Like their parent club, the Toronto Marlies finished off a chapter of their season last week, playing the three final games before the week-long All-Star break began. Taking part in games against rivals in the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Hamilton Bulldogs, as well as a morning game against the San Antonio Rampage, meant Marlies fans enjoyed an exciting week of hockey.
Beginning their final stretch of play was an 11 a.m. matinee on Wednesday against the San Antonio Rampage, the Marlies looked to continue their undefeated streak against San Antonio, losers of both previous games between the teams.
Jerry D’Amigo and Drew Shore traded goals to tie things up after one period. D’Amigo scored again after the intermission as did Korbinian Holzer but their efforts were returned in kind by San Antonio and the teams remained even going into the final frame.
They exchanged goals once more, sending the game to overtime. Both sides had chances in overtime but goaltenders Jacob Markstrom and Drew MacIntyre kept all shots out, sending the game to a shootout. Both clubs scored one goal apiece in the first five rounds but after Ryan Martindale couldn’t bury in the extra round, D’Amigo took advantage and finished the game with a shootout goal to go along with his two regulation markers.
After a day of rest the Marlies were in action again versus the Griffins for their final game of the season together. Though Grand Rapids leads the Midwest Division they were losers in all three of their previous meetings against Toronto.
The Marlies played perhaps the best hockey of the game in the scoreless first period, getting 15 shots in the period, the majority of their full game total (27). In spite of their efforts, Petr Mrazek turned away all attempts on his net, keeping the Griffins in the game.
It didn’t take long for the Marlies to find a solution for Mrazek in the second period though, as T.J. Brennan and Josh Leivo both scored to put Toronto on top. The Griffins weren’t about to roll over to the Marlies however, as they poured 16 shots on MacIntyre but he shut the door and kept all chances out.
Landon Ferraro scored to bring the Griffins within one early in the third period but it would not be enough, as Brandon Kozun scored and D’Amigo iced things with an empty-net goal to win the game for the Baby Leafs, 4-1.
Sunday afternoon showcased the biggest game of the week, a home game with the Hamilton Bulldogs coming to town for their 10th meeting of the season. The Marlies were victorious in five of the previous nine games.
Jerry D’Amigo struck first with an opening minute goal to take the lead, though it would be short-lived. Before the period was out Hamilton scored twice, once after Jarred Tinordi skated through the Marlies’ defense and next thanks to a two minute five-on-three powerplay for the Bulldogs, Sven Andrighetto got credit.
Longtime Bulldog Mike Blunden doubled Hamilton’s lead in the second period with that period’s only goal. The Bulldogs were left with just five defensemen early in the period as Hamilton-native Drew Schiestel was ejected from the game for boarding early in the period.
Andrighetto scored once more to extend the Hamilton lead to three goals just seconds into the third period. This was the fourth unanswered goal for Hamilton and seemed to wake up the Marlies a bit, or at least one Marlie.
Greg McKegg, one of the hottest players on the team of late, scored twice to get the Marlies within one goal of a tie, but Bulldogs stayed strong and did not let the final goal of their lead slip away. They would head home victorious, 4-3.
Three Stars of the Week
Third Star: Brad Ross
Ross has had struggles since transitioning to pro in both his offensive production and his shift-disturbing ability, but he seems to have been finding his foothold lately. He has become a more effective agitator in past weeks, and with a goal and an assist is starting to look like the superpest Leafs fans are hoping he can develop into.
Second Star: T.J. Brennan
Running away with the AHL’s scoring race among defensemen, Brennan put up one goal and three assists this week, sending the All-Star into the break with a tidy 20 goals and 51 points this season.
First Star: Jerry D’Amigo
D’Amigo’s time with the Leafs has sent his game forward leaps and bounds. His confidence is sky-high right now and his numbers show it. The winger scored in all three of the Marlies’ games this past week and was a sparkplug for Steve Spott no matter who he played with. His four goals and two assists make him the first star of the week.