Frazer McLaren wasn’t around to “set the tone”, or whatever you want to call it in today’s game (he’s been called up in case of Clarkson-emergency), but I don’t think he was particularly necessary. After all, the Toronto Marlies and Lake Erie Monsters were just hours removed from one of the scrappiest games the American Hockey League has seen this season. Steve Spott called out the referees as poorly controlling yesterday’s mess, so really, it came as no surprise that the two teams took the opportunity to settle their differences in the way the wanted to today.
At the same time, there was still a matter of the scoreboard, and a hat trick was the difference in a 4-1 Marlies win.
Just two minutes into the first period, we saw the game’s first fight, as Andrew MacWilliam dropped the mitts with Gabriel Beaupre. Mitchell Heard and Jamie Devane seemed poised to be the second pair of combatants a minute later, but the refs broke it up and assigned all of the penalties to Devane. This appeared to stop the fisticuffs for a bit, but David Broll and Daniel Maggio met at centre ice midway through the period and exchanged blows as well. Seconds after this, Colin Smith picked up a loose puck and sailed off on a breakaway, beating Christopher Gibson top shelf to open the scoring. It looked like the Monsters would skate out of this period with a lead, but with a powerplay and a minute and a half to go, Josh Leivo pucked up a rebound off of a Greg McKegg half-break attempt and tied the game.
The second period had no fights, but it provided the rest of the game’s scoring. With another powerplay to work with, Brandon Kozun scored his 17th of the season, and just three minutes after that, Josh Leivo got the second rebound on Spencer Abbott’s effort to widen the gap to 3-1. WIth a minute left in the period, Leivo struck once more to get his hat trick. Tensions flared back up again after Michael Schumacher delivered a head shot to Gibson while he was trying to play the puck behind the net.
The third continued a posessional dominance by the Marlies, who ended up outshooting Lake Erie 36-22. But of course, the issue at hand was the fisticuffs. Kenny Ryan dropped the gloves with Mike Sgarbossa, Brad Malone fought Brad Staubitz, and Devane went after Beaupre. All of these combined with a bunch of roughing calls and misconducts, as the clock wound down to zero.
- Christopher Gibson had 21 saves on 22 shots in his first game since being called up. A solid performance by rookie, who is now 3-1 on the year.
- Josh Leivo was all over the place tonight, picking up opportunities in all sections of the offensive zone and taking six shots, with half of them going in. Also pouring on pucks were TJ Brennan and Brad Ross, who had five each.
- The powerplay ended up a relatively solid 3 for 9, while the penalty kill stayed perfect at 5 for 5