The Toronto Marlies are about to embark on a long road trip. One that will last several weeks – you can call it a team bonding experiment, but really, its because the Royal Winter Fair has to use Ricoh Coliseum and it’s not a smooth transition. That doesn’t matter much to the team, but it’s always nice to leave town on a positive note. Today was their opportunity to do so, and a 3-1 win against the Rochester Americans was the result.
Despite couple of interesting opportunities and a lot of neutral ice play, not a ton of eventful business happened in the opening frame. Things really picked up in the second period, as the Marlies came out of the dressing room amped up and ready to fire at will. A minute and a half into the second, Spencer Abbott streaked in on the off wing and opened the scoring with a wrist shot that beat Nathan Liewuen. The Marlies continued to press, and just a minute and a half later, Connor Brown finished off an odd man rush to widen the gap.
Things looked poised to turn around midway through the game, as Colton Orr put Toronto on the penalty kill with a slash. However, the PK duo of Brown and Greg McKegg eked out one of many odd-man-rushes and turned it into a 3-0 tally. Before the period could close, a scramble in front of Christopher Gibson lead to the Americans breaking the shutout, but that was the closest the game got.
The third period was pretty ho-hum. Rochester pushed, and Troy Bodie dropped the gloves with Drew Bagnall. With three minutes to go, Lieuwen headed for the bench, but the Marlies weren’t able to capitalize on the empty net.
I’m going to go with Connor Brown. He’s playing increasingly important minutes as the season progresses, and he definitely appears to be earning them. He doesn’t quit on plays, he’s been in the right places at the right times, and he shows a lot of legitimate talent. Tonight is an example of a game where these abilities get rewarded – a goal and an assist, and minutes on both forms of special teams.
- Spencer Abbott lead the team with five shots. He looked like a threat tonight – something he hasn’t done as much this year, but I imagine will come around in due time.
- Christopher Gibson stopped 25 of 26 shots. It’s hard to blame him for the goal that came out of the scramble in front of him, and he looked solid throughout. No mindblowing saves, but he did what he had to do for the team that needed him to do it.
- Stuart Percy looked fantastic in his first game back down from the Leafs. Coach Gord Dineen gave praise to his confidence, comparing him to a veteran presence despite this being his second year at the pro level. He also got a promotion to the first powerplay unit, a place he hadn’t seen last season.
- The Marlies play their first game on the road on Wednesday against Texas. They’ll move on to San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Rochester, Leigh Valley, St John’s, and Hamilton before returning home on November 23rd.
Photo Courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com