You know, even with their recent struggles, it would take a spectacular fall for the Toronto Marlies to train the Hamilton Bulldogs in the standings. After all, while Toronto was just a point ahead of 4th in the North, the last place league wide Bulldogs were still 16 points into the Marlies rear view mirror going into tonight. With that said, that didn’t stop this game from being a must win. After winning 4 of the last 10 games, losing to a bottom feeder would be a confidence slasher for botht he players and those watching. As well, giving up points in your division, even when it seems impossible, can always have reprocussions. It seemed like those would be realized, but the team many are used to seeing came out in full force for the second period and beyond, taking this game 4-2.
The first period showd a game that could’ve been written off as over in a held breath. A few minutes after the Marlies killed off their first penalty, tough guy and frequent enemy Zach Stortini scored his second of the year. Just eleven seconds later, Gabriel Dumont took a shot that bounced off a defender and past Jussi Rynnas to extend the lead to two. It didn’t look good for Toronto, but a couple of powerplays, even without success, kept them involved in the game.
At almost the same time as Hamilton struck in the first, Carter Ashton began the rally in the second, socring his ninth of the season. Just two and a half minutes later, with Frederic St-Denis in the box, Simon Gysbers unleashed a wicked wrister from just before the slot to tie the game. Before the period could end, a scattering of penatlies occured, based on a Louis Leblanc hit on Brad Ross, which ultimately gave Toronto a powerplay. That lasted ten seconds, as Joe Colborne was sent to the box for a hold.
The Marlies maintained their newfound control into the third and final frame. Mike Mottau found Nicolas Deschamps with a wicked cross crease pass, which was promptly one timered in. Eight minutes later, Spencer Abbott used a quick move to part the crowd in front of the Hamilton net, widening the gap to 4-2. Hamilton pulled out Mayer in favour of an extra attacker with three minutes to go, and the puck did go in once – but it was disallowed, as offside. That said, with the game won, I doubt anybody’s losing sleep.
Jussi Rynnas made 26 saves on 28 shots, a much better performance than last night. And you can tell that he realized that, with a celebration worthy of an animated gif:
Nicolas Deschamps needed a breakout game, and with a goal and two assists, along with being a +2, this may be the one. Stats aside, he was stellar, and his entrances into the offensive zone were particularly impressive. A lot more use of his skating ability than usually seen.
Joe Colborne lead the team in plus minus, as a +3. Eight players were a -1.
Jake Gardiner had no dent on the stat sheet whatsoever. Didn’t have any bad plays, but a lot of good theoreticla plays that didn’t quite connect as hoped. Shots that were blocked, passes that went slightly wide, that kind of stuff.
Greg Scott took a whopping seven shots.
The powerplay clicked once out of six opportunities, and the penalty kill was effective both times. A very good result for the special teams.
The announced attendance was 7209. Not a sellout, but still impressive.
Toronto faces Hamilton again on Wednesday night at 7PM, at Ricoh Coliseum.
(Photo courtesy TSGPhoto.com)