Marlies playoff hopes diminished after huge loss to Hershey

Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/

The Toronto Marlies had an opportunity to close the gap in the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals but ended up getting a near-opposite result. Despite a very competitive initial forty minutes, Toronto lost control in the third and gave up five goals, leading to an 8-2 final score.

To Toronto’s credit, they ignored the initial warning sign that came when Dustin Gazley put the Bears up three minutes into the first period. Rather than hitting the panic button, they began to flood Justin Peters with every opportunity they could. It worked for a little while; Mark Arcobello set up Josh Leivo for an equalizer three minutes later, and not long after that, Ben Smith set up unrelated namesake Colin Smith for a clear-cut breakaway, which he proceeded to go bar-down with.

All looked good from that point; the Marlies kept putting pucks on net, a few of them hit the post, but confidence was high and the crowd was pumping. However, Chris Bourque fired a slapshot on Antoine Bibeau midway through the second period that tied the game back up. It was one Bibeau probably should’ve had, but the team wasn’t ready to stress themselves. But then former Leafs enforcer Zach Sill scored his second of the series with 53 seconds left in the frame, and the nervous energy began.

It wasn’t unmerited either. Toronto started the third with a two-minute powerplay, and it took Sill just 18 seconds to turn that into a shorthanded goal. Looking to stop the bleeding, Bibeau was pulled and Garret Sparks was put in. A minute and a half later, a mistake in the offensive zone gave Chris Bourque a shorthanded breakaway, leading to a second goal on the same kill. From this point on, Toronto looked lifeless, and the scoresheet reflected that; Jakub Vrana and Christian Djoos scored to finish a seven and a half minute, five-goal run. Vrana added one more with three and a half remaining in the period, and the two teams got involved in some rough stuff afterwards, but the damage was already done.

The Marlies are now down 3-0 in this series, all but guaranteeing elimination barring a miraculous comeback. It’s certainly not what they were hoping for, but if they have any chance of winning, there can be zero sulking moving ahead. Game four will take place at 7:30 on Friday night at Ricoh Coliseum.

  • Gary Empey

    What an embarrassment tonight worthy of comparison to the leafs 4-1 playoff loss versus Boston. This new crop of players still has the stink of the collapses we leaf fans are all so familiar with.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it needs to be said. No more cushy compliment and Dubas ego stroking because after this game the honeymoon is over for us loyal paying fans with management and the marlies.

  • Oilers Rule

    Leaf’s organizational depth at goaltending positions appears to be even worse than with the Oilers lol. Maybe time to build a goaltending factory out of both respective organizations re. drafting and developing tenders?

  • CMpuck

    it’s one game…one series
    soooooo harsh the comments lmao
    I agree with the goaltending point…buuut
    screw it…or sign Reimer…even if he doesnt play a game and wins the cup, it will be like the leadership matrix in the transformer cartoon movie. see how the year goes. by then we’ll have an overflow of prospects which can make for smoother trading if we wanna go that route.

    I think the worst thing for the goalies is the swapping of them so frequently. take away the stress of wanting to keep the job and ideally that energy can be used for focusing on the task at hand.
    one thing about Ole Lou, I’m confident that he will take care of that matter…he got Corey Schneider for bo Horvat….
    why we could sign Stamkos and trade him back to Tampa for bishop;)))
    joking but I’m not concerned as far as the big picture is concerned.
    the experience is the most important part here anyways, so what if they don’t win the Calder cup…they’ll be extra hungry come September ..and it’s the Calder cup…yay…
    and what about that weirdo Swedish male model goalie dude…did we sign him? marlies lineup has changed nightly so im sure thats an issue too. chemistry
    I can’t wait till October…..faack

  • CMpuck

    It was more then goaltending last night. This team stopped playing and gave up when things got too hard just like the leaf teams of recent history. Last night was not about a team putting in the effort rather and playing 60 minutes it was a full demonstration of how the players will play when the going gets tough.

    Granted these last two games was the marlies feeling a bit of adversity and facing some bad luck yet last night was them mailing it in.

  • Gary Empey

    In my opinion it has been a big mistake not dressing Tobias Lindberg and Frederik Gauthier. You need to have some good defensive players in playoff hockey.

    • Oilers Rule

      You guys are so funny. Just a few weeks ago you were planning the parade and now people are backtracking and waffling about how the team was never really going to win.

  • Harold Ballard

    The Leafs BETTER pick either/both Filip Gustavsson or Carter Hart in the draft because our goaltending situation needs serious help. And that’s aside from the defensive issues we already have.

    • Harold Ballard

      Hopefully the Leafs can take advantage of the potential upcoming expansion draft situation and pry someone like Freddie Andersen or John Gibson out of Anaheim or trade for one of Winnipeg or Tampa’s prospects like Comrie or Gudlevskis… Calgary and Washington also have a batch of solid G prospects in the pipeline that could be ready by the time the Leafs are ready to really compete.

    • Gary Empey

      He wins faceoffs and is great on the penalty kill for starters.

      Who would you have picked instead, at 21st in the first round?

      21 Toronto -Frederik Gauthier C Rimouski Oceanic [QMJHL]

      22 Calgary -Emile Poirier L Gatineau Olympiques [QMJHL]

      23 Washington -Andre Burakovsky L Malmo Redhawks [Swe-1]

      24 Vancouver -Hunter Shinkaruk L Medicine Hat Tigers [WHL]

      25 Montreal -Michael McCarron R U.S. National Development Team [USHL]

      26 Anaheim -Shea Theodore D Seattle Thunderbirds [WHL]

      27 Columbus -Marko Dano C Bratislava Slovan [KHL]

      28 Calgary -Morgan Klimchuk L Regina Pats [WHL]

      29 Dallas -Jason Dickinson C Guelph Storm [OHL]

      30 Chicago -Ryan Hartman R Plymouth Whalers [OHL]