Today, the Toronto Marlies took an idea from their Exhibition Place neighbours, Toronto FC. Like the MLS, the AHL went for the “one all star team against a well known European club” approach to their good-play-rewarding festivities, and like TFC did with Serie A squad AS Roma this summer, the Marlies told the SHL’s Farjestads BK that they wanted a crack at them too. It made plenty of sense, after all; Farjestads gets a bit of media attention, and had to stop in Toronto to fly back home anyway, so why not have a game before hand?
Many were hoping for this game to be an indicator of the quality of the two leagues. To an extent, we got to see some of the skill both sides provided, but it looked like both teams wanted to stay fresh and avoid injury. Combine this with the fact that Toronto rested several key players (they play ‘real’ games tomorrow and Monday), and it made this game really feel like the exhibition that it was. It was still a fun afternoon out, and one that went in favour of the home team, who skated away with 4-3 overtime victory.
Farjestad BK is one of the highest profile teams in the Swedish Hockey League (formerly Swedish Elite League / Elitserien). Torontonians have an attachment to the team via former Leafs Jonas Gustavsson (Detroit) and Rickard Wallin (who has since returned to Farjestads to be captain of the team).
Beyond players taken from the team, the Marlies have also faced defenceman Magnus Nygren this year, as he started the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Danny Taylor, though he didn’t make the trip, was the goaltender for the Abbotsford Heat in their 2011/12 playoff series against the blue and white. As well, they have a guy named Oliver Kylington who is still 16 years old for another three months. THt has nothing to do with prior history, it’s just cool as heck.
Farjestad is 23-18-8 on the season and 9th of 12 teams in the SHL standings. In their game against the AHL All Stars, they lost 7-2.
Before puck drop, the two teams exchanged pennants and Petter Granberg lined up for a ceremonial faceoff. A group in exaggerated traditional Swedish wear performed their national anthem, The game got under way shortly after, and both teams were initially very cautious to do so much as hit each other. Shots eventually started to hit the net and Greg McKegg’s was the first to go in, trickling past Pekka Tuokkola on the powerplay, giving the home team the lead. Things didn’t stay that way for long, though. Jerred Smithson and Brandon Kozun found themselves in the penalty box within 40 seconds of each other, and Jack Connolly scored five seconds into the 5-on-3 to tie the game and make up for being in the box for the opener. With 27 seconds left in the period, Nicklas Arell picked up a loose rebound and gave Farjestad the lead.
Five minutes into the second period, Dylan Yeo spun around the Toronto net and found a wide open McKegg. Despite Tuokkola’s desperation dive, the Marlies top centre found a corner for his second of the night. Farjestad switched goalies to give Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel (what a name) a chance to play midway through the period. He played the role of brick wall to start, but a rush by D’Amigo and Brandon Kozun lead to the latest team addition roofing a go-ahead goal. The period ended with a weird tying goal, as Milan Gulas’ shot hit the post, bounced off a stopping Stuart Percy, and into the net with 19 seconds to go. The two sides headed to the dressing room, but not before exchanging some choice words.
The third period featured little in terms of big moments (though a lot more intensity and physicality was shown), but a lot of control from the Marlies, who took 10 of the period’s 14 shots. The most important shot of them all came in the final seconds, as the Marlies gave up a breakaway. Sparks made the right move though, and sent the game to overtime. Just thirty seconds into the bonus frame, Yeo squeezed in a wraparound past Pettersson-Wentzel to give his team the win.
- The Marlies had T.J. Brennan, Korbinian Holzer, Wade MacLeod, Sam Carrick, Spencer Abbott, and David Broll scratched for today’s game. The first three appear to be getting rest days, Carrick and Abbott were injured, and Broll blocked a shot in practice yesterday and is still limping on it.
- Speaking of Abbott’s injury, the plan is for him to return to the lineup this weekend.
- Zachary Yuen played his first game for the Marlies since the season began, though it doesn’t count on the stat sheet. He was placed with Kevin Marshall and took two shots.
- Garret Sparks probably wishes that periods were 19 minutes long today, with two of his goals against coming in the final minute, along with having the pressure on him in the game’s final seconds. Beyond that, he made a few nice saves and gets a game in with no tangible risk. He ended up with 17 saves on 20 shots.
- Steve Spott wasn’t behind the bench tonight, giving Gord Dineen and Derek King a chance to take the spotlight.
- Jerry D’Amigo impressed with assists on all three regulation goals.
- On top of his GWG and two assist, Dylan Yeo had 7 shots on net, with nobody else on either team having more than four.
- Instead of three stars, the two teams opted for an International-Style players of the game system, which awarded Gulas and Yeo for their efforts.
- The attendance for this game was 4425, a little over half capacity but respectable for an exhibition game announced and played mid-season.
- The Marlies take on Utica at Ricoh Coliseum tomorrow at 3PM. This one counts on the stat and standing sheets.