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Moose expect Schultz to boost goal production
 

OMAHA, Neb. -- The blood, sweat and tears expended for Jesse Schultz's nine regular-season and three playoff goals last season was not likely exceeded by any other member of the Manitoba Moose.

That kind of effort was heartening but as a second-year AHL player, the 23-year-old native of Strasbourg, Sask., faces a new reality.

It's time to earn some stripes, not with effort but with production.

"I think Schultzy has shown so far that there is an offensive potential there," Moose coach Alain Vigneault said yesterday. "I see a guy who can pop into holes and has got pretty good instincts on where to go. I think with him, hopefully, I'm not sure it's the confidence factor but if he can get a little bit more successful in this role, it might work out for him."

The coach is hoping for a little bit better than "might" and he made no bones about it yesterday, or during last weekend's opening losses, when Schultz played with two of the team's best forwards, veterans Josh Green and Craig Darby.

"He's had a lot of five-on-five time, he's seen all the power plays, he's got to find a way to be successful and get it done because you can't give half a season for a guy to find his groove," Vigneault said. "This game's about performing and getting results."

Vigneault sounded urgent without being chastising, but it's clear he's itchy to realize those results. Manitoba, 0-2, meets the 1-1 Omaha Knights tonight in the middle game of the five-game, season-opening road trip.

"I've been put in a more offensive role which I feel more comfortable with," Schultz said after yesterday's practice at Civic Auditorium. "I sat back and saw a lot of good goalscorers last year and kind of learned from them. This year, it's kind of up to myself and others to be that person.

"It's my second year here so there are going to be more expectations on me. I put them on myself as well. I'm comfortable with that as well. I just have to try to produce every game."

Schultz saw some time with top players like Peter Sarno last season, and also played a key role on the team's young energy line later on. With one goal in the first two games this season, he hopes he will benefit from being forced to earn his time.

"More and more, I got to do that and it was up to me to make the most of it," he said. "I got some power-play time at the end. It was with good players and it was up to me to stick there and to improve and to show them that improved from the start of the year to the end and carry it on through this year." Vigneault also left no doubt that beyond offence, he's looking for another key element from Schultz, who scored 53 goals in 2002-03, his final year of junior.

"I see a lot of potential in this young kid but one thing Schultzy's got to learn is being a professional is about being consistent," the coach said. "All the top players, what they have is this great consistent effort. It might not always come out as a great performance on the ice but that consistent effort always... they've either got their A game or they get a B-plus. They're always right in there.

"Schultzy has got to make sure his level of competitiveness, intensity, getting himself prepared to compete, is up there."

 

 

More ice time pays off in goals for Moose foward Schultz


JESSE Schultz didn't score 53 goals in his final season of junior hockey by accident, and while that scoring touch has been absent at times during his pro career, the third-year Moose appears to be coming into his own.

Schultz, who scored just nine goals in 70 AHL games last season, leads the Moose with seven markers to date and has been a key offensive contributor.

"It's a nice feeling. I feel really good out there right now," said Schultz, who will lead the Moose into action against the Grand Rapids Griffins today (11 a.m., CJOB). "I'm shooting more, and that's how you get points. The net is looking a little bigger right now and I seem to be seeing the holes around the goalies."

Schultz scored 53 goals with the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL during the 2002-03 season and then 27, mostly with the Columbia Inferno of the ECHL, the following year. Last season, his first full campaign with the Moose, Schultz struggled to get quality minutes on the ice, but under coach Alain Vigneault he's played on the club's second unit most nights and has seen lots of action on the power play.

"More ice time, and on the power play too. I'm not going to lie to you, the power-play time really helps your offensive numbers," Schultz said. "It helps your confidence, and that's the biggest thing when you talk about scoring. It's hard to be confident when you're playing four or five minutes a game. Those are the big differences for me -- confidence and experience. I was able to really learn a lot about that last year just watching how guys prepared for games at this level." The Moose and Griffins both have 19 points in the North Division and the winner of today's game will be alone in first place. Manitoba has lost three in a row but will get a boost for today's game as forwards Nathan Smith and Josh Green were both reassigned from the Vancouver Canucks yesterday and are expected to be in the lineup.

"We've seen some video of Grand Rapids and they look to be a dynamic team. They look a lot like Rochester to me -- a lot of speed and skill up front and a very good power play," Vigneault said. "This should be a good test for us -- a strong team and a morning start time."

Vigneault took a few minutes at the end of practice yesterday at Van Andel Arena to talk to his charges about today's unique set of challenges.

"The big thing is rest and the lunch and supper they eat (yesterday) will give them the energy they'll need for the game -- not their breakfast that morning," Vigneault said. "They're all big boys and professionals. Being prepared is part of the job."

 

Sniper 'ready to go'
Schultz determined to shake off slump
 

Jesse Schultz believes that spending some time away from the rink might be the best medicine when it comes to bringing an end to his scoring slump.

Schultz, who leads the Manitoba Moose with 16 goals, has just one in his past 11 games and is hoping to get back on track tonight when the Toronto Marlies make their first visit to the MTS Centre.

"It was nice to get a break and see your friends and family but this is what we love to do," said Schultz. "You tend to think about (slumps) quite a bit when you go through it, even though you try not to and it wears on you a bit. It was nice to get away and not think about hockey for a little while. It's good to be refreshed, recharged and ready to go."

SOME TIME FOR REFLECTION

Schultz did take some time for reflection and knows what he needs to do to get back to the level he was at earlier in the season.

"I've got to move my feet a lot more," said Schultz, who has 24 points in 34 games. "You work to get to where things are going good and when things are going good, you kind of get away from (doing) those things. I can't do that. I've got to be more consistent, move my feet and work hard. It's not one big thing, it's a bunch of little things that will hopefully make the difference."

 

What was your first job?

Probably working at my dad's car dealership, washing cars. My hours were around 10:30 or 11 a.m., when I woke up, until about 3 o'clock, when I wanted to go home.

What's your favourite band?

The Tragically Hip.

Favourite food?

Probably just a good steak. Maybe steak and lobster and when the rookies are paying, it tastes even better.

Favourite TV show?

Grey's Anatomy, though I'll probably get a little flack for that.

What's your dream car? Range Rover.

How about your first car?

A 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier.

What's your favourite movie?

Crash.

What's your favourite hobby?

Does surfing the Internet count a hobby? Let's say sitting on the couch surfing the Internet.

Letterman or Leno?

It depends who is on. I don't really watch them anymore. I liked Late Night with Craig Kilbourn but he's not on anymore.

If you weren't playing pro hockey, what would you be doing?

Something where I wouldn't have to work 9 to 5. Something in the game maybe. I've never really thought about it.