From last to first in the span of two months? Despite all given odds, it’s certainly possible, and something that the Toronto Marlies have pulled off this weekend, winning three games in regulation to set themselves on top of the North Division.
Friday @ Binghamton
The Marlies kicked their weekend off in a non-typical road venue, as the Binghamton Senators brought their talents to Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre in an effort to impress the home crowd they all hoped to get called up to one day. Toronto was looking to rebound from their seven-goal against period against the team at the Air Canada Centre in the weekend prior, and when they conceded a goal just 28 seconds in, it didn’t look like that was going to happen.
Thankfully for the Marlies, that was but a minor hiccup. The blue and white exploded in the second period, with Kasperi Kapanen and Seth Griffith scoring goals seven seconds apart from each other. Six minutes after them, Colin Greening and Brett Findlay extended Toronto’s lead to 4-1, notching tallies 90 seconds apart. That 4-1 lead mirrored the lead that they had previously, so it was paramount that they didn’t give up all the goals again in the third period.
Technically, they did give up all the available goals in the third period. However, that consisted of just one tally by Jason Akeson, while Kasimir Kaskisuo fended off the other eight six remaining shots to seal a 4-2 victory.
Saturday vs Springfield
Toronto continued their run of form on home ice the following day when taking on the Springfield Thunderbirds, affiliate of the Florida Panthers. Andreas Johnsson opened the scoring for the Marlies on a powerplay two and a half minutes into the third period, starting an uncontested run. William Wrenn made a fantastic give and go play with Seth Griffith to add insurance six minutes later, and Andrew Nielsen capped off the period with his thirteenth of the season.
The game started getting chippy in in the late stages of the second period, with Giffith finding himself involved with Jared McCann in the dying minutes of the frame. That intensity carried over in a different from, though, when Kerby Rychel went to battle with Kyle Rau, as a bit of long-game revenge for Rau’s controversial, concussion-causing hit to Brendan Leipsic in January. With that score settled, it was left to the two sides to settle the scoresheet up. While Jarred McCann broke up Garret Sparks’ shutout bid with two and a half minutes to go, Andreas Johnsson capped off the game with his 20th of the season seconds later.
Sunday vs Syracuse
This game had a bit of everything; so much so that we’re going to come back to the crazy stuff in another post. But besides that, it was also a strong effort to close out the weekend that solidified Toronto’s standings position. Colin Greening opened the scoring with the game’s first shot just 73 seconds in, and the Marlies just kept pouring from there. Scoring chance after scoring chance flew in front of Crunch goalie Mark McKenna, leading to Toronto taking a whopping 17 shots to Syracuse’ six in the first period.
The second period saw the pace slow a bit, especially when a bunch of borderline hits and thrown punches were thrown into the mix of time. But the real fun started to come in the third. Steven Olesky threw everyone off by firing an absolute cannon of a slapshot off the wing six minutes into the period to make the score 2-0, and Sergei Kalinin followed that up with his first goal as a Marlie two and a half minutes later.
Shortly after that, a hit by Olesky instigated an all-out-brawl, that saw four Syracuse players and Travis Dermott ended up with misconducts, ranging from instigation, to continuing to fight after attempts to break everything up, to being the third man in, and everything in between. Once all the insanity was settled down, Brendan Leipsic potted an empty netter and Sparks held the fort that just barely gave in on him the day prior and capped off a 26-save shutout.
The three wins move Toronto to a 37-26-4-1 record, which gives them the first seed in the North Division. Their next games come on Friday and Saturday, once again against the Syracuse Crunch, on the road.