I hate waking up early. You see, I live on the internet in the year 2014, which means live hockey is a thing that is being discussed until at least 1AM. I’m brainstorming ideas, I’m trying to break my high score in Flappy Bird… I do a little bit of a lot, get very distracted, and getting to bed at 3AM is a job well done. So when the Marlies decide to play a game early enough to serve breakfast in the media room… it’s a long day. Red Bull is consumed. I can only imagine how it must be for the players.
With that said, it didn’t look like the early morning threw them off much. Toronto and Rochester combined for 90 shots, and the Marlies won 2-1 in front of about 8000 school children.
Toronto came out flying from the very start, with Peter Holland finding himself on a breakaway just a minute into the game, though his forehand to backhand move didn’t fool Andrey Makarov. The Marlies continued to persist, with three of their first four shots being early-period scoring chances, but to no avail. With seven minutes remaining, former Marlies centre Mike Zigomanis found himself on a breakaway, the best scoring chance by either team in the period, but Garret Sparks was equal to the task. The period came to a close with both teams scoreless, about equal in the shot count, and with the Marlies on a penalty kill.
With about ten seconds left on that late-1st powerplay, Rochester opened the scoring. Kevin Porter pulled off a nice stutter step as Kevin Marshall sprawled for the shot block, and fired his actual attempt into the back of the net to open the scoring. Despite constant pressure throughout the period, Rochester’s only lead of the game only lasted a minute and a half. Spencer Abbott scored his 17th of the year after rushing out from behind the net. Before the period closed, Greg McKegg threw a shot on net after a nice toe drag, and then picked up his own rebound to widen the gap.
The third period saw the two teams alternating in control, with Carter Ashton almost making it a 3-1 game a couple minutes in, hitting the post with a backhand. The Marlies made the ending rough on themselves by taking two penalties with four minutes to go, but killed both. With 8.5 seconds left, Trevor Smith added an empty netter to give his team the win.
- Garret Sparks was in net again today, and stood on his head for the second time in three days, stopping 43 of 44 shots. Some of these were some seriously impressive efforts, and he unsurprisingly was named first star.
- This is the second game in a row where the Marlies have been outshot but still skated off victorious. Steve Spott acknowledged that there’s concern to be had in that, and that there will be things done to work on limiting shots against.
- Sam Carrick led the team with 7 shots on net, and seven players took at least three.
- Jerry D’Amigo was a scratch, in a way we’ll call “fringe-healthy”. The Marlies have a rotation going due to an abundance of forwards, and he banged up his arm/hand in Sunday’s game. Rather than rush him, he sat this one out.
- I had Frazer McLaren down as a healthy scratch the past few games, but was a mistaken. He suffered a hip flexor injury in his last game, and is expected to return in about a week.
- A solid out crowd of annoying, screaming school children is good for the average; today’s game makes them one of nine teams averaging 6000+ fans a game.
- The Marlies face Rochester again on Friday, this time on the road.
Photo (from Sunday) courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com