upended Janesville by 4-2 and 5-1 scores to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Game 3 is slated for Janesville on Friday night.
Janesville entered the playoffs having posted a record of 10-1-1 down the stretch including a 3-1-1 mark against Michigan. Hence, Mantha’s message to his players about needing to be at their best.
“We’ve won two games and we’ve played well but Janesville is going to be fired up playing at home on Friday,” Mantha said evenly. “I told the boys we’re going into a hornet’s nest against a very-good hockey team.
“We just need to keep playing Warriors hockey,” Mantha added. “We still need to win another game but I like the way our forwards and defencemen having been playing and Trevor Gorsuch has been giving us good goaltending.”
The veteran Gorsuch has stopped 58 of 61 shots to backstop the Warriors to their two-game series lead.
PHOTO: Michigan Warriors goalie Trevor Gorsuch. (NAHL photo.)