Hat trick for rookie Jordan Schroeder in Manitoba’s 7-2 victory over Bulldogs

WINNIPEG – Rookie Jordan Schroeder wasn’t viewing his first pro hat trick as a huge personal accomplishment.

The Manitoba Moose centre was just glad it came in a 7-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs in Monday’s American Hockey League North Division semifinal.

“I haven’t had a hat trick for a while so it definitely felt really good,” said Schroeder, Vancouver’s first-round pick (22nd overall) in the 2009 NHL entry draft.

“But it was even better to get the win.”

It was also the only hat trick of the season for a Moose player.

The victory in front of a crowd of 7,546 at the MTS Centre narrowed Hamilton’s lead in the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 goes in Winnipeg Wednesday night.

The Bulldogs claimed the first two games of the series by scores of 2-0 and 8-2.

Hamilton came into the series heavily favoured, having won the North Division and Western Conference titles with 115 points, 28 more points than the Moose, who finished fourth in the division.

Schroeder, 19, joined the Moose last month after his second season with the University of Minnesota. In his first pro game on March 21, he scored a pair of goals, including a deflection on his first goal during his first shift.

The five-foot-eight centre figures his last hat trick may have been in high school when he was part of one of the U.S. national teams.

“(Schroeder) is a skilled guy,” said Moose head coach Scott Arniel, who was last year’s AHL coach of the year.

“He knows to get to the holes. And the other thing is you saw he can fire the puck. He got a couple of those shots off pretty quick, where the goalie didn’t really have a chance to move.”

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Schroeder scored his team’s first two goals on their first two power plays of the game. They went 4-for-8 with the man advantage.

First he one-timed a pass from teammate Guillaume Desbiens that beat Bulldogs goalie Cedrick Desjardins at 12:04 of the first period. He added a second goal off a rebound at 14:28.

Moose forward Dan Sexton scored before Schroeder’s third goal at 2:43 of the second, a marker that sent Desjardins to the bench in favour of rookie Robert Mayer. Hamilton veteran netminder Curtis Sanford is out with an ankle injury.

Desbiens notched a short-handed goal early in the third (and had three assists) and Yan Stastny and Marco Rosa scored on the power play.

Bulldogs Chad Anderson and Ryan White scored on Moose goalie Cory Schneider. Hamilton was 1-for-8 on the power play.

“I was expecting them to come out and fight for their lives and they did and we did not,” said Hamilton head coach Guy Boucher, this season’s AHL coach of the year.

“We didn’t match their emotional level at all and that’s the result we get. We deserve exactly the score that we got.”

But he expects his players to rebound in Game 4, and that’s their plan.

“We’ve done it before this year,” White said. “We’re a pretty confident group in that locker-room.

“Whatever the situation is, as long as we’re working hard and doing the right things, things are going to happen for you.”

Arniel is hoping the victory boosts his team’s confidence.

“It’s all about belief and we’re certainly feeling a lot better about ourselves now than what we did on Sunday (after the 8-2 loss),” he said.