Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
The Air Canada Centre has been a bit of an inconsistent beast for the Toronto Marlies, both this season and in years past. The same could be said for the St. John’s IceCaps, who always put up a good fight against the future Leafs and in many ways, have been their kryptonite. Put the two together, and you have a recipe for a great game. Such was the case tonight, as the blue and white closed out the ACC series with a hard-fought 5-3 victory.
While the IceCaps were first to the scoresheet with a third-minute goal from Brett Lernout, Toronto was not happy with the idea of coming out of the first period in a trailing situation. Colin Smith quickly rallied with a dipsie-doodle which fooled St. John’s’ defenders and goaltender Zach Fucale, and just a few minute later, bot TJ Brennan and Josh Leivo followed up with goals of their own to cap off a period where the Marlies outshot their opponents 13-6.
Not satisfied with just one, Leivo doubled up just two minutes into the second period. While it wasn’t as nice as the first, where he baseball swung at his own rebound, a sharp wraparound was enough to give the Marlies a secure 4-1 lead. As the Leafs showed against the Ducks a few days prior, though, a three goal lead is far from secure. St. John’s was determined to prove this fact, with Bud Holloway firing the puck into a wide open net ten minutes after Leivo’s tally, and Charles Hudon following up with his 26th of the year with eight minutes to go.
The Marlies, perhaps a little more resilient, didn’t let their opponents rally back entirely. With just over three minutes remaining, a shot from Brendan Leipsic bounced off of the skate of Morgan Ellis and into the back of the net, once again giving Toronto insurance. The final buzzer came soon after, but not before All-Star sensation John Scott took a penalty that gave the Marlies one last powerplay; which, in an odd role reversal, drew boos from the crowd. Marlies tryout signing Shane Conacher also had his closest opportunity in the dying minutes, only to be stopped by Fucale.
With the win, the Marlies move to a 47-15-5 record on the season. Their 99 points still lead the league by a large margin, as do their 262 goals for and their goal differential of +89. They’ll get a chance to add to all of these numbers on Tuesday when they take on the IceCaps for the twelfth and final time this season. Puck drop is at 7PM and will be at Ricoh Coliseum.