The Adirondack Flames are polar opposites of their NHL affiliates in Calgary. The parents are defying all expectations, and are hanging on by a thread in the playoff race. The kids, on the other hand, are about where everybody expects them to be, just barely out of their playoff race. As you can see, being the opposite doesn’t say much when you’re in the middle.
You know what does say a lot, though? A huge two points for the Toronto Marlies, who, despite a rough third period, ended up with a 7-4 win.
While the bulk of the opening period’s first half was spent in neutral ice, the Marlies eventually broke free and found themselves on a rush. Connor Brown came streaking in, waited for the right moment, and sent a cross-crease pass to Brendan Leipsic, who fired a one timer past Doug Carr to open the scoring. Soon after, Dustin Stevenson found his way into the penalty box, leading to a Marlies powerplay.
Now, normally this isn’t a big stress to the opponents; Toronto hasn’t been particularly lethal with the man advantage this season. This was countered by a hot stick, though, as Leispic headed to the net and picked up his second goal in as many minutes, perfectly accepting William Nylander’s feed to make it happen. Speaking of Nylander, the Flames kept taking penalties, and two powerplays later, young Snizzbone took advantage, stickhandling his way into hashmark range and ripping a wrister to give the Marlies an unlikely 3-0 lead. The period ended with some pushing and shoving, which drew yet another man advantage to start the second.
It didn’t start the way they planned it to though. The Flames, armed with a new goaltender, wasted no time in picking up a shorthanded goal; Ken Agostino beat Antoine Bibeau with a shot just twelve seconds in though. Normally, this would change the momentum of a game, but Leipsic responded before the end of the powerplay, wrapping up the hat trick and restoring the three goal lead. Late in the period, yet another man advantage was capitalized on, this time courtesy of Matt Frattin.
Once again, the Flames were first to strike in the third period, but it took less than two minutes for Frattin to pick up his second of the night. Max Reinhart eventually responded for Adirondack, picking an impressive corner on Bibeau to make things a bit interesting. What made it more interesting was the fact they kept pressing too, firing as many as they could on net. Bill Arnold closed the gap even further, making the Marlies feel a little nervous, but an empty netter by TJ Brennan alleviated the situation and provided the final score.
Has to be Brendan Leispic, no? The quick double-up in the first period definitely gave the team a strong foundation to work with, making the rest of the game a lot easier for them. His hat trick goal was just icing on the cake in a game where he finished plays, created plays, took shots, threw the body, and caused trouble. He did a little bit of everything to make it happen.
Summing It Up
This was a massive win for this team. They responded to one of their worst performances of the season with one of their best. Most of the points and standout plays came from players that the organization are hoping to see develop into NHLers in the immediate future. Antoine Bibeau looked pretty solid in his first start in quite some time. The powerplay even clicked, going a unusually fantastic four for seven. Minus the (score effect driven, no doubt) shot differential, I’m pretty sure management would put at least the first two periods of this gamesheet on their proverbial fridge.