Griffith debuts, Marlies rally but fail to close out in loss to Bridgeport


On Friday night, the Toronto Marlies gave another ray of hope to those hoping that they would come out of their scoring slump, exploding for seven tallies against Hartford Wolf Pack. With confidence on their side and fresh blood at their disposal, fingers were crossed for a repeat tonight. While they did have a brief moment of offensive fury, they ultimately fell 4-3 to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a roller-coaster of a loss.

The first period didn’t start off well at all for the Marlies. A wide open Ben Holmstrom struck first for the Sound Tigers just four minutes into the game, finishing up a failed wraparound. Two minutes later, Ryan Pulock threw all of his weight into a slapshot to give the hosting bad guys their second goal on just three shots. While Toronto put on pressure to turn the tide around, outshooting the Bridgeport 11-7 in the first period, Jaroslav Halak fended away their efforts and kept them at bay.

His efforts stung deeper in the second, when Bracken Kearns fed Andrew Rowe a pass, which put the shooter into position to sneak around Antoine Bibeau and widen that game to three just 25 minutes into the game. For most of this year, you’ve been able to write that off as “game”, but after last night, you wondered if there was a gear left.

There was. Holstrom found himself in the penalty box for boarding at the 9:42 mark, and within ten seconds, Andreas Johnsson found a way to get the puck into the back of the net. Five minutes later, Travis Dermott followed it up with his first American Hockey League goal:

Toronto wasn’t as active in this period, but they made their opportunities count.

Certainly, though, they came out firing in the third, and after Kerby Rychel and Eric Faille failed to convert on a 2-on-1, last night’s hat-trick hero Brett Findlay came through again with his fourth of the weekend and the season.

Not even three minutes later, however, Kearns found his way onto the scoresheet in a more direct way than his first point, beating Bibeau and getting the game winner in the process. Eventually, the final buzzer sounded, except not really; with a second left on the clock, the teams thought they were done and had some words with each other, and by the time it was broken off, the referees decided to just call the whole thing.

With the loss, the Marlies fall to 16-20-2-1 on the season and return to the bottom of the North Division standings. Their next game is tomorrow afternoon against Springfield; puck drop is at 3:05 PM.

Griffith’s Debut

It’s also worth noting that Seth Griffith, who was re-claimed off waivers by the Leafs and sent to the Marlies this week, made his debut tonight and picked up a secondary assist on Dermott’s goal. Sheldon Keefe was pleased with what he saw out of his new forward. “He just shows that he’s really good with the puck,” the head coach said. “He sees the ice extremely well, and passes the puck like very few players at this level do.”

Griffith felt happy with the end outcome of this one. “As the game went on, I felt good, and got some chemistry with my line,” said the 24-year old winger. “Hopefully we’ll keep the chemistry up, and play a little better as the year goes on.”

On the adjustment curve, Griffith noted the difficulty that one has when switching teams so frequently, but remains optimistic about his new venue. “I’m just excited to get playing some games. I’m still a young guy, still learning, so when I get that chance to go back up, I want to make sure I’m staying this time.”