The Toronto Marlies have had luck that can be seen as both good and bad of late. While they’ve picked up large pockets of important wins over the course of their playoff push, they’ve had a nasty habit of losing games to the teams that are directly in front of them. For this reason, taking on the Lake Erie Monsters, who came into the game tied in points, was a bit worrisome for them. However, a late rally was enough to push the team to victory and keep their hopes alive.
Originally, it looked like the Monsters were going to open the scoring early into the first period, as Aaron Voros’ shot in front of the had beat Christopher Gibson. However, the referees waved it off, nothing that the net had come completely dislodged prior to the puck going in, so the game remained at zeroes.
The Marlies could have used this as a rally point, but instead, it gave Lake Erie some motivation. Early in the second period, Kenny Ryan stole a misplayed puck from Kevin Marshall and fed non-racer Michael Schumacher for a wide open shot that finally broke the ice. After that, Andrew Agozzino, who had fed Voros for the non-tally, picked up not one, but two goals of his own with in just a few minutes, beating Gibson with a one timer and a rebound to end his night.
Toronto needed a goal by the end of the period to have any hope in what was now a 3-0 game, and Josh Leivo provided it, by rebounding his own low deflection. This served as a motivation point for the team, and once the third period began, they looked revitalized. TJ Brennan scored his first goal since returning to the organization (on his birthday!) about five minutes into the period, but try as the Marlies would, they weren’t able to generate anything else.
That is, until about a minute to go. With the game on the line, Matt Frattin sent a cross-ice pass over to William Nylander. Nylander didn’t have much room to work with, but he saw Byron Froese creeping towards the net, and shimmied over a pass to a stick that was now facing a wide open net. Suddenly, this seemingly hopeless game was headed to overtime. A minute into sudden death, the big line clicked again. This time, Nylander set up Stuart Percy, who then found Frattin for an easy tip to beat Calvin Pickard and win the game.
Ideally, I’d like to give this one to the entire line of Frattin, Froese, and Nylander, seeing as they all tore this game up in a good way. But, life isn’t that easy, so we’ll pick Matt Frattin as the man of the match. Frattin picked up the overtime winner, had two assists, and took an additional pair of shots on goal. This all brings him to 21 goals on the season, keeping him atop the team despite missing 17 games.
Summing It Up
This game had the potential to be a nail in the coffin for the Marlies, as it would have both kept them away from points and pushed another team in this five-horse race even further ahead. Skipping overtime entirely would have been preferable, but it’s still a lot better than what the outcome looked like in regulation’s closing minutes.
You also have to give the team credit for heading to the net. Three of the four goals all came from extremely close-quarters efforts, and the last two in particular were the results of finding a way to keep themselves open in the process.
The Marlies play again tonight, against Grand Rapids.