It’s been a long time since the Toronto Marlies went into a game without Drew MacIntyre in the lineup. Nobody was quite sure what to make of him when he was brought in as the replacement to Ben Scrivens in January of last year, but he’s arguably been the MVP of this team since. Today, he was off the lineup sheet, headed to Toronto to back up James Reimer. For now, the fate of the team between the pipes rests on the shoulders of two rookies, both of them years away from even being able to rent a car.
Facing this temporary duo (well, just Christopher Gibson, but still) for the first time were everybody’s favourite team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, who threw all the could in the direction of Gibson, but couldn’t find success against a Marlies team who found major success in the third period, winning 4-1.
Toronto almost instantaneously began the game down a man, as Kevin Marshall took a tripping penalty that sent him to the box. What followed was a sloppy, but successful penalty kill. For the first minute and a half, the Marlies could neither clear or freeze the puck, but at the very least, kept it out of the net. It was just the beginning for a bitter first half of the period, where Hamilton took 11 of the first 14 shots. Their next one ended up in the back of the net as Jeff Courtnall sneaked a backhand behind Gibson to open the scoring.
The Marlies desperately needed to get their act together at this point, and a powerplay helped them out. Robert Mayer got a little aggressive after getting some net traffic in his way and threw some punches, and a minute of zone domination later, Josh Leivo pulled off a JVR-esque spin as a precursor to a cross-crease pass to Greg McKegg, who easily scored his 14th of the season. Another powerplay opportunity came a few minutes later, but Toronto left empty handed and ended the period tied.
The second period went by without much to phone home about. The two teams exchanged chances and had even control of the twenty minutes. Neither side took a penalty, and nobody had a particularly strong scoring chance. It kind of just.. happened.
The third period started off much like the first, as the Marlies struggled to get a shot on net. But six minutes in, they got one; and it found the back of the net. Jamie Devane found Sam Carrick, who in close range fired top right to give the Marlies the lead. Not done yet, Greg McKegg picked up one of many rebounds to score his second of the night, and with a minute and a half to go, Jerry D’Amigo added an empty netter. The game wasn’t quite over, though, as the next shift saw D’Amigo drop the gloves with Gabriel Dumont, but after that was over, the two teams essentially ran the clock.
Christopher Gibson, as said previously, started in net for the Marlies today. He faced 34 shots, and stopped 33 of them. In terms of his actual performance, he didn’t have to make any particularly amazing saves, but seemed cool and collected while facing a barrage of shots from all sorts of areas.
This was Sam Carrick’s first full game at home since returning from injury, and he seemed quite involved throughout. He had a few scoring opportunities on a line with David Broll and Brandon Kozun and saw powerplay time as well.
Trevor Smith came into today with points in nine of his ten games with the Marlies, and wasn’t successful in keeping that rate alive. But he still generated a lot of chances, and if nothing else, was enough of a threat for McKegg to fly under the radar.
Toronto’s special teams units weren’t needed much, but answered the bell when necessary. Like I said, their first penalty kill was a mess, but it worked out, and the first powerplay attempt was the polar opposite but with the same positive result.
This was an interesting day attendance wise, with the team competing against a Leafs away game and having a traffic mess to deal with in the Home Show next door. This was probably one of the lower games against Hamilton we’ve seen, but a still respectable 6399 people showed up.
Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com