Last year, the Toronto Marlies were an absolute wrecking ball when they headed in the direction of any American Hockey League defence. On thirteen occasions they were able to put six goals in the back of their opponents net, and three of those involving nine or ten tallies.
No such luck this year. Until tonight, that is; a game in which the Marlies blasted seven into the back of the Hartford Wolf Pack’s net to create their best offensive effort of the season.
The first period was one headlined by rookie blueliner Andrew Nielsen, who opened the scoring for the Marlies less than two minutes on the powerplay and stretched that lead even further less than seven minutes later by scoring an eerily similar point shot on Brandon Halverson. While Steven Fogarty did respond seconds later for the Wolfpack, Toronto walked out of the first period as leaders.
The middle frame got off to an even better start. Andras Johnsson took advantage of a penalty to Matt Carey that was taken at the end of the first and scored his ninth of the season just 21 seconds in, and Trevor Moore quickly followed up with his fourth at the exact same time as Nielsen scored his in the opening period. Halversen was pulled and replaced with Mackenzie Skapski at this point.
Hartford clawed back, getting two goals from Cristoval Nieves in a span of two and a half minutes (including a shorthanded tally), but a surprising hero turned the night back around. Brett Findlay responded to the latter goal with a powerplay tally only seven seconds later, then added his second of the night ten minutes after that and, two minutes into the third period, he completed a shocking natural hat trick. Carey did manage to get one more goal for the Wolfpack with a minute to go, but that’s as close as this game got.
It was a huge night for so many Marlies players, as far as getting on the scoresheet. Findlay had his hat trick on four shots, Kerby Rychel took five shots and had four assists, Byron Froese had a pair of assists, Andrew Nielsen had two goals, an assist, three shots, and a +4, and Trevor Moore had a goal and an assist. Star forward Brendan Leipsic was shockingly one of the few who avoided the scoresheet, but he matched Rychel’s team-leading shot total.
The hope is that this explosion of offence, done without Colin Smith, Kasperi Kapanen, or waiver claim Seth Griffith, will give Toronto some confidence on the attack moving forward. For now though, it does boost their record a bit; the Marlies improve to 0.461 with a 16-19-2-1 record over 38 games. Their 3-in-3 weekend will continue tomorrow night, when they take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 7:00 PM.