Morin scores first goal in the Leafs organization as Marlies finish first half of season with victory


Before we even talk about the game, I want to devote a moment to the jerseys you see in front of you. These are the Manitoba Moose. The thing on the front of the jersey is not a Moose. It is decidedly a polar bear.

I don’t even mind; it’s a great polar bear. Supposedly, this was the branding, under the Manitoba Polar Bears name that True North would have used if the NHL didn’t let them take back the Winnipeg Jets branding. So, with a sponsorship deal in place with a local zoo, they brought them out for the night.

As it happens, the Moose not only didn’t show up as a crest, they didn’t exactly show up as a team either, making tonight a very easy night for the Toronto Marlies, who easily walked away with a 4-1 victory.

Toronto has been so successful this year for two years; dazzling league-relative star power, and overwhelming assault on the other team’s net. Tonight, the Marlies kept that trend going, taking a season-high 43 shots on goal; just one shy of double Manitoba’s 22. The first of those to hit the back of the net came from their star defenceman, TJ Brennan, who happily pulled off this pinch to bang home a rebound on Jeremy Morin’s chuck to the net.

The goal, which came a minute into the second period, was just the tip of the iceberg for Toronto though they’d have to wait a while to prove it. With four minutes to go in the period, JC Lipon tied the game up with a powerplay point shot that fooled Ray Emery, who tonight became the fifth Marlies goaltender this year to face the Moose.

The bulk of Toronto’s assault on top-flight goaltending prospect Eric Comrie came in the early-mid third period. Josh Leivo took advantage of a penalty to Nic Petan and absolutely blasted his eleventh of the season to regain the lead for Toronto, and just two and a half minutes later, Jeremy Morin scored his first goal as a member of the Marlies. It was a nice one, too.

To seal the deal, Nikita Soshnikov added one more, streaking down the ice to score his eleventh of the season with the help of James Martin.

The most impressive part of this victory, to me, is how well the team played despite coming out with their “weakest” centre lineup of the year. Brett Findlay, Frederik Gauthier, Ryan Rupert, and winger Casey Bailey were Toronto’s pivots tonight, and while all of them are quality players, they aren’t the best the team has to offer. However, with William Nylander possibly out for a few more weeks, both of Mark Arcobello and Byron Froese up with the Leafs, and Sam Carrick injuring himself by slipping on a mat on Friday, the team may have to continue experiment with things.

With the win, the Marlies move to 29-7-2 after 38 games. This is the best first half the Marlies have ever had, as you could probably imagine. We’ll go into more detail on that in the coming days, definitely before their next game in Utica on Wednesday night.