In typical AHL fashion the Marlies played three games in three nights this week. First they had an exhibition game against Swedish visitors Farjestad BK, followed by regular season games against the Utica Comets and Texas Stars.
The Marlies played a somewhat depleted lineup for their game against Farjestad, scratching (among others) TJ Brennan and Spencer Abbott while others such as David Broll and Sam Carrick nursed injuries.
Greg McKegg opened scoring on the powerplay after both teams started slowly. Soon after this, the Marlies found themselves down to men for a 5-on-3, Farjestad seized the opportunity and tied the game. As the clock ran down on the opening period Farjestad took the lead, Nicklas Arell sending home a chance.
McKegg scored his second of the night early in the following period, one-timing the puck into a yawning net as goaltender Pekka Tuokkola had been tricked by Dylan Yeo’s moves behind the net.
Brandon Kozun retook the lead for Toronto later in the period, though it didn’t last long. With seconds left in the frame, a shot bounced off the post and towards Stuart Percy as he stopped in front of the net, the puck bounced off Percy and into the net.
The Marlies took control of the final period, punching up their physical play and sending ten shots at the Farjestad net (compared to the Swedes’ four) but failing to score on any of their chances. Garret Sparks, who had already let in two last minute in the game, made a great poke check save after a defensive lapse led to a Farjestad breakaway as time ran out. The game would need an extra five minutes to solve the tie.
The Marlies took control of the puck to start the overtime period, and on their first rush down the ice Josh Leivo sent a pass to Dylan Yeo, who faked a shot and darted around the net, tucking the puck in with his backhand wraparound for the win.
The Marlies returned to regular season play the next evening, hosting Utica for the two teams’ third meeting of the season. The Marlies were victorious in both earlier meetings with the Comets.
The game was a battle between goalies from the get go, Joe Cannata and Drew Macintyre were both tested often in the first period, the teams combined for 21 shots, split almost down the middle 11-10 for the Marlies. Cannata was particularly impressive for the Comets, shutting out the Marlies when they had nearly two full minutes with a five-on-three advantage. Utica was the first to solve their opposition’s goaltender, Jeremy Walsh scored his first of the year on the powerplay with just under two minutes left in the period.
The second period was much like the first. Once again the teams combined for 21 shots on goal, once again the Marlies laid claim to 11 while Utica had 10. The period was (again) highlighted by a single goal, also coming on the powerplay. However this time Kozun was the scorer, tying the game up by deflecting TJ Brennan’s point shot.
The Marlies came out flat in the final frame, putting just 4 shots on goal. Utica also seemed less enthused in the final period though they managed to take advantage of the Marlies in the final minute, leading scorer Pascal Pelltier tipped in his tenth goal of the season to put the Comets up with 34 seconds remaining. The Marlies could not recover, losing 2-1.
Next up Marlies played the Texas Stars for the fourth time this year, the game being played in the Air Canada Centre. The game wasn’t unlike the Utica match, both teams struggled to tighten up defensively and exchanged chances for much of the first two periods, both goalies (Macintyre made his second consecutive start, Christopher Nilstorp was his Texas counterpart) gave good performances for their teams, they ended the game with 30 and 27 saves respectively.
Brett Ritchie opened the scoring for Texas by getting open in front of the net and tapping in a cross-crease pass. Petter Granberg was left kicking himself on the play, the Swede had been battling with Ritchie before losing track of him in front of the net and leaving Ritchie wide open for the goal.
The game broke open in the third period, Josh Leivo scored on the powerplay to even things before Brennan made a goal-saving play to keep the game tied, sweeping the puck off the goal line as it made its way to the net. Moments later Jerry D’Amigo gave the Marlies the lead when he scored a five-hole goal on Nilstorp. D’Amigo and Leivo each scored again on Utica’s empty net, leaving the game with a final score of 4-1.