Any time you can make thousands of young children happy, you’re having a good day. So naturally, the Toronto Marlies were looking to make the School Day crowd of over 7000 one that cheered more than booed in their game against the Charlotte Checkers this morning. Of course, there were other reasons for that as well; standings implications and personal pride obviously play a factor. Thankfully for the blue and white, they delivered on all of these, winning 4-1 over the Charlotte Checkers.
Toronto had one of their strongest starts of the season. Just two minutes into the game, William Nylander picked up his own rebound and scored his third of the season. His line clicked again just minutes later; this time without him on the ice with them. Making the post of a 4-on-4 situation, Connor Brown found Ryan Rupert, who scored his tenth of the season at the five minute mark. Overall, it was one of the Marlies’ most dominant periods of the year, as they outshot the Checkers 13-4.
That dominance would fade as things progressed and strategies altered. Over the next forty minutes, Charlotte outshot Toronto 27 to 10, but that didn’t change the momentum of the goals. In the final minutes of the second period, Josh Leivo added his eighth goal of the season, giving the Marlies a 3-0 lead. Nylander was given an opportunity to add insult to injury after being awarded a penalty shot in the final period, but couldn’t beat John Muse.
The shutout bid was snapped with five minutes left in the third period, as Zach Boychuk capitalized on Stuart Percy’s delay of game penalty and converted on the the Checkers’ last legitimate powerplay. Connor Brown added an empty netter in the last minute of the period and the two teams finished things up with shoving, punching, and yelling.
Ryan Rupert looks incredibly good as of late. Five goals in his past six games to go with seven points. The 2012 sixth round pick doesn’t have a ton of expectation attached to him, but has been a pleasant surprise in the past few weeks.
- Christopher Gibson started in net for the Marlies, and stopped 30 of 31 shots. That’s a very good performance for the young Finn, though he’s probably disappointed at the fact his shutout went away at the trail end.
- All of William Nylander’s goals so far have been garbage goals; today’s rebound was another on the list. But at the same time, I’d consider that a good thing. He’s shown moments of skill that will work out at some point, and his willingness to go into the dirty areas and be in the right place at the right time gives reason for optimism.
- Yet another school day sell out, as 7851 somewhat insufferable children filled the building.
- Don’t look now, but Kevin Marshall is on a point streak; he followed up his goal from the game prior with an assist on Rupert’s goal.
- Toronto failed to convert on all five of their powerplay chances, but killed off six of seven against them.
- Toronto’s next game is on Friday, in Rochester against the Amerks.