The boys are back in town. With their annual multi-week road trip spurred on by the Royal Winter Fair had concluded, it was time to bring AHL action back to Toronto for the first time since October 26th. With them, the Toronto Marlies brought a team they had never faced before in the Charlotte Checkers. Both were in need of a win, with Charlotte being outscored 15-4 in the last two games and the Marlies losing three straight coming in. Today, it was Toronto’s time to snap a cold streak, winning 4-1 in an eventful mid-Saturday return home.
The first period started with a scare, as Jamie Devane hit Charlotte defenceman Michal Jordan into the boards behind the net. While it wasn’t a dirty hit (no penalty was even called), Jordan landed awkwardly and stayed on the ice for over a minute afterwards. On the other side of the ice, Devane was forced into a fight with Matthew Corrente, which he had the edge on. A powerplay came out of the same shift, and John Michael Liles capitalized on it, getting his second goal of the year off a point shot. The tension continued throughout the period, with David Broll fighting Nicolas Blanchard at the midway point, and the teams exchanging chippy penalties, eventually leading to a 5 on 3 powerplay. Seconds after that started, Greg McKegg picked up a Spencer Abbott pass and slid the puck past John Muse to bring the lead to 2-0, which it would stay at for the final seconds of the period.
The third period started off quiet. Little in terms of physicality or penalties, and just five shots in the first ten minutes. The tides turned a bit when Kevin Marshall went to the box for a pair of minor penalties, but the PK until manged to keep things together and carry the period to its uneventful conclusion with no damage done either way.
McKegg came back for an encore early in the third period, going top right with a wrist shot from the left wing in the opening minutes. The MacIntyre shutout bid ended soon after, however, as Zach Boychuk tapped in a shot that appeared to be going wide to bring Charlotte back wthin two. Both teams kept pressing, but the Marlies got the last laugh, with Jerry D’Amigo potting an empty netter to secure the win.
- Drew MacIntyre was the starting goaltender today, and had a strong game, stopping 30 of 31 shots. A point blank save on Elias Lindholm at the start of Kevin Marshall’s double minior was probably the best play of the game by anybody on the team.
- Spencer Abbott’s assist gives him a point in all thirteen games he’s played for the Marlies this season, with an insane one goal and eighteen assists. Everything he touches right now is turning into gold for the next recipient.
- This was Greg McKegg’s first multi-point game of the year, and both of his goals were solid. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to score this year, but he’s made the most of those he has, shooting well above 20% so far.
- A few people were interested in seeing Rick DiPietro play for the Checkers, but he didn’t start today. There’s still a chance at seeing him on Tuesday night, however, so don’t lose hope just yet.
- Naturally, it’s a Marlies home game, so you’d expect T.J. Brennan to find his way onto the scoreboard a couple of times. With two assists, he did just that, bringing him to 19 points in 14 games.
- Kenny Ryan played his first game of the season today, finally healthy after a hernia injury that sidelined him for most of the season. He wasn’t incredibly noticible, but that isn’t surprising for a guy who missed the first month of the season.
- John-Michael LIles looks as impressive as always after sitting in the Leafs press box for a couple of weeks. I still think he should have gotten a game in.
- Shoutout to the referee who took a deflected puck to the face late in the third period, wiped his face with a towel, and kept going. Even the zebras have hearts of lions in this sport!
- Completely unrelated; I really like Charlotte’s jerseys. Apparently the difference between "Team Canada Knockoff" (their parent club, Carolina) and "nice and cool" is changing the bottom stripe from white to black.
- Ricoh Coliseum had a bunch of people in it today! This is usually when attendance picks up, and today it was to the tune of 7699 people, nearing sell out territory. The Marlies return tomorrow to face the Texas Stars.
Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com