International Hockey League (1994-1996)
Born: December 16, 1993 – IHL expansion franchise.
Died: 1996 – The Moose relocate to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Team Colors: Dark Purple, Forest Green & Black
The Minnesota Moose were a high-caliber minor league hockey team that played two seasons in the Twin Cities shortly after the departure of the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars for Dallas in 1993. The Moose played out of the Saint Paul Civic Center, but also played 14 dates at the Target Center in Minneapolis during their second and final season.
The Moose’ debut game in St. Paul on October 7, 1994 – a 2-1 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals – attracted 11,652 fans. Attendance dropped off quickly and the Moose finished the year ranked 12th in the 17-team International Hockey League with average crowds of 6,787 – a somewhat disconcerting result for an expansion team in what should have been its honeymoon phase. On the plus side, the team’s fun, eye-catching logo was a big hit. The Hockey News named the Minnesota Moose logo as the best in all of minor league hockey in February 1995 and the team would later claim an eye-popping $1.3 million in souvenir sales during their inaugural season.
On the ice, the Moose squeaked into the 1995 Turner Cup playoffs with 34-35-12 record. They were swiftly dispatched by the eventual champion Denver Grizzlies in a three-game sweep in the first round. Center Stephane Morin led the IHL in scoring with 38 goals and 71 assists. The team’s big name was Minnesota native Dave Christian, a 14-year NHL veteran and member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey “Miracle On Ice” squad. Christian finished second on the team in scoring with a 38-42-80 line.
In 1995 the City of St. Paul launched a courtship to persuade the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets to relocate to Minnesota. The prospect of the NHL returning to the Twin Cities further eroded interest in the Moose. Ultimately the Jets moved to Arizona instead, but the experience seemed to sap the enthusiasm of Moose ownership. A few days after the Jets’ move to Phoenix was revealed in December 1995, the Moose announced a sale and relocation of their own – to Winnipeg, of all places, to replace the Jets at Winnipeg Arena.
The Moose played out their second and final season in Minnesota as lame ducks. They missed the playoffs with a 30-45-7 record.
The franchise flourished in Winnipeg, lasting 15 seasons at the Manitoba Moose. The team was displaced by the NHL (and the Jets!) once again in 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg to become a revival of the Winnipeg Jets. The hockey franchise that started out as the Minnesota Moose in 1995 to Newfoundland and plays on today as the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.
==Minnesota Moose Games on Fun While It Lasted==