February 16 2013 04:06PM
Hershey, Pennsylvania is the land of opportunity, chocolate, and Washington Capitals prospects. They have fan support like nobody else, with Bears jerseys littering Ricoh Coliseum despite the distance away. It was an important game for the Toronto Marlies, who continue to struggle out of the post-lockout gate. New emergency addition Drew MacIntyre made an unexpected debut, but peformed spectacular in it, leading the Marlies to their first win in three games.
The first period saw an opening goal from an unexpected player in Andrew Crescenzi. The Thornhill native probably wasn't expecting the puck beat Dany Sabourin, launching weak and low off his stick, but sometimes the intention is more important than the result, squeaking by to give Toronto an early lead. A trio of powerplays, two in Hersheys favour shook things up throughout the opening twenty, but both penalty killing nuts rose to the occasion.
In the middle frame, the Bears were quick to equalize the game, as Casey Wellman scored his eighth of the season, as Tim Conolly sat in the box for the second time fo the season. However, the still NHL-quality centre was quick to redeem himself, scoring his 4th goal in ten games to restore the lead just five minutes later. Mike Zigomanis took a penalty for goaltender interference in the closing minutes, but to no damage.
The third period was a slow and steady one. Toronto was taking shots more to keep the pressure out of their zone, than to risk going for a bigger lead. It was a smart effort, as Hershey, needing a goal, only had three shots of their own. Other than a very early Marlies powerplay, the third period was more existant than it was exciting, but it what Toronto needed to open the weekend with a 2-1 victory.
Drew MacIntyre debuting today is interesting. I'm not sure how much confidence that puts in Mark Owuya's hands, but with that said, the newest member of the team, black pads and all, looked very strong, stopping 17 of 18 shots, many of them impressive.
That said, just eighteen shots against? That's a spectacular defensive effort by everybody involved. It shows in Toronto's total that they were playing defensively , taking just 22 of their own.
Jake Gardiner's name is being glared at as people await his return to the Leafs, and he had a very unnoticable game. This is good from a defensive standpoint, as it means he didn't make any mistakes. Beyond that, he was a +1 and took a single shot.
Tim Connolly's goal is his first since his opening tear. Would be nice to see more production out of him.
The "weak shot" isn't a knock on Crescenzi's game - overall, that was his best effort yet. Just it gets an exclaimation point by a goal Sabourin is probably kicking himself for.
Five penalties against is an undisciplined effort, but killing four of them is solid. The powerplay lacked the needed spark, though, and was unsuccessful at all three attempts.
Dallas Eakins confirmed today that Brad Ross is not a healthy scratch, rather having a broken bone in his wrist.
Attendance tonight was 5814, pretty solid with the Leafs playing down the street and the weather being a mess.
The Marlies play their next game at home on Monday at 1PM, against the Houston Aeros. Lunchbags will be given out to fans as a promo item.