You didn’t think it was going to last forever, did you? While I’m sure the Toronto Marlies would have been happy with never losing a hockey game again, the odds of that weren’t exactly in their favour. Pure probability aside, the Grand Rapids Griffins are very good and not the type of team that just gets swept in the first round, regardless of opponent. This was proven tonight, as the nine game winning streak was snapped by a 5-2 defeat.
Everything looked so good at first. Marlies captain Troy Bodie, who was playing his first game back from injury, finished off a play by Sam Carrick to open the scoring just six minutes into the game. Unfortunately for him and his teammates, Andy Miele had an answer within a little more than a minute, tying the game with his second of the series.
Special teams started coming into play in the second period, as Petter Granberg was sent to the box for an elbow at the five and a half minute mark. Andreas Athanasiou took advantage of the opportunity, beating Christopher Gibson to give his team the lead. It was a period where the Griffins dominated, outshooting Toronto 15-6 over twenty minutes.
The wheels finally came off for the Marlies in the third period, and it all happened in a matter of seconds. Tyler Bertuzzi picked up his first professional playoff goal by deflecting Nicklas Jensen’s shot near the midway point, and before you could catch your breath, Teemu Pulkkinen raced in and wired a breakaway wrister into the back of the net to make it 4-1. Toronto pulled their goalie with a whopping eight minutes to go, and it initially worked; Brendan Mikkelson closed the gap on Toronto’s second powerplay opportunity. That was as close as it got though, as Pulkkinen added an empty netter a few minutes later and left the remainder of the game to be nothing more than a bunch of pushing and shoving.
Tonight’s warrior is Brendan Mikkelson. He wasn’t on the ice for any goals against, lead the team in shots, and picked up a timely goal to keep the team from entirely crashing and burning. It wasn’t enough to send them in the right direction, but it was still something.
Summing It Up
You knew a game like this was coming. It was only a matter of time, really; it had been nearly a month since this team lost, and their opponents that night were the same ones as they had today, in the same building. The next step is to make sure that this doesn’t keep happening; they need to refocus in time for Saturday night’s game. If they don’t, they may just have their momentum ripped out of their hands entirely.