No Drou, Just Win at Ricoh Coliseum as Marlies pull off comeback

Photo Credit: Christian Bonin /

Heading into tonight’s Toronto Marlies game, much of the talk was about the Syracuse Crunch. Specifically, it was about Jonathan Drouin, and how he would play against the AHL’s best team as he awaited his trade. Suddenly, it became about how he was out of the lineup (first reported by yours truly) on his own accord, refusing to play another game until he was moved. But that didn’t matter to the players on the ice, who had a game to play; one which the Marlies won with a fantastic comeback.

While Toronto was up to their usual high-octane offensive ways, the Crunch were the firsts to get on the scoresheet. As Viktor Loov sat in the penalty box, Mike Blunden broke the ice with a floater from the right wing hash marks that squeaked between Antoine Bibeau’s legs. Loov made up for his costly mistake shortly afterward, finishing off a play that involved all five Marlies skaters with a heavy wrist shot from the point that tied the game just six minutes later.

The second period was very low key, in the sense that penalties were nearly non-existent (minus a roughing call to former Marlies forward David Broll) and shots calmed down to a reasonable 10-9 balance. With a minute to go, however, Ryan Rupert’s attempt at springing a break for Kasperi Kapanen went horribly awry, leading to Cameron Darcy sprinting back the other way and scoring a rare goal.

Mark Arcobello tied the game for Toronto once again in the third period, taking advantage of Kristers Gudlevskis’ tight hugging of the right post to snipe a wrister into the other gaping half of the net. It only took Syracuse a minute and a half to not only regain their lead but add insurance, though, as Tanner Richard and Anthony DeAngelo took turns beating Bibeau to put the gaming seemingly out of reach.

With that said, it was a long third period, and the teams were both ready for a gunfight. Both teams took over fifteen shots in the third period alone, and it slowly but surely, the Marlies chipped away at the lead. Midway through the period, Nikita Soshnikov’s carry across the offensive zone resulted in a shot on goal and a few rebounds, with Zach Hyman’s crossing the line. With a minute and change remaining in the third, Arcobello struck again with a breakaway slapshot set up by Jeremy Morin to tie the game up just in time for overtime.

The two teams each exchanged a shot on goal in the extra frame before, well, just watch.

Ryan Rupert, who is without a stick at this point, kicks the puck to Brendan Leipsic, who scores a brilliant spin goal for his 14th point in his last twelve games. More importantly, he capped off a victory for the Marlies, who after 44 shots on goal, earned their first lead of the game when it mattered most.

Overall, it was a good night for the team. Newcomer Eric Baier picked up an assist in his debut, though fellow signee Rylan Schwartz was held pointless, shotless, and to a -2 rating. The newly-formed top line of Soshnikov, Arcobello, and Hyman were offensively dominant. Viktor Loov, for perhaps the first time in 2015/16, stepped up to the plate to play the role of offensive defenceman that we saw early last year. Not only did he score a goal, he took six shots on net, was more involved in carrying the puck, and managed to keep a few hopeless pucks in the zone once they were there. Despite some rough patches, there were some bright spots.

Perhaps nobody knows this more than Antoine Bibeau. This wasn’t the best game I’ve seen him play this year; not by a longshot. Many of the goals against him appeared to be saveable, but he got his act together in the late stages of the third, with his pair of saves in the last minute being arguably as fantastic as the overtime goal.

With the win, the Marlies move to a record of 32-8-2, a points percentage of 0.786, and a goal differential of +59. The numbers are getting absurd at this point; their goal differential is 33 higher than anybody other than Wilkes-Barre (+46), and they have 34 more goals than any team in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto’s next game is on Saturday, in which they’ll be taking on the Utica Comets. Utica, who are affiliates of the Vancouver Canucks, are currently 6th in the Eastern Conference with a 0.538 points percentage. The puck drops at 3:00 PM.

  • SEER

    MARLIES RULE..!! : )

    ..and to add some more good news, Andrew Nielsen is the WHL’s top d-man in points… Heres’ a new video for him, of some this season’s highlight goals… He dropped a lot of excess weight this past off-season.. and has added more muscle.., making his skating and speed improve quite a bit..!

    Andrew Nielsen/
    Defense/ — shoots L/
    Born Nov 13 1996 — Red Deer, ALTA/
    19 yrs. ago/
    Height 6.03 — Weight 207

    RECENT STATS: (*Up to Jan. 21st 2016) ……………………………………………………………………………………
    2014-15 Lethbridge Hurricanes – WHL
    59 Games… 7 Goals… 17 Assists…34 Points… -9

    2015-16 Lethbridge Hurricanes – WHL
    46 Games… 12 Goals… 38 Assists…50 Points… +30 “PPG+

    D-Line Rock: Andrew Nielsen 2015-16 Highlights – TML


  • Harte of a Lion

    It seems the Marlies are playing a lot of the same teams over and over, and most of these are middle of the pack teams. How often have they played the other top point teams in the league? Could it be their stats are being inflated by playing weaker teams so often this season? Yes their numbers are impressive but I have to wonder if this is not more a reflection of the quality of the opposition and not the team. They are basically getting away with not playing well or giving up too many chances by outscoring the other team … but against the top teams in the league, being able to score will be harder and their mistakes will cost them. Once they hit the playoffs … they could be in for a rude surprise, they really haven’t faced enough high end competition in my opinion, for us to really know how good they are.

    • Gary Empey

      There certainly is some truth in what you have said. I assume playing the same teams so often has to do with keeping costs down just like in the NHL. Playing against more of the top teams would be good for their confidence and development. We all know the Marlies are good. When it comes to playoff time we have all seen some very good teams bite the dust in the first round. Still I am fairly confident in our Marlies this year.

    • It’s also worth keeping in mind that the Marlies also don’t play most of the bottom feeders that often, and that their most frequent opponent has delivered half of their losses. I don’t think schedule bias is the cause of their success.

      • magesticRAGE

        It’s true. They have handed Wilkes a loss as well. Just admit it everyone, in the regular season the Marlies are just plain dominant. Just to add salt to their victims, the Marlies haven’t really had their full lineup all season, with Kapenen out for the start, followed by Brown’s injury.
        We’ll see how they fare in the playoffs!

    • Gary Empey

      One of the best ways to out score your opponent is to stop them from scoring. In yesterday’s game there were some glaring turnovers by the Marlies.
      If Babcock was coaching you would of seen him writing stuff in his little black book.

    • magesticRAGE

      Wow you’re so witty. It’s not about the fact that they outscore the opposition it all has to do with how they are winning. From what I have seen, they are winning in spite of themselves on too many nights … all I am saying is when they meet up with the other top teams in the league … the scoring will mostly likely come down to reality, and without enough tough close games under their belts to learn from, it will be interesting to see how they cope. What we have yet to see is them being strong defensively and not replying on outstanding goal tending to cover up their defensive miscues. Let’s not forget last year’s Leaf team was one of the higher scoring teams but they were being out shot every night and then the wheels fell off.

      I don’t think this team is as good as their stats seem to indicate they are. The playoffs will tell us, this cake walk schedule they have had this year tells us nothing. Most of the teams in their divisions are barely about 0.500 (except Albany at 0.640). Let’s see how they fare against the top teams in the other divisions who are above 0.640. Take a look at the standings.