The best part of Tuesday night’s game? I don’t have to mention the Hamilton Bulldogs until October. “OKAY JEFF, WE GET IT, YOU HATE THE SCHEDULE. Stop opening your posts with it!” you may say. On one hand, you’re right. On the other hand, we’re over half way into the season, and the Toronto Marlies have faced the Habs affiliate in 26% of their games. Include preseason, and it goes to 29%. One in every less than four games. For five months. Considering how these two teams like to get at each other, I have no idea how nobody’s been killed. Back to the point – tonight was the last game, Toronto really needs to start putting points on the board to stay in the playoff chase, and they did the opposite of that, losing a close one.
The first period started with the Marlies getting an early powerplay, less than two minutes in. This was followed by another one at the five minute mark, along with another one at ten minutes. This was a trend for most of the game, but Toronto couldn’t capitalize on any of those three. The tables then flipped – Joe Colborne and Carter Ashton taking penalties for Toronto, which lead to nothing. Another killed Bulldogs penalty came at the sixteen minute mark. Suddenly, two minutes became five, as Jamie Devane and Zach Stortini dropped the gloves for an even, lengthy fight. It must have rallied the troops a little bit; Will Acton scored his sixth of the season just seven seconds after play resumed, the period’s only goal.
Enter the second period. Jesse Blacker took the second period of the middle frame, and the Bulldogs were finally the team to take advantage of a powerplay first, tying the game. Just two minutes later, with Morgan Ellis taking a penalty box vacation, Joe Colborne tipped home his seventh of the year to regain Toronto’s lead. That lasted a minute and a half, as Mike Blunden tied the game. Really, this period was all Hamilton, turning an 11-3 Toronto advantage into a 19-16 Hamilton edge in just 20 minutes.
The third was closer, but ended in a way the Marlies would probably like to have back. After Ryan Hamilton took a debatable goaltender interference call in the final minutes, Nathan Beaulieu beat Jussi Rynnas just 30 seconds into the powerplay. Dallas Eakins, still irate with the referee, threw his whiteboard onto the ice, and considered adding a chair to the collection before having second thoughts. It was enough to get him tossed from the game, though, and earned the Marlies another penalty to kill. They did, but ran out of time to tie the game afterwards, losing 3-2.
Joe Colborne scored. Hey, that’s that guy I wrote a post about on here yesterday. 20 points in his last 22 games now.
Will Acton’s last goal was on December 28th before scoring todays.
Jussi Rynnas made 25 saves on 28 shots. Not horrible, not great, wasn’t enough. He’ll be called up shortly to the Leafs as they go into a James Reimer-less panic.
To take Rynnas’ place, Reading Royals goaltender Drew MacIntyre has been loaned to Toronto.
Jake Gardiner had an assist and took four shots. A decent overall game on his part.
I’m not sure whether to pinpoint the 14 total powerplays on undisciplined hockey, or bad refereeing. Eakins’ reaction has me thinking the latter may be the correct answer.
Toronto is now just two points away from falling out of the playoff hunt. Amazing what happens when a team loses most of its core.
The Marlies play their next game against the Hershey Bears. It’s a home game at Ricoh Coliseum, and starts at 3PM.