Marlies open road trip with loss to Comets


After Sunday’s win against the Hartford Wolf Pack, Toronto Marlies forward and veteran presence Rich Clune suggested that even though the team had been struggling, a couple of days together on a road trip might do the team a lot of good, at least in terms of bonding as a slightly different group compared to last season.

Tonight was their first attempt of that stretch, as they took on the Utica Comets. It went… not as well as they planned.

Interestingly, this game didn’t actually start off horribly. While Rich Clune took a high sticking penalty seconds into the affair, Brendan Leipsic turned lemons into lemonade with a fantastic individual effort to give his team an early lead. It’s one that was squandered before the period could get much further, though, as Marco Roy fired his first of the season through newcomer netminder Karri Ramo nine minutes later.

Toronto regained the lead early in the second period. While Bourna Rendulic sat in the box, Andreas Johnsson scored his fifth powerplay (or any situations) goal of the season, inching towards the front of the net and beating Thatcher Demko. That too wouldn’t last, though, as Jake Virtanen, after many efforts, managed to squeak the puck into Toronto’s net at a near-identical time to Roy’s efforts in the first. Even worse, Leipsic crashed into the goal post during the scramble and left the game. Milan Michalek also disappeared from the bench after, but Sheldon Keefe noted both players will likely be fine moving forward.

While a penalty shot from Curtis Valk was met by Ramo a few minutes later, the third period wasn’t so kind to the Marlies. With five and a half minutes to go, the Comets established a presence in the Toronto zone and noted Marlie-killer Jordan Subban launched a shot from the point that squeaked through Ramo’s pads. Despite Toronto’s best efforts with the net empty in the final moments, they weren’t able to equalize, skating away with the 3-2 regulation loss as their result.

The biggest focus on this game will no doubt be on Karri Ramo. The Finnish netminder, who signed a PTO this week and is gossiped to be joining the Leafs in the near future, stopped 33 of 36 shots for a 0.917 save percentage on the night, including the above penalty shot. He looked a rusty type of sharp; still carrying the reflexes of when to make a move, but occasionally not closing up spots where somebody in more consistent form would. He’s expected to get the next start as well, so we’ll see how that carries over.

With the loss, the Marlies fall to a 0.545 record; more specifically, 11-9-1-1. This keeps them in the third seed of the North Division, trailing Syracuse and Albany. They’ll next hit the ice on Friday night when they take on the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Brendan Leipsic Byron Froese Milan Michalek
Andreas Johnsson Colin Smith Tobias Lindberg
Kerby Rychel Marc-Andre Cliché Rich Clune
Dmytro Timashov Colin Greening Milan Michalek
Travis Dermott   Viktor Loov
Rinat Valiev   Justin Holl
Andrew Nielsen   Andrew Campbell