Marlies turn emotional beginning into happy ending

Photo Credit: Mike Ivall / @M_IvallOJHLI

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pre-game line brawl outside of YouTube before. I’d assume that’s the same for most of the crowd, but boy did we get close. The Toronto Marlies and Syracuse Crunch had their collective blood boiling before the opening faceoff, and it spilled over into a heck of a hockey game, which ultimately saw the Marlies skate away with a 3-2 victory.

Brandon Leipsic, Rich Clune, Ray Emery, and Justin Johnson appeared to be the key aggressors on the Toronto side of things; Jake Dotchin and a couple of others led the way on the other side. For this reason, we didn’t see total mayhem the second the puck dropped, as the former two have hockey roles on the team, Emery was backing up Rob Madore, and Johnson ended up being scratched.

Madore, who was making his second consecutive start after winning on Thursday against Lake Erie, left a little room for concern after giving up his second shot against. However, it wasn’t exactly the easiest play for him; Matthew Peca blew past Viktor Loov, giving him plenty of opportunity to set up Jeff Tambellini for a cross-crease one timer. Kristers Gudlevskis kept the Crunch in the game as Toronto fired on all cylinders, outshooting their opponents by eight over the first twenty, but not scoring on any of their attempts.

The second period was a different story. The Marlies were quick to gain possession and move the puck into the offensive zone, culminating in Brandon Leipsic feeding Sam Carrick from behind the net to grab an equalizer. Tye McGinn restored Syracuse’s lead fifteen minutes later, evading notice while finding space in front of Madore to pot his twelveth of the year, but Justin Holl responded with a well-aimed, heavy point shot just over a minute later to restore balance to the game.

Three minutes into the third period, the Marlies set up shop in the opponent’s zone and once again looked to the point for offensive assistance. This time, team captain Andrew Campbell unleashed a cannon of his own to give his team the lead for the first time in the game. Finally, the frustration shown before the game started to truly spill over; Sam Carrick got into a war of words with Matthew Peca, waved his stick in his face, and Anthony DeAngelo stepped in to defend his teammate. Carrick, who is typically a shot driver with the ability to be a pest, is also more than capable of throwing punches and made quick work of his opponent.

With a little over a minute remaining Zach Hyman, who had assisted on the two prior Toronto goals, went to the box for a hook. This left Syracuse with a powerplay and an empty net, giving them a 6-on-4 situation. Frederik Gauthier, who returned to the Marlies after a few weeks of injury recovery, used his faceoff prowess and defensive capabilities to anchor the ensuing penalty kill, ultimately preventing the Crunch from tying the game before the final buzzer.

Of course, this game ended the way it started; with full-roster skirmishes. Rich Clune took offence to a Syracuse player, resulting in another mega-scrum to end the game:

Tomorrow’s rematch, which will once again played at Ricoh Coliseum at 3 PM, should be a fun one.