Many thought this series was over after what we saw last weekend. The Toronto Marlies, a team that has spent months playing with their backs against the wall, rallied from adversity not once, but twice, to take a 2-0 lead in their best of five opening round series against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The past few days haven’t been helpful to their cause, though; the Griffins rebounded and tied the series with two wins of tonight. Tonight’s game offered two paths; another 4+ games of hockey, or a dead end.
Unfortunately, the Griffins proved to be too much for them, winning Game 5 by a score of 3-1.
This game started off poorly for the Marlies, as they gave up 12 of the first 15 shots on goal. While Antoine Bibeau did his best to keep them out of the net, Louis-Marc Aubry made sure that shot number twelve found its way into the back of the net, giving his team the lead. Grand Rapids continued their domination throughout the period, taking six more shots in the latter half, keeping the puck as far away from their own net as possible.
The second period, on the other hand, was wide open. The two teams combined for twenty five pucks on net, and Sam Carrick was the first one to turn “on net” into “in the net”, tying the game with his first of the playoffs. The equal footing didn’t last horribly long, though; within ten minutes, Alden Hirschfeld took advantage of a misplay by Viktor Loov and restored his teams lead.
Early in the third period, Andreas Athanasiou added an insurance dagger. Taking advantage of a near miss by Byron Frose, Athanasiou used a burst of speed to send TJ Brennan into another time zone and get an easy chance against Bibeau. Toronto continued to push, but ultimately, couldn’t find their way back into the game.
I can’t say that I was a huge fan of putting in a cold Antoine Bibeau tonight. After all, if you take his recent struggles out of the equation Christopher Gibson is probably the better goaltender. But not only is it impossible to blame this loss on the rookie, he’s probably the only reason they stuck in as long as they did. Bibeau ended up making 39 saves on 42 shots.
Summing It Up
What an awful way to end it for a team that has looked so good for the past few months. At the end of the day, though, there’s no shame in losing to a team of this quality. This game in particular was a very exciting matchup where the two teams fired on all cylinders, desperate to make the plays they needed to advance. Unfortunately for this team and those who follow them, more landed in favour of the Griffins. It’s as simple as that.
The next Marlies game? Some time in October. But we’ll still be talking about their players throughout the next few weeks.