Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
December 01 2013 10:34AM
Hey, so I know everybody wants to pretend last night's Leafs game never happened. Maybe if your first reaction was to reach for alcohol, your memory may have just accomplished that (if so, congrats and seek help). But, before the big club began their loss in Montreal last night, the Toronto Marlies had an afternoon game against the Rochester Americans. The process? A little Leafs-like, but the result was different, as they won 3-2 over the Buffalo Sabres affiliate.
The first period began not with a goal, but with a very early fight. Just four minutes into the game, Andrew MacWilliam dropped the gloves Nick Tuzzolino. Tuzzolino threw more punches, but MacWilliam used his size and strength to take him down. It wasn't long until the scoring was opened, but it was the Amerks who struck first, as Jamie Tardif converted on one of his teams four shots of the period. After two failed powerplays, the penalty kill turned out to be Toronto's friend. With two minutes to go and MacWilliam back in the box for a trip, Sam Carrick earned himself a breakaway and beat Matt Hackett to tie the game.
The second period started off relatively quiet, with the Marlies continuing to dominate the shot count, until they received their fourth powerplay opportunity of the game. This time, John Michael Liles creeped into the slot to finish off a tic-tac-toe play with Carrick and T.J. Brennan to give his team a 2-1 lead. Just two minutes later, Tyler Biggs scored his second goal of the year as an insurance marker.
It turned out to be a necessary one, too, as Matt MacKenzie brought the Amerks to within one early in the third, as Andrew Crescenzi rushed back from the penalty box. From that point on, the game was all Rochester, with the 15-3 shot total being reminiscent of the Leafs' recent collapse against Pittsburgh. With six road attackers on the ice, overtime looked to be an inevitability, but a sprawling Drew MacIntyre kept the final few shots out, securing the win.
- Sam Carrick was the first star tonight, and what a game he had. With only two natural centres in the lineup (Crescenzi being the other), the Marlies had to move closer to a 1/2/3/4 yesterday, and he was definitely the 1st line guy. His shorthanded goal was pretty, he almost scored another in the same fashion, his assist was part of one of the nicer powerplay goals I've seen this team score, and he even somewhat held his own against Mike Zigomanis in the faceoff circle. Games like this are cruicial to a player's long term development, and it'll be interesting to see how he does with the heightened minutes.
- My favourite Carrick stat from last night; he had as many shots as the entire Amerks roster in the first period.
- Kory Nagy and Tyler Biggs were the fill in centres. Nagy has experience playing centre at other levels and is comfortable playing there, and Biggs, a right winger, has seen time down the middle in penalty kill situations. Neither looked out of place, and Biggs even got a goal out of it.
- I need to learn how to say Free in a bunch of languages, so my ramblings about John-Michael Liles and T.J. Brennan don't get any more stale. They're stellar, more than NHL capable offensive defencemen. Together, they have 34 points in 35 games, almost as many as the entire Leafs D core.
- Being outshot 15-3 in the third period is something that can't exactly happen again if this team wants to be successful in over the long haul.
- Drew MacIntyre's late-game heroics show why he's a goaltender you depend on to win your team games. 25 saves on 27 shots is a solid night.
- Steve Spott gave updates on Greg McKegg and Kenny Ryan. McKegg is out with an upper body injury (not a concussion), and will return in about three weeks. Ryan took a shot to the, err, midsection in practice and will likely miss a week or two.
- Check back this week (no later than Wednesday) for a full month of November recap. Toronto plays next in Cleveland on Thursday, facing the Lake Erie Monsters.
Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com