The Toronto Marlies had games against the Binghamton Senators, Hamilton Bulldogs and Lake Erie Monsters this week. With 24 games remaining, the Baby Leafs are headed into the final stretch of the regular season. They sit atop the North division standings, making them the third-placed team in the Western Conference and well on their way to a playoff berth.
Though their parent clubs are regular combatants, the Marlies-Senators game was the first of two played this season between the teams. The first period got off to a slow start though netminders Andrew Hammond and Drew MacIntyre gave good performances, both goalies were subjected to 10 shots apiece in the period, turning aside all comers before Kenny Ryan scored shorthanded with 14 seconds left to give the Marlies a 1-0 lead.
The second period contained considerably more action, Jerry D’Amigo and Matt Puempel both scored in the first 90 seconds to make it 2-1. Both teams would trade goals once more as tempers flared in the second half of the frame. While no one dropped the gloves, crosschecking, boarding and roughing penalties were given out on top of three unsportsmanlike conduct minors. T.J. Brennan received a 10-minute misconduct after an exchange with Stephane da Costa.
Neither team seemed to have much left in the tank for the third period as both sides were held scoreless by the goaltenders. Josh Leivo scored a late empty-net goal, finishing the game off at 4-2 Marlies.
The Marlies hosted Hamilton next for the 10th of 11 games between the teams this season. As is the case with most Marlies-Bulldogs games, there was an edge to both teams’ play throughout the game. Brad Staubitz and Nathan McIver dropped the gloves minutes into the first period for an uneventful bout. J.P. Dumont scored an early goal but Stuart Percy’s second of the year evened things out before the intermission.
Though both teams had their fair share of chances, the bounces all went Hamilton’s way in the second period. The visitors scored three goals to the Marlies’ one, giving them a commanding lead headed into the final stanza. The Marlies would also have to play the final period without one of their veteran leaders as Jerred Smithson was given a match penalty for checking to the head. This came seconds after Staubitz and McIver had their second bout of the game.
Mike Duco knocked down and bloodied Louis Leblanc in a one-punch fight in the third period after Leblanc had words for Duco. Toronto’s own Mike Blunden (who always seems to play well against the Marlies) iced the cake for Hamilton with his 13th goal of the year in the third period. The game finished 5-2.
The Lake Erie Monsters were next in line for the Marlies, this the first of three straight games the teams are scheduled to play against each other. The Marlies found themselves up 2-0 by the game’s halfway point, Carter Ashton scored both goals in what had been a quiet affair up to that point.
Lake Erie scored twice in the second period’s final 10 minutes though, tying things up with 20 minutes left to play. It was Ashton again who put the Marlies back on top, netting his 13th for the hat-trick. T.J. Brennan scored just a few seconds later and Brandon Kozun scored on an empty net to defeat the Monsters.
Three Stars of the Week
Third Star: Spencer Abbott
Getting four assists in three games cemented Abbott’s position as leading scorer on the Marlies. The hard-working winger finds himself fourth in AHL scoring now, just a couple spots ahead of our next star…
Second Star: T.J. Brennan
Brennan was relatively quiet in games leading up to this week, his three assists in five games is nothing to sneeze at but certainly slower than his early-season pace. He had three points in three games this week, also managing to break his seven-game goal drought against Lake Erie.
First Star: Jerry D’Amigo
D’Amigo has been red hot since being reassigned to the Marlies, the energy forward has points in all but two of his last 13 games. With points in all three games this week, D’Amigo is showing just how much a player can grow when given a shot with the big club.
One final note: RogersTV will be airing the Saturday game between the Marlies and Monsters at 3 p.m. and Sportsnet 360 will be showing the Marlies’ game against Wilks-Barre/Scranton on Sunday the 9th, also at 3 p.m.