February 17 2014 08:28PM
It's really cool when the Toronto Marlies play at the Air Canada Centre. The entire building is pretty full, I'm still recovering from eating tons of seafood two days before, Team Canada is a good side subject, and the Hamilton Bulldogs always put up a good...
This isn't the "Boxing Day Classic", is it? I haven't seen my extended family in a while. The upper bowl is tarped off. Nobody on Team Canada is under 20..
This year, the Marlies decided that it would be a good idea to have two games here instead of one. It's a little weird, but I can appreciate it. It keeps the ice in use during the Olympics, gives more guys an opportunity to to play in the building they hope to make it to permanently, and boosts attendance (even with no upper bowl, they sold 3000 more tickets than a Ricoh sellout). It's easier to get to the rink, and it's a cheap way for families to bring their kids where the Leafs way on.. Family Day! Most of all, it was a successful night out for the blue and white, beating the Texas Stars by a score of 4-1.
The first period offered little in terms of notable play. The two teams exchanged minor scoring chances, but just one powerplay and nothing serious. The first major moment came five minutes into the second period as Jerry D'Amigo and Mike Hedden traded breakaways seconds apart from each other. D'Amigo's was reviewed at the end of the shift and waived off because, the back of the net was never part of it's trajectory. With five minutes left in the second period, Brett Ritchie picked up a horribly managed loose puck and slipped it past Drew MacIntyre to open the scoring.
The third period was where the Marlies really took off. After MacIntyre shut down Colton Sceviour on a shorthanded breakaway, Toronto headed back the other way and set up. Greg McKegg found Josh Leivo in front of the net, who trickled in a close range wrist shot past Christopher Nhilstorp to tie the game. Just two and a half minutes later, Spencer Abbott sent Jerry D'Amigo off on a breakaway, which he converted into a wrist shot and a go-ahead goal. With two minutes to go, Nhilstorp was pulled, and both Leivo and D'Amigo scored their second goals of the night on an empty net to give the Marlies their end result.
My personal favourite play of this game: T.J. Brennan coming around to help Drew MacIntyre make a save:
- MacIntyre, by the way, was superb. Lots of bursts of multiple saves, and ended up stopping 30 of 31, including 14 shots against in the final 13 minutes. It was a pretty fantastic performance.
- Spencer Abbott's pair of assists give him 41 on the year for a total of 53 points in 47 games.
- David Broll, Sam Carrick, and Wade MacLeod are still out with injuries. Dylan Yeo and Kenny Ryan came out of the lineup today for Jamie Devane and Kevin Marshall.
- I noticed this during one of the Marlies powerplays and thought it was interesting. IN an attempt to get a scoring chance off the bat, Josh Leivo is placed way on the Left Wing.
In the event of a clean faceoff win, Spencer Abbott would immediately pass over to Leivo for the one timer. It's a pretty cool strategy, and I think they should use it more often. On the left side, you'd have T.J. Brennan play the role of off-wing firepower, much like he does during the actual set up.
- Christopher Gibson was called up yesterday. Many assumed this meant the rotation of him and Garret Sparks was going to happen again, but it's not yet the case. Gibson is up due to a lower back injury, and a preference that he sees the doctors in Toronto. Expect the swap to come soon, though.
- There was a definite top six / bottom six happening today. A third line of Mike Duco, Jarred Smithson, and Tyler Biggs isn't something that would make most readers on this site happy, but coach Steve Spott was particularly happy with their performance today.
- The Marlies play their next game on Saturday against San Antonio, part of another back to back weekend.