There’s something about the St. Johns IceCaps and not letting go. A large chunk of their core has stayed with the team for all three seasons that they’ve been in the league, their ownership group (True North Sports & Entertainment) still actively sells merchandise of their previous incarnation (the Manitoba Moose). And somehow, the Toronto Marlies having moved from St. Johns nearly a decade ago is considered the grounds for a rivalry, despite the two teams (and their parent clubs) being in different conferences.
But hey, at least the season series this year is four games instead of eight. Plus, both teams are at the same skill level, so they’re at least entertaining. Today’s incarnation saw the Marlies win 3-2, taking both home games against the Winnipeg Jets affiliate.
The first period offered little to talk about about. The Marlies failed to convert on a powerplay, an injury occured (we’ll get to that) and the two teams combined for just thirteen shots. Fast forwarding to the second period, the IceCaps took immediate control. taking 14 of 17 shots in the first ten minutes of the period. Brendan Kitchton turned one of those fourteen into the game’s opening goal, beating Drew MacIntyre with a low wrist shot from the slot just five minutes into the period. Toronto came rallying back though, taking 8 of the next 10 shots, culminating in a Brad Ross powerplay goal just forty seconds before intermission.
Josh Leivo started the period on a low note, taking a hooking penalty in the opening minute, bu that didn’t stop the Marlies from making a push. While on the penalty kill, Sam Carrick burst into the offensive zone and lef the puck for Carter Ashton, who made himself space to fire home his fourth goal of the season. Andrew Gordon quickly responded for St. Johns, streaking in along the right wing and firing a wrist shot past Drew MacIntyre, but David Broll one-upped him by doing the same thing on the Left Wing two minutes later to give Toronto the lead back. Ashton took a tripping inealty with just over two minutes left, making the final mintues a little close for comfort, but the penalty kiling unit stayed strong and secured the win.
- Drew MacIntyre started in goal (what else is new). His glove save on a mid-second period penalty kill was probably his highlight of the night, but he definitely was the best player for the Marlies when they needed him to be, making 31 saves on 33 shots.
- Spencer Abbott was carried off by his teammates after being shoved from behind by Zach Redmond in the first period. With 25 points in 22 games played headed into today, he’s Toronto’s best offensive player. You never want anybody to get hurt, but they can’t afford to lose him in particular right now.
- TJ Brennan’s assist on the Ross goal made him the first defenceman in the American Hockey League to hit 25 points this season.
- Carter Ashton’s goal is another example of the strong positional awareness that he’s shown while down here this season. The issue has been translating it into NHL success, which hasn’t happened.
- The Marlies play next on Thursday, heading to Rochester to face the Americans.