The Air Canada Centre may be home to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they don’t exactly have exclusivity. The building was originally designed for the Raptors, the Rock remind us all that Lacrosse is a thing that exists, and tons of music acts make a temporary home out of the building throughout the year. Heck, I was here three days ago and there was a mountain near the hash marks! Today, the Toronto Marlies took their turn running the rink, taking on the Hamilton Bulldogs in front of a five digit crowd for the third straight year. Despite being heavily outshot, the Marlies dragged this one into overtime, but ultimately fell 2-1.
The first period offered no scoring and a lot of one-sided control by the Bulldogs, who outshot the home team by a a margin of 12-4. Despite four penalties, the most interesting call was the lack of one late in the period. Tyler Biggs hit former (albeit briefly) Leafs prospect Greg Pateryn from behind, which was followed by Louis Leblanc wrestling him down and punching him once on the ice. Both seemed like incidents that might be reviewable by the league, but neither headed to the box.
The first major action in the second period was in the form of a fight, as David Broll dropped the mitts with Nick Tarnasky. It was a short lived scrap, as Broll’s jersey got stuck on his head. It wasn’t the only fisticuffs we saw in the period, though, as Kenny Ryan took on Derren Dietz with a few minutes left. This time, Ryan had control of the scrap, even (fully) peeling off Dietz’s jersey in the process. In between these two fights, Drew MacIntyre sprawled to make a save, only to leave an open net for Joonas Nattinen, who scored the only goal of the second period.
The third was do-or-die for the Marlies, and their shooting woes continued. Shots were blocked and shots were missed (can we Corsify the AHL?) but few were hitting the net, and even more were heading into the Marlies’ zone. Eventually, the blue and white got a break, as TJ Brennan used his trademark point shot to beat Dustin Tokarski for this 13th goal of the season with eight minutes left in the period. Despite being heavily outshot again in the third, the game was dragged into overtime. With a minute to go, Greg Pateryn picked up a rebound, beat MacIntyre, and ended the game.
- Drew MacIntyre started in net today, and had arguably his best performance of the year. Goof up on the Nattinen goal aside, He stood on his head for 38 saves on 40 shots, and is the only reason this game was still a contest from the first few minutes, let alone into overtime.
- Speaking of goaltenders, the Marlies did another prospect swap today, sending Christopher Gibson to Orlando, and calling Garret Sparks back up. Probably the same idea as last time; give one minutes, and the other time with the staff.
- With all of the injuries and call ups, the team seems to be on their "backup backup backup" plan when it comes to letters. Kevin Marshall and Carter Ashton were wearing A’s today.
- While they didn’t do much with the opportunity today, I feel like the Abbott-McKegg-Ashton line could be productive if given a chance to stick.
- The refereeing was pretty off today. The Biggs/Pateryn/Leblanc incident was a good example, but the weirdest moment came in the second period. Spencer Abbott goes on a breakaway during a delayed Hamilton penalty, and the referee blew it down for possession with no Bulldogs player in sight. Other minor incidents as well.. definitely just an off day, but still could have changed the course of the game.
- Attendance was an announced 16859. Not the sellout of the previous years, but still pretty solid. Year one was a novelty, and year two came during the lockout. Combine that with another ACC game coming on Family Day, and this was a good turnout.
- While on the ACC point, it’s as if this building makes the home team scared to shoot. The Marlies have been a pretty good possession team this year, yet had one of their worst games of the season.
- The Marlies face the Bulldogs again tomorrow, this time in Hamilton. After that, it’s off to Comerica Park for an outdoor matchup against the Grand Rapids Griffins, which I’ll be attending and covering.